Part of the Thursday crowd on Friday morning
Part of the Thursday crowd on Friday morning

Joshua Tree Fall season has started off with a bang for me. I went out this past weekend, Thursday night through Sunday and had a blast. Why do you say? Was it because I did my hardest red point ever? Was it because I crushed it non stop 3 days in a row? Nope, it was mainly because I got to hang out with old friends and with climbers who mostly had less than a year of experience but a lot of enthusiasm.

I think I’d nearly forgotten what it was like to go out with a large group of new climbers. Sure K and I had taken out a group of 3 new climbers last year but that’s not the same as a group of around 20 which is what we ended up with on Saturday. A ratio of about 4 veterans for every 5 new (or new to outdoor climbing) climbers.

Some highlights:

  • Fabulous weather! Daytime temps were around the 70s then went as high as the low 80’s by Sunday (we climbed in the shade that day).
  • Being able to get 3 sites in Hidden Valley Campground because on Friday morning we decided to just cruise by to look (we spent the previous night in Ryan). We just happened to find that 3 cars worth of folks were leaving for their group reservation for a wedding in Indian Cove. 3 sites in Hidden Valley campground all close to each other on Friday is something unheard of since pre National Park days.
  • Also on Friday, onsighting a route at Atlantis to put up a rope. I also got to demonstrate “Elvis Leg” while I tried to find pieces for a flaring crack. The route was 2 cracks over from Vorpal Sword (5.9) so according to two different books it was either Minotaur (5.8) or in the other book it could have been Grain for Russia (5.8) or Grain Surplus (5.7). I really doubt it was Minotaur though as I and others understood that to be a crack on a nearby wall which finished with distinctive “horns” at the top (I led it last season as a flash).  So if it’s not Minotaur than I guess it’s Grain Surplus though I really thought it was harder than the one next to it and my friend Peter even thought it was harder than Vorpal Sword, which he lead. I’m not sure I agree with that but I will say it was not as straight forward.
  • Going up to the Space Station on my own at sunset.

    Sitting in the Space Station - Chimney Rock
  • Teaching the new folks about  “catch the end of the rope, get a beer”. Having the new folks adopt, “put up a rope, get food” on Friday evening as they fed me 🙂
  • Watching folks eyeball a climb and decide they wanted to do it and could do it. This happened all weekend. One new friend even said she was done but with some more beta she made it all the way to the top of Spaghetti and Chili (5.7)
  • Giving beta that helped folks.
  • On Sunday, climbing in the Hall of Horrors area and cruising The Exorcist (5.10) crack on my second toprope try on it that day (I had tried it on toprope once last season). K and my friend Peter did their redpoint leads of it, it was K’s first time to do so. I think I’ve figured out a sufficient intermediate step to the part where the crack ends and a big hold is next so I’ll consider leading it next time.
  • Sunday night, having dinner with the same group of folks who came out Thursday (plus K this time) and then our friend Elaine (chief organizer of the big group who were mostly her co-workers) and the 3 guys we climbed with on Thursday surprised Peter, K and I with gift certificates to Nomad’s! My eyes watered, I was so touched.

Some folks say I like to teach. I’ve done it in fencing, music and climbing. But really I’m usually not in a formal position as a teacher, I’m just so excited about something that I want to share it with folks. Also, I believe the idea that “if you really want to know something, teach it”, is true. I certainly find that sharing or teaching gives something back to the giver as well. In my particular case, who knows if I would’ve tried the onsight if I hadn’t had the extra incentive to put up the rope? And having folks cheer you on, I’d almost forgotten what a nice psychological boost that was, it didn’t matter to the cheering folks that you were “only” on toprope. I certainly got back as much if not more than I gave that weekend.

And then to be given a gift certificate at the end, well that was just the cherry on top.

So thanks Elaine (my fellow “E Team” friend who is a fabulous teacher, climber and Unofficial Company Outing Organizer), Alex, Art and Brian! It was a pleasure to have climbed with you all, and in the case of the guys, to be able to say I was there towards the start of your undoubtedly great climbing careers!

Full set of the weekend’s photos.

Video on Space Station view: