Route: Dappled Mare -- 5.8, 3 pitches
Area: Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Season: October -- May
Joshua Tree National park came to light as a real climbing destination decades after Yosemite climbers began to migrate there to avoid the snowy Sierra Winters in the late 1950s and 1960s. At the time, the Park was considered a great place to bide your time while bad weather kept you off the big walls; this attitude persisted through the early 1970s, when the first climbing J-Tree climbing guide was published. In the ensuing decades, the park has become a classic winter retreat for climbers of all abilities, and one of the most highly regarded climbing areas in the world. Visitors to the area are struck by the confluence of Southern California weather, convenient camping, and the high desert landscape, which combine in a breathtaking tableau worthy of time and exploration.
From October through May, Joshua Tree’s balmy weather and vast climbing potential draw visitors from their tents out amidst the rock. Literally thousands of routes are scattered across the landscape of massive boulders and outcroppings, where vast potential for new routes still awaits the ambitious climber. Most of the rock features in the park that climbers favor are composed of crystalline quartzite, the granitic qualities of which turn steep, daunting faces into high-friction playgrounds. Impossible looking face climbs often turn out to be veritable walk-ups, and the intimidating shallow and flaring cracks of the Park turn out to offer reliably good gear placements for beginning and seasoned climbers alike.
|A climber takes advantage of J-Tree's rock to move
up a steep face. Katy Pfannnstein.
|AAI employee Dyan Padagas looks for her placement
while on lead. Dyan Padagas.
--Casey O'Brien, American Southwest and Foreign Programs coordinator