Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year from JT

Echo Rock, featuring EBGBs et al on 12/31/2013
We were hoping to do the line called "Stitcher Quits" this day.
Luckily the sun came out TOMORROW.

Happy New Year from our Base Camp to Yours. We are lucky enough to have spent the week in Joshua Tree (and you thought we'd had enough of the holiday weekends after Thanksgiving.)

It turned out to be a "little" less crowded, and a  LOT (lot) colder.  But I really feel like I've made progress in my tolerance to cold.

We put in a reasonable number of routes for our age group.  Considering it was just the "two of us" and not JZ and the Boys, we were able to climb at MY rate with a few extra routes for Jim.

New Year's Eve (day) snow plows on the Park Blvd.
Wednesday the 31st was the only day we couldn't climb, so we went out and took pictures of the park.  Saw at least two snow plows working the main road and the parking lots and the temperatures were mid 20's.  Too cold, even for the hardest of the hard core.  

As expected however, when the sun came out in the New Year, so did the climbers.  

The right number of layers and the right attitude can make all the difference in the world.   Yet no matter how many layers you wear, or how many pep talks you can give yourself, it's very hard to take your boots off in the snow to put on climbing shoes. But that's just what we did.  

Jim as always, ready to jump on, but ME....
I'm SO Proud of ME !
So here's the trip timeline.  We left Tempe at 5 am on Sunday.  Arrived before 10am at Jumbo Rock campground and while everything looked FULL, we drove right up to a site that accommodated our new Base Camp just perfectly.

That's right, I said BASECAMP!  We have treated ourselves to a perfect little travel trailer (circa 2001) and we had HOT WATER (aka: washed dishes and hair) an XM radio so basecamp ROCKED, and a heater that kept us around 40 degrees all night long. A blessing because while Sunday and Monday were beautiful weather the landscape in the winter can change dramatically. 

Monday Morning - Crisp, breezy but beautiful.
On Monday we were armed with beta from Steve.  A few ideas to stay out of the wind and IN the sun, we headed off to Quail Springs area and Trashcan Rock.  There we did a couple of routes.  As predicted however it was a bit of a zoo (fun, but a zoo) with tourists, families of climbers with the kids on the ropes and just a little too crowded for us.  Added to the Ticklist however was: B2 - a little 5.3 crack up to the top (some would free solo but not when you climb with your wife) setting up  a TR for me, and then one for him on the face to the left, Profundity 5.10a.  Then we moved around the corner and did Cranny 5.8 little set of double cracks.

JZ on top of B3, with Profundity on the near left face. 

Cranny, runs up the cracks just to the righ of the sun.
This was as much shade as I wanted!
Waiting (and belaying) at the TOP.  MY handsome husband.
Close to the West Entrance and needing gas (remember we drove the Dura Max, Diesel and pulled basecamp) we decided to go into town to fill up and grab a new guide book.  The second we left the park however we were reminded that it was a holiday weekend.  The line to enter the park went nearly 3 miles down the road.  REALLY.  Luckily we were staying at Jumbo Rock and it made more sense to go down to 29 palms and come in the other entrance.  Giving us the perfect opportunity to stop at Stirrup Tanks for a little reconnaissance for Steve and a chance for Jim to TR an unknown line (even with the new book) he had eyed last trip.  3 bolts but no info so maybe with the boys he'd have lead it, but with your wife.... he listened to that little voice in his head... cuz it was ME.
Bolts.  3 of them. Not in the book.  Jim TR'd and votes it a 5.10+ (d maybe?)
Next time Steve will put in his vote, so stay tuned and if you know what this is, please let us know.

This is for you Steve.  We have more and will share on Thursday!
Coming back into Jumbo Rock for the evening we were so happy to have arrived the day prior. There was a constant stream of people arriving and searching for a site.  Most were disappointed, but if they read this blog, they'd have a back up plan...right?  (see previous Thanksgiving post)

Tuesday we got up and again looked up into blue skies and sunshine.  The temperatures had dropped however and as we drove from Jumbo Rock further IN to the park, it was clear that the storm we had heard about was going to happen.
The storm was coming, but there was still time.

But there was still a little time.  Armed with our new guide book we headed to Little Hunk Wall at Echo Rock to look for a 2 star 5.8 called Incandescent.

Guidebook or not, it took us a while to sort out the Little Hunk East Side, West Side, and Right side ;) until we went "around" the formation to the North East Wall and the Right Side became clearer.  There we found it and more.

