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Bad Weather … Now what? Chant: JTree JTree JTree!

Phew, I just got back from a crazy weekend.  The weather in all the usual places was crap, but Joshua Tree looked to be perfect (and it was!).  Unfortunately no pictures this trip, none of us thought to bring a camera.

I drove down to Joshua Tree on Thursday evening — well, I drove half way there anyway — I pulled off the road a bit past Bakersfield (about 4.5 hours into the 8 hour drive) on what I thought would be a nice, secluded, quiet, spot.  Just as I’m about to go to sleep, a bright, loud freight train blares it’s horn and it looked like it was about to run me over.   After I got over the shock of that, I slept quite well — from about midnight until 5am when my alarm went off.  After the alpine start, I made it to my friend Matt’s place in Joshua Tree on time at 9am.  We packed up the gear and headed out into the park.

On Friday, we started at Hidden Tower and warmed up on the classic Sail Away (5.8) and Wild Wind (5.9).  Next we walked over to Sports Challenge Rock and did Clean-and-Jerk (5.10c).   Dan led it clean (whoo!), and Matt had one hang because he messed up the sequence getting to the knob after the crux.  I TR’d it clean wearing a full rack, so it’s definitely doable next time on lead.  We then setup a TR on What’s it to You? (5.10d)  to the right of Sphincter Quits.  I tried heading up to the crack via the “direct start” with no luck.  From the usual start, I got all the way up to the last move to the bolted anchor, where I fell because I got tunnel vision, and totally missed a good hold.  Finally to end the day we went over to to The Wart, and I led The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (5.10a) which is a nice hands traverse that brings you out from under a roof, followed by a rightward traverse into an offwidth.  It was a no-star climb, but I really enjoyed it.

On Saturday we went to Starwars Rock, and I tried leading Light Saber (5.10b) which I TR’d clean on my last trip, but I took a short fall at the top of the initial corner.  No problem on the rest of it though.  I had the sequence wrong (didn’t put both feet on the face!) through the first corner.  Next we walked around to Perpetual Motion Wall, and I onsighted Perpetual Motion (5.10d) . Whoo, that felt good!  I think that’s my hardest onsight ever.  The coolest part was that I ended up placing pretty much exactly the pieces I thought I should place, in the same order, and the whole climb just seemed to flow perfectly.  7 gear placements got me to the top.   We followed that up with the right-hand crack on Lean Two (5.10a) before hiking out.

On Sunday, Matt had to drop Dan off at the bus station and pick up Karen at the airport, so he didn’t climb.  I went out with Rick and Linda into Wonderland of Rocks.  We went to Lenticular Dome, where Linda led the highly-starred Mental Physics (5.7), which I followed in approach shoes.  I figured it would be good practice for busting free moves out of my aiders on bigwalls).  We Rapped from the top of the 2nd pitch and setup a TR on Dazed and Confused (5.9).  This is a highly starred runout 5.9 face on crumbling edges.  Next I led Hand Wobler Delight, a supposed 5.9 up a wide right-leaning crack to a leftward traverse across a low angle face into a corner under a big roof, which you have to layback up out of on the left side.  The corner of the roof is too far away to place gear (3.5 camalot) from the stance below, so you have to get into the lieback all the way out to the lip before placing it (scary, and pretty committing because it would be a bad fall), then you have to pull over the lip somehow.  I couldn’t figure out out first try, so I had to hang there.  After than it’s easy low angle hands to the anchor.  Fun, but scary.  We finished up the day at Perry Masonry Wall where I led Trowel and Error (5.9) which looks like a very asthetic line, but it turns out to be quite awkward.  The crux again involves liebacking.  It was fairly hard to protect because it was basically a finger crack with tight lips that widened out behind..  Very strenuous for a 5.9.

I capped Sunday off with a stop at Nomad’s to replace a sling I left to back up the rap anchor on the last climb, and a quick run into Crossroads for a coffee for the drive.  I was out of cash at that point, but luckily the whole crew was there, and I was able score a cup on them.  I got to Bakersfield around 11pm, where I stayed in a hotel then was back on the road by 6am, and at work by about 10:45am.  I didn’t get home until 2am, but that is another story.

This was a great spontaneous climbing weekend, I’ll have to do it again sometime!

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