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Sandbagged, froze, and damaged rope at Joshua Tree.
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By yeego
Dec 27, 2012

Climbers on the Indian Palisades Corridor during a brief non windy moment.
Climbers on the Indian Palisades Corridor during a brief non windy moment.


Fug yeah! Iíd do it again. I grew from the experienced and am now comfortable for another one; my first lesson was the need for more time. Two and a half days is not enough, my non-climbing colleagues yearned for the sea. Dec. 17, we prepped for the Campfire Crag. Feminine Itch (5.7.), Sokolove (5.5), & Mcstain (5.8) were led and they offered 2 extra routes. We had five climbs with the direct F-itch (10a) and Pinic (5.6) included. The group I had never climbed on granite before, the Monzonite proved excellent. After two days, many hands and fingertips were sore. It was great.

On lead Feminine was a good challenged, getting back on granite was a rough transition. Sandstone is usually my only option. Maybe it was the direct attempt, and the decision not to clip the 1st bolt that spooked me and I bailed. I knew my friction climbing and height limited me from getting pass the clip. The run out to the 2 bolt also played a factor. I did the 5.7 variation instead; the mid section to the top was the highlight for me. It was surprisingly steep for awhile. At that moment, I thought it was a little tougher than other 5.7s. I compared to the Cochise Stronghold, Jurassic Pack, and the Enchanted Tower areas. Looking back now, I think it was what itís rated. A second attempt would have been easier. The 5.10 version was tougher than others elsewhere. I knew we could not lead the nearby and desired Shattered (10c).

Sokolove should have been the warm up. This and Picnic allowed most to achieve success; every attempt was awarded with the view & experience. I tried to get the master point as high as I could, because I knew the rope drag would be a factor for the multiple attempts. I was confident in my stopper placement for anchors. I wish I took pictures; I kick myself for forgetting my camera. 5 stoppers gave me a good system and the carabiners for the rope were steel. I realized long ago, that there are advantages in using steel for in sport climbing in your anchor system. The ropes cut through the non-steel over time. Whatís a little extra weight? One of our ropes was damaged. The sheath separated from the end of the rope and exposed the core. The sheath retreated from the end and created a half of foot long exposed core tail. One of the belayer has a history of keeping climbers super tight, sometimes dragging them up. I think that led to the sheath separating. The rope is almost two years old. I donít want to retire it just yet; maybe Iíll just cut off a ten feet section off.

My buddy got a chance to lead McStain (5.8), and his only highlight was the lower half, the first 2 bolts. We wanted to climb Kundalini Linguini Weenie and Lunch, but we grudgingly moved at the groups pace. We ran out of time, sun down was coming fast. I did get away for awhile to scout out the Indian Palisades Corridor. I found it and thought the approach was worth the routes. This was a warm and sunny day, with no wind. It was pleasant, actually. The lack of Joshua Trees surprised me. The only other bad thing was the ugly condition of our campsite bathroom (site 41), compared to others nearby, ours was filthy and stinky. So, that was our fast first day in the park, climbing on the Campfire Crag.

Our second day, Dec 18, was cold and windy. Our warm up was the sport climb on the south face of the Billboard Buttress. Folks there couldnít remember its name but it was estimated between 5.6 and 5.8. I feel like I did the 5.6 version, I kept to the right around the 1st clip. I thought it decent and would have been more enjoyable if not for the wind. My pal led El Chivo (5.8) on the Bilbo Buttresses. I was actually looking forward to it myself. It was a favorite for those that climbed. The top was especially rough and funny, tender hands suffered. It surprised me a little, but tolerable. I planned to lead this before we left the next day, but the majority intervened once again. One day, Iíll try it.

We moved our group to the Indian Palisades Corridor. I got on Serpent Scales (5.6) and my friend on Water Moccasin (5.7). We were sure that everyone would be able to climb, but the bottom portion of these climbs was a bit too tough. Not everyone succeeded. I thought they were tougher than Feminine Itch and Sokolove and even the south face sport on the Billboard. If we were taller, I assume the climbs would have been easier. It was just getting pass the 1st clips, weird. It was slightly raining and snowing too. It got slick, I was afraid of slipping before clipping the first bolt. That with the wind and cold, I figured that was why we had a tough time climbing the big slab. My buddy wanted me to check his system on top of Water Moccasin, so that took time from me. It needed minor adjustments, he is a beginner lead sport climber; strong but a bit weak with anchors. I was ready for Wheat Chex. He tried Willit Slab (5.6) instead. I really donít think it was Willit Slab; this route was closer to Water Moccasin. He had a surprisingly hard time committing to the direct first bolt. It had four clips and a run out with no anchors directly on top. Iím sure he didnít climb Willit Slab, it was too far right than the description. Sure enough the one long limbed kid had an easy time with the routes. I felt we got sandbagged and I personally felt bad about not everyone climbing the corridor. The bottom moves were tricky.

With that, we finished our climbing in Joshua Tree, I reluctantly agreed to the groupsí needs. They wanted to rappel the next day. So, I set up a couple of short rappels for the group on a short mound south of the group campsites. I have a better understanding of the area now and realized that we only had a small taste of the park. It was like having your favorite meal taken away after enjoying the first bite. I want to come back for a personal trip and explore other areas. Also, I want to spend a longer time there, I know I can lead some 10s if given more time. There werenít many people around, but those we came across either ignored or avoided us. I believe we stood out from the usual visitors.


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