My first visit to Joshua Tree trip report, 3/22-3/27/07
Wendy and I arrived at Hidden Valley Campground around noon on the 22nd. We grabbed the first campsite we saw which was on the auxiliary road to the east. This turned out to suit us well. The sites here are farther apart than in the main loop. There are also long vistas. We hadn’t been car camping since going with the kids years ago. Mostly we’ve been backpacking. It’s great how much stuff you can bring in a car. We set up the pavilion, the big tent with the sun shade on the front. That afternoon we hiked around the Hidden Valley nature loop, which is just a few minutes away. We started getting a feel for the wild rock formations and I scouted some climbs. Later we made a fire and cooked steaks over the coals. It started raining so we ate dinner under the sun shade. After the rain stopped we took another stroll around the campground. There is one Desert Cottontail every 200 feet in the area around the CG. The next day we did the seven mile North View/Maze/Window Rock hike. It’s a great hike with views in all directions. Here is a picture early in the hike.
Here’s a North View.
Here’s Window Rock with the Thunderbird Window.
Here is a typical Joshua Tree vista from late in the hike.
As we approached the car we saw a coyote trotting across the road near the parking area. We watched for a while until he disappeared up a nearby wash. We experienced coyotes everyday we were there. Late the next night I heard the woman in the next campsite being murdered. I was getting out my bag when she was murdered again, and then again. I have heard a lot of coyotes over the years and know they make many strange sounds but this time was pretty wild. The last few days of the trip a pair would start calling to each other between first light and sun rise. We would jump up on boulders near our site to look for them, finally to see them meet and trot off together.
Dawn from our campsite was beautiful everyday.
Saturday morning out friends Dawn and Bob joined us, driving over from LA. Wendy and Dawn went off to 49 Palms to take a hike. Evidently it’s beautiful over there. A place to visit again.
Bob and I hiked over to climb Loose Lady (10a)
which was the first climb on his tic list. Evidently it’s on a lot of tic lists because there were about ten people surrounding the climb. We climbed up to the top of the boulders where the rope up is. We sat down next to Jim Bridwell who was there with some other Mad Rock climbers. While everyone concentrated on Loose Lady we moved over 40 feet and Bob lead Ladyfingers (10b)***. It is a six bolt thing with a cool series of steep high steps on thin but positive holds. Here is a picture from half way up the climb.
Jim had come over to watch Bob lead the climb. As I was following high up, grunting through a move, he called up, "Is that the hard part"? I answered, "No, it was harder just below. I just make everything look hard". He replied, "Everything is hard". Encouraging words from the master.
The usual descent is to rap off the Loose Lady anchor but we had been told there was a walk off as well. Unfortunately, we had neglected to ask which way, right or left. With a 50/50 chance we picked to go right. Wrong! We ended up doing exposed unroped chimneys through huge boulders. We would find this to be typical for us. Back at the base only Jim and the two Mad Rock climbers Brian and Mandy (hope I remembered their names right) were left. Brian had finished and was putting Mandy on toprope. We decided to wait until Mandy did the climb. They are really nice folks. Here she is.
Afterwards, I lead first. The climbing was way cool, thin holds and friction. I cleaned the gear as I was lowered so Bob could lead it too. After he climbed it, I belayed him as he top roped Puss n’ Boots (11b/c)**. This climb is on the right side of the photo above.
Then I lead Dummy’s Delight (9)***.
This is a curving crack right of Puss n’ Boots. Another great climb! It just continually keeps getting a little harder until the last moves to the anchor.
After lunch, Wendy and Dawn weren’t back yet so we went over to the Echo Rock area and Bob lead Touch And Go (9)
A tricky little piece of balancing with nothing quite as secure as you think it was going to be. Then I lead the face to the left, Cornerstone (10a).
The cruxes are friction palming and smearing. The gals had found us by now and we all returned to make a big fire and chow down on spaghetti and red wine.
We decided to combine hiking and climbing on Sunday by hiking over to climb Firewater Chimney (10b)
. This is a 12 to 13 mile round trip. The hiking is very straight forward at first. You take the North wonderland Trail to Willow Hole. Just before Willow Hole we passed this rock with an obvious OW running to the top.
The guide book has no ascent info so I guess Ed, Gary, Steve and the WOWCA gang are gonna hafta plan a trip to swarm it.
After Willow Hole the trail quickly turns to a boulder hopping festival. We thought we had chosen the wrong route but on the way back the “right way” was no easier. Here are a couple of typical pictures on the way in.
When we got to the climb we found offerings of Firewater hidden in the rocks. Here’s Wendy holding the two cans of Old English.
We left these offerings to the climbing gods buried where we found them.
Firewater Chimney is a chimney behind a huge exfoliated flake. Six bolts over ninety feet. I offered to flip for the lead but Bob kindly said since I planned it I got to lead it. Here’s a few photos of the climb.
Resting after the crucial second clip.
The third clip.
Up in the maw.
Bob in contemplation.
A great picture of Bob.
Rappelling the outside of the flake.
Bob top roping The Last Stand (12a)
on the outside of the flake.
Here’s me describing the lead.
These nearby Nolinas seem unmoved by my account of the climb.
The hike back was equally rocky. At one point, seemingly trapped in a field of gigantic boulders Bob found a way to tunnel through.
We stumbled to the car and made a dash for Coyote Corner for a shower. We chatted with the others waiting in line. Some of the guys were from the campsite next to us. They were all taking a class to help get their rock guiding credentials. I was envious. Everyday they would go off to mock guide each other, or to do high angle rescue, or some equally fun challenge. One of the guys, Ian, sometimes joined us around the evening fire to fill us in on the cool stuff they’d done that day. Fun stuff.
Monday I was pretty beat. We did manage a couple of more awesome climbs though. Rumors of overcrowding proved unfounded.
Bob leading Illusion Dweller (10a/b)
Five stars! Who needs to know more. I fell at the roof but I popped a couple of gorilla pills and a can of spinach and powered my way through on the rematch. We set up the 95’ rappel only to find Bob’s 200’ rope has shrunk over the years and the knot was at least 10 feet off the ground. We walked off. Our last climb was Western Saga (9)**. Need I say it, another fun climb up some strange delicate moves to a ledge and then through a roof. Here’s a photo.
Sadly, Dawn and Bob had to leave. Wendy and I spent a quiet last evening around the campfire enjoying the views.
As we were cleaning up the next morning the owner of the property came by to see we did a good job.
A great trip.
See you on the rock.
(I've done a bit of editing since the first post)