Joshua Tree, April 18, 2008

Friday April 18, 2008 

Last night Ben and Claudia from Quebec arrived in
Joshua Tree. They have been traveling and climbing
in Hueco Tanks (where Claudia did her first V10!)
and came to JTree via Bishop. I hadn't seen them
since Hueco and I was psyched to spend some time.
Claudia was the reason I began talking to Sterling
Ropes, with whom I am now an representing as an
athlete. 🙂

Anyway, Ben and Claudia where staying at an RV and
camp site just down the road from Jtree (29 Palms
entrance). I packed my things and planned to sleep
in my Cruiser for the next few nights so I could be
closer to JTree and have some friends nearby.

This day, we started out by trying to find some
other friends in the park. The park is huge and
although we drove around a bit, we didn't see their
van or any sign of them.  So, Claudia and I
made a plan to try this nice 10ish finger crack
climb called the exorcist.  First, we were
going to warm up on a 5.8 nearby.

I took the lead since I spent sent the previous day
refreshing my memory on all the trad basics. I set
up my rack and finagled my way up the beginning
without too much trouble.  I was not half way
up when I realized I was going to have some issues.
Since I didn't fly all of my gear down (I didn't
have a chance to get into storage for my draws for
example), I was borrowing draws from Claudia. I
realized right away that I might not have enough
draws to place much gear. I hollered this down to
Claudia but decided not to retreat.

After heading up a bit more, I could see the width
of the crack and was becoming keenly aware that the
gear on me would not fit. I was in an interesting
situation: back clean the climb and forego the send
or free climb to the top and hope I had pieces for
an anchor. I knew that the exorcist had bolted
anchors and we or I could always rap down that if it
became an issue so I took my chances on anchor gear
and proceeded up.

I managed to put a few more pieces in (one or two a
bit precariously, but better than no pieces) and
found that I had just the right sizes left for an
anchor. I set one up and belayed Claudia to the top.
I was relieved everything turned out well, despite
the spiciness I created by not having the right gear
for the climb.

After Claudia rappelled down and collected our bags
from below, I went over to the exorcist and set up a
top rope. Since I'm not a crack climber, I wanted
more practice and figured I'd TR the climb, first,
then lead it on gear. Unfortunately, by this time, I
was hungry and needed water. When I cam down to the
base of the climb and set myself to eat and drink,
another group arrived. It was our friends we were
looking for earlier in the day.

I felt bad holding up the line. Leslie had come to
lead the climb and they were 4 people in total to
climb the thing. Another party of 2 came and left
while we were setting up so I insisted we climb the
route quickly and move on. 😦  I was a bit
disappointed that I didn't have my chance to lead to
it, but I didn't want to wait for another
opportunity and I wasn't going to try to onsight it.

The climb itself was phenomenal, as every climb I
did out there was. The finger crack was amazing and
I was pleased that I could actually do consecutive
finger locks and toe jams on the way up.

For the rest of the day, we set out to find some
boulder problem but got lost. We found something
that was a boulder problem but it was not the one we
were looking for. We ended the day with dinner at
the cafe in town before heading back to the RV and
camp site to sleep. The Sterling Rope events were
starting bright and early the next day and I was
still a bit under the weather so I crashed pretty
directly when we got back.

Surprisingly, despite the Cruiser having a tiny back
end to sleep in, with the help of Ben's crashpad, I
slept well.

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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climber, climbing coach, computer software/technology enthusiast and occasional baker/cook and wine connoisseur.
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