White Dome 2x RS
Balanced Rock 3x

Feb 12, 2022

With: Don Brunnett
Cheryl Macaraeg
Lori Brunnett

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX
White Dome previously climbed Feb 20, 2018
Balanced Rock previously climbed Jan 25, 2019
Balanced Rock later climbed Feb 18, 2024


This was a pretty chill affair. I was in Las Vegas with my wife, my cousin and his wife. I drove them out to Valley of Fire, about an hour's drive northeast of the city. I had been there on a number of previous occasions, so I had a pretty good idea where to take them. These are not early risers, so it wasn't until after 11a that we got started on our first hike, the slot canyon loop at White Dome. The loop trail is about a mile and a quarter long, though only a couple hundred feet actually goes through the slot canyon. The parking lot and trail were packed, to no great surprise, but it was still fun. Afterwards, we played around on the lower slabs at the base of White Dome. When I asked if anyone wanted to scramble up to the top, I had three takers, but my wife backed off almost immediately, and Don balked at the class 4 crux, an awkward chimney/crack that comes soon after the easy part ends. To my surprise, Lori looked at it and said, "I think I could do that." She wasn't all that sure, and would change her mind more than a dozen times as I helped demonstrate the techniques and moves needed and helped her through it. It wasn't the most elegant ascent, but she did make it. Above the crux, the rest is all class 2-3 slabs. She was working hard climbing those the last 150ft to the top, and fairly out of breath by the time we got up. It's a great view spot, and she seemed to relish the views as much as the accomplishment. Understandably nervous about getting down, we didn't stay too long, then reversed the moves back down. She showed more confidence in her foot work on the way down the slabs, using her hands far less than she had on the way up. I walked her back down through the crux section without incident, and then we walked off the easier slabs lower down. Well done, I thought.

We collected our spouses and headed back to the Jeep. Our next stop was at Mouse's Tank. I hadn't done this short hike (3/4mi roundtrip), but found it as interesting as it was busy. There are sections of varnished rock on the north side of the trail featuring petroglyphs. At the end of the trail is the tank, two tenajas that were unfortunately dry today (it has been more than a month since the last rain). We did have fun scrambling around on some of the rock features in the area.

Our next stop was the Visitor Center. While the ladies went inside to buy some souveniers, Don and I went to check out Balanced Rock. He balked at the class 3 step across, so backed off fairly quickly. The class 4 crux on this one was as tough as I had remembered, and I was barely able to lift my leg high enough onto the high step to pull the move this time. Getting old. After I came back down, we had a bit more fun scrambling the feature immediately north of Balanced Rock, giving me an opportunity for a few good pics of Balanced Rock from above.

We also stopped at Atlatl Rock and the petrified logs to round out our visit. Everyone seemed to enjoy the visit, and were happy to make their 10,000 steps for the day. My job as tour guide done, we headed back to Las Vegas...


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