Joshua Tree!

So, I was able to scrape by two weeks of travel time for this month of May.   It was a hard decision because I wanted to go to Yosemite Valley, but they’re getting WORKED by the weather gods this season, and still even this week they’re getting lots of snow, seems like everything is wet.  such a bummer.  So, my friend Pee Wee and I drove down to Joshua Tree, which is a good 7 hours south of Sacramento, CA, and about as far So as So Cal gets.

The weather here too has been FREAKY, 95 degrees one day, then 60 and cold and windy the next, last night I froze my ass off in the van, as though it was January, I never would have thought May could be like this, it’s anybody’s guess.  But for the most part, it’s just what we expected, the sun is warm and the rock is chossy 🙂  We are making attempts on Stingray, but they are few and far between, like one try every other day.  I tried the climb back in February, and it’s truly an amazing line, tight fingers and steep and leaning.  I flashed the crux moves on TR, and thought it felt like a 5.13b-ish.  I was expecting to do the route in a day or two.  But then, UNFORTUNATELY, on my second attempt, I broke the most crucial foothold on the climb, and now, it’s really hard, probably solid 5.13d.  But it’s hard to say because it’s so f ‘n painful. I haven’t stuck the crux yet, but I can link from there to the top, so it might happen any day now, unless I tear a huge flapper, or blow out my elbows, both of which are highly possible,  at the same time even.

Back in Squamish, about two weeks ago, I climbed a project of mine which I was really happy about.  An overhanging arete.  It’s the sort of feature you look up at and WISH it had holds on it.  This one did, but barely.  I tried the line last spring, and found the tiny crimps that linked it all together. It’s incredible movement, knee drops, slopers, heel hooks, lots of squeezing, and a very tedious mantle.  I tried it a few days and was able to link it once or maybe twice, but then it got hot, summer hit, and then my appendix ruptured at the very end of August, which ruined my fall season.  And so it sat all winter.  This spring I went back, and TR’d it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was much stronger than last year.  I did the moves quickly and linked it twice in a row on my second day.  I guess the bouldering paid off.   I reckon the line is a 5.11 to a V10/V11 to a 5.12b.  It’s the direct start to Big Daddy Overhang, so we called it Sugar Daddy, and I suggested a rating of 5.14 because of it’s bouldery nature, an endurance climber might find it hard, a boulderer might find it easy.  We shall see what others suggest.  It’s a brilliant little challenge, incredible movement.  I hope it gets climbed on again soon and repeated, it’s so good.

Okay, so that’s it for now, I have very little time and energy to be writing my journal, I have a guitar to buy and play, lunch to make, a tan to work on, and some beer to drink.  Best wishes to all, thanks for popping in and reading this nonsense.


This is me sticking the last hard move before the mantle, the gear goes in a horizontal crack behind a large flake about a body length below my feet.  And below is local boy Andrew Boyd, after the mantle but before the 5.12b finger crack.  I swear it’s Soooo gooooood 🙂  Please come and try it, you’ll love it.

  • Cough. Hack. Blaghhh. I wanna try!

    I remember eying this line when I did Big Daddy two summers ago. Nice tic! Next time I’m in Squamish I’ll get on it for shizzle. Good luck on Stingray. Crush! (or get crushed…?)

  • Eliot Carlsen

    Hey Sonnie,
    Have you ever climbed at Mt. Woodson? It’s got finger cracks all over the place and it’s close to Jtree (about 2 hours). Anyway if you have time you should check it out. I think you’d love it.

  • johnny v

    your line in squamish looks SICK!!! you gonna be in j-tree over memorial weekend? curious as a few of us are headed there friday …. would be cool to see you work the stingray….

  • Stray Cat

    Precious pics. Weather whacked. Playing on the local plastic playground during precipitation. Thanks for sharing! Take care on Sting. Looks serious dope ish

  • Dino

    Tedious mantle? Tenuous, maybe?

    Nice post, look like great climbs.

  • B. Alvn

    Nobody goes to Joshua Tree in May really, besides climbers that live in town and can cherry-pick the pretty rare cooler days. One season I extended my Joshua Tree stay to about May 10th and most of the campsites were empty, it was pretty damn hot, and typically I only bouldered a little bit at first light in the morning, and then chased the shade for a couple of hours (max) once the sun was up. The rock there tends to feel very greasy (and the crystals cut into your skin easier too, and everything is much more painful to climb on) at even moderately warm temps, and the rattlesnakes are very active in May too…and you might run into one of those nearly anywhere. Suicide and Tahquitz (basically in the same valley near Idyllwild, about an hours drive from Joshua Tree) stay much cooler (especially once you get up a couple of pitches on Tahquitz), or if you like bouldering, The Tramway is very high on the same mountain, at 8 or 9000 feet.

    There’s a good reason California climbers go to Tuolumne in the summer.