So Joshua tree was looking prime and basically everything else in the state of CA was looking beat so we were surprised and pleased to see that mega-classic routes were woefully devoid of the usual crowds that gather to enjoy 3-5 star routes with 5 to 10 minute approaches.

For accommodations we got to enjoy “the pit”, a free (albeit unimproved) camping area, replete with outdoor furniture and a healthy, graciously provided firewood stash. Here we met Andy, who became our companion and living breathing guidebook. We will hopefully see him again once we make it back up there to enjoy more fireside chats.

The focal point of this past week climbing was to improve my leading ability and overcome the fear of being on the sharp end. Dealing with fear is an inherent part of climbing itself and all the moreso for the leader and my goal (partially achieved at the time of this writing)was to manage it and be able to face falling with the appropriate level of caution but without the paralyzing horror that has plagued me on and off.

Simply getting a bunch of consistent leads in helped immensely; I am trusting my feet much more and have found that listening to music helps to drown out the annoying voices in my head…

(the only catch is that you have to change songs sometimes, at less-than convenient moments…)

At the moment, I have gotten into a good headspace for leading routes that don’t push my limits of difficulty–so now the trick will be applying this progress to harder routes. When we head back to JT I will be focusing on 5.9 and harder routes–although TRing some hard 10 slabs has REALLY helped me trust my feet on the blank crystalline seas beneath me. Progress is cool but the job is only half done at this point.

We took some time off from my self-help project to entertain Christie and Mike for a weekend of climbing. We got to get on some of the most convenient routes (possibly anywhere in the world?) at Trashcan Rock, and new heights were reached.

Christie on Tiptoe 5.7+

Christie trying to convince Mike that “climbing can be fun” (if you climb with your feet, not your knees)

Mike getting psyched up for a slab romp-he has just completed his pre game ritual of sunscreen application. With only 45 minutes of lathering up, this route had no chance…

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to climb with Larry David…well, I found out this weekend. Stef has video that may or may not be leaked, but I will leave that up to her discretion…

And if you were climbing at Quail Springs, Ryan Campground or Cyclops rock this weekend and heard the impassioned cries for beta or sounds which commonly accompany childbirth, it was THIS GUY right here.

After much extraneous commentary, Mike sent–5.7d–and here is the proof!

…And then there’s MAUDE!!!! (Christie and Mike watch a 10 year old demonstrate how its done)

After a lovely weekend, the weather began to heat up. With an impending anniversary and a good bit of sunburn, San Diego started sounding like a good idea. We will be spending some time here and then return for part 2 in Joshua Tree in a week or so once its nice and cool again…