Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

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Another rock climbing mecca – Clark Mountain near Vegas

July 3, 2009

I’m on a roll…

Here’s another climbing site admirably suited to our extreme sports blog, Clark Mountain, 40 miles south of Las Vegas and 235 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The climbing here is about 300-500 feet high and about a mile long.

Clark Mountain is the high point of Mojave National Preserve and is a refreshing climb out of the desert. It is sport climbing in an alpine environment.

Geologically speaking, Clark is part of a long chain of limestone outcroppings that stretch through the Great Basin from Nevada and Utah into Wyoming and Montana.

Third tier...AMAZING....

This is Third Tier – “the most amazing wall in the USA” says Joey Kinder. Sheer white limestone for hundreds of feet, but it is hardly developed. Third Tier, also known as The Monastery,  has 34 routes including Jumbo Pumping Hate and Tusk. It is some of the best limestone in the country.

Randy Leavitt originally opened up this area having scoped it for years from the highway. It took him, with help from Jorge Vissar, Ed Worsman, and Glen Svenson, 4 years to establish over 80 routes in the four areas of Clark Mountain all the while keeping their activities quiet so they could enjoy the solitude and the magnificent climbs before others moved in.

Jumbo Pumping Hate, a Randy Leavitt route, is a 5.14a climb. It’s  long, involved and really exposed with juggy sequences and dynos.

Chris Sharma on Jumbo Love F9b, 97 kb
Chris Sharma on Jumbo Pumping Love F9b
UKC Articles, Dec 2008
© Boone Speed / Aurora Photos

As Randy Leavitt says: The finest limestone on the planet can be found here. You’ll have to work to get to it though.” However, he continues, “the quality of rock more than repays your effort. Expect your legs to gain muscle weight from the hike in, but get ready for the most spectacular sport climbing this side of the Mississippi.”

The rock quality is exceptional. Features are not limited to one type. You’ll find it all — pockets, edges, slopers, pinches, underclings, and cracks. The climbing is always interesting. Each route is distinctive. The climbing doesn’t get repetitive or boring. But be careful – help is a long way away.

The climbing of Clark Mountain began in 1992 and Hole In The Wall was the first route established on the First Tier. Read My Lips was the first route on the 2nd Tier and Religious Man on the Third Tier or The Monastery.

Randy Leavitt and Mike Booth on Jumbo Pumping Hate 5.13d (8b) at the Monastery., 67 kbRandy Leavitt and Mike Booth on Jumbo Pumping Hate 5.13d (8b) at the Monastery.
UKC News
© Jorge Visser

The climbing area is 9 miles off Interstate 15 and 5 miles south of the Nevada border.

Most of the climbing is on the East Face of Clark Mountain. There is also one developed crag on the South Face known as the Baily Road Crag.

This is sport climbing bar none…

clark local, 72 kb

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Rodeo timed events – barrel racing, pole bending, steer wrestling

February 26, 2009

Last week we put a blog out about the bull riding and Professional Bull Riders which attracted a lot of interest and we therefore you would like to know more about the world of rodeo which when you think about it would have to be considered an extreme sport.

History

Rodeo did of course originate from the activities of cowboys and vaqueros who on a daily basis were managing steers from horseback on the vast ranches and needed to either separate, move to different pasture, treat for illness or brand the cattle. Rodeo competition grew from these every day activities and by 1860 there were informal rodeo competitions in both Mexico and north western America. By 1910 several major rodeos were established including the Calgary Stampede, the Pendleton Round-Up and the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Rodeo is now particularly popular in the province of Alberta in Canada and throughout the western United States and is the official sport of Wyoming and Texas.

The modern professional rodeo is big business with more than 7,500 cowboys competing for over $30 million prize money at 650 rodeos. The circuit concludes with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR)  held in Las Vegas, Nevada  in December.

