Ever gone and done something that made you think, “I probably shouldn’t tell my mom about this until my feet are back on the ground?” That is rock climbing. Actually, it’s one of the safest adventures you can have, assuming you are firmly roped with solid equipment and a knowledgable and experienced guide. And that is precisely what we did one day last week in Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree (JT) is a real mecca for climbers. If you visit the park (and I really think you should before you die) you will see a lot of them (climbers, I mean) (Joshua Trees also). The rock formations are other-worldly in a Dr. Suess sort of way and honestly, they seem like they are begging to be climbed. Kevin and I came here five years ago just on a day trip and decided when (not if) we got back we would definitely do it.
We booked our day of climbing through Joshua Tree Climbing School. Mark connected us with Steve, whom we had already read in a review as being their best guide. Rock climbers are pretty humble dudes and we only learned things about Steve’s experience level after drawing it out in conversation. For example, he holds with Hans (last name I can never remember - sounds German but he's American) the record for most ascents on El Capitan (100). Of those, he did about 35 of them in one day (it takes most people at least two days). And while that level of experience instills great confidence in a guide, my favorite thing about Steve was his ability to coach our kids. At one point, when Kristin could not find any good holds and was stuck, he climbed right up beside her and showed her the way. She followed his directions and made her way on up the top and called it “the best route of the day.”
In addition to the standard climbing we did, Steve took us on a boulder scramble that I am at a complete loss to describe. It was like canyoneering and bouldering and spelunking all in one.
I really don’t do heights and I tend to get up on some ledge and look down thinking, “This was a pretty dumb idea,” but Steve was so at ease and so capable at every turn I couldn’t help but feel this sort of adventure is exactly the reason we came out here: not to play it all safe but to take a risk and enjoy the pay-off.
Now, if only Steve could come with us when we hike Angel's Landing in Zion NP next week...