Robber’s Roost Canyon

Robber’s Roost Canyon – 3A I
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area

My very first technical canyon ever!

I met Rick online through my desperate attempts to find someone willing to teach me their canyoneering ways. I got a lot of responses from pretentious folks who berated my lack of experience and only half a response of anyone willing to help me GET that experience. Rick was my knight in shining climbing gear and offered to take me out with him. The catch? He’s into exploring canyons; canyons that nobody has ever written about or likely even descended. He uses topo maps, google earth, and hiking & climbing resources to locate potential adventures and then treks out into the wilderness to see what he can see. A little scary, but it was my only shot at becoming a canyoneer!

I informed my roommates that I was going out into the wilderness with a guy from online that I’d never met, I wasn’t sure where we were going, and we’d be descending a canyon that nobody had ever done before and we had no idea what to expect. I told them they should probably call the police if I’m not back by dark. Sometimes I think that growing up in a tiny desert town really handicaps me when it comes to street smarts…I have none. I trust everyone. And I had talked to Rick on the phone. He seemed cool.

Turns out I was right, he is cool! He’s my age, too, which was a pleasant surprise for both of us; has anyone ever noticed that canyoneers are all way older?!? …No offense…just sayin’.

We headed up to Mt. Charleston because that’s the only place temperate enough to explore in Vegas in the summer. I found out he’s also a biologist (very cool) and is also really into mountain biking (perfect!). I have probably just found my new Vegas best friend.

He had a few canyons in mind to check out, and we started with the canyon above Robber’s Roost. RR is a maintained hike in the Spring Mountains, which Bird & Hike describes as “a short, but moderately strenuous, loop trail that heads up a narrow canyon to limestone caves that, according to local legend, were used by bandits as a hideout while raiding travelers on the old Mormon Trail.” Neat. We parked at the trailhead and silly, niave Kristi starts heading towards the trail. But no, Rick has other ideas.

“We’re going up that mountain,” he says, pointing to the steep rise above us.

“OK…” I said, still thinking the trail sounded like a good choice.

But when Rick says ‘up a mountain,’ he really means it. He started bushwhacking straight up that beast, so steep that my achilles tendons screamed in resistance (and I do downward dog like it used to be my job {get it? because I used to be a yoga teacher?}). After forever and a few asthma breaks for me, we reached a cliff band that we had to climb. It was only about 2 or 3 sections of 10 foot climbs, but at this point in my canyoneering career, that was scary business!

Up and over the cliff bands, Rick dropped his pack and announced that we had arrived. I looked around, saw nothing.

“Hmm?” Are we getting another break?

“No,” Rick motioned to a wash in front of us. “We’re here.”

I peeked around the corner and saw a good, long rappel. …What? How did he know EXACTLY where the canyon would start? I was mind boggled, but also super nervous. I’d only rappelled a few times in the distant past and once last week.

I got a quick lesson on natural & retrievable anchors, and learned first-hand what is meant by the term ‘awkward-start.’ The canyon was absolutely perfect for a nervous beginner. There were (I think) 4 rappels, pretty straight-forward and easy with just enough awkwardness & height to give a new canyoneer some real world experience.

I demonstrate the business end of an awkward start rappel


A permanent anchor? Well, until we took it.

We found a couple of odd set-ups at some of the rap stations, hinting that ours was not the first descent. However, I’m tempted to believe that anchors were set-up to help rock climbers come UP, instead of canyoneers coming down. There was nothing at the first rappel, but the second rappel had an anchor with one line of rope just tied to it…not something a canyoneer would do/leave behind. We found another anchor with another length of rope and then at the last rappel, a bolt & hanger, plus a propped-up log to aid in climbing. Just below this last rappel is a popular climbing wall, The Crag, so I’m thinking there were just some explorey climbers. I’d like to keep thinking that my first canyon was a first descent.

single bolt anchor in place...yup, definitely climbers 😀

log to climb up?

climbers at The Crag

one of the Robber's Roost caves

Again from Bird & Hike, “Local legend has it that during the pioneer days, Robber’s Roost was used by horse thieves as hideout around 1885. They say the outlaws put up a fence and used the canyon for a corral, used the caves for shelter, and used high points around the caves as vantage points for spotting approaching lawmen. They also say the bandits stashed stolen goods around Robber’s Roost, so perhaps there is some treasure in the hills. This makes a good story, but looking at the cave makes me wonder if it was such a good place to live.”

So our discovery wasn’t destined to become a world-famous canyoneering route, but we found a short, easy beginner canyon that can be done in the summer. Vegas canyoneers will forever benefit!!!

the longest rappel; the bottom of this photo is the top of the climbing log photo

Rick is proud of his canyon discovery.

Beta for this canyon can be found on the Las Vegas Slots Canyoneering Project Facebook page.


One thought on “Robber’s Roost Canyon

  1. Pingback: Another DH run at Mt Charleston | desert brat

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