For the past three years, I’ve basically talked my Chilean friends’ ears off about Yosemite and Tahoe and all the fun adventures to be had in such places, so I was absolutely stoked to get the chance to show three of my best friends around my favorite places in the western United States for the full month of May. Since I moved south, they’ve been incredibly generous with their time and tourguiding skills in Chile, so this month was finally my turn to return the favor.
After a couple days of preparations in Lake Tahoe, the first two weeks of our monthlong adventure were spent roadtripping and climbing through Red Rock Canyon, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon, with a pitstop at the Buttermilk Boulders on the way home. My partner was kind enough to lend the four of us his truck with a camper shell and pop-up tent for the trip, and I must say it is the ultimate adventure vehicle. Shoutout to Full Stoke Camper for the sleek design, can recommend.
Red Rock Canyon National Park
We started the trip off in Red Rock Canyon, a climbing mecca just west of Las Vegas. Some highlights include the first multipitch climb for Coni and Naty, finding various places to nap, Pía’s first time placing trad gear (minus the 10 minutes of swearing as I tried to get out a camelot that she had gotten stuck deep in a crack), top-notch reguetón playlists, the worst burritos any of us have ever had, and then making up for it in the city of Las Vegas at a super tasty Mexican restaurant. Also for the multipitch climb you can tell immediately which pair got stuck with the dirty rope…
Zion National Park
Zion is simply epic, and was without question everyone’s favorite park. We didn’t climb but spent one day doing the famous Angel’s Landing hike and a second day sloshing 16 miles through the Virgin River Narrows from the top down. Along the way we made friends with some miniature rock squirrels, hiked way up to some wonderful panoramic views one day and then trekked way down into a giant canyon the next, marveled at the views from the campsite itself, wore dry-suit waders up to our armpits for 12 hours, thought for a hot second that we might have to jump over a waterfall and then thankfully found a way around it, stared up at sheer vertical rock faces on both sides of the river in awe, pooped in wag bags that we then carried out to avoid contaminating the water, gave all our food and some layers to a family we found stranded on the trail since the father had likely broken his leg pretty far up the canyon (rescuers hiked in later that night), missed the last shuttle bus back to the campsite by an hour, and had to rely on some friendly rangers for a ride to avoid walking an additional 10 miles in the dark. In short: an adventure.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is pretty big. You hike down into it for a while and it just … keeps going. We were all pretty exhausted after our Zion (mis)adventures and mostly stayed close to the canyon rim for sightseeing as well as a particularly wonderful sunset but it was definitely worth the trip because pictures and words cannot convey how very grand this canyon really is.
The final stop of the trip was a day of bouldering outside of Bishop, California. We ended up going to an area called the Happy Boulders, which had some very tall routes (known to the climber crowd as highballing) and some very traverse-y low ones. We didn’t follow a guide, so I have no idea how hard any of these routes were but I don’t think it matters when you’re just there to chill out and play on some rocks for a bit before heading back to Tahoe.
So that was the first half of our monthlong adventure. The third week of the trip was entirely dedicated to Yosemite with extra friends, and now this last week we’re in Tahoe chilling and climbing and paddleboarding before everyone heads home on Saturday. I’ll check back in with some highlights, of course!