Today rodeo encompasses three discipllines – namely timed events, roping and rough stock competition (bull riding being part of rough stock competition). Today we will look at the timed events: barrel racing, pole bending and steer wrestling.

Competition – timed events

Barrel racing – exclusively a women’s sport. In a barrel race, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. The fastest time is the winner. Check out the action in the video below from tetah11.

Pole bending – horse and rider run the length of a line of six upright poles, turn sharply and weave through the poles, turn again and weave back and then return to the start. Fastest time wins all but it should be noted that pole bending is not a professional sport – check out how it is done in the video fromRodeoDVD

Steer wrestling – also known as “Bulldogging,” the rodeo event where the rider jumps off his horse onto a steer and ‘wrestles’ it to the ground by grabbing it by the horns. Again the quickest time gets the most points and is therefore deemed the winner. It is considered the most dangerous of the timed events as the cowboy runs a risk of missing the steer and landing head first in the dirt, or of having the thrown steer land on top of him, sometimes horns first, whilst attempting to wrestle it to the ground. Again the action can be seen in the video below from easternslopepro.

One element that is not generally of concern with other extreme sports that we cover is animal rights  – we believe and respect everyones opinion but would suggest that participants are not wanting to harm their horses or the steers – all of which cost money and will only perform well if they are fit and sound. We are always interested to hear your thoughts on this and any other issue.

This brief introduction to the timed events of rodeo will be followed by a look at roping and rough stock competition in a future publication.

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Canyoneering – a European sport becoming more popular in the U.S.

January 11, 2009

The European sport of canyoneering — a blend of rock climbing, rappelling, hiking, swimming and scrambling — attracts a growing crowd of adventurers to the Zion area in Utah, acclaimed for its red-rock slot canyons and soaring monoliths. The activity is most popular during the summer, when temperatures topping 100 degrees send people off the ledge in search of a cool splash. However, with its semi-arid climate and average winter highs in the 50s, Zion never hibernates. Nor do its hardy visitors.

We are indebted to the Washington Post’s special correspondent, Kristin Harrison, for bringing us this this report on her visit to Zion National Park. 

Last year the park received more than 2.6 million guests, with most folks arriving June through September. From December 2007 through February 2008, attendance was only 63,000 per month. Some of the park’s higher elevations in the northwest become difficult to access in the colder months, but the main attractions in Zion Canyon stay open year-round.

“In the winter,” said Ron Terry, the park’s chief of interpretation and visitor services, “you can avoid the crowds. You’re likely to hike a trail and not see anyone else.” The wildlife, though, will be out and about, including bald eagles (which appear only in winter, during their migration), desert bighorn sheep and mule deer.

Located 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the nearly 150,000-acre national park sits along the Colorado Plateau on what geologists call the Grand Staircase, a massive series of sedimentary uplifts that runs from Utah’s Bryce Canyon to Arizona’s Grand Canyon. Zion’s sculptural rock formations, including the 3,000-foot-high Navajo Sandstone walls in Zion Canyon and the beautiful rock arches at Kolob Terrace, have long inspired mankind. The Paiute Indians called Zion Canyon “Mukuntuweap” (sacred cliffs), the name used when President William Howard Taft declared the site a national monument in 1909. In the 1860s, according to historical lore, Mormon settler Isaac Behunin said, “A man can worship God among these great cathedrals; this is Zion.” Through lobbying by the Mormon Church, Zion became the area’s official name when it was designated a national park in 1919.

My Zion foray left me similarly awestruck. My boyfriend and I started our visit on a rainy morning, at the park’s south entrance just north of Springdale, Utah. At the visitors center, we received tips on the best trails to hike based on weather conditions. Snow rarely sticks in Zion’s valley, where most visitors spend their time, or in the southern region, so hiking options are numerous year-round. Terry recommended the desert trails of Chinle, Coalpits and the Huber Washes, all of which are usually dry and provide scenic canyon views. Rangers also divulge one of the park’s deepest secrets: the locations of the Anasazi petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings), created an estimated 1,000 years ago. (Directions to the artworks aren’t widely publicized because of past acts of vandalism.)

