September may seem like a strange time of year to think about climbing in the desert southwest. Temps in Vegas are probably in the 90s and climbers’ fall road trips are still a month or two off. But as any frequent spring or winter Red Rock climber can attest, the canyons and walls just west of Las Vegas can be windy, snowy, and downright fierce from November to March, when many folks flock to the canyons. Nearly all of Red Rock’s best routes and biggest walls face north, making them ideal for when you want to climb in the shade. And that can mean times when the Vegas forecast calls for 90-degree days and light breezes. The Rainbow Wall, Jet Stream Wall, Dark Shadows Wall, and nearly everything in Black Velvet Canyon will feel pleasant, shady, and feature temps in the mid or upper 70s— a perfect time for shorts-and-T-shirt ascents of some of the nation’s premier multipitch routes. Just don’t forget your sun hat or extra bottle of water for the arid approaches.
Unlike Zion, Indian Creek, or anywhere else in the desert southwest, Red Rock boasts an enormous variety of route lengths and styles. From steep sport crags to thin, varnished face climbs and scary runouts, you can find it all in the park. But the area’s most outstanding climbing is found in the wealth of long routes of all grades that feature good protection, easy descents and memorable pitches across a spectrum of grades. September may still be too hot for any of the south-facing walls and lowest elevation crags. But as long as you can manage to stay cool at the campground, you’ll likely find that September is an ideal time to tackle the long Red Rock classics. You’ll likely experience them with fewer crowds and no need for the many layers of clothing required on shady spring ascents. And the sun-baked hike back to your car will merely serve to make those cold beers all the more welcome following a send of your favorite route.
Go-to Gear for Climbing at Red Rock