Sunday, October 25, 2015

Joshua Tree Climbing Adventure, Part 3 - Oct. 20 to Oct. 23

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Click Here for Part 2

Day 11, Tuesday Oct. 20, 2015 - Climbing at J-Tree National Park - Hall of Horrors  and Split Rocks Areas

We started out today back at the Hall of Horrors Area in hopes that the crowds would be thinner now that it was mid week.  We were rewarded with having the area to ourselves! 

Hiking to "Lazy Day", 5.7, South Horror Rock

27/60: "Lazy Day", 5.7, South Horror Rock

Lazy day was a fun climb, but a bit more challenging than it looks. The start is a bit awkward at the dog leg but fairly straightforward after that. The route ends on a big ledge and there is a rap station to the right for the adjacent route that can be used to descend. There is also a class 3 walk-off if you are so inclined. 

 "Lazy Day", 5.7, South Horror Rock

Top of "Lazy Day", 5.7, South Horror Rock

Rappelling off "Lazy Day", 5.7, South Horror Rock

Next, we drove over to the Split Rock Area and hiked into Future Games Rock.

Split Rock

28/60: "Invisibility Lessons", 5.9, Future Games Rock

This was our first 5.9 of the trip and after the struggles we've had with some of the 5.8's Mike decided to TR this one. There is an easy Class 1 route up to the top of the crag so we set up an anchor and gave the route a go. It was a fun route! One of my favourites so far. A bit strenuous at times with some burley jams and thin holds, but perfectly inline with what I would expect for 5.9 climbing. Fun! And the easy Class 1 walk-off  is an added bonus. 

"Invisibility Lessons" 5.9, Future Games Rock - First 5.9 of the trip!

"Continuum" 5.8+, Future Games Rock - Will come back to climb this one later. 
Future Games Wall - Split Rocks Area

We spent the rest of the day checking out other routes in the surrounding areas. We hiked into Jumbo Rocks Area to check out "Colorado Crack" 5.9 and "Gem" 5.8, in Conan's Corridor on the Corridor Face. Both routes looked tricky and we could not figure out how to access the top of the crag to set up a TR, even though there is supposedly a 3rd class descent route, so we opted to skip them for today. The approach was a fun hike though with lots of rock scrambling and a slot canyon to squeeze through. 

Conan's Corridor 

Conan's Corridor - Not the place to be when it's raining.....

"Gem" 5.8, Conan's Corridor  - Corridor Wall - Recon Hike
After that we went and checked out "Planet X" at the Planet X Boulders. It looks fun, we'll come back another day to try this one for sure! 

"Planet X" 5.8, Planet X Boulders - Recon Hike

Now that we are almost half way through the tick-list with the easier routes complete, things are getting a bit more complicated. A lot of the routes on the list are too hard for warmups, so we'll have to make up another list of warm up routes to do before tackling the remaining trickier routes on our tick-list. It may be a challenge to get all 60 routes done before heading home......

Scrambling Near Conan's Corridor

Day 12, Wednesday Oct. 21, 2015 - Climbing at J-Tree National Park - Lost Horse Area

Today we spent the day back at the Lost Horse Area up at the Rock Garden Valley Main Wall (aka Shorter Wall). The hike in was an adventure in and of itself with about 20-30min of scrambling up boulders to access the wall. 

Shorter Wall Approach - boulder hopping madness!

The location was great though with a little oasis up there and nice views of the surrounding area from the top. It was really windy today though and was kind of cold and uncomfortable. First time I've worn a jacket since we got here! 

Views from the base of the wall

We climbed four routes in this area, two from the tick-list and two other random routes:

29/60: "Double Dog Leg", 5.7, Shorter Wall

A fun climb with a crack for protection but mostly face climbing following a traversing crack up the wall. Rappel descent. 

"Double Dog Leg" - Left hand crack

1b (non-ticklist Route, i.e "b" list routes): "Rock Candy, 5.9, Shorter Wall

This was a thin, crimpy, balancey face climb right beside "Double Dog Leg". It shares an anchor with "Double Dog Leg", so figured, why not give it a go on Top-rope since we were right there?!? It was fun to do some pure face climbing to switch things up, even if it was challenging. Rappel to descend. 

"Rock Candy" - face under the Rope Line

2b: "Rock-A-Lot", 5.7, Shorter Wall

We figured since we hiked all the way up there we should do a few climbs. Mike liked the look of this one so he led it up.  It starts out overhanging, but can be climbed at a reasonable grade by stemming to the wall behind. After that it goes into a few off width moves and then a fun mix of crack and face climbing. Rappel descent.
"Rock-a-lot" - right-trending crack

30/60 (Half Way!!!): "Beck's Bet", 5.8, Shorter Wall

Another pure crack climb, jam your way up the vertical crack to the top with a big ledge part way up for a rest break. Enjoyable climbing with a rappel descent. Felt a bit easier than a lot of the other 5.8's we have done. 

