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  • Writer's pictureApril H.

Trip Report - Las Vegas, NV (October 2021)

Hi all! I know it's been a long while since I've posted a gear review - I promise I'll have another one up shortly. I'm writing to share about my trip to Las Vegas last year, which was spurred on because I signed up for Irene Yee's photography clinic in Las Vegas. I finally accomplished a goal of mine that I've had for a few years now, which was to learn how to ascend a fixed line and improve my climbing photography skills (yay to no more butt shots).

Walter and I left on Thursday, October 7th and spent most of the first day hiking around and exploring Red Rock. I took him to most of the crags I went to on my women's climbing trip in 2019 like Panty Wall, the Slab, and the Black Corridor. We typically like to do this so we get a lay of the land and know exactly where we're going when we have a full day ahead of us. It was also Walter's first time out to Red Rock, so it was also just nice to just wander around and explore together.

One of the last crags that we decided to check out before the sun started to go down was the Sweet Pain Wall. Unbeknownst to us, my Instagram friends Sabrina and Eric were climbing there! I got to take some shots of Eric as he was climbing Sweet Pain (5.11d) and Sabrina as she was climbing Glitter Gulch (5.11a). I had my 70-200mm lens with me, so I had to scramble up some ways to get the shots I wanted. Watching both of them just float up the wall was inspiring.

After Sabrina and Eric were done climbing, we hiked out of the area together and got to catch the sun setting in the park, which was magical. The next day Walter and I planned to go climb, but got rained out. I enjoyed a few hours at the spa and got a massage while Walter gambled in the casino. We ended up having lunch at Gordon Ramsay's Burger, which was very tasty. 10/10 would recommend.

After coordinating with our local friend Tory, checking to see how much rainfall the park received the day before, and the circumstances at the crag, we decided to climb at the Slab the following day. We also met up with my other internet friend, Sabrina Claros, who was also in the area to take Irene Yee's photography clinic that weekend. Having climbed at the Slab back in 2019 I wasn't super intimidated, but the lead nerves kicked in as soon as I started climbing. Climbing at the Slab was a lot harder than I remembered! I eventually finished the route and we all had a good day out climbing.

Photo credits: 1,2,5,6,7 Walter Koning.

After going our separate ways and getting cleaned up, Sabrina and I headed off to Irene's ground school portion of the clinic at the Refuge Climbing gym. Irene taught us what makes a good climbing photo, showed us some examples of her work, explained the gear we would be working with, safety considerations for you and the climber/model, working with climbers/models, how to tie the bunny figure eight for your static line, and many other things. You can catch a video she put together of the clinic here. Overall it felt very informative and I was so psyched for the next day out where we would actually be ascending fixed lines and taking photos.

The next day we all hiked up to the Fringe where we received additional instruction on how to ascend a fixed line. Our guides, The Mountain Guides, lead some routes and fixed lines for us, while Irene ran through each piece of gear and how to set it up correctly and subsequently ascend and descend the line. Admittedly, it was a little confusing, but with Irene's guidance, I was able to get up and down the line safely and take some photos of our climbers/models for the day. It took me by surprise to see Brianna there, but it was so exciting to meet another long Instagram friend of mine and take photos of her.

Photo Credit: 1,2 Lydia Mok

The psych that day was palpable. Everyone was so stoked to be there and learn how to ascend a fixed line in order to push their photography to the next level. I met so many wonderful people at the clinic and learned a ton. I now feel super confident in setting up my own static lines and ascending and descending them. Thanks so much Irene for imparting so much knowledge! Can't wait for my next trip back!

Photo credit: 1 Lydia Mok, 2 Irene Yee

If you're looking to get into climbing photography, you can find links to my set up below. The only thing that I am still working on is the bosun's chair. My friend Kessler made me one, but I think I need to cut the board down in size because it's super wide and heavy to carry.

Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate Carabiner

Black Diamond Index Ascender - Left Hand

Black Diamond Oval Keylock Carabiners

Black Diamond Oval Keylock Screwgate Carabiners

Black Diamond Women's Solution Harness

Metolius Easy Aider

Metolius Easy Daisy

Petzl Grigri 2

Petzl Oscillante Pulley

Sterling Rope - 3/8" HTP Static Rope

Happy ascending!

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