Make your own free website on

Joshua Tree National Park

Rock Climbing Trip - March 4-7 '99

Team Shot
A Party of DumbAsses (pc:jn)

Party: Tim McGuire, Tom Johnson, Rich Karsten, Dave Wagner, me and Josh Nelson.

Weather: Well, besides climbing, the whole idea of this trip was to get the hell out of the rain and dry off for a while. Its been raining constantly in Seattle for the past 3 months!! Indeed, the wettest weather on record here.

We were trully fortunate to have great weather. Blue skies and sunny everyday. They are serious about the nights being cold in the desert though!


Lets just say that between the 6 of us, we had 9 cameras and four large tripods. It was quite nice to have a group of people (nearly) equally interested in taking pictures and enjoying the scenery as in just power climbing. Needless to say there is a plethora of pictures to choose from and there will be some shown here. Tom had a digital camera and has a set of shots to look at on his site: Tim's site is also updated, and very nicely I might add, with his JTree Adventures. Finally, you can check out Josh's Climbing Joshua Tree Site... you will recognize a lot of the pictures.

I will give photographer credit (pc) where it is due in the pics on this page.

The Climbing??

Are JT rating under-rated or what??? Ok, I just suck. Our group agreed to keep it under wraps the problems we were limited to. I however am unashamed of my weak showing... I was happy to be there and fortunately had partners willing and able to lead harder stuff than I.

Day 1: Ryan Campground: Did the Headstone routes:

The Headstone showing SW-Corner, W-Face and Cryptic from L-R (pc:jn)

Dave Leads SW Corner
Here's Dave leading the SW Corner(5.6). I followed (pc:jn)

I also top-roped the West Face (5.9) and lead Cryptic (5.8-bolts)(with a cheater stick clip a la Josh).

Tim - Money shot
We broke to take some money shots on the SW Corner overhang - Tim here (pc:jn)

After a little lunch, we headed over to the Hidden Valley Campground to snag a premium spot. The afternoon climbing tappered down to an attempted lead of "Beginner Three" (5.3) which was aborted due to my inability to get off the ground. I later followed Tom's Lead. Having been scorched and drained by the sun at this point, Tom and I settle down to some un-named boldering problems and enjoyed watching Josh attempt to kill himself on a 5.10c (right ski track?)!

Day 2: From camp, Dave and I headed to.....

Cyclops Rock (pc:jn)

Eye Preparation
where I boldly prepared to lead "The Eye" (5.1 rated elsewhere as 5.3). (pc:tj)

An awesome morning photo, with the eye-cave framing the western Real Hidden Valley, was missed since we did not bring a camera with us and Tom refused to bring one up. Josh and Rich climbed the eye the next morning for the said picture opportunity....

The Cyclops-Eye View
The Cyclops-Eye View (pc:jn)

Rich in the Cyclops-Eye
Rich in the Eye (pc:jn)

Dave then lead me up the Overhang-Bypass (5.7) and Double-Cross (5.7+). I think the move on the first pitch of the overhang-bypass was the hardest I had to make during the trip. Three climbs for me today was enough. Dave and I caught up with the others and I enjoyed watching and taking pictures for the late afternoon.

Gord - Belaying at sundown
Here I am belaying Dave near sundown (pc:tj)

Day 3: Apparently ramping down my enthusiasm, I only got one climb in today. We headed into the Wonderland of Rocks - South. When we came across the "Whale/Shark/Walrus" rock Josh and I got pretty excited. Both about taking some pictures, and Josh was into climbing it.

The Humpback Whale
The Humback Whale - from this perspective (pc:jn)

Shark Mouth Rappel
Josh Raps through the Shark's mouth.(pc:gs)

We spent quite a while there. When we caught up with everyone else, they were taking turns flailing on the crux of some off-width 5.7 (Hex marks the Poot). Yet again, Josh comes to the rescue and is able to conquer the off-width with painful, bloody ankle jams!

Hex marks the Poot
Josh Leads... Beyond the Poot.(pc:gs)

After watching the comedy for a while and enjoying the the sun and scenery, Tom and I set out for Lenticular Dome to find the main objective of the day: Mental Physics (5.7+). The approach to some of these JT pitches can be more exciting than the climbs! When Tom and I both decided we weren't up to the lead, we again wallowed in the sun while waiting for our Master, Brother-Josh, to find us and boldly lead where neither of us would. I followed Josh's lead.

Shark Mouth Rappel
Rich watches me follow Mental Physics with Josh on belay.(pc:tj)

In the end, Mental Physics is one of the more reasonably rated climbs that I came across. It definitely deserved its 4 stars, easily protectable, pletty of rest positions, and a great crack-face climb. I would feel comfortable leading it given more time.

Day 4: Departure day... we only had a few hours to climb. Dave, Rich and Tom headed back to Mental Physics to get their leads in. Josh, Tim and I headed out together. J&T's goal was to climb double-cross, and a 10a face climb. I was interested in trying the 10a face climb since my hands and I were tired of cracks. Due to a lineup on Double cross, Josh and Tim started with Dog-leg (5.8) instead.

Josh on Dogleg
Josh on Dogleg (5.8)(pc:gs)

I ended up following Tim up Double-cross for a second look.

Josh on Dogleg
Tim on Double-Cross (pc:jn)

Thinking it would be easier this time.... wrong. I got to hang for a while to work-out an over-extended cam placement. By the end of the climb, both of my "tennis elbow" tendons were screaming at me.... needless to say, my last climb of the trip! We never got to the desired 10a face climb.

Joshua Tree is an incredible place. It was wonderful to be able to combine climbing, photography, warmth, relaxation and the appreciation of nature all in one setting. As usual, on vacation, it takes time to get to a relaxed state of mind and begin to feel the beauty. It wasn't until day two that I was able to catch a glimpse of the little lizards running around in the sand. On Day three, as we walked through the wonderland of rocks, I spent more time studying the increadible variety of cactii... those dangerously prickly bastages.

Finally, I caught a brief meditative moment, enjoying Being in Joshua Tree...

Relaxing at Sunset
A meditative moment in splendor (pc:jn)

What I would give to take longer vacations.... or get "here" sooner.

Return to Gord's Climbing Page

Last updated: March 31 1999
Copyright © 1998 Gordon Schryer.