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The Red Rocks of Southern Nevada

The Red Rocks of Southern Nevada. Joanne Urioste. The American Alpine Club, New York, 1984. 252 pages, black and white photographs, drawings, route diagrams, sketch maps. $14.00.

Burlesque, lost wages, racketeering, polyester-clad mid-Westerners and enough lights to prompt further studies on fusion—these are my immediate associations with Las Vegas, the point of entry to the Red Rocks which tower in the desert air some thirty miles due west of the “Strip.” A fantastic, world-class climbing area is not admitted by the Vegas ideal, but it certainly exists. Following nigh on fifteen years of extensive exploration on walls sometimes upward of 1600 feet, this new guide tells all.

Those aspiring to the convenience and casualness of the bumper belays of a Joshua Tree or Boulder Canyon should be forewarned that adventure is the byword, for the bulk of the routes wander up rocks of varying caliber, usually situated in one of many canyons, sometimes located one to four miles from the tarmac. The climber/adventurers will be astonished by the area’s treasures, especially those disposed towards big free climbs. The Red Rocks is rife with thrillers—the rock most times good, sometimes great and many times bad.

The Urioste guide employs the unfashionable technique of providing geographical locations by a combination of line drawings and master photos with key lines inked in; no doubt this is the best format. The substance was provided by a slew of local underground guides and ad-hoc notebooks streamlined into the current text in a cogent, professional format. Joanne has done her homework and the guide well reflects the effort.

As is often the case, the author has had a hand in many (the bulk) of the recorded routes, several of which were done in rather unusual style and recorded with no mention of shenanigans. While virtually all the routes have since been repeated, there may still be a few that will cause the unwitting a minor debacle if ascended in a traditional manner. Of more importance is the spate of new routes following Richard Harrison’s removal to Vegas, a move that almost exactly corresponded with the publication of the guide. Since the guide suggests the possibility of additions or supplements, I hope that Part II will soon appear. The area certainly deserves it!

John Long