One of the reasons I moved out to Las Vegas was because I really enjoy rock climbing. Its funny, but when I first had a friend try to get me to try climbing, I refused. I was probably about 23 at the time. I thought it was ridiculous. Why would anyone want to climb rocks?!
Years later, when I was around 31, I finally tried climbing and was instantly hooked. My first attempt was at a gym in Wisconsin and it was completely confusing and totally enlightening. Climbing looked like it should be easy, but it was incredibly hard!
I was absolutely frustrated, I felt completely uncoordinated, and I loved it! It set my brain on fire and I wanted to figure out how to get better at it.
What I love most about rock climbing is that its a mind-body challenge. Climbing is a puzzle for your mind while your body is under extreme physical duress. For me that is a super addictive combination, because your mind is so engaged that you don't realize that you are getting an amazing workout.
Climbing is not just about strength. Its mostly about technique - body position, balance, conservation of energy, keeping your wits, controlling your breath, and controlling your heart rate.
So I as I said, I moved out to Las Vegas partly because Red Rock Canyon is one of the epicenters of rock climbing. In Vegas you can climb all year round. And when summer gets too hot to climb in Red Rock Canyon, you can head up to Mt. Charleston.
Unfortunately life has gotten fairly busy and filled with more responsibility over the last couple of years, so I don't get to climb outside as much as I like these days. Climbing outside tends to be a 4-6 hour ordeal. Its usually about 30 mins to an hour to drive and hike to the crag, set up and start climbing. Then you climb for a couple hours and finish by packing up, hiking out, and driving home. When its all said and done, your in for at least 4 hours, but you're having so much fun that its usually even longer.
So the Red Rock Climbing Center is where I can always get my quick climbing fix, at least once a week.
The other day, I was one of two people at the gym and I took this sweet Photosynth 360 panorama of the first floor:
The Red Rock Climbing center is one of two climbing gyms in Las Vegas. The other is located near the airport. Red Rock is located on the West Side of Las Vegas about 15 minutes from the Red Rock National Conservation Area, which is loaded with tons of routes.
If the map above loaded correctly, the pinpoint "A" is the Climbing Gym, "B" is Red Rock Canyon, and the "V" in "Las Vegas" is about where the main Vegas Strip is located (i.e. MGM, Venetian, Bellagio, Caesar's Palace, Mandalay Bay, etc).
Though I haven't been to the one by the airport in a while (since I first moved to Las Vegas in March of 2008) its my opinion that the Red Rock Climbing Center is a much better gym. The routes at Red Rock Climbing Center are frequently updated, they go across the ceiling, and there is a good range of easy to extremely hard routes.
About a year ago (maybe longer) they installed four auto-belays and since then have added a fifth. The auto-belays are a blessing and a curse. I love that I can shoot up to the gym and get some routes in without having to find someone to belay me. Of course, my lead climbing suffers when doing all of that top-roping.
Though I don't boulder anymore, as I find all those 3-6 foot falls that happen when bouldering too hard on my joints (especially my knees - even if I am landing on padding), the gym has some great bouldering routes and an awesome yearly bouldering competition.
The second and third floors of the gym are covered in bouldering routes. There's even a ramp from the first floor to the second that's like bouldering in a cave.
If you are a climber and you come out to Vegas, I suggest you at least stop in and take a look at the Red Rock Climbing Gym.