Guided Rock Climbing in Red Rock - Las Vegas, Nevada COVID-19 UPDATE: AAI is open and operating with new policies and procedures for COVID-19. Click the following link to learn more about AAI's COVID-19 Operating Plans. Note that AAI’s no-cost postponement policy ended February 18, 2022. Overview
As the fall temperatures and wet weather start to overtake the more temperate climbing areas in the U.S., rock climbers begin their annual migration to the desert southwest in search of the sunny skies and warm rock found there for most of the fall, winter and spring months. The core season in Red Rock Canyon starts in September and continues through May. Throughout the majority of the season climbers find good climbing conditions on dry rock. The shortest days of the year can be brisk in the deeper canyons, but there are plenty of sunny and warm options for climbing throughout the area.
American Alpine Institute Red Rock Climbing from
John Grace on Vimeo.
Although September through May is our busiest time, the summer months can offer great climbs with fewer crowds. Our guides live in Vegas year-round and they know where to go to beat the heat. During the summer months, weather can climb above one hundred degrees during the hottest parts of the day, so climbers seek the cooler temperatures by climbing during the hours of 6 AM and 11 AM.
Introduction to the Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area -- often referred to as Red Rocks -- is unique in North American climbing. No other area offers such extensive climbing in a beautiful desert environment while at the same time enjoying the ease of access and amenities of a nearby metropolitan area. Only 20 miles from downtown Las Vegas, Red Rock rises in a 3000-foot wall of red, pink, and cream colored Aztec sandstone. The cliffs form a north-south trending barrier over ten miles long and are cut perpendicularly with many major canyons and innumerable smaller ones. When you are climbing, the only sign of human impact is an occasional glimpse of the narrow access road, so while you are close to civilization, it feels like you are deep in a desert wilderness area.
The peaks and formations of Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas. Jason Martin
On the walls of these canyons and on the towers and summits which lie between them, you will find some of the longest and best non-granitic climbs in the country. The exceptionally hard, high quality sandstone of Red Rock offers long continuous crack lines and steep, exposed face climbing on fine desert varnish. The canyons and cliffs of Red Rock have retained a true wilderness feeling. There are very few established trails in the area and most of the approaches involve easy cross-country travel, often up isolated, narrow canyons lined with juniper and shaded by the many-hued rock walls which rise above.
In addition to hundreds of one-pitch sport climbs, Red Rock boasts an unusually large number of very long, high quality routes of moderate technical difficulty. Many fine climbs of grade III or IV in length lie in the 5.6 to 5.8 range. Some of the harder routes with a difficulty of 5.9 or 5.10 can only be described as desert classics. To take full advantage of the fine climbing these superb, long routes have to offer we recommend a maximum climber to guide ratio of 2 to 1.
Guided Rock Climbing in Red Rock - Las Vegas, Nevada Prices and Details
Prices are per person/per day.
Meeting Time for Half-Day Programs
Customized instruction available for beginner to intermediate climbers. Morning session, you will meet your guide at 8am with the day finishing at 1pm. Afternoon session, you will meet your guide at 11am with the day finishing at 4pm.
Summer Climbing (Mid-May to Mid-September): To beat the heat in the summer months, we offer morning only half-day climbs from 6am to 11am.
Meeting Time for Full-Day Programs
A climber belaying a leader in Red Rock Canyon. Scott Massey
Available for beginner - advanced level instruction and multi-pitch climbs.
You will meet your guide at 8am with the day finishing at 5pm.
If you would like to do a longer route that requires an early morning meeting, please request the route by name and the office will work with both you and your guide to set an appropriate meeting time and location.
For climbers who do not have their own personal climbing equipment, we offer a rental package for $36 per day. The package includes climbing shoes, helmet, harness, a belay device, and any other equipment deemed necessary by the guide.
Since you will be joining us for a privately guided trip, you will be responsible providing transportation for yourself and your guide from our rendezvous meet-up spot into the Red Rock scenic loop road and return at the end of your course. Approximately 23 miles roundtrip.
Camping, Lodging and Directions
For a listing of places to camp, hotels convenient to Red Rock Canyon and directions to our rendezvous meet-up location, download our Red Rock Travel and Lodging Information found on the Course Downloads box.
Cost Inclusions and Exclustions
Inclusions: Included in the course cost is group technical climbing equipment, climbing permits, entrance in to Red Rock NCA, and the guide fee.
