We've been in Joshua Tree for a week now.
The last time we were here was way back in May of last year. Back then the summer heat was already creeping in. Climbing in the sun was unthinkable, and getting up anything requiring friction seemed impossible. With that in mind, we were pretty excited to return during a season with more favourable climbing conditions.
Here I am frictioning my way up South Corner, V0, a compression slab problem with no holds. This would have been impossible for us on our last visit.
Climbing in the sun is now comfortable, and often required when the days are chilly and the wind picks up. Here is Kristal on the first pitch of Mental Physics, 5.7+. It climbed a super cool hand crack, which ended at the top of the first pitch. Pitch two continued with 80 feet of unprotected slabby face climbing with 1 bolt. Spicy!
And here she is at the top.
Although most of the routes here are single pitch, we've been seeking out multi-pitch climbs to jump on. One such climb was Dappled Mare, 5.8, 3 pitches, which we climbed during a pretty warm day. Despite it being the end of January we still got a bit of that baking in the sun feeling. Here is Kristal about to embark on the third pitch.
One of the advantages of being here during the on season is that we meet a lot of other climbing bums doing the 'circuit'. We met Chance in Cochise Stronghold, and he showed up at Joshua Tree shortly after we did. He was nice enough to join us for a couple of days and be our rope gun. Here he is leading Tumbling Rainbow, 5.9.
In addition to being a super cool dude he's a pretty strong climber, so led a number of harder climbs for us to follow. Here is Kristal nearing the top of one burly fist crack he lead, Fisticuffs, 5.10b.
So far we've spent 4 days climbing and 2 days bouldering. It's been fun jumping on problems we tried last time and seeing what a difference the conditions make. Which of course varies depending on the type of problem. Here I am at the top of our favourite off-width boulder problem, Hobbit Hole Offwidth, V0-, which still felt as burly as last time we were here.
One disadvantage of being here in the winter is that it can get pretty cold. Here is Kristal taking a break from bouldering in a makeshift crash pad tent.
Today for example, we are taking a rest day, because the high is 4 degrees Celsius and the gusts are up to 50 km/h. Not comfortable climbing conditions, even in the sun. Thankfully the forecast is looking more favorable. Can't wait to get back on the rock!