Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Joshua Tree Climbing Adventure, Part 6, Final Days in J-Tree - Nov. 7 - Nov. 9

Click Here for Part 5

Day 29, Saturday Nov. 7, 2015 - Climbing in J-Tree National Park

Toe Jam

Aaron arrived last night to join us for our last few days in J-Tree. On our first day climbing in the park with Aaron we thought that we would introduce him to some of our moderate favourites so far. 

We spent most of the day at the Hidden Valley Campground Crags and re-climbed "Toe Jam", "Bussonier", "Hands Off" and "Overhang Bypass".

Hands Off

 It was really cold in the morning,  touques and puffy jackets were mandatory, but a nice day overall.  It was busy being a weekend, but we managed to get on all the routes we wanted to climb with minimal waiting.

Overhang Bypass

We witnessed an unusual site while on Overhang Bypass, a bunch of people in crazy costumes kept scrambling past and ascending a fixed line to the top Intersection Rock. It turns out that there was a costume party taking place on top of the rock for the evening. Crazy!

Overhang Bypass, Pitch 2

Next we headed over to Ryan Campground and climbed the iconic Headstone Rock:

Route #15b:  Headstone Rock, SW Corner, 5.6

Headstone Rock

We ended the day climbing in The Real Hidden Valley where we had a re-match with "Sail Away". That is still one of my favourite routes of the trip. The movements are fun and just challenging enough to make you think and it's in an aesthetic location in the Real Hidden Valley, but tucked behind a giant boulder and away from the crowds. We finished the route as the sun was setting and we hiked back to the car just as it got dark.

Sail Away

Day 30, Sunday Nov. 8, 2015 - Climbing in J-Tree National Park

Today we headed back to Echo Rock. For a warm up Aaron led "Double Dip" and then climbed the J-Tree run-out test piece "Stitcher Quits" (aka Black Tide).

Stitcher Quits
Next we headed across the valley to try out another route from our tick-list:

39/60: "Touch and Go", 5.9, Echo Rock Area

Aaron leading Touch and Go

A Fun crack climb with stemming at the bottom, then some strenuous jams and some face climbing to finish off. A bit of a convoluted descent crawling up, over, under and around boulders off the back. The route itself was sustained and pretty awesome. Well worth climbing. 

After that we headed over to yet another route from the tick-list:

40/60: "Fun Stuff", 5.8, Echo Cove

Fun Stuff

This route was challenging for the 5.8 grade with some thin and balancey moves at the bottom that would easily be 5.9/10a in Squamish and a mantel for the top-out. The rest of the route was fun climbing, but the gear was a bit tricky. An easy rappel to descend.

Mike leading Fun Stuff
We finished the day trying out a couple climbs just beside "Fun Stuff:

Route #16b: "Swing Low", 5.8 sport route, Echo Cove

Amber leading Swing Low

I led this one as it actually had reasonably spaced bolts. Well bolted sport routes are hard to come by in J-Tree, it was a nice change! Another J-Tree lead climb for me, yay! :) Fairly straightforward slab climbing with one or two balancey moves where the route steepens.  Bolted anchor at the top with a rappel descent.

Aaron leading Swing Low

Route #17b: "Pinky Lee", 5.10d, Echo Cove

To end the day we TR'd "Pinky Lee", a thin seam with pin scars. Super hard. None of us managed to finish this route before it threatened to destroy our fingers while trying to finger jam in the pin scars. This is a TR only route, it's unprotectable. 

The weather today was pretty reasonable; still cool in the morning and evening, but quite warm and enjoyable all day. The rock in the shade was getting a bit cold on the fingers, time to chase sunshine!

Day 31, Monday Nov. 9, 2015 - Climbing in J-Tree National Park

Today was our last day in J-Tree!

We started with a J-Tree Super Classic Route:

41/60: "Double Cross", 5.7/8, Hidden Valley Campground

Aaron leading Double Cross

This is a sweet, sustained, splitter crack that is a must do route in J-Tree. It has a bit of a reputation for having climbers get hurt on it due to the high first piece of pro, but with a bit of creativity and back-cleaning, you can protect the moves at a reasonable hight. This route is always busy (for good reason), so go early or climb it on a week day. Bolted station at the top for an easy descent.

Double Cross

Next we climbed a mixed route next to "Double Cross":

Route #18b:"Sexy Grandma", 5.9, Hidden Valley Campground

Sexy Grandma
This was another quality route. It started out with a bit of an awkward crack/groove that you have to traverse out of onto a face and then finally pull up onto an arete which you follow to the anchor. Bolted station, rappel descent.

Aaron leading Sexy Grandma
We ended the day by re-climbing "Lazy Day", "Granny Goose" and "Planet X" followed by our final route at J-Tree:

Mike and Amber on Lazy Day

Aaron on Planet X

Route #19b: "Planet Y", 10a, Planet X Boulder

We already had the anchor set up from climbing "Planet X" so thought we'd give it a burn. The climb was a fun mix of crack and face climbing at the bottom leading up to thin balancey slab moves to the top. A few holds flex when you grab then and a giant veneer flake feels like its going to fall off when you touch it. Happy we were all on Top Rope for this route! The climbing was fun though. Bolted station with a rappel descent.

Mike and Aaron on Granny Goose

We enjoyed our last night in J-Tree back at Pie for the People to savour a tasty pizza and beer dinner.

It's been an awesome trip and we're looking forward to getting stronger and  coming back one day to work on the rest of the Tick-list and explore more of the amazing climbing here!

A few more days of vacation to go....next stop Red Rocks and Las Vegas! 

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