DEC
25-31
2017

Category: California
Trip Report #: 273
Partner: Jenny Abegg (and parents)
Rock Type: Granite
Elev: ~3,000 ft
WinteBreak  
at Joshua Tree
(climbing with my sister and hanging out with parents)
(5 days and 30+ climbs)
A family Christmas in Joshua Tree.
Intro

The previous few Christmas's, both my sister Jenny and I had taken opportunity of the time off work to go on climbing trips. Unfortunately, this left our parents enjoying a rather lonely Christmas. In 2017, we solved the holiday dilemma: a family trip to Joshua Tree! So we booked our plane tickets and found an airbnb just outside the town of Joshua Tree, and off we went for our first family vacation in several years. 

We had 5 full days to climb and explore the area. A typical day involved entering the park gates at the rather leisurely hour of 9-9:30am and driving through the Joshua-tree studded landscape to our chosen crag for the day, where our parents dropped Jenny and me off and then went off hiking and exploring, re-joining us around mid-afternoon to watch us climb. My parents had climbed quite a bit in the 70's and early 80's and Joshua Tree had awoken a bit of the climbing bug in them, so on the last day I encouraged my dad to do a climb with me, which was great fun. Every day, we stayed in the park to enjoy the beautiful evening light and 4:40pm sunset, after which we drove back to the airbnb to make dinner and spend an evening together. I had climbed in Joshua Tree only once before (click here for my Winter Break 2016 trip report), while Jenny had climbed there several times. Each day Jenny and I climbed in a different area, ticking off a nice list of moderate to hard routes and seeing different views of the park. We had gorgeous weather—sunny skies and 65-70°F temperatures—made even better by the frigid ice storm that was hitting the Pacific Northwest back home.

This was an awesome way to spend a week of Winter Break. The entire family had a blast, and hopefully we can make this a family tradition. The following page gives a list of the climbs we did and some photos from each day.


Climbs We Did
(my favorites are marked with a *)

 Hidden Valley Campground   (Day 0 - Dec 25)
 1  descent routeCyclops Rock, 3rd (scramble)
 2  "Space Station 27"Chimney Rock, exposed 4th or low 5th (solo)

 Wonderland of Rocks 
 
 (Day 1 - Dec 26)
 1*  Breakfast of ChampionsSouth Astrodome, 5.9, 150', 2 pitches, trad
 2  Solid Gold Pitch 1South Astrodome, 5.10a, 90', sport
 3  Unconscious Obscenity, Lenticular Dome, 5.8+, 70', sport
 4  Dazed and Confused Pitch 1Lenticular Dome, 5.9, 90', sport
 5*  Mental Physics Pitch 1Lenticular Dome, 5.7, 90', trad

 Real Hidden Valley   (Day 2 - Dec 27)
 1  Creeping JewThe Pope's Hat, V0+ (boulder problem)
 2*  Sail AwayHidden Tower, 5.8, 70', trad
 3*  Wild WindHidden Tower, 5.9, 60', trad
 4*  No Calculators Allowed, The Thin Wall, 5.10a, 65', trad
 5  Chocolate is Better Than SexThe Thin Wall, 5.9, 50', trad
 6*  Count on Your FingersThe Thin Wall, 5.9, 65', trad
 7  CongratulationsThe Thin Wall, 5.10d, 65', toprope
 8  Ain't Nothing but a J-Tree ThingThe Thin Wall, 5.6, 40', trad
 9*  The Great Chasm (aka Chasm of Doom), Gateway Rock3rd (scramble)

 Hall of Horrors   (Day 3 - Dec 28)
 1*  Nurn's RompEast Formation, 5.8, 80', trad
 2*  ExorcistEast Formation, 5.10a, 60', trad
 3*  Lazy DayHorror Rock, 5.7, 60', trad
 4*  Dog Day Afternoon, Horror Rock, 5.10b, 80', sport

 The Oyster Bar   (Day 3 - Dec 28)
 1*  Heart of DarknessHeart of Darkness Corridor, 5.11a, 40', trad

 Ryan Campground   (Day 3 - Dec 28)
 1*  Southwest Corner, Headstone Rock, 5.6, 40', sport
 2*  CrypticHeadstone Rock, 5.8, 40', sport

 Echo Tee   (Day 4 - Dec 29 / Day 5 - Dec 30)
 1*  Heart and Sole, Echo Rock, 5.10a, 65', sport/trad
 2  Quick Draw McGrawEcho Rock, 5.10a, 65', sport (toprope)
 3  The Falcon & The SnowmanEcho Rock, 5.10b, 65', sport (toprope)
 4*  Touch and GoEcho Cove Back Side, 5.9, 50', trad
 5  The Gold HunkEcho Cove Back Side, 5.11a, 45', trad (toprope)
 6  Effigy TooEffigy Wall, 5.10a, 40', trad
 7  Hatfields and McCoysEffigy Wall, 5.10c, 50', sport/trad
 8*  WangerbangerRusty Wall, 5.11c, 40', trad
 9*  O'Kelley's CrackRusty Wall, 5.10c, 45', trad (toprope) 
 10  E.B.G.B'sE.B.G.B.'s Block, Echo Rock, 5.10d, 45', sport (climbed by Jenny only) 

