JTree and The Creek = Spring’s Starting
Just sitting here on a frosty blue morning, the Easter Long Weekend, getting ready for the first day of guiding, this April 7th, the Easter Long weekend. Many many people have headed up to Skaha for more dependable weather but right now, from my kitchen window, things are looking up. Here’s a bit of a recap of the past month. March 1-4 I was climbing in Joshua Tree, California with a great friend of mine, Gary Kaufman. We headed down to the Southern California desert to have ourselves our second Visionquest. Our first being at the same time the past year. We go, we climb, we wander in the desert, we eat Mexican Food and drink a beer and all under the perfect blue skies of Joshua Tree California. This year was no exception, the weather was splitter but really really cold in the shade. Our first day we climbed two small multipitches on the Lost Horse Wall, Dappled Mare and Bird On A Wire. We shared the leading and it was totally awesome, with splitter cracks, patina plates and face climbing linking features and give it some spice. Second day we were gunning to go to North Astrodome, where the revered and sought after Figures On A Landscape rests. 3 pitches, 5.10b, wacky face climbing and supposedly the best route in the whole park…and the park has 5000+ pitches! Long story short, we climbed the route on this sunny but blustery day but the cold in the shade made it one of those experiences where you begin to appreciate it a day or two later, like an alpine route maybe. Each pitch I would hunt for no hands stances and desperately warm my hands on the back of my neck. The climb was incredible though, runout edgey face climbing, long traverses on plates, scoops and chicken heads powdered with bird crap and a steep corner crack with feet everywhere. After we warmed up in the sun for about an hour, we decided to hike farther and find the Big Horn Mating Grotto, our objective for the final day. We wandered 2 more hours into the maze of rock which comprises the Wonderland Of Rocks. and finally, at the very end found it as the sun was setting. No chance of climbing those incredible looking pitches that day. I won’t say much about this area and these pitches except that we were crushed that we couldn’t get on them that day and couldn’t get back in time our final day to try them because of our flight times. If you ever go to JTree and want a special experience, something out of the ordinary, which is difficult there because everything is, go and find the BHMG. You will NOT be underwhelmed. Our final day we cragged at the Hemingway and IRS Wall, finally hunting out some sunshine, and finished the day at the Hidden Valley Campground with a lap on Bearded Cabbage. I thought that would be a perfect last climb for our tiny trip. All in all a great time despite some arctic conditions. It took us a few days to really come to terms with the enjoyment on Figures On A Landscape, but it did arrive.
A week later I was driving towards Utah with my partner to spend 2 weeks over spring break in the sandstone crack climbing world of Indian Creek. We’d outfitted the van a bit more for this trip and finally had a real bed in the back and storage space underneath. The drive was so long but so so worth while. We spent a week climbing in the sun and sand, with the highlight being the Second Meat Wall. We were then joined by Jamie Finlayson, who had flown down to Moab to experience his first taste of sandstone cracks and red dust living. Indian Creek was better than I remember it, a new campground, endless cracks from 5.11 and up, an exciting storm one night that made me glad of my van, climbing with good friends and meeting some new characters. Two weeks was definitely not enough, you hit your stride with the jamming and then have to go. Felt so good to get some sun on the skin, some dust and sand everywhere and sore ravaged hands from some great days throwing ourselves at splitters of peculiar sizes. Ringlocks, fingerstacks, tight hands and tips laybacks made up our days and 4% Moab Beer hydrated our nights and cooled the burn of so many spicy burritos. Jamie threatened to quit trad climbing almost everyday but by the final days that thought was nowhere to be found. We also spent a good day off walking around in Arches National Park in a snow squall, a really bizarre picture. Over all 2 weeks was just enough to get into the flow, and then leave. An amazing trip, made amazing mostly by the people we met and climbed with. It can’t be overstated, that it’s who you are with that creates the lion’s share of the experience versus the climb, difficulty etc. Here’s a few shots –