The drive to Joshua Tree from Las Vegas was one of the most breathtaking stretches of road we’ve encountered. The road runs through the Mojave Desert and, seeing as we had left Vegas a little late (as usual) the afternoon light made it especially stunning. As a mid-route break, we decided to stop and check out some sand dunes.
We arrived too late to set up camp that night but arriving the next day (on a Sunday) made it such that we actually got a campsite at the very popular Hidden Valley Campground. For those of you who haven’t been, Joshua Tree National Park is amazing; you’re in the middle of the desert surrounded by giant granite boulders and fields of the coolest looking desert plant ever. It actually looks unreal – like you’re on a movie-set or at an amusement park. Well I suppose one could argue that it is a bit of an amusement park for climbers considering how much climbing there is (about 2000 boulder problems as well as 8000 trad routes), and how accessible it is (we actually had to walk through campsites to get to some problems).
It was fantastic to be camping (finally!) and climbing in this beautiful place. Unfortunately, while the temps were perfect on the day we arrived, they quickly shot up to the point where it was really too hot to climb! We chased after the shade from the moment the sun rose (sauna-fying our tent) until late afternoon, at which point we had to basically run around and climb as much as possible before the sun disappeared. This was far from ideal but we tried to make the best of it. We managed to tick a few easy classics (and I use the term “easy” very loosely, as the grades in J-Tree are notoriously sand-bagged), such as The Chube and Gunsmoke, enjoyed a couple great crack problems (see photo), which seemed fitting for the area, and got our asses handed to us on other “easy” classics, such as Stem Gem (our new friend, Nick, came the closest – see pic). So, with much disappointment, we decided to end our stay in J-Tree quite a bit earlier than planned; we just weren’t able to climb enough in those conditions. However, it was definitely worth the trip. We were surrounded by beautiful landscapes, interesting wildlife (road runners! – see photos), and gorgeous night skies (see photos). And, once again, we were in great company! Long-time friend Marie-Claude drove down with her friend Nick from San Francisco to hang out and climb with us and it was fantastic to catch up with her, introduce to her the new addition to our family, enjoy her gourmet camp food, and get to know Nick.
Leaving early from J-Tree meant that Nick, Marie-Claude and the three of us all had to improvise the next leg of our journey…which will be the subject of our next post, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the photo album from our time in Joshua Tree.
* click an image for larger size (cliqué sur une image pour la voir en grand format).