Climbed: 20,935 feet to date.

Check your crutches at the base of the climb: Reloaded from Living Vertical on Vimeo.

We had a chance to stop by the FiveTen outlet in Redlands, CA on the way to Joshua Tree NP and get set up with some awesome new shoes–and they are definitely a game changer since your shoes are the one piece of gear that really directly impacts your climbing performance. We got to the park before Ken and Naomi and had some time to get set up in the “Pit” (a low profile campsite) and test the shoes on some climbs before we met up with them and helped get them situated and set up with some new shoes of their own!

The park was packed. Somehow I forgot that this week was still spring break and that everyone comes to JT for spring break in search of the classic moderate climbs…at first I was worried that it would wind up throwing a monkey-wrench in the proverbial works and that we would be unable to get on any suitable climbs. In the end, this time we spent in JT was about sharing climbing rather than hoarding climbs. It’s not something that fits into the “adrenaline-junkie-bro-brah” stereotype of climbing culture, but in reality, sharing climbing is a HUGE part of what it’s all about–if not climbing as a sport, certainly this project.

We met some families vacationing in the park and got to climb with them and we got to make a lot of new friends who noticed the Dragon Wagon and one of the biggest benefits of a busy climbing area is that the car turns lots of heads and puts our project out there. Ken and Naomi were amazing too–not just because it was so good to see friends from home and share several nights camping with them, but also because they crushed it on the rock even though I don’t think they realize how exceptional they are.

I was super inspired though, and I know other people were too. I know it can be awkward having people stare, even if they are doing so in admiration, but there was a big part of me that really enjoyed watching the inquisitive looks on tourists faces turn to disbelief when Naomi handed off her crutches and got on the rock and sent.

Ken was killing me because I am used to offering an undue amount of “helpful suggestions” to assist climbers who are new to outdoor climbing–that is a big part of my “guide-mode-reflex”. Every time I would open my mouth and start spewing beta (tips on climbing a route) I realized that Ken wasn’t hesitating, even on moves that were pretty stout–even when following gear protected routes and being pretty exposed high up, he was super composed and didn’t bitch and moan and tremble in horror–like I frequently do!

We didn’t get on Bird of Fire because it was mobbed, but that was ok too. We had an awesome time and are getting ready for round 2 in Zion. Tuesday, we will be rolling into Springdale where hilarity and adventure will undoubtedly ensue.