Date: October 14th-16th, 2016
Author: Stefanie Hindmarch
Training Stage: Strength
Climbing Type: Bouldering, Clinics
It was finally time to embark on the trip we had been waiting for: Joshua Tree. For months, we had been burying our heads in climbing books, finding flights and preparing for the sunny weather and warm rock of Southern California. From SeaTac airport, we flew to Los Angeles and after some swift service at the car rental (just kidding, it took 2 hours, don’t rent with FOX) we were on the road. After a few hours of driving and a gourmet dinner at In-N-Out, we arrived at the campsite. We pitched our tents at record speed at 2 am and fell asleep almost instantly for a blissful 5 hours.
Friday morning, we completed registration and were debriefed on the Climb Smart festival clinics. Driving into Joshua Tree National Park, the group’s excitement rose quickly despite our lack of sleep. The desert landscape, covered with amazing rock formations and joshua trees, felt like another planet compared to the wet and green of Washington.
We spent the first morning at an anchors clinic, where we learned some cool knots and anchor techniques, as well as the importance of being ERNEST (equalized, redundant, no extension, strong and timely). The clinic was definitely worth attending, but we were all eager to climb so skipped afternoon clinics and went to open climbing instead. The sharp crystals combined with cool cracks made the first few attempts challenging but so much fun.
Saturday and Sunday we wanted to climb as much as possible, so we went off bouldering on our own for the most part. We got to play with a really fun traverse and some unique boulders. A few of us also went to a slab and crack climbing clinic, which was a great way for us to improve our technique. Climbing in Joshua Tree was definitely hard, but, at least for me, made me want to work harder and really improve my climbing skills.
In the evenings, we had dinner and checked out all the awesome gear booths at the festival. Lots of free goodies and chances to win kept spirits high. We also got to see presentations from accomplished climbers, which inspired us to climb and train even harder. On Saturday night, we were lucky enough to experience an astronomy show with a supermoon, which we enjoyed thoroughly.
Overall, it was an awesome trip and Joshua Tree is such a cool place to climb. I hope that we get to go back in the future (hopefully armed with trad skills and equipment!) and I look forward to more trips with NSM.