Thursday, March 06, 2008

Adventures in and around Joshua Tree National Park

My friend Liz and i recently went to Joshua Tree National Park in southern California on a climbing trip. it was a great trip, but the climbing was harder than we expected. The beginning of the climbing season is always a little rough, but it was particularly rough in Joshua Tree. The grades of the climbs were steep and the climbs did not always have protectable starts. We still had a really great time though. I used to work with Liz when i worked at the orthopedic center and she's a great road tripping and climbing buddy. She's also who i went to Devil's Tower with last september.

A surprise stop at my brother Nelson's house in victorville! We didn't realize how close to victorville we were passing to enter Joshua Tree. It was great to see him!

Nelson fed us a wonderful dinner- the steak was nearly as big as me!

Liz and I. The weather was crazy- i'm wearing flip flops and a warm jacket. One moment in the sun it was warm, the next the wind would blow and it was freezing!

well, of course this is sideways.. We did a fantastic climb up the arete (an exposed outside corner of a rock) of a balanced boulder. The picture doesn't really show it, but the rock is about 60 ft off the ground, hanging over another boulder. it was scary, but fun!

Here you can see the exposure. this is the other side of the boulder of the previous picture.

Liz, sweetly dreaming of her next climb in Joshua Tree..

These Next few pictures need some explanation. We had 3 days to climb in Joshua tree. the first day was great- warm with a cool breeze. the second day was brutal. we slept fitfully all night due to the flapping of our tent tarp in some crazy wind gusts. the next morning was freezing! the day continued with gusts of wind up to 50 mph. liz and i were not going to be blown off a climb, plus our hands were so cold we could barely light the stove to warm up some tea. so, what else do you do on an off day? take pictures and explore the surrounding area!

we did a short hike up a paved path to an over look. if we thought it was windy before, we got it handed to us here. we both just about got blown off the top of the mountain. i guess the wind farm in the valley below should have warned us...

here's Liz being blown over...

the middle of the road.yeah!

playing by a Joshua Tree.

yes, an explanation is needed here. what, climbing in joshua tree? what are they doing in a pool? well, with the wind and the cold we went to a nearby spa/hotel we heard about from the local climbing shop. supposedly the pools were warmed by a natural hot springs nearby. we were skeptical. here, in the middle of the desert, was a pure oasis with random people from all over? i mean, who goes to these things?! since it was spa too the whole place smelled like old lady perms or something. it was a bizarre experience. we had driven 10 hours to go climbing, and ended up in a hot tub in the middle of the desert with a bunch of strangers. oh yeah, and the man wearing a speedo.

Liz and i are our campsite. it was uniquely beautiful in Joshua Tree.

We actually did do some climbing...and it was hard! this is pretty much the first lead of the season for me, a 5.7, and it was scary! Joshua tree was established as a climbing area in the early sixties. that means all the climbs were rated when the hardest thing anyone had ever done was a 5.9. so a rating of 5.7 is really more like a 5.9 by today's standards. at least, that's what we told ourselves the whole trip :)

hmm, where can we go next that has a bunch of 5.7s- the only thing we can do here?

Liz hiking out from one of our climbs. Joshua tree just has these blobs of rocks everywhere that you can get to in about 5 minutes from your car. that part of the place was really nice. We met a random climber who needed a partner on this day, his name was Ted and he was from Bellingham, WA and is about my parent's age. he took a lot of our pictures. you can just see him behind liz here.

Me on seriously the hardest 5.7 crack ever! this is the only one that i actually remember the name of, Double Cross. an ex-yosemite climbing ranger was climbing next to us when i did this and he agreed that this was the hardest 5.7 climb anywhere!

Me higher up on Double Cross.

Liz on a hard sport route. Go liz!

me on a pretty, long crack.

what trip isn't complete without some shopping? Liz and i couldn't resist stopping at one of the outlets in vegas on our way home. this was the (an online shoe megastore) outlet and we had too much fun with the stuff. that purse i'm holding costs $455!! no i didn't buy it, or those shoes!

Liz is on her way to being a shoe model....