It is amazing how we, at xtremesport4u, keep coming across another area which has termed itself ‘the most popular rock climbing area in the world‘…. Hmmm, they can’t all be the most popular, but they do all have something unique to themselves, and Joshua Tree is one of those places.
There are about 4,500 routes (although there seems to be some controversy here as I have read that there are as many as 7,000 routes) in about 100,000 acres of parkland. Well for a start that’s not bad – at least it’s well spread out and you’re not all climbing on top of each other, or, even worse, waiting for a space to appear before you can even start climbing. However, before I wax too lyrical – over 1 million people do visit the park on a yearly basis and a lot of these are rock climbers.
The routes closest to the parking lots and campsites are the most popular but it is worth investigating the climbs deeper into the wilderness as they are less cluttered and well worth the walk.
Although the type of rock found at Joshua Tree could be loosely classified as granite, it is actually ‘Quartz Monzonite’ or ‘Monzogranite’. A million years ago, when Joshua Rock and much of California and Baja California were being formed, cooling rates varied enough to make dramatic differences in the rock texture. Some of the nastiest rock in the park is found at Jumbo Rocks, where relatively slow cooling allowed big, flesh-ripping crystals to form whereas formations like Echo Rock cooled more quickly, yielding smaller crystals and smoother rock and as the rock cooled it fractured creating wonderful joints which you can find on routes like Tiptoe, 39 Steps, and Pops Goes Hawaian.
Weather and erosion have played their part too causing huge slabs of rock to peel off the faces of domes. Rainfall collects in pockets, intensifying small-scale weathering and leading to the formation of potholes. Flash floods and wind transport grains away from the formations. Even climbers contribute on a small scale, accidentally breaking off handholds, and more commonly, dislodging loose grains.
And this partially explains why it has become one of the many “favourite climbing spots in the world”. It is certainly a climbers’ mecca and has become a favourite worldwide trad climbing spot and if you don’t believe me, check out the clarkgrubb video of Cryptic, a 5.8 sport route which is a fun classic with some great moves and gives you an idea of what is on offer at J-Tree:
and then tell me that that doesn’t look fun!
And then of course, if you’re into free-climbing, this place really is your oyster:
Apologies if you find the words of the song offensive, but who says rock climbers, and freesoloist in this particular case, don’t push all horizons to the limit!
J-Tree has something for everyone – from bouldering to extreme challenging climbs.
The temperature at J-Tree can be variable although it is safe to say that it is generally hot in the summer (May-September) – up to 100 degrees Farenheit, and around about 50 F in winter. However, winter storms can cause dramatic swings in temperature with one day happily being 75 F and the next as low as 45…
There are some regulations that are worth taking note of:
- It is prohibited to initiate or terminate a climb in an occupied campsite without prior permission of the occupant of that site.
- The use of any substance, such as glue, epoxy, or cement, to reinforce hand or footholds is prohibited.
- “Chipping” or enhancing hand or footholds is prohibited as is removing vegetation or “gardening.”
- Climbing within 50 feet of any rock-art site is prohibited.
- If penetrating into the wilderness, stick to the existing trails.
These regulations are, I would have thought, unneccesary to have to put in writing as I would hope that rock climbers are conscious of the pristine state of the landscape and terrain that they are climbing in – however, there’s always someone who lets the side down. So come on guys, think of others, and think of the natural balance of the land that you are actually trespassing in – and treat it with respect! And remember to carry out EVERYTHING that you take in. In fact, leave nothing behind but your footprints. Thank you!