 Lost Horse Road   (Day 5 - Dec 30)
 1*  Bird on a Wire, Lost Horse Wall, 5.10a, 330', 3 pitches, trad

 Cap Rock   (Day 5 - Dec 30)
 1*  Circus, Cap Rock, 5.2, 45', trad (climbed with my dad!) 

Photos from the trip

Day 0 - Sunset scramble (Hidden Valley CG area)
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Photo descriptions:

Day 0 - 
Sunset scramble (Hidden Valley CG area)
1.  Parents on their first "climb" in Joshua Tree, to the top of Cyclops Rock. 
2.  Sister Jenny and parents Sue and Marty on top of Cyclops Rock.
3.  Parents and me on top of Cyclops Rock.
4.  Jenny enjoying sunset from "The Porch" (I think that's what it's called?) on Cyclops Rock.
5.  Our family Christmas photo. Typical - at least one of us not looking at the camera.....
6.  A double moon in "Space Station 27" on Chimney Rock. 
7.  Climbers on top of Intersection Rock.
8.  Silhouette of Joshua Tree and climbers on top of Intersection Rock.

Day 1 - South Astrodome & Lenticular Dome (Wonderland South)
1.  Crossing Barker Dam on the hike into Wonderland South.
2.  Don Juan Boulder is now a few picometers further east.
3.  Looking up Pitch 1 of Breakfast of Champions. Yay, a crack!!
4.  Looking down Pitch 1 of Breakfast of Champions.
5.  Jenny starting up Pitch 2 of Breakfast of Champions.
6.  Us climbing on Pitch 2 of Breakfast of Champions (photo taken by our dad).
7.  View from top of South Astrodome.
8.  Solid Gold climbs the obvious waterstreak.
9.  Jenny starting up Pitch 1 of Solid Gold. Nice lead Jenny! 
10.  Climbers on Figures on a Landscape on North Astrodome.
11. Looking up Unconscious Obscenity.
12. Jenny half-way up Unconscious Obscenity (photo taken by our dad).
13.  Starting up Dazed and Confused.
14.  Me leading Mental Physics, an obvious and popular crack splitting Lenticular Dome. (photo taken by my mom watching from afar)
15.  Looking down while leading Mental Physics. Fun crack. But all cracks are fun. And so is physics.
16.  Jenny having fun on Mental Physics.
17.  View out from Lenticular Dome. Our parents are relaxing on a boulder watching us climb.
18.  Gall of a Gall wasp. The larvae of most gall wasps develop in characteristic plant galls they induce themselves.
19.  Cactus.
20.  Bighorn sheep.
21.  Bighorn sheep.

Day 2 - Hidden Tower & The Thin Wall (Real Hidden Valley)
1. My dad the Creeping Jewish Studies Professor on Creeping Jew boulder problem.
2. Jenny doing one of the cruxes of the Creeping Jew with no hands!
3. Hershey's Kiss.
5. Me leading Sail Away, a well-deserved Joshua Tree classic to the top of Hidden Tower. (photo taken by my mom)
5. Me nearing the top of Sail Away. (photo taken by my dad)
6. Jenny enjoying Sail Away.
7. Jenny is leading Wild Wind on the left. The climber on the right is on Sail Away.
8. The Thin Wall, a popular crag.
9. Jenny leading No Calculators Allowed. My favorite route of the ones we did on Thin Wall.
10. Looking up Chocolate is Better Than Sex. This route was a bit gritty and earns its 0 stars.
11. Toproping Congratulations.
12. We finished our roped climbing of the day with a quick run up Ain't Nothing but a J-Tree Thing. Short, juggy, and fun.
13-15. We met our parents at the parking lot and capped the day off with a scramble through The Great Chasm (aka Chasm of Doom). A tunnel through Gateway Rock, The Chasm is sort of a secret among climbers (otherwise it would become quite a tourist trap); if you want to ruin the adventure of finding it on your own, here is a hint on how to find it; even with the hint, it’s a lot of just following your nose and discovering the way - that's part of the adventure of it!
16. Black-chinned sparrow.

