Thought I'd stick an addition to BillH's nice report about Red Rocks.
I got back yesterday, having left the day the Mountain Gear-sponsored RR Rendezvous was getting started. Even though I left before that crush, most all the well-known moderate climbs were graced each day with a steady queue of college students on spring break and others like myself looking to jump start their season. Here are some of my experiences of what March in Las Vegas was like for us.
The most overcrowded experience of the trip took place on the day when we considered climbing Crimson Chrysalis. This is a popular 5.8 route that ascends a pretty pink arete which stands out against the skyline, giving it an undeniable aesthetic appeal. My partner and I got up early and were the first two on the trail, but I can't walk as fast as I used to, so by the time we made it to the final approach ramp, (about 15 minutes from the base), two parties of two had already gone ahead of us and two more were right on our heels. We'd anticipated this might be the case and had an alternative route in mind, Ginger Cracks, which we ended up doing. That route follows a straight line up the center of a triangular shaped buttress, beginning in a crack system and leading to a featured vertical face. It's a great climb. I was feeling satisfied with our decision, as well as our climbing, when we returned to our packs in the afternoon, but I could hardly prevent myself from feeling smug when we got a view of the route we'd originally considered. There were no fewer that 17 people on Crimson Chrysalis's 7 pitches! Climbers were situated at every one of the top five belay stations, and the ones who had already finished the route were in the process of rappelling back down the same line. What a zoo.
Lotta Balls wall was a close second in the overcrowded site category. We got up there early one day and were starting the third pitch of Black Magic when the second party showed up. They were the advance guard of a stunning parade of climbers. By the time we'd returned to our packs, Lotta Balls, Black Magic, Trihardral, and a few shorter routes all had ropes on them and lines were forming on the first two. We got our packs and left. After a quick scan in the guidebook, we traversed the sidehill over to the Lucky Balls crag, which has a couple of nice, old timey crack and chimney routes. No surprise, we were the only ones there. Later in the afternoon, when we were done, we went back to the LB wall, which had now thinned out, and did one more line before calling it a day.
To be clear, I'm not demeaning these popular climbs, each of which looks quite enjoyable. But with all the rock available in the many canyons at Red Rocks, why should anyone stand in line? I recommend to anyone who finds themselves in similarly crowded conditions to go take a hike, literally. Just as with the Gunks, there are plenty of good lines that didn't make it into someone's "Select..." guidebook or get stars or a thumbs up. When you go there, I hope you'll seek them out.