/ Joshua Tree / Red Rocks Reccomendations?
Cheers Blanchie - will give ST a try too. Will let you know how it goes.
I thought Red Rocks was about 17 times more awesome than Joshua Tree. J-Tree is worth a visit, but I'd spend more time at Red Rocks if I was you.
Birdland and Dark Shadows were particular highlights. I also thought Tunnel Vision and Group Therapy were great, but they might not appeal to the less wide crack loving types.
Basically you can't go wrong with the Jerry Handren guide, which is a thing of beauty.
Crimson Chrysalis at RR is an obvious choice; must be one of the best moderate routes in the US, with 1000ft of 3 star VS/HVS. Red Rocks is amazing at most grades in fact, but particularly in the VS-E3 range.
J-Tree is brilliant, but I agree with the other guy - I prefer RRs.
If you get time, about a 3 hour drive from Red Rocks is Zion Canyon, as visually impressive as Yosemite, more rock, and with some epic adventures, single pitch to multi-day. There's more classic (easy ish) climbing in Red Rocks, but Zion is my favourite crag in North America. If you get a wet day, definitely go just to look, Bryce Canyon nearby is also stupendous (no climbing at Bryce).
A few days each won't give you much and you need to be careful about heat in both venues if its sunny and still.
Dark Shadows is a good solid VS 4c with the crux right at the top and in the shade. Crimson Crysalis is proably the big shady route to go for but its solid HVS for most with get-out-of jail skill potentially required on multi-abs due to snaggy rock. Tunnel Vision is a nice MVS warm up and shady in the afternoon and a scramble back down (the cave pitch that used to be 5.4X is really 5.6PG due to gear on the back wall).
Dont underestimate J Tree or you will get thouroughly spanked. My top day there in March would be to climb the (relatively freindly) bolted 80m HVS 5a Walk on the Wild Side while the sun is off it then the more shaded Right On the 180m HS 4b just round to the left. Then a day on single pitch classics on Hemmingway and Dairy Queen (lots of starred classics mostly shaded and not too hard for the grades). Then follow shade on the classics on the big lumps around Hidden Valley campsite. If its cooler then Lost Horse Wall is a must, with a quick trip to solo the highly photogenic Aiguilee de Joshua Tree (the only soft touch in the park I've found so far and more 5.4 R than 5.6X).
If you are only visiting for a few days and on a tight budget its worth knowing you can climb at Indian Cove for free at JT and at Calico Springs at Red Rocks or for biggetr stuff (like Frogland) on the southern part of the main range south of the park.
Thanks very much everyone - just the job and lots of reccomendations there to get us started. I'm not much of a crack climber really so I think this could be a steep learning curve and may need to drop a grade to start with. :-?
Agree about Zion NP - been before and it's just stunning and more up-close impressive than the Grand Canyon imho. Will see how it goes but there will need to be lots of non-climbing days pottering about to keep the other-half happy. And ideally I'd like to head down to Arizona to see Tombstone and for some routes in Cochise Stronghold but that may just be a crag too far this time!
Pure friction slab moves out there are often lovely don't worry about the grade. JT has loads although I'd say the grades are up a notch again: normally 5.6 friction there is UK 4b; 5.7 is UK 4c; 5.8 5a; 5.9 5b; 10a 5c.
Zion has some nice slab routes and some acessible good bolted face and the Super Topo guide there is really fun (most of the series give a bit too much away but this one is still adventurous).
I'd add that crack climbs at Red Rocks often involve no crack climbing whatsoever. Onlt the glorious Ragged Edges ever forced me to jam agrresively.
If you do Walk on the Wild Side, make sure you start in the right place because some of the guidebooks have the route marked in the wrong place - which can put you on the route to the right called Some Girls (5.10R/X and not recommended).
Really you can't go too far wrong just picking off the routes with the most stars in the guidebooks. The routes do tend to be full bore for the grade. 5.9 is definitely HVS.
> get-out-of jail skill potentially required on multi-abs due to snaggy rock.
Yeah, that ab is an arse.
Sadly someone died on the WotWS the week before we did it. I was using the old guide at the time and the topo line for Right On, 180m, was only about a few cm long and the route had no description whatsoever (just 5.5**) and with no clear start point. I guess this made you think carefully before you climbed. WotWS in comparison had a clear curving line of spaced bolts not so far off being a sports climb in JT terms; one of the easiest lines to work out on the crag. The start is off the left of a platform and if there is no clear next bolt you are obviously on the wrong route.
On the 5.9 point, early in our visits we tend to look for 5.8X through 10bR slab top-ropes next to routes we lead; to get back into the 'tenuous smearing groove'. As a result I guess we get to sample more of the harder lines at that grade. Even so I can only think of a handful of 5.9 routes I've done there I'd give HVS and none were easy. Old school HVS maybe but in modern UK terms nearly all are in the extreme grade.
This shouldn't put climbers off though as at the given grade most routes are steady with any especially hard move naturally protected or with a bolt. This means once you find your level you can push and some of my best onsights have been done there. As a better slab climber, Moff's hardest onsights are nearly all in JT. You just need to work out what grade you are OK with first.
I can't recommend the place to bumblies as the lower grades are really all over the place. I've done a 5.4 that involved hard 5b smearing at 6m on a dodgy RP and a micro-cam on two lobes. Having said that the worst examples have been dealt with now (the best easier route in the park, The Eye, about 5.5PG was 5.0 when I did it: I think its 5.4 now!). B1 on trashcan is still a wake up call though. I guess this is why you see so many top-ropes in popular areas. The good news at lower grades is that you can add a star to almost anything you climb as the mediocre lower grade lines just don't get listed.
Just to be clear in the above post the guy that died was off route, not on WotWS and the 5.9 routes that are nearly always OK as leads are the non-R or non-X rated ones in the more popular areas.
Sounds as though this climber died doing the route that we did by mistake, to the right of WotWS, which I think had a 90 foot run-out to the first and more or less only bolt on the first pitch.
I agree with all your comments. I do exactly the same there: climbing some of the harder, more run-out routes next to the smeary routes I lead to hone up the "steep slab" technique so necessary at JT. The grades assume that one has mastered the basics of that technique! When I said the 5.9 routes were *definitely* 5.9, what I really meant was definitely (at least) 5.9. I fell off one 5.9 unexpectedly, which would probably have been E1 in the UK.
Even some of the "semi-sport" routes can be quite dodgy (run-out and/or insecure) to the first bolt with potentially bad landings (examples: Heart and Sole, and Run For Your Life). One JT characteristic is very sustained pitches with the very hardest moves either at the beginning or right at the very end.
I always used to prefer E1's to HVS's in the UK, because HVS could be a bit of a funny grade, and I think the same is true of 5.10a vs 5.9 at JT and Yosemite: some of the 5.10a's seem more reasonable than the 5.9's. Maybe, it is just a mental thing (!) On the other hand some of the so-called low 5.10's at JT are very stiff and sustained for their grade (notable examples: Solid Gold and Figures on a Landscape - the locals admit the grades of these should probably be 5.10b and 5.10d, rather than 5.10a and 5.10b).
Newcomers from the UK should be aware that the guidebooks offer very little info/beta on the routes compared with UK guidebooks. Usually a minute line on a topo, with a few "x"'s indicating vaguely where bolts are, has to suffice.
Thanks very much chaps that's all really helpful and I'll try to stay away from the 90 foot unprotected run-outs. Good to know it's not all brutal jamming action too! :-)
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