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Joshua Tree

Well, this is just starting, but a bit of stories of climbing and living in Joshua Tree National Park in southern California.

a few highlights include too much rain. An attempted "hard man" day, spinning fire, the northern lights, the wildflowers, and a quest for stars...

"Dangerous Dan" and I decided to have a "hard man" day on March 28. We started with "illusion dweller" a 5 star 10b. No problem. Next up was "coarse and buggy" .11b We both flashed that. Things were going well.
Leave it to Beaver (5.12a)
picture of Leave it to Beaver
Unfortunately next up was "leave it to Beaver" .12a. Dan started up it, but got stymied at the crux. eventually I tried to too. I also got stymied (I managed it on Toprope a few days earlier, but that is a different story) So I down aided it to retrieve the gear and we went over to "left ski track" .11a I was up to lead. unfortunately I didn't do particularly well, with a number of falls and hangs at the crux. but eventually I got up it. After we finished, Dan Jokingly said "here comes Peter Crofts" to solo it. But it turns out he was right. Of course Peter made it look easy, and I wondered what my problem had been.

On a day that was to be a rest day, Geoff Jennings showed up. (It turns out Tuesday and Wednesday are his "weekends". We climbed half heartedly on Tuesday. I was tired from climbing, and he was more tired than he expected from paddling. So we hatched the plan to take the rest of the day off, and then on Wednesday try to climb as many stars as possible. (In the climbing guidebook, some of the routes have stars next to them to denote quality (or some would say fear factor or if the guidebook author did them first)). We thought that if we could get 30, that would be a good day. That evening over awesome burritos, we pored over the guidebook and made a list of potential routes. We also decided to avoid driving to any climbs, so they all had to be near the campground.

Kirk on O'Kelley's Crack (5.10c)
picture of O'Kelley's crack

On April 4, we got up pretty early and left camp just after 7 am. then it was climb, climb, climb, all day. We caught a second wind when we realized 50 stars were a possibility, and finished the 17th route just after 7 pm. oof very tiring and long, but quite a day. our tick list would make a decent 3 day weekends worth of climbing.

I'll list the routes here eventually...

actually, I'll let Geoff describe it in his own words (cut and pasted from Geoff's writings)

I've never thought of myself as a number chaser, but in it can be fun. In March my old friend Tom and I, after a day at Josh that totaled, oh, two climbs, decided we needed to have some sort of goal for the next day. I remembered hearing another group of climbers seeing how many "stars" the could collect in a day. I thought I'd heard 25. It was a weds, so that was promising, not too many crowds. We decided to go for thirty, but ended up with much more, fifty. We also decided we do the day without driving. We'd be using Vogel's guide to count the stars. Tom is a much stronger climber than me, so even though I'd led many of the routes on our list, we decided he'd lead most stuff, as we'd be faster that way.

7:15- We're risen. It's still cold, but we scarf breakfast and head out. Trying to move quietly in the still sleeping campground,

50 stars in a day. Arbitrary, yeah. Silly, maybe. Fun, yup. A great day of climbing, like few I ever had, without a doubt. It was merely a goal, but it got us out there on a bunch or tremendously cool climbs, so what's wrong with that? It was a l-o-n-g drive home that night!


Halloween 2001

Top Rope Man, Brittney Spears (didn't know she was a climber huh?) and others
picture of costumed freaks

As usual, there are a few brave souls who climb in costume for this day (and a few braver souls who climbed without any costume or clothes, but that is another story without pictures). Anyway, here are a few choice specimens, although I am missing a few excellent ones, including the ice cream man who was giving out cones around the campground in the morning (he couldn't find any dry ice, so had to get rid of his wares before they all melted)(still, a fine addition to breakfast, thanks ice cream man).

Samuelson's Rock 11-08-2001

This morning I went in search of samuelson's rock (actually a bunch of rocks) with sayings that he carved into them. such as...



That sort of thing. rather odd sort of sitting out in the middle of nowhere next to a corral.

Here is a link to another page with some of the quotes and photos... Samuelson's Rocks

Natural History Stuff

There are heaps of lizards running around the park. I finally saw some chuckwallas. There was one that looked rather fat and sassy on a rock that I was observing from above while belaying. Then a much bigger one hopped up on the rock, and the smaller one sort of snuck around on the opposite side of the rock. The biggest one was about 2 feet including the tail. I walked over when I got down and they both zipped into a crack. I peeked in to see if they were puffing up with air to wedge themselves in, but I couldn't tell.

I saw a little horned toad that looked like a pancake with spiky edges and a tiny tail and legs and a head poking out. It looked more like something designed by a kid than a real creature. I picked it up but it wasn't alarmed enough to shoot blood out of its eyes (or else it wasn't that variety).

There have been lots of flowers this spring including the joshua trees, lots of little short term plants, and cacti. The most surprising of the latter are the beaver tail cacti (they look like prickly pears with minimal large spines). But they have amazingly bright hot pink flowers.

On March 30th, I looked up from the campfire to see the sky glowing red. Most unusual. Since it was only to the north, and had some somewhat moving lines, I decided it must be northern lights. I tried to get a picture, but who knows if it will turn out (pretty dim but visible). It lasted maybe an hour, but faded a lot.

Aiguille De Joshua Tree
picture of Aiguille de J Tree