Monday, December 12, 2005

Changing of the gear - one last climbing trip

Adventure Report: This comes from Backcountry.com customer and Horde Team member Sarah Geneser.

Suspecting that winter was setting in for the long haul, Rob and I fled south to catch a few warm climbing days before the ski season hit and the eventual trading of rope, draws and cams for skis and poles occurred. We stopped off at Red Rocks, located just outside of Las Vegas, to spend two days on the surprisingly solid sandstone cliffs there. While Red Rocks offers a multitude of superb multi-pitch gear routes, we focused on the pumpy sport climbs. The second pullout area alone contains an immense number of excellent routes, ranging from the crimpy, balancy tens that climb through the gorgeous patina of the Black Corridor, to the brutally steep thirteen’s of the Tsunami Wall. The large crowds of climbers attest to the popularity of the area, but I actually appreciated the camaraderie and boisterous encouragement of strangers cheering everyone on through many a pumpy finish.

We had planned to drive to Joshua Tree to meet some friends, and after two days of working climbs at our limit, we welcomed the promise of some quality trad routes at less exhausting grades. After the gym-like climbing of Red Rocks, the Joshua Tree cracks required that I recall the jamming techniques I had recently "discovered" in Indian Creek. As with Red Rocks, J-Tree was amazingly crowded. Climbers could be seen scrambling up gorgeous granite domes everywhere in the background.

Still, having never been to J-Tree, I was struck by the unusual beauty of the place. The strange Dr. Seuss-esque look of the Joshua tree forests are quite alien, and I was fascinated by the vast bizarre and erratic shapes looming in the distance. J-Tree granite is like nothing I've ever experienced. Far more textured and grippy than anything I've ever encountered in Little Cottonwood Canyon or City of Rocks, the coarse crystals bite into your skin, making even the most improbable jamb or smear just plain sticky. My shredded fingers ooze at the mere thought of the awesome friction of J-Tree.

Leaving such a magical place was by far the most difficult part of the trip.

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