Trip Report: Climbing & #VanLife in Nevada

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When our friends Matt and Agnes of HagePhoto invite us to go on an adventure, we try to drop everything and go. Brad and I both have been on incredible trips with the Hages, which includes traversing Zion National Park, winter biking in the White Mountains, sea kayaking from Whittier to Valdez, and beyond. This trip, while shorter than our past adventures with them, was no exception. Matt called in October to invite us down for a two day shoot in Red Rock Canyon, which for us we turned into a nearly two week vacation in the desert. It's a trip I would recommend to anyone, and one that we're sure to repeat again.

Since we buy all of our Heather's Choice ingredients with our Alaska Airlines card (that's a lot of coconut!) we have a seemingly endless supply of airline miles. With free tickets to Las Vegas from Anchorage, Brad and I hopped on a plane this November for a much needed break from our fall Alaskan weather. Our plan was to pick up a van at the airport, then spend the bulk of our twelve days camped at the Red Rock Campground. For just $400, we had a Mercedes Metric van, and at $15 per night at the campground, we were living large - desert style! We we're both pretty excited for such an affordable trip that was still incredibly comfortable and luxurious.

Our buddy Matt, who is a photographer for a multitude of outdoor brands, needed to get some photos done for Montbell and Black Diamond. After securing our campsite, we headed out for an afternoon climb at the "Panty Wall" to get reacquainted with tying knots and wearing climbing shoes. It was so great to be in the sun all day, and eat plenty of Packaroons while we were at it!

Remembering how to do this...

After a great first day of climbing, we made a plan for an all day mission up Mt. Wilson. The Hages had climbed this peak years prior, and thought it would make a great trip for shooting Black Diamond packs, trekking poles, and headlamps. We rose for our "alpine start" at 4:30 a.m., blasted hot water for coffee and Buckwheat Breakfast, and were off for a full day of scrambling.

These all-day missions are some of my favorites! We hit the trailhead at sunrise, and spent over 12 hours route finding our way over big boulders, under huge logs, and across the endless slabs that climb Mt. Wilson; the tallest peak in Red Rock Canyon. 

Always make sure to share your Packaroons ;)

We left the summit just past 2 p.m., and made it about halfway back to the car by dark. Knowing it was going to be a long walk back in the dark by headlamp, we stopped to enjoy a couple of Heather's Choice dinners before finishing our decent.

Chocolate Chili and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder are always on the menu!

After 18 miles and 13 hours on the trail, we made it back to the van, drove back to camp, drank some wine, and fell asleep by 9 p.m. That's a good day if you ask me!

We spent the rest of our time in Red Rock Canyon exploring all the different crags and testing our climbing skills. We enjoyed multi-pitch sport routes, short and sweet overhung routes, and even a little bit of trad climbing. It was very affirming for Brad and I that we would like to spend more time in the desert climbing sandstone, and A LOT MORE time playing with trad gear. The world of rock climbing is absolutely limitless!

After ten days of perfect weather, the wind finally arrived, so we packed up our sweet little base camp and headed into Vegas for a couple nights of city living! It was a nice contrast to go from being so unbelievably dirty and dusty, to squeaky clean after one (or two) hot showers ;)

I keep telling everyone that this was the first "real" vacation that Brad and I had taken together. After our photo shoot with Matt, we had absolutely no agenda, and were free to check our emails in the morning, climb until sunset, then spend our nights together around the fire enjoying delicious meals and playing cards. The desert is by far one of my favorite places on the planet, and I look forward to way more early sunrises, hot days exploring slot canyons, and breathtaking sunsets that quickly turn into starry nights.


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  • Nice post. Thanks for joining us in Red Rocks last month. See you soon for holiday festivities in AK. Cheers!

    HagePhoto on

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