I've been climbing and working in Las Vegas for the last 10 weeks, and I have one more to go before returning home to Boulder. As one of few Colorado climbers hunkered down here for the winter, I've been the minority (read: the target) during countless quibbles over whether Boulder or Las Vegas is the superior city for a climber.
When it comes to climbing, Las Vegas and Boulder are very similar. Both locales are well suited to climbers of all experience levels, with routes of every grade close to town. Both sunny cities also boast an extraordinary percentage of very strong climbers, which is due in part to the lack of an off-season.
I've paraphrased a few of the arguments I've heard from Boulder and Vegas locals, but you be the judge in this town vs. town showdown.
This is what a Boulder climber might say, and the typical Vegas climber's response:
B: We have the best variety of year-round climbing in America. Thousands of killer boulder problems and routes -- on granite, gneiss and several types of sandstone -- are within half an hour of town.
LV: Boulder Canyon sucks. Eldo has crappy rock, and it's scary as hell. You have to walk forever in the Flatirons. Clear Creek is an over-bolted choss pile.
B: We have the most diverse indoor climbing in America: Movement, The Spot, the Boulder Rock Club, CATS.
LV: Climbing plastic? We climb hard outside all day, then drink beer and cosmos. We wake up early and do it again the next day.
B: Pearl Street is the perfect setting après-climb. It's not The Strip, but that's the point.
LV: Pearl Street sucks. The bars close at 2 a.m.
B: Outdoor cross-training is accessible anywhere in Boulder: trail running, road and mountain biking, hiking, etc.
LV: Indoor cross-training is better, and accessible anywhere in Vegas: dancing to world-class DJs, sport drinking at the Yard House, getting lap dances at the Spearmint Rhino, etc.
B: Residential break-ins are as common in Las Vegas as random acts of kindness are in Boulder.
LV: Whatever. At least life is real in Las Vegas. Boulder is just a Bubble full of self-righteous trustafarians.
This is what a Las Vegas climber might say about the city, and the typical Boulder climber's response:
LV: We have the best year-round sport climbing in America, including some of the hardest routes in the country.
B: Sport climbing is passé. Bouldering is way radder. The best boulderers in the world travel to Rocky Mountain National Park and Mount Evans. The hardest boulder problem on the planet -- The Game (V15/16) -- is in Boulder Canyon, five minutes from downtown.
LV: We have a super-motivated crew of friendly, local climbers.
B: We have a super-motivated crew of friendly, local climbers as well. It's about 50 times larger than your crew.
LV: On non-climbing days, we party 'til sunrise on The Strip.
B: Partying that hard disturbs my chi.
LV: Vegas has better weather than Boulder.
B: Whatever. We've got plenty of sun, and I don't need SPF 200 and air-conditioned underwear to step outside half the year.
LV: Boulder is such a scene!
B: Seriously, Vegas?
After two and a half months of intense and technical research in Las Vegas (usually over a dark Belgian beer or two), I've realized that whatever it is -- an all-night dance party, a "scene" or the best rock climbs -- it doesn't matter whether you're in Sin City, Boulder's Bubble or somewhere else.
People tend to find exactly what they're looking for.
Contact Chris Weidner at email@example.com.