Category Archives: Climbing

Why you should wash your down gear

Did you know that washing that grimy down jacket is easier than you think? Washing your down gear extends the life of the product, and its ability to keep you warm. Here’s an article from Outdoor Research we wanted to share with you about how to wash down gear (also applies to sleeping bags).

Don’t forget: All of our stores carry Nikwax products, like Down wash and Down proof, to help you get your precious pieces clean.

We look forward to seeing you!

Climbing Shoe Demo at Joshua Tree- Saturday March 23rd

Been thinking about a new pair of climbing shoes, but not sure exactly what’s going to work best for you?  You’re in luck!  On Saturday, March 23rd, we’ll be hosting our annual Climbing Shoe Demo at our Joshua Tree store.  Shoes from Evolv, Five Ten, La Sportiva, Red Chili, and Scarpa will be available for you to check out and try for the day.  Check out is between 8-11am, and shoes need to be returned by 6pm that evening.


The demo is free, we just ask that you leave a deposit that we’ll return after you bring back the shoes.  If you have any questions, please call our Joshua Tree store at (760) 366-4684

Winter Climbing in Joshua Tree- Beta from the Locals

article by Kat Brandt

JT Winter Narrow

Don’t worry! It’s not this cold very often…

Perhaps you drove hours to get to Joshua Tree, or maybe you flew in from a different country.  And now you’re here and eager to climb, but find that, despite the mild winters in So Cal, some of those North-facing routes are a bit cold.  Well, we didn’t want you to waste time hiking around, trying to find routes that get full sun, so we’ve put together a guide to help!

Joshua Tree National Park might be a desert, but it is a high desert, which means that at more than 4,000 ft. elevation, it can get cold in the winter. According to Lost Horse Weather Station, it dipped down to 8 degrees Fahrenheit on the night of January 13th .  The best way to stay warm is to properly prepare before you even start climbing. Here is a list of suggested clothing layers to wear, which you can shed as it gets warmer throughout the day:

  • Beanie
  • T-shirt (not cotton)
  • Long sleeve shirt (not cotton)
  • Long underwear (NOT COTTON!  Notice a theme?)
  • Hoody, Down puffy, or Windproof Layer
  • Jeans or soft shell pants (stretchy enough to climb in, but durable enough for quartz monzonite)
  • Climb in socks! So toasty and stylish!
  • Wind-proof gloves (or leather belaying gloves)
  • Bonus hot tip: throw a Hand Warmer in your chalk bag! You thought you chalked up too often before!!
JT Winter Kris Narrow

Kris layered and warm at the belay.

Now that you’re properly geared, here is a short list of climbs in Indian Cove that will keep you out of the shade and protected from the wind.  This area (aka Indian Stove) is typically 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the main part of the Park. This makes it wretched in summer, but ideal in winter. These routes are all within walking distance of the parking area just West of Feudal Wall. Enjoy!

Indian Cove Topo by Ryan

Topo drawn by Ryan from the Joshua Tree store. Click for larger version.

Pixie Rock
This formation is the first you encounter on the right hand side of the road when you are driving into Indian Cove Campground. Scramble up the North side of Pixie Rock to find the fixed anchors above Who’s First(5.6), which follows the right fork of the obvious “V” crack. Rhythm of the Heat (5.8) can also be top roped.

Billboard Buttress
On the South face of Billboard Buttress is the deliciously fun sport climb Driving Limitations (5.8). This route gets sun all day long.

The Bilbo Buttress
Don’t miss out on El Chivo (5.8+). Well-bolted, but with a spicy shoulder to gain, you will be happy that you jumped on it.

