The amount of climbing competes with the amount of laughing that took place the weekend of April 1-4. But it doesn’t matter which was more – both were awesome, felt good and created a whole new set of memories associated with social media, climbing and camping (Hmmm, an odd combination, yes?).

Rock Climbers a.k.a. Cliff Dancers

Because of the success of the November 2009 Joshua Tree Tweetup, several folks from the same trip organized a similar outing at Red Rocks Canyon, just west of Las Vegas, Nevada for Easter Weekend 2010. While we didn’t have as big of a turnout, it was so fun to see those who did, as well as new faces who missed out last time and those who have gotten into the loop of our climbing tweetups since then.

I went by myself (that is, without my usual climbing partners), mainly as a way to find my own climbing “voice.” I don’t know how else to explain it. I just wanted to meet my friends and climb, while feeling secure in my climbing abilities and skills. So @pwcarey and I represented Washington State, and met up with the usual suspects and newbies from Southern and Central California, plus newcomers from Colorado. There were about 15 total but a much more low-key, different chemistry event compared to J-Tree.  Not bad, just different. And satiating.

It was comforting to wake up on Friday morning (we pulled into camp at 1 a.m. Thursday night and pitched the tents under moonlight, with the help of hugs from KatieBeth) and meet the new faces that we only knew from Twitter, as well as give/receive big bear hugs from the folks I hadn’t seen since November. I scrambled out of my tent to see who was up and was happy to find Josh and Sarah, who I’d never met before, plus get big hugs from KatieBeth, Liz, Eileen, Kelly and George and meet his girlfriend Adrienne, then Jeremy (and watch KatieBeth tacklehug him, literally, to the ground) and meet his friends Kristin and Greg. Then I got more hugs from KatieBeth. And met the weekend’s awesome mascot/climberdog, Lola The Puggle.

My climbing goals this weekend were to climb just about everything I could, belay as much as I could and try to get in a lead. Word has it that Red Rocks is the best place ever to learn how to lead on real rock and be comfortable. I’d done it before in Washington, but it’s been a season or two. Over the course of three days, I managed to top rope 13 routes (12 of those the first two days), clean anchors, learn more about anchors, learn little tricks about equipment, belay like crazy with my awesome new Petzl Reverso 3 and hike hike hike with a big ol’ backpack, testing my cardio. (Note to self: must start doing more cardio).

Courtesy Peter West Carey/Hidden Creek Photography

No sport leading took place though. It took me a while to get my lead head on and by the time I did and was ready to jump on a route on Panty Wall, someone else took it over. Oh. Then I never got it back. Double Oh. The first half of the trip was merely just decompressing from Real Life and trying to relax and focus on the positive energy of our group. And staying hydrated.

That was THE major lesson I learned at Red Rocks – after morning tea/coffee, start pounding the water and get through 64 ounces within four hours. I didn’t do that on Friday and felt awful (plus the whole transition from Real Life thing). Saturday, I followed my self-prescription and felt great the rest of the day. It also helped that Jeremy kept harping on me to chug.

It can also be quite windy in the desert. Saturday night, some of us came back to camp to find the wind blowing my tent over (granted it’s a cheapie, car-camping, no-guy-lines dome tent) and we some how managed to use our camp stoves in the blustery wind to cook dinner. Definitely no campfire that night, so dinners, snacks, bottles of wine, four climbers and a Puggle crammed inside a two-person tent to share stories, play a mandolin, pass the wine bottle and and laugh until we couldn’t breathe.

Here’s a video wrapping up the whole trip:  http://vimeo.com/10712712

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