It took about an hour or so for the approach and it was heinous with our heavy haul bag. (We only hauled to pitch 3, so we decided to splurge a little) We get to the base of the climb and there was another group starting. We scramble our way to a ledge to wait while their first climber started up. It took a little longer than we expected but by noon, they finally cleared the first pitch.
I jumped on the 10b to aid it and it took me longer than id like to admit. Granted it was my first time aiding on gear (not much trad experience either), but I tried my best to go as fast as I could. I eventually topped out and had an easy haul up the pitch. Lloyd jugged up ready for the third pitch. Lloyd free climbed the third pitch pretty easily and I jugged up after maneuvering the haul bag through the pitch. (Kind of slabby but the haul bag gets stuck pretty easily on this pitch) We walked around dinner ledge, looking for our spots to sleep for the night. We took a quick water/snack break and I started up pitch 4.
It was absolutely beautiful. By the time Lloyd made it to the anchors, the sun has already set. Our original plan was to fix pitches 4 & 5 and jug up them in the morning but decided against climbing 5. We fixed our rope at the top of four and did a crazy rappel in to the dark down in complete openness. At a certain point you were just floating in the dark watching the rope bend over the corner of the roof. It was a little unsettling to watch your rope bend over a corner like that when you can’t see anything below you and your just watching it, knowing nothing is going to happen but waiting for something to.
We both made it down and the group that let us pass earlier was there to accompany us. We wasted no time in dumping our gear, taking off our harnesses, rolling out our sleeping bags and starting dinner. We had some dehydrated meals and some Jamerson to wash it down. I traded some whisky for some gummy bears and they were some damn good gummy bears. I laid awake in my sleeping bag looking at the hundreds of visible stars and the lights on the valley floor reflecting on my day. I was pretty stoked to have sent Kor roof and happy I was on a big wall finally.
At the middle of the crack, I see the anchors and look further I see which way I should of went and I kicked my self. Well fuck, Im on the wrong crack and its gonna be a little dicy to get back over. I get to the end of the crack and theres a fixed nut in another crack system way up there. I place a green alien in the crack and it is way under cammed AND the crack was wet. I topped step off that and reached out to the wire on the nut and couldn’t clip it. It was such a far reach, I came back down, breathed and tried super hard and barely clipped it. The nose of my carabiner got in and I pushed it through. Nice, Im not totally fucked. I reach over the ledge and feel jugs on jugs on jugs. I pull my self over and scramble down to the anchors. Finally, I finished the pitch. It took a lot longer than expected. Lloyd eventually made his was up.
It was about 2pm on top of pitch 6, Lloyd and I decided to bail. We came to a conclusion that we were going to slow and would have to make a rappel and descent in the dark. We weren’t that prepared for it and decided it would be better if we just bailed now. We lowered down an got to the anchors of pitch 5. The group below us was almost done cleaning, but they shared the anchors with us and we bullshitted for a bit. They were a super sick group of guys that eventually got our rope unstuck. We lowered off pitch 5 to the anchors, gathered our things and made another couple of rappels down to the base. We hiked back to the car feeling satisfied with our experience. Even though we didn’t send our climb, we got within 4 pitches of the top, but we still felt satisfied. It wasn’t really about topping out, it was just fun being on the wall, hundreds of feet up with the exposure and just doing your thing, climbing. It was an amazing experience.
With all that being said, Lloyd and I are already planning another attempt on the wall. Were coming back with a stronger game plan and more time.
I met up with Alex Lloyd, Alex Lotti and Diane. We jumped in the the gigantic Suburban and drove out to Table Mountain. Lloyds Suburban cruised through the dirt road and dropped us promptly at the main trail head of Table Mountain. We did a quick assortment of gear, gathered our belongings and embarked down the trail. We eventually turned left up a climbers trail and followed it as it snaked through the hillside.The trail spat us out into a field of small boulders. Upon crossing it, your atop The Pit. The Pit contains some very interesting sport climbs while hosting many aesthetic, beautiful cracks.
Our group scrambled down to an almost empty Pit and instantly jumped on some nice 5.8 & 5.9 warmups. Lotti and I (Alec) jumped on Bandito (5.8) for a warm up climb while Lloyd and Diane cruised up Granted (5.9) After Lotti finished his nice lead, we lowered off our warm ups and hopped on some other routes. Diane and Lloyd climbed up Go With The Flow (5.9) and I started up AC Devil Dog (5.10d sport). Lloyd topped out and lowered then Diane was cruising back up to clean and rap off. I was getting thrown off AC Devil Dog slipping off the first sequence to the second bolt. (Ive done this route before but there are some hidden holds that are vital.) Once I topped out after a couple falls I lowered off and sat down and rested.