Exclusions: Not included in the course cost is all personal clothing and climbing gear, gratuities to guide, transportation, lodging/camping fees, meals while on the course, or travel insurance.
Guided Rock Climbing in Red Rock - Las Vegas, Nevada Routes
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, or Red Rocks, is home to literally thousands of beginner, intermediate and advanced level multi-pitch routes. On private programs you may choose to work on basic skills, movement skills, anchor building, rock rescue, or leadership skills on single-pitch terrain, or you may choose to climb a classic multi-pitch route. Following is a
sample of some of the more well-known multi-pitch lines that Red Rock has to offer.
Beginner Multi-Pitch Routes
Chips and Salsa: Grade i+, 5.4 - This little three-pitch jaunt has limited exposure and easy moves. It's a great outing for a total beginner on their first day out.
Man's Best Friend (I+, 5.8) is an excellent route for beginning-level leaders. Jason Martin
Solar Slab Gully: Grade II, 5.4 - A five-pitch line, this route is used to access climbs on the Solar Slab Wall. With limited exposure and a massive ledge at the top of the route, this line provides for a nice multi-pitch experience that "takes you somewhere."
Snake Charmer: Grade I+, 5.7 - A very easy little route close to the car with one or two 5.7 moves.
Tuna and Chips/Dolphin Safe: Grade I+, 5.7 - These two routes are adjacent to each other and both provide an excellent introduction to slab climbing on sandstone. It is not uncommon for people to climb one of these routes on their very first day out.
Physical Graffiti: Grade II, 5.7 - An ultra-classic route, this line provides two to three fanstastic pitches up an absolutely stellar crack-system.
Man's Best Friend: Grade I+, 5.8 - It is not uncommon for new leaders to lead up this very clean two-pitch bolted climb. This is an excellent route for the novice leader due to the fact that the bolts have been placed very closely together, limiting one's potential to take a fall of any significance.
Moderate Multi-Pitch Routes
Geronimo: Grade II+, 5.6 - A beautiful four pitch line, this is one of the only rock climbing routes in Red Rock with a summit register. It's always fun to see who was there before you and then to write your name and a little note in the register.
Cat in the Hat: Grade II+, 5.6+ - One of the first, and still one of the greatest, super-classic climbs in Conservation Area. This line requires from four to six pitches of mostly moderate climbing in a stellar position. The exposure on the last pitch is often recalled upon wistfully by AAI climbers years after they have completed the route.
Cookie Monster: Grade II+, 5.7 - A variation to Cat in the Hat, this line provides two very long and steep pitches with excellent holds and good protection. For those looking for a little less crowd and a little more exposure, this is a great alternative start to Cat in the Hat.
Olive Oil: Grade III, 5.7 - This beautiful line climbs up the Rose Tower to a minor summit. A combination of beautiful cracks, nice face climbing, and a deep and mildly complex chimney make this great option for a solid 5.7 climber.
Birdland: II+, 5.7+ - Often referred to as a modern classic, Birdland has recently become super popular. But don't fret, there are lots of variations and side-routes that allow you to play on the Birdland wall and climb all the Birdland pitches, even when it is busy.
Solar Slab Wall: IV, 5.6-5.9 - This sunny wall is the perfect place for a winter multi-pitch climb. There are lots of moderate and intermediate level routes that can be easily linked into other routes. These include, but are not limited to, lines like Johnny Vegas (II+, 5.7), Buellah's Book (II+, 5.9), Horndogger Select (III, 5.8), Going Nuts (III, 5.6), Solar Slab (IV, 5.6) and Sundog (IV, 5.10a).
Intermediate Multi-Pitch Routes
A climber scampers up out of the infamous tunnel on Tunnel Vision (III, 5.7) Jason Martin
III, 5.7 - This chimney and corner route is famous because of the "tunnel pitch." What's the tunnel pitch, you say? Well, that's the pitch where you climb through the middle of the mountain...! This is a spectacular and mostly sustained climb on an awesome feature. Tunnel Vision:
Purblind Pillar: III, 5.8 - Found on the same wall as Tunnel Vision, this newish line is the longest on the wall. At six rope-stretching pitches, Purblind provides mostly 5.6ish climbing with a few 5.8 moves thrown in for good measure.
Lotta Balls: II+, 5.8 - A wild four-pitch route shaded route that require climbers to essentially climb little marbles protruding from steep black varnished rock. This is a really fun line on a beautiful wall.
Frogland: Grade III, 5.8 - A nice six-pitch shaded line that provides pitch after pitch of interesting face and crack climbing. When you climb this route on a warm spring day, the frogs croaking down in the creekbed give you a very good idea of why this route is named Frogland.
Crimson Chrysallis: Grade IV, 5.8+ - Perhaps the steepest route of its grade in all of Red Rock, Crimson is nine-pitch super-classic. If you elect to do this climb, be sure to speak to your guide about an early morning meeting as it is a very busy route. If it's too busy to get on, then the nearby Ginger Cracks (IV, 5.9) is a great alternative.
Y2K: Grade II+, 5.10b-It's not too hard to figure out when this route went up... This line which is mostly 5.8 or 5.9, has one stellar 5.10 roof-move with a lot of air below. The move provides a great introduction to harder climbing high off the deck.
Advanced Mutipitch Routes
Community Pillar: Grade IV, 5.9 - A great prep route for Epinephrine, Community Pillar takes the experience of spelunking to a completely new level. There are multiple pitches inside the mountain! And indeed, at one point you climb through a tight squeeze that cavers might be more used to than rock climbers. The route has a very unique and very cool flavor.
The glass-smooth chimneys of Epinephrine (IV, 5.9). We usually pull our packs up on tethers through the chimneys so that we can put our back and feet on opposing walls. Rich Draves
Epinephrine: Grade IV, 5.9 - This is one of the big daddys of Red Rock climbing. This fifteen-pitch old school 5.9 route climbs through deep chimneys and out on a very exposed face. Climbers should be sold 5.10 trad followers with a lot of endurance before attempting this route. It commonly takes 12 to 16 hours car-to car, but it is well worth it!
Rainbow Buttress: Grade IV, 5.9 - Another giant route, deep back in the Oak Creek Canyon, Rainbow Buttress is a serious adventure route with a wild walk-off.
Black Orpheus: Grade IV, 5.10a - A beautiful long line and a great introduction to the bigger routes in Red Rock. There is only a little bit of 5.10 (two or three moves) and lots of 5.8 and 5.9.
Dream of Wild Turkeys: Grade IV, 5.10a - This is a historic line. It was one of the first to be opened in Red Rock where bolts were used to connect a series of natural features. And indeed, this way that the features were connected could be throught of as a work of art.
Triassic Sands: Grade III, 5.10c - Wild moves with exposure give this route a well deserved reputation for being both cool and super-fun.
Very Advanced Multi-Pitch Routes
Birdhunter Buttress: Grade IV, 5.9 - An adventure route to cap all adventure routes in Red Rock. This thirteen pitch line is a serious endeavor that requires both stamina and an open mind to "adventure-style climbing."
Inti Wantana: Grade IV, 5.10c - A somewhat bolted face climb up the massive flanks of Mount Wilson. There isn't a moment when you don't have a out-of-this-world view on a climb like this.
Eagle Dance: Grade IV, 5.10c, C1 - A striking line that climbs straight up the center of the imposing Eagle Wall.
Resolution Arete: Grade V, 5.10c, C2 - The granddaddy of big adventure climbs in Red Rock, most parties take two days to climb this striking feature on Mount Wilson.
Levitation 29: Grade IV, 5.11c - When it comes to hard climbing, you simply can't beat Levitation. Stong climbers come from all over the coutnry to test themselves on this beautiful route on the Eagle Wall.
Rainbow Wall - Original Route: Grade V, 5.12- or 5.9, C2 - This old aid route is slowly becoming a popular free climb. For those that have the skill to climb 5.12, this is a great objective...but it is also a great objective for the aid climber looking for a moderate overnight climb. Guided Rock Climbing in Red Rock - Las Vegas, Nevada Programs
The following programs are scheduled courses with set dates. Content from these courses may be offered on a private basis. Please click on the links to see dates and prices.
A climber top-roping at the Aquifer, a great location for beginners to work on their movement and anchor skills. Jason Martin
Outdoor Rock - Intensive Introduction- Learn or review basic techniques and advanced systems in this four-day program.
Learn to Lead - An introduction to traditional rock leadership, designed for those who have done some outdoor climbing and are ready to take the next step.
First Ascents Program - Climb and name a new route in Red Rock Canyon.
