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California – Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree, nicknamed “JTree”, is located in southern California, east of Los Angeles. It’s a beautiful place, vast expanses of rocks, blobs of tan colored granite that look like petrified elephant turds, or the set from an old Star Trek episode with styrofoam boulders. The rock is gritty and you’ll need to tape up your hands for cracks in some areas or they will get torn up. There’s a mix of sport and trad climbs here, and the trickiest part is figuring out how to get down from the tops of the rock formations. There aren’t always bolts up there, and there are some hairy downclimbs required. In late March, the desert is in bloom and the flowers, especially on the cactus plants, are spectacular. The sky gets to be the deepest blue color I’ve seen anywhere. While there are campsites in the park, my desire for running water and showers led me to cheap motels in the town of Joshua Tree. It’s a long drive back and forth into the park every day, so if you can do without showers, camping will save you gas.

I have been fortunate enough to climb there on 4 occasions. My first trip was in October in the mid-1980s for a long weekend, which was mostly a bust because the weather was cold and rainy. I returned in 2008 for a fun week climbing with a bunch of friends from the Gunks, many of them Vulgarians. I enjoyed climbing with such an experienced crew, and got to meet such respected climbers as John Stannard and Ellie Hawkins. I returned again in 2010 with my younger daughter who was 13 years old at the time, during April spring break. After some fun in San Diego, we met a couple of Gunks friends at JTree as well as Ellie again. My daughter crushed the place, competently top roping up to 5.11 and proving that she was a much better climber than me (but alas, she doesn’t lead climb yet). My latest trip was in the spring of 2011 for one day with Gunks friends and we met up with Kay again. Unsure of the potential government shutdown, we left early and climbed at New Jack City for a day before we returned to Las Vegas to fly home.

Joshua Tree National Park – Southern California

Dates Crag Climbs Partners

April 6-10, 2010
(Facebook album)
Hidden Valley Campground area, Echo Cove (Echo Rock area), Thin Wall (Real Hidden Valley area),
Atlantis Wall (Lost Horse Area)
Hands Off (5.8), Pinky Lee (5.10d), Chute Up (5.2), W.A.C (5.8),
Ain’t Nothing but a J-Tree Thing (5.6), Count on Your Fingers (5.9), Child’s Play (5.10d),
Congratulations (5.11a), Wet Pigeon (5.8), The Labyrinth (5.7), Ceremony (5.10c)
Me Ariel, Kay Chan, Terrie Marcoe, Ellie Hawkins, Keith Nannery

April 9, 2010
(Facebook album)
Rest Day, hiking and geocaching around Jtree no climbs but pretty pictures! Me, Ariel, Kay Chan, Terrie Marcoe

 

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