Trip Report
Glorious Jamming in Joshua Tree
Thursday December 1, 2011 3:21pm
Story by Kalen Glenn
Photos by Ben and Marina Kong


Itís now 5:28 am on Sunday morning and Iíve just returned from the desert. Parched and cracked lips, grimy broken fingernails, and a sore back from the 9 hour drive canít dampen my enthusiasm. I ran off to Joshua Tree to escape from the normal family Thanksgiving, instead choosing 3 days of monkeying around in a monzonite dreamworld.
Credit: karodrinker

We left San Jose at 9:30 on Wednesday night, aiming for an early Thursday morning arrival. By 5:30 am, we were driving around the Hidden Valley Campground, which like all the other campsites in Joshua Tree was fully packed. Iíve never seen so many Sportsmobile Vans in my life. Trolling around Ryan campsite around 6am, we found a site with a tag stating only 1 night reserved. Hoping we could swoop in and take the site later that day, we parked the cars and made coffee. I had been driving since 2 am, after Jarom had driven his 4 and half hour shift while his girlfriend Lucia snoozed away riding shotgun. Ben and Marina had driven behind or in front of us in their hatchback all 450 miles, neither sleeping much at all.
sunrise upon arrival
sunrise upon arrival
Credit: karodrinker

As the sun rose and the landscape was revealed around us, I lost all feelings of tiredness and instead felt filled with joy and energy. The campsites were all nestled amongst awesome piles of featured rock, with corridors and caves all around. The flat expanse of the desert spread out before us, evenly filled with thousands of unique, gangly Joshua Trees and hundreds of golden granite islands. A hundred yards away was a pile of huge beautiful boulders, with a large steep rock called the headstone perched right on top. Alone,I scrambled quietly up the rocks above the campground and watched the sun fill the park with light and warmth.

Slowly, campers emerged from their tents. When we saw a man awake inside the tan, lifted Sportsmobile at our hoped for site, we rudely asked if they were indeed leaving that day. He told us he was and we slipped our tag under his at the post, our campsite secured! Jarom and I grabbed our climbing shoes and chalkbags and went to the pile of rocks with the headstone. Fantastic moderate bouldering on gritty, sharp rocks up to 30 feet high. A glorious handcrack with big face holds led up a particularly high boulder offering easy exhilaration. Good climbing seemed to be everywhere.
Our campsite at Ryan
Our campsite at Ryan
Credit: karodrinker




We headed over to the Hidden Valley Campground to rope up and climb some classics. Jarom and Lucia climbed the 5.5 Secovar, and Ben and I climbed the 5.7 Jungle, both on Intersection rock. Fun easy climbing up chimneys and finishing with a 20 foot #4 fist crack variation. Across the parking lot over on Chimney Rock, a striking vertical crack in a flaring corner caught my eye. The guidebook called the crack Damper, a 5.9. I racked up 3 #4 camelots and 2 #3s and got to work. Reaching deep into the crack I was able to get decent fist jams while scumming my back against the flaring left side of the climb. Inch by inch, I slowly grunted my way up, learning along the way that Joshua Tree cracks can be strenuous and physical. Jarom followed me up and we set up a top rope on Pinched Rib, a beautiful quartz dike on a vertical wall rated 5.10.
damper
damper
Credit: karodrinker
pinched rib
pinched rib
Credit: karodrinker
I had precooked a 20 lb turkey for Thanksgiving, and having whetted our appetites for climbing, we turned our attention towards returning to camp and preparing Thanksgiving dinner. We all ate our fill of turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries and lots of pumpkin pie. Sleep came quick and easy at 7pm.
Ben Kong, Turkey Lover
Ben Kong, Turkey Lover
Credit: karodrinker

That night a cold wind picked up, forcing me to pull my sleeping bag over my head so as to warm it with my breath. Even with all my warm clothes and my down jacket, it was hard to avoid feeling chilled by the steady blowing wind. Morning came, the sun rose but the wind remained until well after 10. We packed food and went to the Real Hidden Valley climbing area. Jarom and I headed straight for Championship Wrestling, a 5.10 offwidth on the Sports Challenge rock. Using all our big gear, 4 #4s, a #6 and 2 big bros, Jarom fearlessly led up this surprisingly fun climb and I followed. Even the offwidth climbs in Joshua Tree are awesome!

