Trip Report
TR of my first Visit to J Tree or what I did on my vacation.
Sunday April 1, 2007 5:09pm
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)

  Trip Report Views: 1,368
About the Author
Zander is a trad climber from Berkeley.

Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
  Apr 1, 2007 - 05:13pm PT
great shots - makes me homesick!
I had never heard of that Chimney thing.
thanks for posting!

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Apr 1, 2007 - 05:35pm PT
Very fun TR! Thanks for posting. Makes me want to get out there as soon as possible again. So many good places out there...

Trad climber
Falls Church, VA
  Apr 1, 2007 - 05:52pm PT
Excellent post - I've been on several trips over the years and led a number of those you mentioned, but I want to go back now and do it all again! A place of inexhaustible beauty.

Trad climber
Springfield, Mass
  Apr 1, 2007 - 06:04pm PT
Awesome pic's. It's a magical place and when I hit the lottery theres no good reason to not spend a month there each year. Sounds like you had a blast.
John Moosie

Beautiful California
  Apr 1, 2007 - 06:33pm PT
" 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. "

Joshua Tree really is a very dangerous place. A couple of women were murdered when I was there too and the rangers just ignored it. Can you imagine.... It seems it happens so often that everyone has gotten use to it. Oh well, Since it is so beautiful and fun there I decided to ignore it too.

Great trip report. Thank you....Awesome pictures.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Apr 1, 2007 - 06:53pm PT
another great TR Zander, lives up to the after OW stories from yesterday in the Valley!

Social climber
CHC, en zed
  Apr 1, 2007 - 08:35pm PT
Way cool Zander.

How are your tips? I found the rock very sharp.

Looks like lots of fun.
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Apr 1, 2007 - 09:46pm PT
Excellent TR!!! Did a great job capturing the magic of JT.

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  Apr 1, 2007 - 10:18pm PT
Nice TR Zander!

Made me wish I was there.


Social climber
granada hills
  Apr 1, 2007 - 10:30pm PT
Thank you for the TR and awesome pics!

I got to get out there!


A place where Blue is the new Black...
  Apr 1, 2007 - 10:42pm PT
Wow Zander! One of the best TRs posted here IMO. The photos were great--especially Illusion Dweller and the bunny, but you really got the flavor of Josh in your writing.

When you get a screamer like that, especially in the wee hours of the morning, it sort of takes all the fun out of the murder thing, doesn't it? Oh well, better something safe like murder as opposed to drugs or unprotected sex, right?

Thank you for a wuuuuuuuuuunderful TR!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Apr 1, 2007 - 11:18pm PT
Cool stuff
guess I gotta go do that chimbly
Gary Carpenter

SF Bay Area
  Apr 1, 2007 - 11:20pm PT
Great TR Zander. I hear that OW calling me.

Author's Reply  Apr 1, 2007 - 11:23pm PT
Ed, Jaybro, Spyork and Gary,
We need to plan a trip to climb that 60 foot OW. That puppy has got our names on it.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Apr 2, 2007 - 12:22am PT
Great TR!

ps. That Western Saga is an under appreciated climb (imho.)

handsome B

Gym climber
  Apr 2, 2007 - 11:24am PT
Great T.R.!

That chimney is on my tick-list now.

  Apr 2, 2007 - 11:37am PT
Lots of nice photos! I think my favorite one is the one showing the rappelling off the flake, it really pulls together the context of the other shots and that flake is so nice! Also, the last one of the rabbit it completely adorable, thanks for a nice tr.

Author's Reply  Apr 2, 2007 - 07:58pm PT
I agree, Western Saga is a cool route. I don't think the roof is the crux which is fun -find the crux.

Social climber
So Cal
  Apr 2, 2007 - 08:40pm PT
I believe the rather large pile of cheat stones on the ledge may give that away.

  Apr 3, 2007 - 10:06am PT

Going to the Valley of Kings on your first visit to JT is proud! Nice going, nice TR.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
  Apr 3, 2007 - 11:28am PT
Nice TR. It is good to see Firewater Chimney get some visits, a very classic route indeed.

Those cans of Old E were probably left by the FA who probably just forgot where they were hidden. Across the valley on the Lynch Crag is another one of their routes: Powered By Old English. [A 4 star route too.]

Nice job hiking in from the Willow Hole approach, pretty long that way. If you ever head back to the Valley of the Kings, try Rattlesnake Canyon, considerably shorter.

Author's Reply  Apr 3, 2007 - 12:55pm PT
I had another section in mind but I see you point. Hmm, might need to do further investigation.

Those cans of "firewater" had been there a long time. Probably good idea to bring your own beverages. Fortunately, Bob brought the pale ale. The long hike was part of our plan. Of course we didn't quite realize how burly a hike it is!


Trad climber
  Apr 3, 2007 - 01:10pm PT
Thanks, really wonderful photos! I've never been out there. It really sets my mind a wandering. The desert is such a magical place


Social climber
Newport, OR
  Apr 4, 2007 - 12:46am PT
It looks like you had a great time!!! Good on Ya!!!!!

Oakland, CA
  Apr 4, 2007 - 01:08am PT

Good to hear somebody of Bridwell's stature telling it like it is: "it's all hard". Hell yeah it is.

Great TR, thanks for it. I predict you'll be back w/in a season, and that JT will begin encroaching ever more into your normal daydreaming schedule... you'll be haunted like the rest of us.

Author's Reply  Apr 4, 2007 - 11:11pm PT
If I get haunted any more than I am by climbing Wendy will hire an exorcist!
Chris Oakes

  Apr 6, 2007 - 09:21pm PT
Zander as always you do the best posts. Thanks for the great pics. I'm planning a trip there next weekend and you have given me some ideas.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Nov 19, 2008 - 05:08pm PT
This deserves a bump, I missed it first time around.

Trad climber
  Nov 19, 2008 - 06:20pm PT
I am jealous
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Nov 19, 2008 - 09:10pm PT
Gezzz, I don't look at the Thread dates and then feel like an idiot when I finally notice. Lynne, HELLO>>>>>> It is an older but great TR !

Still, WTH with the woman murdered and someone else posting, "yeah the rangers ignored it like the LAST time."

Any info out there ? Is it scary to camp in the J Tree .... do I really need Guido ?


Author's Reply  Nov 19, 2008 - 09:19pm PT
Just a respectful attitude toward coyotes is all you'll need. That and a couple of Dessert Cottontails as well as a Raven or two to watch your camp while you are climbing.
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
  Nov 19, 2008 - 09:58pm PT
A 13 mile climbing circuit out there ? . . You are an a n i m a l ! Thanks for keeping the community stoked . (c :)
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report