Lloyd jumped on Raw Hide (5.10d) while i belayed him. Lloyd absolutely cruised through Rawhide. He confidently placed every cam with ease and smoothly worked his way up. As he was lowering off through the mussys, a huge group came in from Planet Granite out in San Francisco. They instantly rolled up and started climbing. I got psyched by everyone climbing and crushing, I sent AC Devil Dog on my second go. It went super smooth and even had time to slam a beer on the no hands rest. I lowered off and Diane decided to go climb Cowboy Up (5.9R sport) and she crushed it. She lowered off and a nice gentleman from the Planet Granite crew belayed me on Color Coded Quick Draws (5.10b sport). Through pumpy moves and sloppy holds, the short 30 foot route was soaked on the top. With wet feet, I lowered off and ate my lunch.
Lloyd and Lotti were on Go With The Flow (5.9). Lotti crushed his lead while Lloyd followed. While Lotti was climbing it again, i snagged some of their gear and cruised up Bandito (5.8) again so Diane could practice leading with pre placed gear. I climbed up placing 3 pieces of protection so as I was lowering, I stitched up the climb with nuts so Diane could get a good lead in. She was slowly working up to her first lead on gear (actually placing the cams/nuts) and not just climbing on fixed gear. As she was leading Bandito, Lloyd gave a run Snakebite (5.11a). It was sick watching Lloyd get down and send some serious crack. Even though he fell and took a couple times, Lloyd killed it. Once Diane lowered off I ran up Table Manners on a top rope solo to swing around and get some pictures of Lloyd on the climb. None of them turned out that cool but in the moment I thought it was sick.
Thursday night at 7pm we departed from the Bay Area on our 8 1/2 hour drive down to Joshua Tree. I had just gotten done working 10 hours so I took the first half of the drive down. We stopped for food and switched and I instantly passed out. I soon woke up in the town of Joshua Tree eager to climb. We rolled into the park at about 4am due to food, gas and bathroom stops. I have a sleeping set up in the back of my truck so we had the luxury of pulling over at Hidden Valley Campground to sleep in the truck.
We woke up at 8am very weary from our drive down. We made some breakfast burritos and jumped on our first route of the day, North Overhang. The first pitch is an alright 5.7 warm up. The actual climbing is just easy crack climbing serving no real warm up but at least something to get you going. I set up my anchor in the cave and Doug followed me up. Doug took the 5.9 second pitch. The real climbing is in the second pitch. You walk up the cave to a ledge and from there you can clip the first two bolts. I recommend using an alpine draw for the second bolt. Once you clip those you then work your way out of the cave to the left and once you reach out there is a hidden hand jam that is bomber. You throw the hand jam in, place a .75 and from there,you send to the top. Doug and I topped out, rappelled down Intersection Rock and found our selves in the parking lot minutes later. With one of the most classic climbs now under our belt we were feeling pretty good.
We hung-out at the car for a bit and eventually made our way to The Real Hidden Valley (directly across the road from Hidden Valley). There, we decided to climb Tumbling Rainbow. From the trail head, the rock formation looks wild. It is a giant crack that sits high and mighty upon the valley. We scrambled our way to the base and Doug took the lead. The crack starts out big and soon you find your right arm and leg in the crack while your left hand and leg are looking for something to hold onto. You awkwardly make your way up the diagonal crack to where it becomes vertical. Your then able to work your way up the vertical crack with hand jams and stemming your legs between the corner. We both topped out and began our rappel down.
We both felt exhausted from our lack of sleep and the awkward climbing we just did. We decided to head over to Gunsmoke. Probably the most classic boulder problem in J-Tree. Its a 75 foot traverse that goes V3. No move is harder than V1 and at the highest point in the problem, your no more than 3 feet of the ground. So the low commitment factor and sheer fun of this problem makes it a great place to burn out at the end of the day. Plus you have a beautiful view for the sunset. Doug crushed the problem on his third try while I kept getting shut down at tbe crux half way through the problem. We left Gunsmoke after an hour sesh and headed back to camp for the night.
Doug and I woke up Saturday feeling like a million bucks. My full size mattress in the back of my truck gave us the perfect night of sleep to send the following day. Doug and I drank some climbers coffee put on by Access Fund and the lovely rangers of Joshua Tree. We eventually made our way to Conan’s Corridor at Jumbo Rocks. We decided to hop of Colorado Crack (5.9) and a shit storm ensued. I lead the crack and through countless takes i made it half way and just got frustrated and decided to lower off to let Doug give it a try. Half way up the crack completely flares out and we couldn’t figure out the style needed to send it. We both can climb 5.10a on gear but our inexperience of the varieties of styles got the better of us. After Doug took a 10 foot fall on a .75,we both got frustrated we couldn’t figure out how to climb this thing. We resorted on pulling on gear through the crux so we could at least top out.
At the start of Gunsmoke, there is a V5 called High Noon. It starts with a big move to a jug then you throw a hand in the crack and top out. Simple enough, but the crack proves real heady and the top out doesn’t help much either. We messed around on that for a bit, each bailing at the crack. Soon the sun was setting and we burned out on a V2 and that was that. We finished our final night off at Joshua Tree with Jamerson and a run through the Chasms of Doom (no beta allowed).