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Guided climbing trips are safe and cheap options for off-court entertainment in Las Vegas

Scott Shepherd climbs while Bevie LaBrie belays him at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on Dec. 15, 2018. (Eli Francovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Scott Shepherd climbs while Bevie LaBrie belays him at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on Dec. 15, 2018. (Eli Francovich / The Spokesman-Review)

If you’re looking to get high while in Las Vegas, try stepping off the Strip.

Just 20 minutes from downtown Sin City is world-class rock climbing in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It’s an adult playground made of sandstone and sunshine.

Best of all? There are guided services that will take you from the Strip to the rock and back again.

There are four permitted guiding services in the park. One, Red Rock Climbing Guides, is locally owned and based in Las Vegas. Another, Mountain Skills Rock Guides, was based in Las Vegas but shifted locations several years ago. The other two options are based in other states.

“We’ve been guiding in the park for a couple of decades,” said Jay Foley, owner and founder of Mountain Skills Rock Guides. “We always prided ourselves on being the guide service that can take someone who has never climbed before.”

He’s also happy to take out more experienced climbers. But absolute beginners are absolutely welcome.

“We can take you if you’ve never even heard of a harness before,” he said. “Zero experience is fine.”

The company offers half-day (three-hour) trips and full-day (six-hour) trips. Foley’s guides assess the group dynamic, skill and confidence before the day starts, and tailors the climbing accordingly.

For those scared of heights, Foley said they should start slow: Going over the safety gear and demonstrating that it’s safe.

Participants meet outside the Conservation Area loop and drive in with their guides. The company provides entry to the park, which normally costs $15 per day per vehicle.

All climbing equipment is included. Prices vary from $135 to $295 per person, depending on group size and the length of the trip. For groups larger than 10 people, Foley said he can offer discounted per-person day rates.

And for those who want to stay firmly on the ground, Foley said he also offers scrambling trips exploring the area’s numerous canyons.

Red Rock Climbing Guides is also a beginner-friendly option, said climbing guide Dan Young.

“The bulk of our business has been gym-to-crag outings,” he said. “I think the most important thing is that people should not be intimidated, because we do make it safe and comfortable, regardless of the level of experience.”

Half-day trips start at $175 per person, with discounts for groups. Full-day trips start at $275 per person.

“It’s pretty amazing how easy we make it for everybody,” Young said.

For more experienced and ambitious climbers, both Red Rock Climbing Guides and Mountain Skills Rock Guides offer multi-pitch climbing excursions. Participants will scale a larger wall during a longer and more vigorous excursion.

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