Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Joshua Tree California
As fall came on last year I started to think of Yosemite. While looking for partners I tried to convince my friend Leif to come along. Yosemite came and went without Leif being able to join me. This spring it looked like the tables had turned on me. Leif was heading to Joshua Tree National Park, and I was starting training to work for the Census. With only days left before spring break in Jackson Hole, where the town disappears and elk run wild, I had to join Leif on his trip to J-Tree. The six days in between training was plenty of time to go to California, especially with an $89 plane ticket. The 16 hour blast down there and the return travel from LA to Jackson was well worth the four days of climbing.
Leif walking up Double Cross 5.7+ on our first day. We had a mellow warm up of about a grade a day. My most desperate lead of the trip was my first trad lead of the season on a stout 5.8 to the left of Double Cross.
After our late night arrival, and brutally windy night at Jumbo Rocks Campground our first night, we found a sweet place at the Ryan Campground for the rest of our stay.
The next day we started off with a Walk on the Wild Side, a 5.7+, two pitch, slab climb. The spaced nature of the bolts, all placed on lead in J-Tree tradition, made for added excitement to the relatively mellow 5.7 grade.
There is something about slab that just doesn't feel solid, maybe it's the feeling you always have of slowly sliding down.
We picked it up a bit in the afternoon and climbed Touch and Go 5.9, and the classic Pope's Crack 5.9 in the Echo wall area. The main West face is one of my favorite looking walls at J-Tree.
In the desert I think everything is out to get you, especially the cactus. Who knows how the bat got into that situation.
The classic, but too short, Room to Schroom. It took us a while to get our bearings and find this climb, but after and hour and half of wondering we did it.
Even further back in the Wonderland of Rocks area, we found the non-obvious entrance to the Big Horn Mating Grotto, home to 4 star, 5.10 crack climbs. Our first route in the Grotto was the Dangling Woo Li Master. The intimidating route was all I hoped it would be, and left me laughing aloud as I made the anchor at the top, not even believing how good it was.
Next, Leif led Caught Inside on a Big Set. Steep crack climbing with cool footwork then a straight in hand crack, pretty ideal.
Three routes were enough for us for the day and on the way out we got a nice sunset.
On our last day we were tired, and decided to take a walk back to the Wonderland to avoid the crowds on a Saturday. We went out to Lenticular Dome and climbed Mental Physics 5.7+.
For our last climb of the trip was the Red Obelisk. We found the tower wandering around and had to climb it. The bottom of the 70 foot tower has a window through the rock you can look to the other side!
One of the cooler formations we saw in the Wonderland was the Freak Brothers Dome. A route called I Can't Believe its a Girdle traverses all three brothers.
Easter Sunday left me with a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake, then the drive to Jackson.