Tag Archives: Crack climbing

Joshua Tree, March 2019 – Rock climbing


Thursday through Sunday, 21-Mar to 24-Mar-2019

Ohh man, we’re going climbing!!!

It’s been ages since Sarah and I were able to go on a dedicated climbing trip together – with the New Year successfully rung in, vacation days saved up, and strength and health in our limbs, it was time to get back on the plane and get some rock under our feet.  I set up flights, rented a truck, and we set off toward Joshua Tree…

This post will be broken up into three sections: Joshua Tree itself, Climbing, and the superbloom.  We took a lot of pictures, so… trust me.  This is for the best.


Just a quick listing of the routes that we climbed on Friday and Saturday, along with a few dozen pictures from the ascents!  We stuck to the fairly easy routes, though next time I think we’ll start into some of the slightly harder lines.  Climbs in Joshua tree aren’t easy – they’re not super hard, but they’re quite different from what we’ve gotten used to here in Oregon.

The rock in Joshua Tree is amazing granite, high friction that allows for a lot more delicate friction movement.  Cracks and friction are just a bit different than the small nubbins and ledges that we’ve got here in the PNW, so it definitely took some getting used to.  And some bleeding… off-width climbs (cracks that are too big to jam your hand in, but too small to shove your whole body into) are rough on the skin.


Day 1, Friday

  • SeCoVar (SouthEast COrner VARiant) – 5.5, Trad, 2.5-pitches, Ben leads – This was excellent, and a really pleasant start into Joshua Tree climbing.  A little wandering, a little off-width, and a lot fun.  It even has a tunnel half-way through that you have to walk through!
  • Mike’s Books – 5.6, Trad, 2 pitches, Ben leads – I did the direct start of this, which is a 5.8!  But I also pulled on gear the whole way because it was hard, so… not 5.8.  This was an excellent route, though the top was pretty hefty on lead.  We both loved it.


Day 2, Saturday

  • Beginner’s Three – 5.3, Trad, 1 pitch, Sarah and Ben both lead! – Sarah’s first outdoor trad lead post-injury!  This was excellent and pleasant, and Sarah crushed it!
  • Bat Crack – 5.5, Trad, 2 pitches, Ben leads – A very fun route that I remembered from the last time I was in Joshua Tree.  This time I took a variant to the first pitch though, climbing the bottom of “Billabong”, a 5.10 route that has a super-fun and easy start.
  • The Bong – 5.4, Trad, 1 pitch, Ben leads – This route was a ways away from all our other climbing, which is why we made a point to check it out.  Seeing another side of the rock formation was great, and this was a truly spectacular crack to cruise up.



25, 26 & 27-March; adventurous in Seattle! (Climbing at Vantage)


Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 25-March through 27-March, 2016


We went to Seattle!


A friend of Sarah and I, Dave, lives part time in Seattle.  Seattle is a place that I haven’t been before, but that Sarah thinks is wicked cool (to visit, a little large to live in we think).  If it’s a place, and there’s a reason to go, and it’s only 3 hours driving away…


What I’m getting at, is we went to Seattle!

But this is about the climbing that we did around there.  Because I am me, and climbing is what I do.  So we drove 3+ hours North to Seattle, and drove 2.5 hours east to a place called Vantage, to climb at an area called Frenchman Coulee.

Yeah, that equates to “5+ hours of driving, to get somewhere ~3 hours from my house”.  Hush.  It was worth it.


Frenchman Coulee is in the Washington desert, on the side of a beautiful canyon.  We stuck to the main climbing area for our adventures here… not that the others looked bad, but just that The Feathers (the main section) was literally up the side of a tiny hill from the parking lot.  It’s hard to convince yourself to explore, when there’s climbing less than five minutes from you.

And the climbing five minutes from us was good.  It was really good.  Very bouldery and very reminiscent of gym climbing, with good hold spaces interestingly far apart.  I did a few trad lines up some really interesting dihedrals and crack systems, but we mostly rocked sport lines up the bolted faces.  I did get to save a cam for a group climbing next to us, which was a nice little bonus, but most of the climbs were pretty straightforward.


In total, we climbed two days and did maybe two dozen routes each.  Simple, elegant, and fun… even if the driving was a little excessive 🙂