Reading Break Part 2: Rock Climbing

 

DSC03203So moving on from my last post. The real reason that I travelled to Vegas… Rock climbing!

Red Rocks National Park is only a 20 minute drive from the casino. The mountains here are steep rock faces on all sides with sharp changes in the different layers. Each day needed an early rise to hike into the climbs with a heavy pack and avoid the desert sun.
The desert provided a lot of little difficulties to deal with. The climbing ropes inevitably ended up covered in cactus spines, which was an absolute nightmare to belay with. Trying to concentrate on keeping your partner safe whilst your hands are being punctured with needles. The mid day heat, although still technically in winter would bake the rock and mean you were continuously dealing with sweaty hands when trying to hold onto the rock face.

Myself and a PhD student from Oxford climbed together throughout the week and managed to tick off a lot of the Red Rocks canyons classic climb, which are some of the best climbs I have done in my life! I’ll let the pictures explain how our week played out.

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Paying attention to saving his life and not taking radial photos

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If you zoom in you can see the tiny shadows of people on the paths below.

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Looking down at another climber rappelling of the mountain

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Walking out after a successful day

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Another day on the mountains

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Mega exposure on the second last pitch

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Rappelling down in the dark

In total we had 3 days of big mountaineering routes in Red Rocks canyon as well as some days climbing some smaller more technical climbs. The photo above is myself and Michael rappelling off in the dark after we got our ropes stuck between two rocks. Almost a bad situation but thankfully we made it back.

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Strange Mars like landscape in Death Valley

On one of the rest days we ventured to Death Valley National Park in California a short 2 hours drive from Vegas. This is the hottest driest and lowest point in North America and for February it was already unbearably hot. Death Valley also has the world record for hottest ever recorded temperature.

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Dried river valleys baked in the heat

After a lovely relaxed day resting our fingers and skin in death valley we were back on the red rock cliffs tackling our hardest climb of the trip.

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A moment for a little photo before punching on

Over a kilometre of vertical rock climbing lead up to the summit

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Metres from the summit

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Summit photo!

So began our long 4 hour descent off the mountain which was a series of strangely positioned abseils, scrambling and negotiating a river bed littered with house size boulders.

The rest of our team ended up having a bit of difficulty and arriving back late, by which point I was already on the town in Vegas enjoying myself.

Red Rocks could have possibly been the highlight of my exchange so far. I left with so many memories in amazing situations as well as a lot less skin on my hands.

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