Day 3 - Horror Rock (Hall of Horrors), Heart of Darkness (Oyster Bar), and Headstone Rock (Ryan CG)
1.  Approaching Hall of Horrors area.
2.  Nurn's Romp, a fun 5.8 handcrack
3.  Looking up from base of Nurn's Romp.
4.  Exorcist, a J-Tree classic.
5.  Exorcist. There is a bolt at the top of the crack, followed by a committing move to a jug, and after this a bunch of jugs to the anchor (you can get small cams in among the jugs or just run it out).
6.  Looking down while climbing Exorcist. What an awesome little crack.
7.  Lazy Day ascends the fun 5.7 crack.
8.  Dog Day Afternoon takes an arete with patina holds.
9.  I learned a new move this trio: the "Dolphins at Sunset" move on rappel.
10.  Approaching Heart of Darkness area, our next objective.
11.  A reason not to wear shorts in the desert...
12.  Jenny leading Heart of Darkness, a 5.11 splitting the walls of a chasm. 
13.  Heart of Darkness.
14.  Heart of Darkness (photo taken by my mom).
15. Jenny performing her trademark "Dolphins at Sunset" rappel move.
16.  Looking down the thin hands splitter of Heart of Darkness. My only complaint about this route is that it is too short!
17.  Headstone Rock, our final objective for the day. This is a great evening objective, with a wide open view of sunset on the tree-dotted expanse below.
18-19.  Awesome exposure on the SW Corner.
20.  Photo taken by my dad who was watching from below.
21.  Photo taken by my dad who was watching from below. Me, taking photos as usual.
22.  Looking down the arete.
23.  My mom took this picture of us climbing Headstone Rock framed by a Joshua Tree.
24.  Topping out on Headstone Rock. (photo taken by my mom)
25.  Cryptic on Headstone Rock.
26.  Rappelling from Headstone Rock. (photo taken by my dad)
27.  Rappeling from Headstone Rock in the light of the evening sun.

Day 4 - Echo Rock, Echo Cove, Effigy Wall, & Rusty Wall (Echo Tee)
1.  Approaching Echo Rock.
2.  Heart and Sole.
3.  Jenny traversing above the lip on Heart and Sole.
4.  The layback on the upper half of Heart and Sole.
5.  After climbing Heart and Sole, we toproped this slab. I need to work on my slab climbing. It's perplexing. And terrifying on lead.
6.  Climber on Touch and Go, our next objective.
7.  Looking up from the base of Touch and Go. Fifty feet of fun 5.9 ahead. I'll take a crack over slab any day!
8.  Looking down while leading Touch and Go.
9.  After Touch and Go, we toproped this 5.11 called The Gold Hunk, which begins with a powerful layback; the rock was super rough and I ended up leaving a trail of blood in my wake.
10.  Effigy Too on Effigy Wall. Short but fun with a powerful and committing starting sequence.
11.  Hatfields and McCoys on Effigy Wall. Jenny did an awesome job leading this route.
12.  We ended the day at Rusty Wall, which has two classic climbs: Wangerbanger and O'Kelley's Crack.
13.  Wangerbanger. 
14-17.  Jenny and me climbing Wangerbanger (photo taken by my dad who was watching from below).
18.  O'Kelley's Crack.
19.  Me on the final move of O'Kelley's Crack. Whew! I found O'Kelley's Crack harder than Wangerbanger.

Day 5 - Lost Horse Wall (Lost Horse Road), Cap Rock (Cap Rock area), E.B.G.B.'s Block (Echo Tee area)
1.  Lost Horse Wall.
2.  Awesome exposure and view.
3-4.  Pitch 2 of Bird on a Wire (the best pitch of the route).
5.  On top of Lost Horse Wall.
6.  Parents at the Gram Parsons Memorial at Cap Rock.
7-15.  I convinced my dad to climb a route with me at Cap Rock. We climbed a 5.2 called Circus. This was the highlight of an already-awesome trip!
16.  To cap off the trip, Jenny led E.G.B.G.'s. The start move took her a few tries, but after that she cruised it, and gave the tourists below quite a show in the beautiful evening light. Great job Jenny!

Day 6 - Cholla Cactus Garden at sunrise
1-4. Our flight out of Palm Springs was at 11am, so my mom and I had just enough time to drive into the park and check out the Cholla Cactus Garden at sunrise.


Day 1 - South Astrodome & Lenticular Dome (Wonderland South)
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Day 2 - Hidden Tower & The Thin Wall (Real Hidden Valley)
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Day 3 - Horror Rock (Hall of Horrors), Heart of Darkness (Oyster Bar), and Headstone Rock (Ryan CG)
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Day 4 - Echo Rock, Echo Cove, Effigy Wall, & Rusty Wall (Echo Tee)
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Day 5 - Lost Horse Wall (Lost Horse Road), Cap Rock (Cap Rock area), E.B.G.B.'s Block (Echo Tee area)
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Day 6 - Cholla Cactus Garden at sunrise
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