Last spring break my girlfriend, my dog and I headed down to one of the best climbing areas around, Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree is host to thousands of climbs both sport and trad. Although from our experience the sport is dangerous and run out and the trad is “as safe as you make it.”
Once you decide to go to Joshua for any amount of time, there are certain things you need to consider packing. There is no water in the park (which a friend and I found out the hard way) and minimal facilities for other uses such as the bathroom. A tent, sleeping bag, firewood, and all the other camping essentials would come along with us of course.
Joshua tree doesn’t stop at the usual camping experience though. If you are like me and thousands of other people who come to Joshua Tree from all over the world, you are there to climb some rocks. You therefore have to bring some extra gear along including the necessary camming devices to place into cracks and quickdraws to clip into bolts and anchors as well as a rope and all of your personal systems. Needless to say, the car was packed!
The first day we decided to climb with some neighbors we met the night before. They had a little more gear than us, which was considerably lucky. The first climb we hopped on was The Bong (5.5) and at the rating it should have felt very straightforward for me. What happened was the other thing completely. I was pretty happy I had some extra gear from the neighbors and a helmet! Our friends and Talia followed shortly and we found a kind of sketchy walk off to get back to the ground. All is well in J Tree!
We decided to get some lunch and some rest after our first adventure. The sun and the wind really get to you over the course of the day! Naps in the shade are a must. But after there is no shortage of summits to conquer. We had been looking around and found one obvious crack that was an aesthetic ideal. It is called Toe Jam (5.7) and would turn out to be my favorite climb I have tried to date. All I had to protect myself was three #1 sized cams and a set of nuts. I had to run the first easier part out before clipping into protection but it all felt fine till the top.
There is a blank section of rock about ten feet from the top. There are no cracks in this section of rock, therefore nowhere to place protection. Many climbers would feel very comfortable here, in fact many people climb this almost daily without ropes at all! But considering my level of experience combined with my lack of gear, I was a bit worried.
Everything went well though and I got to the top to set up anchors. Talia followed it and she said it was right at her limit as well! A bit scary for her towards the top because she could have taken a bit of a swing, but she pushed though it like a champ and we rappelled down to the bottom to get some beers and some rest.
The next day we did a very fun climb called Beginner One (5.3) It was very fun and also a really long climb which made it very satisfying. We trail blazed our way off the side of the rock and ate some amazing bagel sandwiches and drank coconut water! All good calls on Talia’s part.
After lunch and some napping/reading/bouldering/running around, we went to do our final climb called The Eye (5.3). The Eye may be the coolest climb I have ever laid my eyes on. I have been staring at it and dreaming for years, and finally the time had come. I was ready. Someone did it before us and it was really nice to be able to watch first. After they were done I took off. You really do feel like you are in a special place when climbing in Joshua Tree. And when you get to the top of this particular climb you are literally in The Eye of Cyclops Rock haha!
After Talia had her turn and we made our way down we climbed a tad bit more, but it was all easy straightforward stuff. We went back to camp and started our fire and our dinner. What a pleasure it was to be sitting in such a wonderful place filled with unlimited beauty. Our trip was such a blast!
After our nights sleep, I did a bit more bouldering and then we packed up. After we left Joshua Tree we went to my mom’s house which was very close for a short visit. She has a horse which we got to take out and there will be more pictures on that soon, so be sure to come back shortly
Thanks for visiting!