We top roped the 5.11d Cool but Concerned next, and while I pulled on the big jug at the start of the crux the hold broke off, making the climb substantially harder. Next we climbed the 5.10d Hang and Swing on the far right side of Sports Challenge Rockís East Face. Hang and Swing is an awesome zig zagging finger to hand crack with some great face holds as well. So far, the day had been incredible! We then moved into the sun and climbed Sphincter Quits 5.9, an eighty foot, splitter finger crack. We ended the day top roping Whatís it to You, the 5.10d to the right of Sphincter Quits. The evening was spent getting to know our campsite neighbors, a lovely couple Dave and Bridgite on one side, and a friendly archaeologist couple on the other. Dave played his guitar, Bridgite talked in her heavy German accent about how much Europeans enjoyed ďYoshua Treee.Ē
Credit: karodrinker

At 7am on Saturday morning, our last day, we climbed to the top of the campsite rocks and stretched out with a Yoga session led by Jarom. Shortly after, before breakfast, Jarom and I hurried over to take turns leading Cryptic 5.8 on the Headstone Rock. 4 bolts lead up an exciting arete featuring excellent holds and a fun balancy mantel near the top.
Morning Yoga
Morning Yoga
Credit: karodrinker
Cryptic
Cryptic
Credit: karodrinker

After breakfast we went back to Sports Challenge Rockís steep overhanging East Face to top rope the 5.10c Clean and Jerk and the 5.12 Leave it to Beaver. Clean and Jerk is quite possibly the best climb Iíve done anywhere, offering a challenging boulder problem start to a long, over hanging hand crack, with some great face holds, chimneying and finger locks thrown in. I loved it so much I climbed it 3 times. Next up was the super strenuous Leave it to Beaver. After 3 attempts, Jarom was able to climb through the crux without falling, but lost steam and fell near the top. I worked the climb and learned the moves, hanging many times but reaching the top, fully exhausted.
Looking up Clean and Jerk, quite possibly my favorite climb ever.
Looking up Clean and Jerk, quite possibly my favorite climb ever.
Credit: karodrinker
Beginning of Clean and Jerk, lap 1.
Beginning of Clean and Jerk, lap 1.
Credit: karodrinker
Laughing my way up perfect jams on my 3rd lap up Clean and Jerk
Laughing my way up perfect jams on my 3rd lap up Clean and Jerk
Credit: karodrinker

With the sun setting on the Hidden Valley used a century ago by cattle thieves to hide their stolen herds, I read through the guidebook looking for one more moderate classic crack. The Hidden Tower Rock has a long 5.8 crack called Sail Away that looked like a great way to close the trip. I led up the hundred foot tower as the light from the sun turned everything around me a rich golden hue. The climb was a classic indeed, offering satisfying hand jams and finger jams and easy protection. The small pinnacle summit allowed a view of the entire Hidden Valley.
Sail Away
Sail Away
Credit: karodrinker

9 hours later and here I am, back in real life, writing this in the hopes of remembering the details. Joshua Tree filled me with a calm satisfied happiness that I have rarely found anywhere. I hope this feeling lasts forever.
Marina Kong, Ben Kong, Kalen (5th wheel) Glenn, Jarom Feriante, Lucia
Marina Kong, Ben Kong, Kalen (5th wheel) Glenn, Jarom Feriante, Lucia
Credit: karodrinker



  Trip Report Views: 4,253
karodrinker
About the Author
Kalen Glenn is a father, climber, skateboarder and surfer from San Jose, CA.

Comments
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jfailing

Trad climber
PDX, North Slope, The Open Road
  Dec 1, 2011 - 03:28pm PT
Leave it to Karodrinker... Fun report man - I eyed Sail Away last time I was down there - looks stupendous! Nice sendage, hope you can make it back again soon
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Old West Crackramento
  Dec 1, 2011 - 03:56pm PT
Nice tick list!
dourbalistar

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 1, 2011 - 05:21pm PT
Nice meeting and climbing with you, and thanks for all the hand jamming tips. Also, your turkey was awesome!

