Home Adventures Reminiscing on Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

Reminiscing on Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

by Paulina Dao
Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

Friday afternoon, a week before Red Rock Rendezvous, I frantically dialed the number of the dude organizing the entire festival. In the span of an hour, en route to Joe’s Valley, I managed to completely freak out and convince myself that my measly trad skills were too measly for an advanced gear placement and anchors class.

I anxiously rifled through the website, hoping for something, or anything, to tell me that I’d be okay. But somehow things looked a little different from when I bought my early bird ticket back in November. And this time around? There were skill levels associated with all the descriptions. Crap.

Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

I’m really good at convincing myself that I’m terrible at climbing. My confidence level on rock is lower than low, even if I’ve been crushing. Every time I get ready to tackle a ten foot boulder problem, I ask my boyfriend to make sure I don’t die. I’m really nervous each time I tie in and have to tell myself I’m not going to fall to my death or anything like that.

Leading up to Red Rock Rendezvous, I spent more time wrestling pebbles than I did on the sharp end. Going into the festival and clinics, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and frankly, I was filled with dread and fear of not being good enough.

Red Rock Rendezvous 2016

Over the course of two and a half days, I learned the fundamentals of placing good gear with Shingo Ohkawa, even critiquing my partner on his placements as we went around ticking off all the easy trad routes we could find in Red Rock.

I gained the confidence to say hey, I want to try leading something—except only if it’s 5.7 and under with super bomber hand jams and really perfect everything. It’s a start, right? I tried my hand at crack climbing, albeit on toprope.

I flailed—but not that badly!—up a 5.10 crack with Will Stanhope. It went from fingers to hands to off width… and I somehow managed to actually enjoy it even if it meant struggling to the top. I didn’t think I was going to make it ten feet off the ground.

I took fall after fall after fall on a route with an unknown grade because Ethan Pringle said no grades that day. I even have a really nice bit of rope burn to prove it. And the falling wasn’t even that bad.


Red Rock Rendezvous wasn’t about what I couldn’t do, but about what I had the potential to do. It was about the possibilities. It was about a safe, comfortable and encouraging environment to try things I wouldn’t try otherwise.

It was about ignoring what my mind thought I couldn’t do and just doing it. It was about finding that confidence in myself and my climbing ability and realizing that I’m crushing no matter what. And most importantly, it was about fun.

Gear: Woolx Basix Tee, Royal Robbins Ranger Twill Pants, Black Diamond Solution Harness, Arc’teryx Aperture Chalk Bag

Header photo by Tobin Sanson. First photo by Chris Jackson.

Last updated on December 4, 2017.

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Kovas May 31, 2016 - 7:54 am

I’ve been wanting to hit up RRR for years now, definitely on my list of fun

Sumit Bhardwaj May 31, 2016 - 1:50 pm

Once you get to the realization that you will fall, you will lead more comfortably. That’s how I lead. Lots of falls. Fun!

David Seele June 2, 2016 - 12:16 pm

Safety? Comfort?

Psh. Go play with the sharp stuff.

A Weekend of Trad Leads - littlegrunts.com December 4, 2017 - 3:25 pm

[…] I’ve followed and top-roped a bunch of stuff. I took an intro to trad all day intensive clinic at Red Rock Rendezvous. I even led a few things up to 5.6, with lots of coaxing. But all of those were with a rope gun, […]


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