We just got back from another great day in Joshua Tree. Rick Accomazzo showed up just as Derek and I were heading out (10 a.m.). The others were supposedly right behind us and we expected to see them soon, but we didn't see them all day and they are not back yet. Strange. But we had a great time together.
Today we did two more chapters of our Trad Climbers in Joshua Tree book. We started on a 2-pitch 5.6 in the Real Hidden Valley area. This was cool as the crux was a slight overhang into a nearly vertical face. Derek went a "better" way and had to hang on the rope when he got himself into a bad situation. It is not a good route for the 5.6 leader. You should be solid on 5.8 for this route. I thought it was move like 5.7, but runout at the crux. The second pitch was fun and easy.
The descents here can be long and tricky. One we did yesterday involved some 5th class downclimbing. In Eldo or the Flatirons these downclimbs would be routes. The one of this rock (the Sentinel) wasn't too bad, but it was exposed at one point and pretty involved.
We then went the nearby Thin Wall, which held four routes form our book from 5.6 to 5.9. We were going to start on the 5.6 route, but two old guys (by that I mean slightly older than me) were just in front of us. We decided to do the 5.7 just to the left while we waited for it to open up.
The 5.7 was really fun and not very hard. Good jams and good face holds. We scrambled back down around to the base and people were arriving in huge groups. The old guy were hanging on gear on the 5.6 route, so we did the 5.8 route a bit further left. This had one hardish move on it and then seemed easier than the 5.7. Super fun, though. Derek cruised up after me and we descended again.
The old guys were still busy on their 5.6, so I led the 5.9 route, which turned out to be super fun and didn't seem too hard. Fun finger crack but with tons of face holds. Steep, but juggy. Derek cruised it for his first JT 5.9.
We descended again the finally the 5.6 was sort of open. The old guys had strung a toprope on it, but were scrambling down. I zipped up the route in just a couple of minutes and Derek followed. We got back to the ground about the same time the old guys did. :-)
It was now a zoo at this rock so, done with our four routes, we packed up and moved on to Hidden Tower to climb a classic 5.8 called Sail Away. I did the direct start to this route and it felt like a 5.10 move. Certainly harder than anything on the 5.9 route. The rest of the route is great crack climbing - remember this is a trad guide, so all are gear routes.
Derek decided to try the direct start as well. This wasn't required since I didn't place any gear on it, so that he'd have the option. He cruised it, though admitted it was a burly move. He did really well on the upper tricky-sized section as well. We had to rappel to get off this rock and Derek did this really solidly. I have him set up the rappel while I'm still up there. Then I tie a knot in the rope below where he's setup the rappel, clip that to the anchor, and then I rappel to the ground first. Then Derek unties that knot and he's ready to rappel. I give him a fireman's belay from the ground.
We headed back to the car for lunch and a rest. After that we drove over to the Hall of Horrors area and hiked into to do a really cool, steep 5.7 crack. At the top of this route was a bolted anchor off to the side. It wasn't mentioned in our guide,. but we traversed over to it and rappelled to the ground using our same technique.
The rope was now over three different routes, all with the same runout slabby finish: a 5.9 traversing hand crack, a burly 5.11b crack/face route, and a super hard looking 5.12a route. I decided to check them out on TR. The 11b was way, way hard and I couldn't touch the crux move. I swung out into space and Derek lowered me to the ground. I then zipped up the 5.9 route, which wasn't too hard and Derek lowered me down to where the 11b and 12a merged. I climbed from there up to the 5.9 route after failing on a right option and then trying a left option, but this was above the crux of both routes. I messed around a bit more before coming down.
We then headed to the Planet X boulders and did the route called Planet X, which is 5.8+. I thought the crack part of this was pretty easy, but then the crack petered out and it went to some crimpy slab moves and my tips were a bit sensitive. Derek seemed to follow easier than I led. We rapped off over a 10a route that looked cool, so I led that. It was a burly move to get to an easy crack and then tiny crack climbing at the very top. Derek went up it as well and nearly got it first try. He came off and then finished nicely.
That was it for us today. We got in a bunch of good climbing and were quitting at the more reasonable time of 5:30 p.m. We came back home, showered, how chips and conversation with the gang, played some shuffleboard (I won!) and now we are headed out to pick up a pizza and come home and watch a movie. Fun times out here.
Fote Hog 5.6
Almost Vertical 5.7
Butterfingers Makes Me Horney 5.8
Count on Your Fingers 5.9
Ain't Nothing But a J-Tree Thing 5.6
Sail Away Hidden Tower 5.8
Lazy Day South Horrors R Sheep Pass Area 5.7
Cactus Flower 5.11b
This is Just a Test 5.12
Planet X 5.8+
Planet Y 5.8+
Day 2 Totals: 12 routes, 13 pitches
Day 2 Totals: 12 routes, 13 pitches