Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Welcome Springs at Spring Break

We spent our two-week spring break this year in Mesquite, Nevada, intent on touring the local limestone. We were fortunate to have good weather and enjoyed the dry climate, a far cry from the harsh wet winters we get in western Canada. Although we climbed at Black and Tan wall and Lime Kiln Canyon, we spent most of our time at Welcome Springs, an area known mostly for the Cathedral and Wailing Wall, both high-quality limestone venues. We were amazed to have the cliffs to ourselves on a variety of nice days, and assumed many of the locals had moved on to greener pastures. The solitude of this area combined with the beautiful desert landscape left us with a very positive impression.

The Climbing - The Cathedral is a cave with a lot of pockets and holes spread across smooth walls. The rock is a tad slippery, but high quality. Routes start at 10b, and go to 14+, and there aren't that many pitches. Unless you are projecting 5.12 and up, you'll probably not spend too much time here. The Wailing Wall routes tend to be vertical and slightly overhanging on very good stone with many small edges, flakes and pockets. Unfortunately, this cliff also lacks moderates, and the easiest recommended route is Pocket Line at 5.11+. If you sport climb 5.12a and up these two cliffs are a great venue, but if you operate at grades below this, you'll likely want to look elsewhere. Kelly's Rock near Black and Tan has some excellent 5.10s and 5.11s.


Season - March and April seem like great times to visit this area, but if it's below 70 degrees in Mesquite, it might be too cold in the shade at the Wailing Wall. Winds play a big role.

Guidebooks - The guidebook to this area is very out of date, but a new one is in the works and will be a welcome reference for visiting climbers. You can navigate the area using the information in the old book, but it would be helpful to speak to some locals to fill in the blanks.

Accommodation - We stayed in Mesquite, and driving time to the parking area was about 30 minutes. From there, it's another 30 minutes of walking to get to the cliff. Mesquite doesn't have much to offer beyond inexpensive hotel rooms, but it was convenient, especially if you climb at Lime Kiln Canyon. St. George is a good alternative, but wouldn't be any closer to Welcome Springs. Many climbers camp at the parking area for Welcome Springs, and it seemed like a nice, peaceful area in the desert.

Food - There are decent groceries in Mesquite, but not much in the way of interesting dining, unless you like fast food. St. George is better in this regard.

Rest Days - Explore the desert. We found an incredible petroglyph site near the Whitney Pocket and enjoyed hiking around some amazing cactus slopes. Zion is just over an hour from Mesquite and features incredible scenery, hiking and climbing, of course. Vegas is an hour in the opposite direction, and we all know what goes on there.


Enjoy the spring!
Marc Bourdon - Squamish, BC

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