Figures on a Landscape


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Boulder climber
Gilbert, AZ
Oct 29, 2007 - 10:15pm PT
I can think of other 5.10 routes in Joshua Tree with similar quality climbing and rock quality (Run for your Life and Bird of Fire come to mind) but, what Figures adds is that it's also multi-pitch.


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 29, 2007 - 11:12pm PT
I can think of other 5.10 routes in Joshua Tree with similar quality climbing and rock quality (Run for your Life and Bird of Fire come to mind) but, what Figures adds is that it's also multi-pitch.

Length definitely is part of its charm, but even if Figures ended after the first pitch, I can't think of another JT 5.10 face climb that beats it. Run for your Life, Solid Gold, EBGBs, Heart and Sole, Diamondback, I Can't Believe It's a Girdle ... outstanding but still not as good. My JT knowledge is shallow compared to many of you folks, though.

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Oct 29, 2007 - 11:15pm PT
The first and only time i climbed this route was with Jeff Perrin, and Walt Shipley as audience, and chief heckler.

Jeff lead the first pitch and i was seconding.

We lost Walt on the hike in, and had no idea where he was.

I start climbing and was immediately aware that Walt has arrived, because he starts heckling me.

I am focused on the moves and i don't look down to see where Walt is, but i am very aware of his presence.

He is critiquing my every move, and yelling up suggestions.

"Dyno, lieback, smear, edge, mantle"

The climbing is not very difficult, and i am not having any trouble with the moves. Walt is just entertaining himself by trying to make me fall.

I get up to the traverse section of the first pitch, and i get a little gripped looking at the possible penji that i am going to take if i fall.

This route is well within my ability, but at that time i was a little light in the nerves department.

I have found that as i get older, i am a lot more cautious, and lot less bold than i was twenty years and twenty pounds ago, but that is another story.

As I start off on the traverse, Walt launches in to a new tirade.
"You're blowing the sequence, you're gonna fall, you're gonna die"

I am slowly inching across the traverse and trying to count how many moves i have left to the belay.

Walt doesn't let up, "if you die, can i have your car?"

I finally tell Walt to shut the f@#k up, and he does.

I am one move away from the slings and in my haste to get there, i have actually messed up the sequence. I want to do this clean, but it would be so easy to grab the anchor. I am trying to find a way to reverse the move, and i hear Walt yell, "Grab the sling ya poser!"

I am able to reverse the move and finish the pitch cleanly. I clip in to the anchor, and immediately look down at Walt.

I was not prepared for what i saw.

Walt is semi crouched, and leaning against a rock in the sun.

He is naked, and holding a beer.

I look at Jeff, shake my head, and then look back at Walt and ask him, "what in the F#@K are you doing?"

He does not respond, and he is just staring out in to The Wonderland.

I again call out to him, "Walt, what are you doing?"

Without looking up, he finally responds: "I am coping some rays, taking a sh#t, drinking a beer, and laughing at you. I am enjoying life, man"

I miss you Walt, and will never forget all the good times that we had on and off the stone, and our great conversations.


Trad climber
Oct 29, 2007 - 11:15pm PT
I love the Reardon video where the climber is leading about twenty feet out from his last pro and about to mantle onto a small ledge and safety. Is that the second pitch? You can tell the man is tired. The cameraman (Reardon?) and others are all cheering him on. It's cool.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Oct 30, 2007 - 12:09am PT
The climb is a masterpiece, and Dave Evans (with the help of his belay boy R. Vogel) is a genius. Calling the climb anything less than * is hilarious.


Oct 30, 2007 - 12:11am PT
Nice shots Chiloe. Is that Chiloe Jr. on lead there? Must have been a great day.

Oct 30, 2007 - 12:14am PT

Thanks for the Walt show story. Never heard that one.
susan peplow

Oct 30, 2007 - 12:33am PT
This is no Shipley story but still kinda funny. After much discussion and some coaxing I convenience Russ to go out to the Astro Domes. Anything further than 100 ft from the parking lot is considered a hike so it takes a few times for him to agree.

Ultimately I believe he was persuaded by the fact that nearly 30 years (at the time) of climbing in Josh he had never climbed the route. This was swell for me, as I wouldn't (thank goodness) have to lead it.

After taking 20% longer to find the domes and walking around Don Juan Boulder 3 times we finally get to the base. To our surprise, no line but plenty of people milling about across the way and down at the South Dome.

