Reports from the Field: Unabridged Manuscript of a Mission to Joshua Tree
Logged and photographed by: Florence Creative Director, JP.
Featured climber: our friend and outdoorsman, Marcus.
I just returned home from an overnight trip to Joshua Tree and wanted to share a little recap of our strike mission. I went out there with my friend Marcus who is an avid climber and outdoorsman. We left Sunday morning in my truck, the camper filled with climbing and backpacking gear and some new products from Florence Marine X. We had two specific goals: get some nice images of the new Polar Fleece Anorak and practice building anchors, which are made of multiple pieces of protection (cams/nuts) that are equalized to make up one power point that supports our weight. They can be used for top roping and multi-pitched adventures, used to make a tie in point mid way up the wall. When we got to the park, the line to enter J Tree was about a five minute wait and we bought an annual pass for only a couple bucks more than a day pass. We parked at the boy scout trailhead, made sandwiches, then hiked about a mile north until we got to a rock formation called Bear Island. There was a couple there on their way out – the guy wore a Growlers jacket, had bleached hair and his fingernails were painted black. He lived just outside of the park and kept asking us what guidebook we were using, which was the Randy Vogel, Bob Gaines book from 2006, a little outdated but got the job done. He told us the routes we were planning to climb were super ‘spicy.’ Fifteen years ago, you didn't see people like this in Joshua tree, just climbers. By people like this, I mean the vagabond looking byproducts of the local psychedelic rock venue Pappy and Harriett's. Bands usually book the last show of their tours there, those gigs draw people out of the cities and into the desert. His girlfriend was from LA and she had just led her first route on a 5.3 on the other side. Marcus demoed how to build some anchors using cams where we were standing at the base of the climb then we geared up and he led up the first root named Kodiak, while I belayed him. After I lowered him I took a different line up the same route. It was the first time I had climbed on monzogranite, which has a lot of quartz in it and a coarse grain. The view from the top was incredible, Joshua trees as far as the eye could see, like they were computer generated out of a video game. We then moved to another route, this one a 5.7 called Ursa Major. After we finished up the sun was dropping so we made camp between a rock corridor and had stew for dinner. While the stew was cooking we practiced building anchors in the dark. The stew hit the spot and we hit the sack.
The morning treated us with a beautiful sunrise, magenta skies with lenticular clouds. They look calm but they are anything but. I went on a walk to take some photographs and when I returned Marcus was drinking coffee sitting on a huge boulder and doing some breathwork. We broke camp and headed out to the Lost Horse Trail. We hiked out and built an anchor at the top of a Y-shaped crack formation in the middle of the Atlantis Wall. Marcus and I climbed this route a couple times and then I broke the anchor down and we headed home.
We had a great trip and really enjoyed the fresh air and spending some time putting the Florence Marine X pieces through the paces. I wore the puffer and the cruiser pants and Marcus wore the Polar Fleece Anorak, Stormfleece, the long sleeve organic tee and some prototype pants we’re calling Expedition Pants. We really enjoyed the products we were wearing and we talked about how we could update them in the future. I wish I could have captured better photos but I was either climbing or had Marcus on belay. We still had a lot of fun. - JP
Joshua Tree is in California’s elevated desert, but the weather in winter isn’t always high and dry. Explore the gear we took with us to test and photograph.
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