The Climbing Club

March sun in Joshua Tree
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Author:  Heather Whitney [ Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:55 pm ]
Post subject:  March sun in Joshua Tree

After much planning and anticipation, Frederick and I executed plans to visit Joshua Tree this past week! I had been wanting to go last winter, but I needed to garner some basic trad skills before making the trip. Armed with my new trad leading skills from last summer/fall, we gamely headed to Joshua Tree to escape a Seattle forecast of, well, a few days of 100% chance of rain.

Having never been to J-Tree, we made some good decisions and learned some lessons for our next trip. The first not-so-good decision was trying to find a campsite at 10:30p on a Wednesday night. No luck! Tired from traveling and really sick with a bad cold and ear infection, we ended up staying at a hotel and nabbing a campsite at Jumbo Rocks first thing Thursday morning. By Friday, people were squabbling and arguing over the few campsite openings.

After finding a campsite, I helped Frederick make his first pair of tape gloves before heading to Echo Cove Rock for our introduction to J Tree on the super fun 5.6 mixed sport/trad Double Dip. I placed both a #3 and #4 camalot behind the flake between the 1st and 2nd bolts. Even though it's not very hard climbing, I would not want to risk a ground fall from that!

View looking back down Double Dip:

View looking up towards me at the anchors on Double Dip:

What glorious sunshine! The rock is super sticky. Here's a close-up:

And if you've never seen a Joshua Tree in flower, they are pretty cool:

And there were tons of beautiful red claret cup cactus flowers!

On Friday we headed to the Lost Horse area where I led (sewed my way up, rather) Rainy Day Woman (5.7):

We followed that up with a trip to the Atlantis Wall to find some shade on Solar Technology (5.6):

On Saturday we decided to see what this Real Hidden Valley is all about and played around on the Thin Wall. Here's a shot of Frederick following Almost Vertical (5.7):

Another view of the Thin Wall:

And finally, our favorite climb/crag of the area was also the last place we visited: Playhouse Rock. I led up the super fun Practice Rehearsal (5.7) as the sun was giving us an evening sunset light-show. Here's me manning the anchor:

Despite being sick and low on energy for the entire trip, the trip was a success! Next time I hope to visit J Tree with more friends so we can set up multiple ropes, climb more, and try harder routes. I'm still so new at trad climbing that everything takes a lot of time, but I was definitely getting faster by the end of the trip. We took a 70m rope (instead of two 60m ropes) which worked out really well for a few really long rappels to get back to the ground.

Can't wait to visit Joshua Tree again next spring! I highly recommend the hearty dose of sunshine :)

Author:  Nathan Johnson [ Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

awesome! nice work! keep plugging them cams!

Author:  Valerie Wall [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

Nice trip! You must have the 60 Favorite moderate trad climbs book. Your route list looks very similar to mine from Dec. I struggled with the challenge of wanting to get in more climbs too. Most of the routes I've done at JTree required a top out, building an anchor, bringing up the second and some involved scramble down. Often the natural anchors are set back over a lip and top-roping would eat your rope with that rough rock. I think that one just needs to be very efficient to get in many routes there. I do like the challenge this presents though. I'd like to go back there again someday with the goal of seeing how many routes you can rack up in a day. It'd be nonstop from sunrise 'til sunset. BTW, I only managed 12 pitches in 4 days last time. There is much room for improvement!

Author:  Dylan Price [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

Man that looks fun! Way to catch some rays and routes!

Author:  Heather Whitney [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

Val -- I did indeed have the 60 Favorite moderate trad climbs book with me! It was a nice way to explore the park on our first visit, because the few thousand climbs or more in the main Joshua Tree climbing guide was a bit daunting! I will definitely pack along the bigger guidebook next time now that I have a better sense for the layout at J Tree.

About the top-rope setups --- yes, setting anchors took some creativity because they often had to be set so far back from the edge of the climb. I saw one climbing couple that was using a long length of static rope to sling boulders and other features set back from the lip of the climbs. That seemed like a very reasonable idea that I might consider in a future trip.

Speaking of static rope (or any rope for anchors), does anyone know anything about what kind of rope to use? (diameter, brand, etc) I've never looked into static rope... the prettier dynamic ropes always grabbed my attention. Or is it fine to use some old (likely shortened) dynamic ropes for building gear anchors? Anyone have any insights?

Author:  Heather Whitney [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

And I have to admit... since learning how to trad climb last fall, I feel like an entire new world of climbing has opened up to me. It's an amazing feeling to be able to look at a piece of rock and know that I can climb it safely without any need for bolts!

Alpine climbing, here I come! Wheeee!!!

Author:  Evan Jewett [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

Nicely done Heather. I know what you mean about opening up a whole new world, it's quite freeing!

On a sad note, there was an accident in the last couple of days on Double Dip. The climber fell about 30 feet head first after their belayer let the end of the rope pass through their belay device while trying to lower the climber. A good reminder that 1) you should always know the length of the climb relative to your rope, 2) it's a good idea for both people to tie in, or at the least knot the rope ends, and 3) know when you can lower and when you need to walk off.

Author:  Heather Whitney [ Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

whoa, that's scary! Even our 70m rope wasn't long enough for Double Dip. When buying the rope before the trip, I had the choice between a dark blue-black rope or the Edelrid green rope (in the photos) with the highly visible center mark. I went with the latter, but even so, Frederick and I were always very careful about communicating when we reached the halfway point and always made pre-climb plans to belay the 2nd from the anchors when the rope wasn't long enough. And yes, Frederick was tied in before I left the ground. Did the person survive the fall? Thst must have been a long fall!

Author:  Evan Jewett [ Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: March sun in Joshua Tree

Amazingly it seems the fallen climber suffered only minor elbow injuries, if you can believe that!

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