Aid Climbing and Big Wall Technique - Learn how to use direct aid and train to climb a some of the biggest and steepest pieces of rock on the planet.
AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Certification Course - This program prepares accomplished recreational climbers to become rock climbing instructors.
Corporate Programs - These team building climbing and rappelling programs are for for groups of four to forty... Red Rock Rendezvous - The climbing event of the year, with support and instruction from AAI guides. Institute programs bookend the event so that climbers may complete low-ratio courses before or after the Rendezvous.
Guided Rock Climbing in Red Rock - Las Vegas, Nevada Advocacy
Access Fund has identified Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area as the most threatened climbing area in the United States. This is for a variety of reasons, including:
proximity to major metropolitan city and the lack of respect that some urban dwellers have for wilderness
difficult policies concerning the management of fixed anchors
encroachement of housing developments
The Kraft Boulder Trail - completed during Red Rock Rendezvous, 2011 by the Las Vegas Climbers' Liaison Council and organized by former AAI guide, Scott Massey
The proximity to the city and the ease of access to some of the crags provides those with no wilderness ethics access to a pristine environment. Rare native petroglyphs have been vandalized and litter and graffiti have been a problem.
Fixed anchors have been banned in the Red Rock backcountry since 1998. This particular situation has made it difficult for people to develop new routes deep in the Red Rock wilderness. Fixed anchors such as bolts are often a necessary safety feature needed to connect a series of crack systems on a face. Additionally, they are often used for rappel descents. As such they are a necessary feature in new route development.
Since the turn of the century, there has been an ongoing battle between Red Rock advocates and developers. The developers would like to see the outskirts of Red Rock Canyon turned into housing developments and minimalls. Obviously, those who love the wilderness character of the Conservation Area are hugely opposed to such a move.
American Alpine Institute guides have been deeply involved in the politics surrounding Red Rock Canyon since the year 2000. Jason Martin, AAI's first Red Rock lead guide, became involved in the Las Vegas Climbers' Liaison Council -- a local climbing advocacy group -- on the Board of Directors. For eight years, Jason worked with the LVCLC on the bolting issue, while also participating in trail-buidling projects, litter clean-ups, graffiti removal projects, and the removal and replacement of old bolts with the
American Safe Climbing Association.
In 2004, Jason became involved with Mountain Gear's annual Red Rock Rendezvous, one of the biggest climbing festivals of the year. Since that time, AAI guides have been supporting and instructing at the event which raises money for the Access Fund, the
American Alpine Club, the American Safe Climbing Association, and of course, the Las Vegas Climbers' Liaison Council (now called the Southern Nevada Climber's Coalition.
In 2008, Jason moved into the AAI office, taking on a management position in the company. At that time, AAI guide Scott Massey was promoted to the lead guide position in Red Rock. And Scott not only picked up where Jason left off, but expanded significantly on what Jason and other members of the LVCLC accomplished. Scott not only put together a number of clean-ups and trail-building projects, but also replaced literally hundreds of old and bad bolts throughout the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. His work was so prolific that it would be no exageration to say that if you have climbed in Red Rock, you have likely clipped a bolt that Scott has placed.
A WAG Bag Dispenser near the trailhead at Pine Creek Canyon. Originally installed by Scott Massey in the winter of 2011-2012. These have been replaced several times now. Scott Massey
In addition to the other work that Scott was involved with, he also spearheaded a project to help cut down on human waste in the backcountry. Scott installed four WAG Bag dispensers at trailheads. Wag Bags are bags specifically designed for human waste removal. This project helped to cut down on human waste in the backcountry and at the crags considerably.
In 2012, the work that Scott was doing in Red Rock was recognized by the American Mountain Guides Association. He resigned from the American Alpine Instittue and became the Director of Advocacy and Outreach for the AMGA.
AAI Guide Andrew Yasso took Scott's place as lead guide in 2012. And along with Doug Foust, another local Red Rock guide, they took on the mantle in continued support of advocacy and conservation in the area. Both served on the LVCLC and were there when it officially changed its title to the Southern Nevada Climbers Coalition.
AAI continues to work with the Southern Nevada Climbers Coalition, the American Safe Climbing Association and Red Rock Rendezvous to promote and protect Red Rock Canyon.
To learn more about the issues facing Red Rock Canyon and what you can do about it, log onto:
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