Russ launches off, really putting on a clinic for me on how to use stiff shoes to edge on a route that I would smear the crap out of. Clip, Clip... clip, clip clip. That seemed easy enough. Then the traverse. Suddenly the stream of spewing starts to dwindle. Maybe some bitching about shoes, rubber, too cold, too hot, hate the wind, hate the sun... I don't remember exactly what was all said but he hangs in there and heads to the covited ledge hold. Just as he's pulling this off a voice from across the way say's, "man, he's goin' for it".

Once the anchor was set, Russ yells something to the effect of "casual" down to me.


BTW, the 2 & 3rd pitch can easily be linked.

Social climber
No Ut
Oct 30, 2007 - 12:41am PT
zip and susan- great stories well told of storied characters let loose on an unsuspecting landscape - figures on the landscape of our little history.


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 30, 2007 - 12:44am PT

BTW, the 2 & 3rd pitch can easily be linked.

We knew that but had a different vision. 3 guys, 3 leads.
Cams 'n jams, pitch 3 is the Dad-friendly one.


Trad climber
LA, Ca
Oct 30, 2007 - 12:59am PT
Once, prolly late '80's, I was sitting across from this route on the sunny ledges there, watching a guy stylin' his way up the first pitch. He had climbed up to where you clip a bolt and begin the long traverse right, but he didn't clip the bolt right away - being all secure and confident and all. He just hung out there posing, hanging out off this flake looking around and takin' his time. Then the flake broke off in his hand. He went for what would certainly be a big fall. The next bolt below - the one under the little flap where you undercling up and a bit left - popped out of the rock without slowing him down and he continued his downward plummet into the treetops where he was caught by the belayer.

To this day, if you take a close look at the rock around that bolt under the flap (it must be about the 4th one on the pitch) you can see the dish in the rock with just a wee bit of the old 1/4" hole at it's bottom, where that bolt blew out.

Anyone know who this guy was or ever hear about this wild whipper? It was something to see.
susan peplow

Oct 30, 2007 - 01:40am PT

Those are really nice photos you've posted. Happy faces on beautiful patina rock. We appreciate you sharing and sending us down the path of days past and in my case, the now revised tick list.

Maybe we'll loop around and do that Room to Shroom that's been on my list for several years now while we're out there.

Yeah, that's the ticket!

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 30, 2007 - 01:43am PT
The first half of Room to Shroom is nice - maybe 20 metres of climbing up a steep crack. But then it's all over - a scruffy low angle traverse to a tree. Worth doing once, especially if you're up near the Astro Domes.

Sounds like Russ missed the offwidth variation to the traverse on the first pitch of Figures. Darn!

Trad climber
Oct 30, 2007 - 01:48am PT
Out there with your son. That is so cool. Any day out having fun with my sons (22 and 25) is great. But climbing Figures on a Landscape, that must have been so wonderful for you.


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 30, 2007 - 10:08am PT

Ah, he’s singular.

Dave and I had been out this way once before. We climbed Solid Gold with Leslie when he was 15.
Life’s mandala turns, he’s the ropegun now.

Wildfire sunset.

