Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is a favorite destination for winter rock climbing in North America. Located near Los Angeles, the climate is warm enough to climb, the rock is solid and camping easy. Joshua Tree was also the most famous US climbing destination we'd never visited. 

In the shadow of the Joshua Tree is Bono and the rest of U2, singing classic rock. 

Our friend Dan Oberlatz in Anchorage told us to stay at the Hidden Valley campground. The week before, nighttime temps were in the single digits. During our visit we often climbed in t-shirts. 

Watch out where you sit!  

Cathy leading a route above our tent. 

Cathy leading North Overhang, a three-star 5.9 in Hidden Valley Campground, on Intersection Rock, a formation that is covered with classic routes. 

Dan Oberlatz also told us to climb the classic route Double Cross, a four-star 5.7, a two-minute commute from our tent. Double Cross is a hand-sized crack. Fun and easy, if you can jam a handcrack. 

Less easy for us were the slab climbs. These routes rely on smearing your feet for friction and palming the rock like a gecko. The real problem is that these routes were bolted on lead in the 1970's, like this sandbag 5.8 called Walk on the Wild Side. Bolts where placed over 20-feet apart, at comfortable stances for drilling a bolt hole rather than at the crux moves. If you fall, it's best to run downhill until the rope catches you. Otherwise you'll loose significant skin on the legendary abrasive rock. 

Time to learn wide-crack technique Shanon! No problem. Just grunt, swear and bleed and you're at the top. Typical of Joshua Tree off-width and chimneys, this 5.7 felt like 5.10. Our long-time friend Shanon DiRuzzo, from Fort Collins and then Anchorage, spent four days camping and climbing with us at Joshua Tree. 

We found the climbing more straightforward on four-star 5.10's. Cathy leading Birds of Fire, a perfect patina-lined finger crack. 

Joe leading another four-star 5.10 finger crack called Taxman. Great holds, gear anyplace you want, steep so you won't loose skin if you fall...

Searching for routes at Split Rock. 

Cathy and Shanon on a sunset climb above Hidden Valley.

 Shanon cross-country roller-bagging. 

More friends from Anchorage! Beth, Bill, Shanon, Cathy and Joe. 

Beth at 49 Palms Oasis.

Bill climbing up to Cathy and Beth. 

Bill catching up on Cali opinion. 

Vacation and traveling are a blast, but nothing compares to going back home to Alaska.