-ben.
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:17pm PT
ben, watching you devour every last bit of turkey made hauling that big bird totally worth it. Jam on turkey lover.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:31pm PT
As the sun rose and the landscape was revealed around us, I lost all feelings of tiredness and instead felt filled with joy and energy.

I concur.

I'd recommed some night walks/scrambles through the desert with friends. There are some wild corridors to do too. Jumbo Corridor is cool at night with headlamps after some adult beverages. Ryan has some fun stuff too.

The Headstone is pretty wild.

donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:32pm PT
Nice! I hope to be doing a little jamming there this weekend on my way to my wintering grounds in Patagonia.
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 1, 2011 - 10:56pm PT
Jim, I'm guessing you have already climbed Clean and Jerk, but if not, it has possibly the most enjoyable hand jamming on the planet. Have fun!
miss.julienne

climber
Grand Junction, Colorado
  Dec 2, 2011 - 10:09am PT
"Come on Jerome you can climb your heart out. You can do it, do it good..."

-Now I've got the damn song stuck in my head for the day.
Nice trip kalen
Jarom

Sport climber
Palo Alto, CA
  Dec 2, 2011 - 12:03pm PT
Kalen, thanks for documenting the adventures! J Tree was so surreal... can't wait to get out there again!
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Dec 2, 2011 - 12:20pm PT
Good stuff man!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Dec 2, 2011 - 02:22pm PT
Looks good gang!!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
  Dec 2, 2011 - 02:46pm PT
Looks like a great time.
rhyang

climber
SJC
  Dec 2, 2011 - 09:25pm PT
Looks awesome Kalen !
JohnnyG

climber
  Dec 2, 2011 - 09:30pm PT
awesome...brings back many great memories of t-giving there

also, sweet photo of the trees and stars
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Dec 3, 2011 - 12:16am PT
Nice!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 4, 2011 - 11:36am PT
Sweet, thanks for sharing!
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
  Dec 4, 2011 - 11:41am PT
I thought at first that this was gonna be a thread about musicians, and I was gonna express my chagrin at not being there.

Great TR! Sounds like you had a stellar time on some stellar routes. You chose some good ones, for sure.

Thanks for the post!
dourbalistar

climber
San Jose, CA
  Dec 5, 2011 - 02:02pm PT
Our campsite neighbors at Ryan brought a guitar and mandolin, so there was definitely some jamming around the campfire, too.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 5, 2011 - 03:03pm PT
++like
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Old West Crackramento
  Dec 5, 2011 - 03:05pm PT
And music? I'm gonna bring my guit-fiddle next trip, I'd love to run into a mando player.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Dec 5, 2011 - 03:05pm PT
The best TR's make me want to drop everything I'm doing and run over there to climb. Yours met that criterion with flying colors.

Thanks for a great report.

John
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Dec 5, 2011 - 03:32pm PT
Like a lot of people on this forum (I'm guessing), I cut my teeth out at J Tree and have always felt something special when I'm there. Like it's hard to force yourself into your sleeping bag at the end of the night - just one more headlamped climb, then one more after that, then a hike under the moon, then...

First time I climbed Clean and Jerk was solo with the Mini-Trax. Was planning to do something less popular, not wanting to clog up such a classic, but was happily surprised to find no one there while walking by. Five, six, seven laps later and still surprised to find at each top out that no one was in the neighborhood. Finished that day with a few laps on an equally empty Coarse and Buggy, before driving back to LA.

Illusion Dweller, Bird of Fire - maybe even better in that same difficulty range.

Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Dec 5, 2011 - 04:57pm PT
I climbed the Damper yesterday with Donini, really he soloed it with a rope, set up a TR and I proceeded to grunt and flail my way to the top. I tried doing it keeping hands and feet in the crack and not use any face features but I got my but handed to me and had to resort to using face footholds. Donini is The Crack Master.
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Author's Reply  Feb 24, 2012 - 01:38am PT
oh man I'm feelin the pull of the desert...
10b4me

climber
  Mar 12, 2014 - 04:21pm PT
bump
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