Joshua Tree NP, CA – Igniting the obsession to climb.
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It was with great excitement when I received a text message from a very good girlfriend, Ashley and her fiancee, Rob, were headed to Joshua Tree. I had the pleasure of climbing a few routes with Rob over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, but had yet to climb with Ashley, as nursing school and a demanding work schedule have forcefully kept her feet planted firmly on the ground. I invited a friend of mine who has been expressing interest in climbing, in the form of continual begging and pleading, along to his great joy. This was the perfect opportunity to show the newbs our obsession and why our lives revolve around everything climbing.
We met up with Rob and Ashley at Crossroads Cafe for a delicious breakfast, evading the bitter cold of the early morning while packing in the day’s nourishment. After shmoozing and dining for an hour, we dilly dallied into the park and headed directly to Hidden Valley Campground in hopes of securing a campsite. Seeing that it was a Saturday in the peak of JTree climbing season, we set our expectations pretty low, but low and behold, we nabbed our very own site.
Camp site established we happily trotted off to The Thin Wall for the day. The Thin Wall, although in the less than desirable shade, offered a wide variety of moderates and fixed anchors for easy top rope set ups. The notable climbs here are Count on your Fingers (5.9) and No Calculators Allowed (5.10a), with an honorable mention to Child’s Play (5.10d R) (thanks to Rondo and Ken for letting us hop on their rope).
Count on your Fingers was a great warmup, with a nice mantle crux for the finish, and No Calculators Allowed provided a thought invoking roof near the top. Note: The set of anchors atop No Calculators Allowed had a spinner and we did not bring the tools to fix it so we backed it up with a double length quickdraw to one of the anchor bolts of Count on your Fingers when setting up the top rope for our news.
We got our play on until about 3:30pm when we returned home to our sweet campsite. We cooked dinner and shared endless laughs with friends, both old and new. We even traded a photograph of two climbers atop Intersection Rock at sunset for their hand at leading the Chasm of Doom, a JTree tradition involving a complex natural maze of sorts with a simple rule – no headlamps. Although we may not have successfully found the entirety of the Chasm of Doom, we did have a blast wandering through a series of tight squeezes in the pitch dark. Sam and Ryan – we will get this right next time, swear!
The next day we tackled the Echo Cove Area, specifically the North side. We played around on Fun Stuff (5.8) and Raging Intensity (5.8) before heading back to our respective abodes. On the way out we made a very necessary pit stop at the Crossroads Cafe for some well deserved wine and juicy burgers. At that very moment, while we all sat and laughed and recapped our weekend’s adventures, I realized what I love most about climbing – reliving the joy that one experiences when they first climb. I’m sure they will not be so thankful when they realize what an expensive sport they have just become hopelessly obsessed with.
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Access: $15/car entry fee for park, good for seven days or yearly pass options of (1) $30/year for JTree or (2) $80/year Interagency Pass.
Camping: Hidden Valley Campground, $10/night. Preferred walk up campsite for climbers as there are tons of classic climbs within walking distance of the campsites, if not on the campsite itself. If campground is full (100% of the time during winter climbing season), ask to share a campsite and offer to pay for the nights you are staying. There is a 2-car and 3-tent maximum per campsite, so most non-jerks will be down with you sharing a site assuming you aren’t obnoxious.
Recommended Guidebook: Joshua Tree Rock Climbs. Full color, so you can actually differentiate between those monzogranite rock piles.
Water: There is none in the park, bring your own oasis.