Trip Report: Matt Karlson at Red Rock Rendezvous

What to do at the Rendezvous

After flying to LAS and renting a car I arrived at the Spring Mountain Ranch State park around 10:30 PM, parked in the lot and found my tent in the on-site campground, pre-set up by North face, part of the base camp option (which thankfully stood up to the 50 mph gusts that night!)

The venue had a ton of vendors, demos, contest, raffles, free swag, and a bouldering wall, all within a central area.  There was coffee / cereal breakfasts and nice dinners catered by a BBQ truck with beer by Lagunitas  (and filtered water and actual bathrooms on site). You could also mingle with other climbers, athletes and pros like Hans Florine, Alex Honnold, Arno Ilgner, and many others. Saturday night, which happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, turned into quite the party that continued to go strong well into the night. Alex was signing posters and talking with everyone and I watched Hans do the speed climb in contest on the bouldering wall!

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Climbing clinics

The were a lot of different of rock climbing clinics to choose from (8:30-12 or 12-4:30) and I opted to add the Monday clinic. The package also included two other activities, and I chose slack lining and yoga (mountain biking was booked!). I chose the afternoon climbing clinics – intermediate sport and technique both days, One at the Iron Man wall and the second at Hunter S Thompson dome.  

I was super excited to get some intermediate (5.9-5.11) lead training on classic walls and was slightly disappointed that the athletes/instructors had to put everybody on top rope for liability reasons.  But both groups were only three people, which gave us a lot of one-on-one time during the four hours we were climbing (after a ~20 min approach). Got around 4-5 climbs each day and also had time to discuss technique, rescue/knots and whatever else with the instructors – one from the American Alpine Institute and the other an athlete from Scarpa.  RRR also obtains permits for the the designated crags that each clinic is at so you don’t have to worry about waiting for other climbers if it's a busy weekend.

 Toproping during the Lead Clinic (a little ironic, don't ya think?)

Toproping during the Lead Clinic (a little ironic, don't ya think?)

Warrior's Way

The all-day Monday clinic I chose was called 'Warrior’s Way,' which was centered around mental training, based on Arno Ilgner’s famous book, “The Rock Warrior's Way.” I had bought this book a few weeks earlier and it was really resonating with me. When I found out that Arno himself was teaching the clinic I was very excited (and proceeded to slightly geek-out and get a picture with him).  We were at Magic Bus and practiced lead falls, climbing awareness, risk prevention, calming techniques, etc. and all of us got a lot of time on the wall, which had really fun routes ranging 5.8–5.9+.   

We got a lot of time to chat with Arno and it was just an all-around great experience on a beautiful wall, and it didn’t hurt that it was the warmest day, yet. This was the most memorable day, being able to have one-on-one dialogue and climbing advice from an author of one of the most famous climbing books out there. But I’d have to say that the most fun day was the one at Iron Man Wall, which had two routes I'd been wanting to climb (Iron Maiden and Oxosis) and I got in a lot of great climbing that day. 

 Matt with Arno Ilgner

Matt with Arno Ilgner

Who should go to the Rendezvous

I'm sure it would be a lot of fun to go with a group, but I think the Rendezvous is ideal for people to go by themselves. Everyone was super nice and welcoming, and I met really great people to climb with from all over the country. It was a really awesome event and I'll go next year. But if your main interest is maximum time climbing, then I would probably just buy the festival pass without clinics and drive out in your own groups to the crag for the day.