Director Jud's Blog

SMA Teen Adventure Camp Staff Jason and Pat climb Red Rocks, NV - Part 1

Posted by Jud Millar on Fri, Mar 4, 2016

The following is the first in a two part blog post Q&A with 2 former SMA Teen Adventure Camp Teen Adventure Camp Staff Patrick McManamon and Jason Criswell.  Over the 2015 / 2016 holidays these climbing partners embarked on a rock climbing trip that took them to Red Rocks, Nevada and Joshua Tree National Park in California.  Both Jason and Patrick are from Huntingdon, PA and were friends before working together at SMA 2 Week Teen Summer Camp.  Ironically they both started at SMA Teen Rock Climbing Summer Camp  in the capacity of "Maintenance Boys" before moving up the ranks to camp counselor, rock climbing instructor, wakeboarding boat drivers among others.  Others that have held that position over the years include Alex and Peter McDowell, Brenton Mitchell, Thatcher Houldin and Zack Reed to mention a few.  I recently sat down with Jason and Patrick to chat with them about their trip and we did a Question and Answer session which got all 3 of us excited about rock climbing!


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When was the first time each of you went rock climbing?

Jason - My first rock climbing experience was none other than THE Donation Rocks at SMA. I didn't really have a clue that there was a "climbing world" and i'm forever grateful for the chance to dip my toes in it through SMA. I have since taken the plunge.

Patrick - The first time I ever did any real rock climbing was as the "Director of Facilities" (read Farm Hand) at SMA before my counselor days! I got out at Donation Rocks before camp began with some counselors and never looked back!


How did you decide on a climbing trip to Red Rocks and Joshua Tree?

Patrick - I had some time off from classes for Christmas and Jason's schedule was free too, and it's hard to beat the mild temps and cheap flights that lead directly to world class climbing at these two spots.

Jason - For some reason our schedules always line up in the winter so we are forced to look south for good climbing. We had been to Red Rock the previous year and it didn't disappoint. We were fortunate to have more time on this trip so we decided to plan for J-Tree, another world class area.


You climbed in Red Rocks first and had good weather, how was the climbing 4 miles off the Vegas Strip?

Jason - I can't think of anywhere else i've been where you can drive 4 miles and be in two places with less in common. Vegas makes Red Rock climbing so accessible and allows for trips like this and the climbing is unmatched. From roadside sport routes to 1,000 foot multi-pitch alpine feel climbs, it has something for everyone. We combined two climbs (Johnny Vegas and Solar Slab) for the most complete adventure filled day of the trip. It's not an adventure until something goes wrong - - we got lost on the way out, and despite pulling cactus barbs out of our legs I think we gained from the experience.


Patrick - Red Rock is spectacular and ranks high on the list of places I've ever climbed. Our first trip in 2015 focused more on sport climbing there, but this year we dedicated more time to trad climbing to get higher on the walls and a more adventurous feel. The highlight was climbing 6 pitches on Johnny Vegas and Solar Slab, 5.7***. Cold nights, blue skies, and breathtaking views of the mountains all complement seeing the strip when you get hundreds of feet off the deck.

Stay tuned for PART 2 of this Blog Post to come out next week!

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This blog will give you the "411" about everything that is Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp!  Everything from "Summer Updates" to useful family and camp resources.  Check it out! 

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