scuffy b

The deck above the 5
Oct 30, 2007 - 11:56am PT
Where Was I?
First, the obvious answer. I was in Joshua Tree, North Astrodome, Figures on a Landscape. That’s not the real answer, though, because that’s not the real question.
I don’t mean to ask, “WHERE was I” but rather Where was “I”, that is, the guy
I am used to encountering and talking to and being counseled by when I am on the
sharp end.
When we got to the dome, looked at the guide, at the rock, guide/rock/guide/rock,
figured out where exactly it was that we were going, the inevitable question arose:
“Well, Mr. Moyles, are you going to lead this thing?” Well, yeah, sure. Why didn’t
that perk me right up? OK, rack up. Followed my week-long tendency to take about
2.4 times what I could possibly use on the climb. Steve, are you there? Yeah, sure.
Are you sure? Yeah, I guess so.
Harness up. Chalk bag. Tie that water knot. Shoe up. There yet? Well, tie in then.
On belay? Climbing then. Calling all Steve. I guess he’ll show up in a few moves.
Looks hard. No it doesn’t, this is just the kind of thing you do. Yeah, I guess you’re
right. It wasn’t that bad. This next bit looks scary, though. No it doesn’t, just look at
that edge you’ll be standing on. Look, just stand up, see, that’s how it works. Yeah,
it looks just like something I know how to do. It even looks like something I’d
really like. If only I were here to enjoy it. It’s nice hearing the occasional “nice move”
from the ground, but I want to be hearing it from Here! Where are you, anyway?
So there I am, grinding along in this fatalistic mindset, intellectually filing away
sensations: Look over there, Steve, isn’t that pretty? Didn’t that move feel cool?
Yeah, I guess, whatever…
It helps out some when I get to a spot with an actual choice of moves. The obvious way
has a move that feels less than 100% secure in the hand, and though I know it would
usually be perfectly fine, I come back down to the stance and check out an alternative
to the side. It has smaller holds but is more of the rock-onto-solid-edge-stand-up type
which the climb has been so far. This way works out great for me. It’s really secure
and the “route finding” episode has stripped a layer of fuzz away, leaving me only
with about 3 spiritual sweaters between me and the fresh air. Hello? Not here yet.
I think he might be just around the corner, though. Well, just keep climbing, he might
show up. I make my way to the first anchor, the old one. From the ground: “Don’t
stop there, go to the next anchor.” OK, this next bit looks more, um, demanding. Do
you think you might want to Pay Attention now? All right, remember you have to
protect this traverse. Stuff that thing in there. That’s fine. Step on over here. Get more
stuff. Good. Uh-oh, it gets hard. Have to start yelling at myself. “Come on. Use that
foot. Wake up. Do it right. Will you just do it right? Come on, Steve. Climb this thing.” And suddenly, I was right there with me, where I should have been all along.
I got that good hold, and I was wide awake on the middle of a nice exposed face, stepping
to that stance, clipping the anchor bolts, as happy as if I had been climbing the whole
time instead of watching somebody else do it through a helmet cam. What a climb! I
wish I’d been here to enjoy it.
“Off Belay!”
“Belay Off. It sounds like you found religion up there.”
Jesus, I don’t need this crap.

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Oct 30, 2007 - 12:29pm PT
In 1978 I was way out west visiting and climbing With Maria C.
We were at the base during the 1st ascent of Figures. If I remember it was Randy, Dave and Jim Angione climbing and a small crowd of others gawking. There were some tense moment still the FFA was beautifully done. They all considered this route to have been a real monkey on their backs, which was the working title at that time, and were real glad to be done with it. I clearly remember pimpin' Randy to call it by his alternate name Figures on a Landscape and not Monkey on my Back. Figures on a Landscape was so much more poignant and poetic a name than Monkey on my Back.
Maria and I went back the next day for the 2nd FA. We had the whole Wonderland to ourselves and were greated at the approach by an incredible herd of desert big horn sheep. We felt blessed by good omens! Though nervous I led pitch 1 in my best style with only the big horns for an audience. Of course Maria made the 2nd pitch look like ballet. And I really enjoyed the 3rd. Wow that was a fabulous route! I am glad it is still highly regarded and not considered a "moderate trade route".

Trad climber
Grand Junction, Colorado
Oct 30, 2007 - 12:41pm PT
"Steve. Climb this thing.” And suddenly, I was right there with me, where I should have been all along.
I got that good hold, and I was wide awake on the middle of a nice exposed face, stepping
to that stance, clipping the anchor bolts, as happy as if I had been climbing the whole
time instead of watching somebody else do it through a helmet cam. What a climb! I
wish I’d been here to enjoy it."

Scuffy B,
That Zen daddy Dogen would have been proud of such an accurate rendering of the conversation between the self and the 'self'. You made my morning.


The cinders of California...
Oct 30, 2007 - 12:43pm PT
Beautiful photos Chiloe. Thanks for sharing such a stellar day with us.

And I'm with you--Figures is one of the best for variety, scenery, and good ol' Joshua Tree face climbing. Oh yes, and having the poo scared out of you on the traverse...especially if you're the second.

Mountain climber
Anchorage, AK
Oct 30, 2007 - 01:05pm PT
What a great route. DE is the man.
Susan, the Fish has a poor memory; I climbed the route with him back in the early 1980’s? Back when he used to hike and we belayed using hip belays. I led the first pitch to a hanging belay, I don’t know if they moved the belay or not but at the time some people thought it should be moved as it was bolts in a flake. Russ took the second pitch and pitches off ending up hanging below me. He retools and then fired the pitch. When I think back it seems incredible that we used to climb with hip belays and I cannot remember anyone being dropped.
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