Posted by: Jack | March 29, 2007

Epic Journey: Day 3 – Red Rock Valley

This third day began with people slowly stirring and climbing out of their tents. By mid morning, the desert heat was already upon us inducing an overall lethargic mood among all 16 of us. I spent much of the morning catching up with old friends and meeting some of their new climbing acquaintances.

This night was the last night for which this campground had availability so the first order of business was for the group to decide where they were going to spend the remainder of their spring break. What began as a casual discussion quickly arose into a debate regarding issues such as the fairest method of polling for the group’s majority opinion. Eventually this process led to a casting of votes by designated stones as well as many angry climbers. There are definitely advantages to traveling alone.

After tentative plans had been decided upon, the group split up to seek out varying climbing activities. Having not climbed outdoors at all in nearly a year, I decided to stick with the group which would be going bouldering so I could pace myself as needed. This group consisted of past roommates Tyler and Vanessa as well as soon-to-be-friends, Rob and Ross. In addition to my climbing shoes and chalk bag, I packed along my trials unicycle figuring I could use some practice before the upcoming MUniFest. We drove to the Calico Basin just minutes from camp and traversed a small oasis in search of some well established boulders. While others were putting on their climbing shoes I decided to try and ride a little section of scattered boulders. Within seconds of mounting the unicycle, my apparently very loose pedal spun off sending the spinning wheel into my shin and me to the ground. With my tools in my car, this was an early end to the day’s unicycling.

We found a number of bouldering problems and had some fun working them for awhile. The pictures below are of Vanessa, Rob, Rob again and lastly, myself on just a few of these problems. I have to say I was pretty happy with my performance given my long time away from the sport. On top of that, I’m pretty sure I sprained my finger in the unicycling fall earlier that day.

After wearing ourselves out on the boulders, the 5 of us decided to scramble up the large, rocky hill nearby. It was a fun climb with occasional difficulties but the view from the top was well worth any trouble. While one direction offered views of Las Vegas, the opposite direction provided unique views of multicolored rocky hills and walls.

As the sun continued to beat down on us, we decided to make our way back to the car. During our decent we witnessed a growing crew of Rescue Police gathering in the parking lot below. This was a bit disconcerting given the knowledge that the rest of our group was out climbing in the area. Thankfully, when we reached the parking lot we were informed that the gathering was simply for some training exercises. The Rescue Police helicopter made repeated trips carrying officers to various training locations and then returning to land just a few feet from where we were parked. On a sort of dare, Tyler decided it would be well worth any consequences to sneak up behind the helicopter and hang on to one of the landing struts for the next take off. This story and photo may be a figment of imagination/photoshopping but I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to decide which makes for a better story.

After the full group re-assembled, we returned to camp for some juggling, unicycling, eating and a nice campfire.

After witnessing an extremely colorful sunset, the more ambitious climbers began prepping for the multi-pitch climbs they would be doing the next day. As they would be waking around 5 am, it was decidedly easier to assemble all of their gear before going to sleep.

It was about this time that I learned that there was one more person on this trip who I had yet to Meet. Her name is Olesea and she is studying at UW-L having come from Maldova. She came on the trip with one of the La Crosse crew but after everyone went to Las Vegas the previous night, they returned to camp with one less. This night she was finally contacted and it was found that she had met some people and decided to drive to California with them. Needless to say, the guy who had brought her on this trip was not exactly pleased. He basically gave her an ultimatum of returning to camp by 9 am the following morning or she would need to find her own way back to Wisconsin. As I said before, there are certain advantages to traveling solo, but a large group of people is inherently going to present more interesting situations.

Continue to Day 4



  1. Well good place for good climbing.R

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