In Zion Canyon, we started with an easy stroll down Riverside Walk, a paved, stroller-friendly trail that rambles along the Virgin River and ends at the start of the Narrows, a well-known hike that involves more wading than walking. (Although recommended for summer, the Narrows can be explored in the winter, depending on the weather. It’s essential, however, to wear a dry suit and talk to a ranger first.) Afterward, we tackled Emerald Pools, a 2.6-mile loop that winds behind a roaring waterfall. Thanks to a downpour earlier in the day, a handful of other falls cascaded over nearby cliffs, making me glad we had hiked in spite of the rain. Depending on snowmelt and storms, waterfalls also can appear throughout winter at the lower and upper pools.

Soggy after a day of hiking, we stopped for hot chocolate and snacks at the Sol Foods Market, just outside the park’s gates and a short walk from our hotel, the new Cable Mountain Lodge. All lodge guests receive free tickets to the Zion Canyon Giant Screen Theatre, so that evening we attended the 40-minute film “Zion Canyon Treasure of the Gods,” shown on a six-story-high screen, the largest in Utah. To be honest, the narrative was a bit cheesy, but the film provided dramatic bird’s-eye views of Zion’s canyons and made us wishful for clear weather the next day.

Prayers answered: We awoke to sunny skies and 50-degree weather. In these perfect conditions, we decided to tackle Angels Landing, one of the park’s most challenging trails. Constructed in the 1920s, the five-mile route follows a series of steep switchbacks, known as Walter’s Wiggles, that march nearly 1,500 feet up to the top of an exposed, narrow rock pinnacle with a jaw-dropping panorama. The final half-mile is bare and exposed, and it is sometimes closed due to ice in the winter. But the lower portions still provide grand overlooks and a strenuous workout.

Hiking Angels Landing prepared me (a little) for our canyoneering adventure ahead. Guided canyoneering trips are not allowed inside the park, so we booked a trip in a nearby canyon with Zion Adventure Co. Our guide, Lynn Unger, told us that we’d spend the day “problem solving” as we traversed the canyon by rope or foot or any other body part that might prove useful.

After five hours navigating our way up a steep, narrow trail, scrambling over boulders and rappelling four rock faces, I started to feel confident; just call me Indiana Jane. So, when we arrived at the final drop-off, my early-morning anxiety was gone. Until Unger said, “Getting down this cliff will require all the skills you’ve learned today, as well as the experiences you brought with you.” That sounded like psychoanalysis.

The rock plunged at a steep angle, making it impossible to see the ground or my boyfriend, who had just disappeared down its face. Just to get to the edge, I had to squeeze between two large rocks. I must have looked slightly terrified, because Unger attempted to assure me: “You’ll be fine.”

I climbed halfway down the face and did not encounter anything scary or tricky. I started to think Unger had been joking. “What’s the big deal?” I wondered. Then I found out: I had to navigate a slot just a few feet wide. My knuckles touched one wall and my backpack scraped the other. I started to panic, envisioning myself permanently sandwiched between two cold slabs of rock. With no other way to go, I squeezed my way down, hoping the space wouldn’t slim any further. I’d never been so happy to drop, once again, into cold water.

Heart still thumping, I swam to land and looked at what I’d just scaled down: a nearly 100-foot cliff that angled into a narrow, miniature canyon. An experience, indeed, and I didn’t have to wait for summer to have it.

Below is a great video from hyner49 of what you might expect in reality if you decide to go canyoneering in Utah’s Zion National Park.

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Extreme poker

December 6, 2008

Its a sport, its extreme and its poker – what next can we come up with?!

thanks to chriscoulson for the video

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Extreme sports….extreme vacation….why not?

May 16, 2008

Some people just can’t live without their adrenaline fix even when they go on holiday so I’ve put together ten vacations that could only be described as extreme!