Indian Palisades Corridor (for the sport climber in all of us)
Indian Palisades Corridor goes into the sun in the afternoon during winter. It is not pictured in any guide book (though there is typically a list of routes and their descriptions). This makes it an infrequently visited wall, which means you most likely get to enjoy it without disruption.
One of the first slabs you find on the Western end of IPC is Willit Slab. Some guidebooks call it 5.5, some call it 5.7, I call it slabby and just far enough between bolts to be interesting. This puppy is so toasty in the sun on a chilly day that you will just want to snuggle up against it for warmth. Chain anchors at the top.
Continuing east into the Corridor, you have your choice of leading Eyes of Amber (5.7) or Water Moccasin (5.7) to get to the bolted anchors by the tree.
To your right is Harrell-Turner (5.10b), Serpent Scales (5.6), and Cottonmouth (5.6X). Harrell-Turner is the wide, white water run-off. Serpent Scales is the first patina-plated climb to the right of Harrell-Turner. The bolts are exactly where you want them, till the end, which is run out, but easy climbing. The bolted anchor is located on top of the main wall, just past the juggy finish. I highly suggest you top-rope Cottonmouth, whose last bolt is 20ft or so beneath the anchor. Cottonmouth is one steep 5.6! But it is a phenomenal collection of tiny finger holds and opposing, slabby feet.

Feudal Wall (for the trad climber)
Feudal Wall is nestled between Short Wall (another great, sunny wall) and Indian Palisades Corridor. Not only is it sunny until the last hour of the day, but it also has a magical way of blocking the wind on those blustery days.
Working your way from climber’s left to right: warm up with Duchess (5.6) . It is a short but thoroughly enjoyable trad route with a trad anchor. To the right of Duchess is Monaco (5.11b). Monaco is super thin, with desperately hard face moves at the top. It has five bolts up to ring anchors.
If you want a little spice in your life, jump on The Castrum (5.10a). It is a thin crack (less than 1”) with smeary foot holds. Make sure you bring a cordelette for the extended trad anchor. You can also scramble up the easier right side of The Castrum to build a top rope anchor.
Don’t let The Mikado (5.6) fool you: it is deceptively awkward for the first few moves. Then once you get into it, it is solid. Use the anchors above Mikado to top rope California Crack (5.11a). Or, go for broke, and lead that overhanging monstrosity!
To the right of California Crack is right leaning slab on which you can see three bolts leading up to ring anchors. This is a recently bolted route called Whispering Chickens (5.7). To the right of that is the classic Pet or Meat (5.10c).

Short Wall (beginner trad climber’s playground)
It is called Short Wall for a reason. These climbs are short, but they are fun! To the left of the super-short side you will see a right-slanting crack. This is Right V-Crack (5.10b). The first crack to the right of the chasm with boulders is Double Crack (5.3). The next main crack is Toe Jam Express (5.3). S.O.B.(5.6) is the farthest right (Eastern) crack on Short Wall.

Route Recap

Pixie Rock

  • Who’s First 5.6
  • Rhythm of the Heat 5.8R

Billboard Buttress

  • Driving Limitations 5.8

Bilbo Buttress

  • El Chivo 5.8+

Indian Palisades Corridor

  • Willit Slab 5.7
  • Eyes of Amber 5.7
  • Water Moccasin 5.7
  • Harrel-Turner 5.10b
  • Serpent Scales 5.6
  • Cottonmouth 5.6x

Feudal Wall

  • Duchess 5.6
  • Monaco 5.11b
  • The Castrum 5.10a
  • Mikado 5.6
  • California Crack 5.11a
  • Whispering Chickens 5.7
  • Pet or Meat 5.10c

Short Wall

  • Right V-Crack 5.10b
  • Double Crack 5.3
  • Toe Jam Express 5.3
  • S.O.B 5.6

Six 5.6s: A Joshua Tree Checklist

There you are, flipping through your new guidebook, and you come across a few tick-lists. The word “Moderate” is scrawled across the top, but the routes listed below are in the 5.11 and 5.12 range. Right. The “Mild” list starts in the 5.7s, but ends in 5.10c.  Your heart begins to sink…

The best thing about rock climbing is that it is never about the numbers. Alex Lowe said it best: “The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun!” So forget about who calls what moderate or mild. Heck, some of your favorite routes can be ones you took your kids up or did on your birthday!

So next time you are in Joshua Tree National Park, try these FUN six 5.6s:

Bonus route! The 5.6 that everyone should climb: “South West Corner” on Headstone in Ryan Campground. (Jacob Colella and Kiri Palmer on “South West Corner.” Photo by Catherine Brandt.)