We may have spent a little too long checking out the area before starting to climb, and then it didn't help that Jim forget his climbing shoes at the truck and had to jog back.  (Sucked for him - I just layed in a cave and watched little white flurries start to come down)

Little Hunk North Side, kept us out of the wind but nothing could stop the snow.
By the time he was done it was SNOWING, and it didn't stop until the next day!
This is our fire on Tuesday evening.
This is how it looked on Wednesday morning.
So Wednesday (New Year's Eve) found us and everyone else, in parkas and boots, sneaking out for an hour or two every now and again.  A couple of hikes, games of Scrabble, the Allman Brothers Concert on XM Radio, a lot of Patron (along with other libations)
Basecamp was VERY VERY good to us.
and we brought in the New Year in a way that we hope to do many more times in our lives.

Basecamp at Joshua Tree National Park.  Does it get better than this?

We ended up celebrating an East Coast countdown (ie: were in bed early) and hear a few hoots and hollers as the California clock struck 12.

On New Year's Day we headed to Echo Cove Left side (as a result of our own research, in our new book, taking into consideration the wind and the sun and aren't you proud of us Steve? ) where we were alone for about 30 minutes and then the other climbers came out to play.  It's fun to have something in common (besides the calls of "Happy New Year" with the younger generation) and we found ourselves in the midst of our kind.  A little hungover, yes, but we were out there.

Jim and I started the day sending the 5.7 sport pitch called Swing Low, followed by a little chute called (appropriately) Chute Up 5.2 or 5.3. and then setting up a TR to do the 5.8 faces next to it,  The Sound of One Shoe Tapping and W.A.C.  and then we headed back to the line we were hoping for the day prior, Stitcher Quits 5.7.  We weren't the only ones however and so we waited and watched another young couple (reminded us of ourselves 30 years ago) as he (Matt) led up, and she (Tara) belayed and followed.

They were setting a TR for other friends, so Jim and I took the opportunity they offered to jump on their rope in the mean time.  Tara and Jim had clipped thru one of the bolts (as was my plan) to leave for the others and were lowered down.  Half way up the route, it was decided that the others were not coming back and that I would have to clean the anchor from the top and be lowered down.

Now I know this post is getting L O N G but I also know that no one really reads it (except my close friends and my husband) but if you are reading this, you might just care to know that I passed a milestone on this day.  Unaware at the base when I started that it would be up to ME at the top to secure myself, untie from the rope, run the rope through the links that were up there, tie back into the rope, remove the other sling anchors and get lowered down.

Easy enough, but I've never done it.  Nor have I ever found myself alone at the top without a quick lower off a Top Rope.  My partner(s) are always there.  But this was up to ME.  It took me a little more time than maybe my waiting husband (and others at the bottom) may have liked, but they were very patient.  I double checked and triple checked everything and proudly got myself ready for the descent.  I guess you can teach an old (belay) dawg new tricks.

After this route Jim noticed this shadow on the rocks and decided he wanted to climb that Joshua Tree.  Of course this would not be legal in the realest sense, but I love these next two photos!  I'm sure he'll be posting them to Facebook or something.

Friday morning came too soon and we had to leave the campsite.  We packed up basecamp and then took a quick drive out to the turn off where we can get a signal to call home.  Everyone was fine and we had time to go back for one more route or two.  With basecamp in tow, we parked at the Hall of Horrors and did some little 5.9 face called something like House of the Homeless?.  I had a HARD time with it.  I need to get back to the gym.  So we stopped there, walked around the Horror Rocks some more and then headed home.  

Never satisfied, we added a few to the ticklist but far more to the wish list this week.  We will be back very soon.  We'll plan for February or March, but UNSANCTIONED trips happen all the time. Stay tuned.  I'm thinking Jim wants an appointment at Henrieta's Day Spa, if you know where I mean.

In the mean time, I need to hit gym.  I got tired easy.  Flailed on some easy smearing attempts (but that may be that I need to go to REI and get new shoes ;) and felt just all around not as strong as I thought I was.

But my accomplishments (though small) were huge for me this weekend.  Just being there in the cold.  Getting ON the rock when I really wanted to stay IN my parka layer, and getting myself off of the route Stitcher Quits.  I did not quit.  Yea ME.

Kay Z

more photos follow for those who care ;) including JIM. 
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