1. Drag racing

Foot to the floor and before you can say ‘Jack Robinson’ you’ve crossed the finish line having attained a speed in excess of 300mph in a quarter mile! Doug Foley’s Drag Racing School offers several dates at Atco, New Jersey with options in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Or you could go for the Super Comp Dragster package, a two-day program that includes safety instruction and step-by-step familiarization with your car before you hit the track.

2. Gorilla safari

JK Safari run a 4-day safari to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Africa which is the best place to see these gracious and gentle giants – estimated to have a worldwide population of no more than 700. You are also likely to visit the Karisoke Research station, the inspiration behind the film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and where Dian Fossey was murdered and is buried.

3. Heli-skiing
Why not try your hand, or should I say your skis, on the virgin slopes of Alaska’s Chugach Mountain. You have to have almost represented your country in the Olympics at skiing – only joking – but this is definitely not one for beginners, but it will give you a unique experience on the slopes and something you will be able to talk to the grandchildren about. Valdez Heli-Camps operates tours to the Chugach mountain range and offers acc4.

4. Mountain climbing
Stand on top of the world – yes I’m talking about conquering Everest, the world’s highest mountain and something that you will need to sign a disclaimer against as Everest still claims lives every year, but it can be done if you’re an accomplished climber, Adventure Consultants offers summit expeditions from Nepal with no guarantees of either making it to the summit or getting back – alive!

5. Sandboarding
Because its sand doesn’t mean its not extreme and this rush will take you to Cerro Blanco near the Andes mountain range in Peru to find the world’s tallest sand dune. Carving your way down the dunes will challenge even those dudes who think they have done it all on the colder and whiter mountains.Peru Adventure Tours runs this very alternative boarding trip.

6. Shark diving
Of course it cannot be guaranteed that the only shark you will see is the Blue shark and the Mako shark – I seem to recall that the Great White is sometimes seen in these waters, but if that’s your fix then Apex Shark Expeditions runs day trips into False Bay , near Cape Town, South Africa, between November and June. Its in these waters that I always wished for another set of eyes in the back of my head!

7. Space travel

The final frontier for the brave and super rich, already possible on a Russian rocket and as offered by Virginia-based Space Adventures for a cheek sucking $25 million or you can wait for the Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s suborbital space probe which will set you back a paltry $200,000 and which is due to blast off in 2009. My guess is that like computers the price will only come down.

8. Spelunking

This is your chance to meet an Orc, or if you’re really lucky Gandalf and/or Frodo, for in the Waitomo cave system in New Zealand you can rappel down the side of limestone cliffs, squeeze through damp crevices covered with luminescent glow worms, leap from a subterranean waterfall, and go “black-water rafting” in the underground rapids at Ruakuri Cave, where you may even find Gollum! The five-hour Black Abyss adventure is offered by The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. and is the most challenging of the region’s guided tours.

9. Stunt vacations

Another extreme challenge is offered with this vacation package courtesy of Thrillseekers Unlimited, who in a five day course, called appropriately enough the ‘Stunt Experience’, will teach you under the instruction of SAG professionals all you need to know to enable you to be part of the action in burning building scenes, car chases and other stunts including a bungee jump from the AJ Hackett Tower on the Strip in Las Vegas.

10. Titanic dive

And finally for those fanatics of the movie Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet head for Newfoundlad where The Great Canadian Adventure Company will take you to a depth of 2.5 miles to see the final resting place of RMS Titanic, where the infamous vessel lies broken and twisted on the ocean floor. A surreal experience if ever there was one.

For sure they are extreme….. and they will get you away from the madding crowd – either because there are not that many people crazy enough to try these crazy vacations, or is it just that they are financially out of the reach of us mere mortals! If you are one of those crazy guys all I can do is to wish you luck and ask that you let all us mortals know of your adventure when you return. Enjoy!