Video: Wild Country Crack School- Episode 5

In the final episode of Wild Country’s Crack School video series, Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker cover gear and gear placement for crack climbing.

Sasha DiGiulian on her Future in Climbing

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sasha DiGiulian was recently profiled in The Washington Post; it’s an excellent article, and features DiGiulian discussing how she got started in climbing and her plans for the future.

Raw footage of Sasha DiGiulian on Era Vella (5.14d/9a), in Margalef, Spain.
The completed film will be featured in Reel Rock 7 this fall.

‘Starting next month, that focus will be more important than ever as she begins college. She hopes to study sports business, and she’d like to be more involved in student life than she was in high school — to be as “normal” a college student as possible. She’ll also be the only freshman who returns from a World Cup event in Munich for orientation, flies to Paris for a week of climbing, comes back to school for a week before flying to a Seattle event, returns for a week at Columbia and then flies to Atlanta for another World Cup competition.

“It’s this mental battle, because I keep convincing myself that everything will work out fine,” DiGiulian says, “that I’ll be training religiously and be at all the competitions, but at the same time, I know Columbia will be quite rigorous. Sometimes I’m completely fine, but then I’ll go through spurts — like the other night, it hit me, and I got really nervous. I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

“Most of my competitors, in the World Cup circuit especially, are just climbing,” DiGiulian adds. “But I decided to go back to school. Because I know that, in the long term, I can’t be a climber forever.”’

Choosing the Right Tool for the Job – Carabiners

The Black Diamond Journal recently posted an excellent article that discusses some of the characteristics of various types of carabiners.  It’s an excellent overview of carabiners in general, but also contains some details of interest to seasoned climbers.  I’ll post an excerpt here- for the rest, check out the original post on Black Diamond’s blog.

QC LAB: Choosing the Right Tool for the Job – Carabiners

By Kolin Powick

With dozens of companies making untold numbers of carabiners these days, it can be a real chore to navigate through countless different models to choose the one that’s right for your type of climbing. Wiregate vs. standard gate.  AutoLock vs. screwgate. Ultralight vs. heavy. What biners should I use on my slimmed-down alpine rack as opposed to my daily sport cragging kit? As with most pieces of climbing gear, there is a certain amount of inherent versatility, but often certain products are better suited, and more often than not designed specifically for certain applications. As with almost anything, it’s always prudent to select the right tool for the job. This month we’ll attempt to distill the basics of carabiner usage to help you figure out what’s the right choice for your type of climbing.

Differences between Industrial and Recreational Carabiners

We’ll start off with a quick word on basic carabiner use because we get this question all the time.

I get lots of random calls from arborists, fire departments, rescue workers, marinas, yachting folks, Jeep guys and warehouse personnel wanting to know if it’s okay to use our carabiners for their particular application. The official answer is always no, not recommended. Just as all of our instructions say, our gear is “For Climbing and Mountaineering Only.” But why?

The simple answer is that we are climbers and mountaineers, we know climbing and mountaineering, and we design, test and certify our gear for climbing and mountaineering. We’re not as intimate with the loads, the uses, misuses and abuses of these other applications.

What many people may not realize is the different ways that recreational gear is designed, tested and rated compared to industrial equipment. Industrial carabiners are usually made of steel, are much heavier, are much stronger, and rated differently than aluminum climbing carabiners.

An industrial carabiner is usually rated to a SWL (safe working load, or safe working limit)- of let’s say 30kN. This means that you can load the carabiner safely to 30kN. And in industrial applications there is almost always some kind of safety factor say of 2 or greater, which means that the carabiner won’t actually break until around 60kN. However, climbing gear is rated to the load at which it will actually break. So a 20kN carabiner actually breaks at that load. There’s a big difference.

Bottom line: Climbing gear shouldn’t be used in industrial applications—it just isn’t designed and rated for those types of loads and situations.

This is only a small excerpt of the complete article- to see the rest, visit Black Diamond’s Journal here.