Friday, January 9, 2009

A Boulderers Guide to Vegas

While an upcoming post will include the actual bouldering aspects of my recent (and sorely needed) trip to Red Rock Canyon, I thought I would first reflect on my trip out there. This will also include recommendations on what I considered to be an excellent, however brief, trip Vegas.

Now I realize this may not coincide with what is acceptable in true "broke climber" fashion, so I apologize in advance. But I am not the same outdoorsman I once was. The former me (the same one that used to be a park ranger in Alaska) would have driven out there and car camped it up at the crag with a 24 pack of sam adams winter lager and woke up at sunset to send with a solid hangover....honestly the best way to boulder.

The man I am now however doesn't fit the build of hippie flagstaff/grand canyon backpacking guide which I once was. My WFR is expired, I work as a researcher while wearing business slacks in D.C. , and I have a small but sustainable paycheck for the first time....well ever.

Maybe most telling is the fact that I chose the title for this blog after coming to the harsh realization that I'm stuck indoors since the climbing season out here in the swamps is so short in contrast to my desert home. I'm happy to get to the Gym 3-4 days a week, it's just not the same. It's ok, I've become very Zen about my situation and leaving my car in Arizona has been a big part of it.


However my younger brother and companion on this trip, James, was sporting a serious fever and I was just proud he made it out with me regardless. So we agreed that staying off the strip (as far west as we could in order to be closer to Calico) would be the best idea.



There is the Red Rock Casino which sits very close to the canyon but any self respecting climber should not stay there. Nothing against the hotel itself, I'm sure it's wonderful. We even ate a decent buffet there and James donated $2 to their slot machines. But no matter how much money I made (and I make nowhere near enough to stay there) I couldn't stay at any place that nice and still carry the moniker of a "boulder holder". A quick browsing of their website lists rooms in the $200-$350/night range for March if you're thinking a spring break escape to the canyon.

So the compromise would be to stay in a dive and not camp it out in order to help the younger bro heal up. Enter Arizona Charlies on Decatur.


A perfectly trashy establishment located far enough off the strip that you don't deal with any tourists and filled with enough chain-smoking bingo players to satiate any climbers palate for the strange and bizarre. If all this wasn't good enough, our room with 2 queen beds only ran for (I shit you not) $34.99...total. Now the second night was a bit more expensive at $79 but I believe this was only due to the fact that it was so close to New Years eve (the night of Dec. 30th).

Regardless, 120 some odd dollars for 2 nights and only dropping $60 once split between 2 people (which my brother still owes me) blew my mind. I imagine being able to comfortably fit 4 people total in this room if they were boulderers of the right mind set that realize we're only in there after a day of climbing and drinking, crashing anywhere on the floor is a welcome relief.

There are two unique features of AZ-Chucks that climbers like ourselves appreciated.


The first is that it is a straight shot down Charleston Rd. that gets you to the canyon in 15 minutes. I love the contrast that is Vegas. Bright glitz with lights surrounded by this conservation area that looks exactly like Sedona but ironically without all the tourists slowly destroying it. My first trip to Red Rock was almost 5 years ago now and even driving the loop, watching out for wild burros, and hiking Ice Box canyon was incredible.The second love I gained for our hotel was indeed the bingo. Now, I have a nostalgic memory of our mom taking us to play bingo with her at a local Kiwanis club for retired residents of Pine/Strawberry Arizona. My mom is even more jewish then I am when it comes to gambling and she did this only because she loved to be with her kids. But she went all out buying a $10 bingo card, 50 cent sodas, and free popcorn!

We never won very much but it's full of childhood memories of my strange of loving parents I'll cherish forever. Even the local retirees were kind enough to give me fake bingo sheets to play along enough though I think we weren't allowed to be in the room by law.

The "Chucksters" bingo players lay down some serious game though. They don't take shit from anyone. We walked into a room of over 100 people (my brother and I brought the average age down just a bit) filled with electronic machines and big screen tv's. I felt like a pitcher being called up from the minors to play at Yankee stadium.

The games moved so fast that we had to get the electronic cards in order to enjoy our beers, and yes......you get 2 free drinks just for sitting down and playing. Kudos to the grandparents playing the handheld dabbers cause I would have surely failed had I made a seriously inebriated attempt at that.

So you spend $15 for roughly an hour session, get two free drinks, and my brother was only 1 number away from winning $1,000!!! The anxiety was killing me as I almost won just $250 bones, but I knew that $15 would have gone down (and did) in a single 8 second hand of black-jackoff. Bingo was ultimately much more entertaining and was easily the non-climbing highlight of my trip.

I'm starting a new trend and I'm inviting others to jump on the band wagon. Drunk bingo and trashy hotels by night.... v7 boulder problems by day.

I'd get on the caboose before this trend leaves the station for good.

1 comment:

mike said...

Let's see some bouldering pics from Red Rocks!