Over the past several months, my travel life has accelerated by leaps and bounds. This has led me to some pretty classic rock climbing, with some pretty fantastic human beings. Say what you will about it, but none of this would have been possible without social networking. All of the travel I have done this year that required air travel has been inspired a great group of climbers on Twitter. Their inspiration has led me to climb at the Flat Irons in Colorado, Devils Tower in Wyoming, and most recently, the legendary Joshua Tree National Park. JTree is the stuff dreams are made of, well for climbers at least. Unique clusters of beautiful Monzonite structures litter the landscape and beg to be scaled. With all the climbing it offers, It’s no wonder Joshua Tree is coined a world class climbing location, but this trip wasn’t just about the climbing, in fact it was more about the people, both old friends and new ones.
The occasion for this trip was the second annual Joshua Tree Tweetup. If you aren’t familiar, a Tweetup is a gathering of people who connect via the social networking platform Twitter, usually surrounding a common interest. Ours just happens to be rock climbing. I had not attended the first Jtree Tweetup, so I was brimming with excitement about the possibilities. I had met several of the people attending Jtree Tweetup at previous functions, but there was a whole slew of folks who I only have interacted with digitally. Of the people I had not met before, I encountered Eileen(RockGrrl) first. Meeting her first was quite fitting since she has put this even together for two years now, and has done a fine job I might add. The people in this tight knit group of tech savvy climbers is really a breath of fresh air, there were no attitudes, or ego’s to contend with, just a great group of people from diverse backgrounds with a varied skill set just out to have a good time.
The inclusion of sponsors to this event really made it feel like something special. The generosity of Companies like Boulder Canyon Foods, Climb OnÂ Products, Clif Bar, Action Wipes, and Eastern Mountain Sports really says something about this event. These vendors really went the extra mile to provide us with some super products to help us through our adventure in the desert.
Each day of the Tweetup was spent out in the sun climbing with a great group of people, and each night was spent sharing stories and rants around the fire. Every night during the campfire, some of our group would make a headlamp lit pilgrimage to the top of The Manure Pile, The rock formation which Ryan campground spirals around.
The climbing at Joshua Tree was absolutely Incredible. Some of my favorites included: The Swift, Solar Technology, Bacon Flake, and Gunsmoke. The Swift was a fantastic three pitch 5.7 with plenty of diversity, from crack to face climbing. On the third pitch I got a bit off route and had to lead through some 5.10 finger cracks, but I succeeded and pushed on to the top. The view from up there was pretty amazing I might add. Solar Technology and Bacon Flake were both fun climbs in their own ways, and Gunsmoke was a great social gathering. Gunsmoke is an eighty foot boulder traverse established by the late John Bachar. The entire group was able to enjoy this one at the same time thanks to the immense length of this boulder problem. People were falling off and getting back on it all over the place, definitely worth checking out if you ever find yourself in the Barker Dam area.
The Joshua Tree Tweetup was a great experience. Wonderful people, beautiful weather, and great climbing, but like all things do, it came to an end. It was hard to watch everyone pack up and go their own separate ways as it often is. This was a special time for me, a gathering of people that came as near strangers, and parted ways as a family. You are all my friends, and made my first visit to Joshua Tree a special one. The next one cannot come soon enough.
For more of my photos from Joshua Tree, check out this link