Joshua Tree, April 17, 2008

Thursday April 17, 2008 

Today was my first day climbing in Joshua Tree. Many
of the Sterling Athletes have already arrived and
are eagerly out trying some of the finest lines they
can. I opted for a late sleep to assist with
recovery and woke up to find Jason and his wife,
Lisa, still about. This worked well for me. I tagged
along for the day and did some fun climbs with them.
First, we warmed up on a 5.9 that Lisa was
enthusiastic about. She went up it easily and was
happy for that. Apparently, the day before, the 5.9
she tried was significantly harder. I've heard this
about Joshua Tree and am, again, thankful to have a

After the warmup, which I TRd (after realizing I had
not brought all of my gear nor was I prepared to
start rigging anchors. I'd need a refresher before
committing myself to that.), we went to another area
nearby and targeted some nice moderates, one of them
named 'Tax Man.'  There was a queue on most of
the climbs we eyed, but this one had a draw to it
that we pursued it anyway. After some scrambling and
navigating, we found ourselves at the base of the
climb. There were 3 people moving off of one climb
to 'Tax Man' and we opted to wait for them. 
While we were waiting, Jason mentioned a bolted
climb nearby that would be 'right up my alley.' 
I smiled, knowing the Joshua Tree style (by rumor)
and suggested we have a look.

It was a bolted climb, alright, but as it turned
out, it was not a face climb. It was a slabby arete. 
I laughed at the thought but figured what the heck,
I should try something. The start was a nice short
crack that went up to a ledge just to the left of
the arete. The first bolt was a bit out of reach,
even from the ground I could see how desperate it
might be. therefore, i put gear in the crack to help
ease my mind if not to add a little extra protection
should i fall there. After getting the clip (i
rigged the draw with a stick to keep the gate open
and tippy toed the draw into the bolt) then i had to
negotiate the arete by traversing it around before
pulling the first of a few awkward transitions. It
was heady! It was probably not a good choice for
first climbs in JTree so I backed off and told Jason
since he suggested it, he could have at it. He
styled the beginning, much to my dismay (i really
should have committed to a move), but the rest of
the climb did not go as smoothly. It was, afterall,
a slab arete. After some work at the top, he managed
the chains. I was not optimistic about another
attempt so opted instead to TR the route. I was much
braver on top rope and made the chains with some
effort, as well.  i'm not eager to go for the
redpoint. 🙂  Meanwhile, Lisa was leisurely
heading up Tax Man just around the corner.

From there, we went to check out a 12a called 'Leave
it to Beaver.'  It was Jason's project and for
him to put a TR up to work it says a lot about the
challenge of the climb. First, you boulder,
unprotected, to a nice ramp/ledge. From there, you
can rest from the boulder problem and get psyched
for the stiff upper section. This climb is steep and
it has fissures in it that make it a good gear
climb. The varied climbing on it makes it
interesting and diverse. There are hand jams, finger
locks, fist jams, knee bars, toe jams, underclings,
crimps and slopers. Jason went up on top rope and
made good work of the crux. He was feeling pretty
confident that he decided to go for the redpoint on
his next go. Meanwhile, I hopped on the climb on top
rope. I made the boulder problem, though not as
easily as Jason made it seem. I even started up into
the cruxy bits. However, the need and use of a fist
jam troubled me and I couldn't quite get through
that section. I pulled up a bit to get further and
had a bit of trouble maneuvering up to the rail.
Jason is 6'4" and in this case, it helped to be
tall. He could get a kneebar and make static moves
that I had to negotiate. It was particularly hard on
my wrists so I didn't try it but once. Jason went up
for the redpoint and styled the climb! This route is
definitely a 5 star!

That concluded my first climbing day in JTree. We
went for Thai after and met up with Sonya of
Sterling Rope and other
Sterling representatives, including Elaina from the
New River Gorge, Diane from Seneca Rocks, and Arno of The Rock Warrior's Way.
I really enjoy the networking aspect that these
events offer!

About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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