"Beck's Bet" - Right hand crack
To finish off our day we stopped to check out "Just Another Road Side Attraction". Mike was inspired to give it a go, so we did. It lived up to its name, at least 4 cars pulled over to watch and take photos as we climbed it! Mike's first 5.9 lead of the trip! Nice work!

View from the top of Roadside Rock

31/60: "Just Another Roadside Attraction" 5.9, Roadside Rock

This is a great, short route that will get the blood flowing. It starts out easy enough, albeit steep, with solid feet and some reasonable jams and jugs to pull on and then it gets into the overhang crack section and things get interesting. A few burley moves off hand jams and smaller feet get you through to a "fun" exit mantle - or beached whale roll if that is your preference :). Third class walk-off descent. 

"Just Another Roadside Attraction"

View from the top of Roadside Rock

Day 13, Thursday Oct. 22, 2015 - Rest Day - Hiking at J-Tree National Park and relaxing at the Desert Hot Springs Spa

So we went to the Park today and followed the signs that said "Dairy Queen", but when we got there, there were rock climbs with names like "Frosty Cone" and "Mr. Misty Kiss" but no Ice Cream! We were too disappointed to climb, so we went hiking and swimming instead.

Approach to Dairy Queen Wall

Actually, what really happened is we went to the park planning to climb up at Dairy Queen Wall, but Mike's foot was bit sore on the hike in and we hadn't had a real rest day in a week, so we decided to not push our luck and take it easy for the day.

Windmill on Wall Street Mill Hike

We went on a short hike out to the Wall Street Mill, which was about an hour, return, of walking on flat trails. It was a cool hike, worth doing to check out the old mill site, cars, wells, windmills and Uncle Willie's Health Food Store.

Wall Street Mill Hike

Wall Street Mill Hike
Uncle Willie's Store on the Wall Street Mill Hike
Wall Street Mill Hike

After that we drove out to the Desert Hot Springs Spa which is about 30min outside of Joshua Tree, towards Palm Springs. The Spa has a $5 day pass fee which gives you use of their sauna, 8 mineral pools, restaurant, bar and lounge chairs for the full day. It was a great afternoon of relaxing in the sun, reading and swimming.

Reading Pool Side at the Desert Hot Springs Spa

Relaxing in the gardens at the  Desert Hot Springs Spa

Lunch at the Desert Hot Springs Spa

Day 14, Friday Oct. 23, 2015 - Climbing at J-Tree National Park - Wonderland of Rocks and Hidden Valley Campground Areas

Cacti on the Hike to Lenticular Dome
Today we decided to do some adventure climbing.  We spent the morning in the Wonderland of Rocks Area hiking out to the Lenticular Dome to climb "Mental Physics". The hike was about 40min long, each way through washes and over boulders to gain the base of the route. The hike is easy and scenic. Just pay attention to where you're going as it is easy to get lost in the "Wanderland" of Rocks. 

Hike to Lenticular Dome

32/60: "Mental Physics", 5.7+, Lenticular Dome

Mental Physics is a full 30+ meter pitch of face climbing that turns into stellar crack climbing near the top. The line is aesthetic and easy to protect and super fun. Worth the hike! A must-do route. Rappel to descend. NOTE: a 70m rope (or two ropes) are required for the rappel. 

"Mental Physics", 5.7+, Lenticular Dome
View from the top of "Mental Physics"
Sabre Tooth Tiger  Rock on the Hike back from Lenticular Dome
For the afternoon we headed back to the Hidden Valley Campground Area and walked over to Intersection Rock to check out "Overhang ByPass". 

33/60: "Overhang ByPass", 5.7, 2-pitches, Intersection Rock

"Overhang Bypass", 5.7, Intersection Rock
This route was pretty awesome, not necessarily for its stellar climbing, but for its overall exposure and position. The First pitch starts with a chimney/offwidth/handcrack combo, into some rambling terrain and then a stiff hand traverse up into an alcove, below the obvious overhang. Build an anchor here and get ready for the "Money" moves! The second pitch involves a crazy bouldery hand traverse to the right under the roof until you can pull up onto the slab to the right of the alcove. With the exposure, it feels like a boulder problem in the sky!  Craziness! From here clip a bolt and cruise to the anchors on top of the crag. This route felt harder than "Mental Physics" which is graded 5.7+..... Rappel down the opposite face to descend. NOTE: one rope will get you to a big ledge where you can scramble off, or two ropes will get you to the ground. 

Hanging out in the alcove on "Overhang Bypass"

Hanging out in the alcove on "Overhang Bypass"

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