Sunday, November 21, 2010

Joshua Tree Expedition, October 2010

NOTES – lightly embellished and edited. Text and photos copyright 2010 by David Warren Rockwell. (except as noted.)

Joshua Tree, with Chris and Tomek, Sept 30 – Oct 13, and with Todd Oct 6 – 13, 2010

Weather: first half: unsettled, wind, small rain, lightning, partly sunny; daytime high 80 F., nighttime about 40 F.
Second half: settled, no wind, no clouds, daytime highs up through 90, lows 45 or 50.

Chris racks up for the first lead of the trip

Lead T-shirt: Robots Revolt. Lead song: Dirty Life and Times, Warren Zevon.

Sept. 30th 2010

                Rain and floods in DC – water in the basement, but good cheer in the family. “Are you 6 years old?” And we laughed uncontrollably.  Cheerfully she drove me to Dulles after much fun at Dogfish Head.

East face of Hidden Tower

[Finally I am beginning to understand the lovely epigram of Delmore Schwartz:

Love is the most difficult and dangerous form of courage.
Courage is the most desperate, admirable and noble kind of love.]

Uneventful flight sandwiched between the two Poles – one tall and gaunt, the other short, round-faced, long-haired, but sharing a sense of thoughtful silence – feeling no need to fill it up with talk.
Picked up van at Budget and navigated skillfully out 105/605/10 and to Joe’s Tacos – nice little truckstop place where the $6.50 lunch special is v. large, whatever it is, and always comes with tortilla chips, refried beans, rice, melted cheese. Some gastric distress still ongoing after big chili party two days gone.
Usual stops at Stater Bros. for food and Big 5 for propane, and on into the park. Immediately secured campsite # 35 – 5:30 pm. So we walked out behind the Cyclops to boulder for about 90 mins.; gorgeous pink/purple sunset. Tea and cookies before bed. Cloudy.

Chris leading Sail Away, 5.8

Oct. 1st – a good climbing day.

                   Chris led Sail Away, 5.8, flash of course; Tomek followed and cleaned. I followed and rapped off tiny NW face, toproped the 5.10a with a view to leading later; no falls, good short climb. Possible lead if you really know your nuts.

Placing a piece to protect the last move
A small and airy summit.

                   Walking tour of Real Hidden Valley incl. Illusion Dweller. Lunch: noodles.
                   I led Raven’s Reach 5.10a, no falls – did left, face version at ‘reach’ dihedral move; Chris followed, Tomek could not.  I then toproped Flue Right, 5.10b, no falls! V. nice climb, best not to lead. Tomek made valiant attempt but couldn’t, took a minor swing. Chris declined.
                   Drove to Echo Rock. Chris led and Tomek followed Stichter Quits 5.7, no falls. I bouldered and photographed, attempted to TR Cherry Bomb, 5.10c, no dice.

Chris leads Stichter Quits, 5.7

Calibration of shoe friction is critical...

on this trackless slab.

Very soon he will clip his last bolt; the anchor hides far above.

10/2/2010 – Another excellent climbing day!

Woke at 4:30 to pee. Through intermittent high clouds a magnificent view of Orion high over the Cyclops. Sirius blue as always.

Sunrise, glorious and dire...

  chaos, uncertainty, the order of the day.

                  Woke again to light rain, lightning over western hills. It started to thicken, so we drove into town for eggs and bacon at the Country Kitch’n.  It was crowded, and the power was out; the Cambodian lady was working hard and coping – made more coffee in pots on stove. Good cheese omelet, hash browns made with no salt, toast, etc. Sourdough toast available, Chris’s favorite.
                  Drove to Stater again, got more food and water. Using about 1 gal./person/day. Most thrift stores closed due to power outage. Good farmers market in parking lot. Bought 4 books in Christian bookstore in Yucca Valley. [No, not Christian books.] Got gas for Chris’s stove in Yellow Mart sporting goods store. Fishing, hunting, camping, with huge lingerie and sexy-top section for guys buying for their bedmates.
Weather cleared – drove back to camp. Bouldered at the Turtle in lazy manner, but I flashed the Turnbuckle, 1st try! Checked out Gripped Up…5.10a – total sandbag, do not ever go back.

Bouldering session out behind the Turtle.

Chris going highball on us.

About to Cruise the Turnbuckle, 5.11+!

 Maybe not today, though.

                   Went to Intersection Rock. Chris led most of Overhang Bypass 5.7+++***. (Last pitch short but fun, my lead.) He did the ‘cave’ blockage to left, though could have stemmed right up the middle if he had some pro there. Tomek went left following; I went right, lower down, onto the face and up as per book. Climb is 5.7 physically but demands excellent leading skills and judgment.

Chris leads, Tomek follows, Overhang Bypass, 5.7.

Peculiar, intimidating...

 ...and spectacular.

Dinner: chili with black beans and garlic mashed potatoes. Stars out. All well.

                6:00 a.m. ¼ moon lit my way to the toilet, casting sharp shadow. Huge thunderstorms in the south, moving in slowly – much lightning, barely audible thunder. Rained last night, first gently, then hard, with lightning, tent floor holding up ok.

              Coyotes hold brief discussion just now. Distant thunder and small noises just set off the Great Silence. I seem to feel the silence cleaning me – dissolving the rust and scale of city psyche.

              Orion is due south; Great Bear northeast, but now both are obscured. Would be nice if the day was dry. We have brought very little rain gear, of course. 10-day forecast showed almost nothing but sun and 90ºF. highs.

              Many black beetles: they walk with their butts high and their heads low – big black butts – if disturbed they stick their butts straight up in a very menacing attitude, and hold still. Common beetle problem: how to get back on feet if overturned.

The Pinacate beetle, aka stink beetle; name derived from ‘pinacatl’, Nahuatl (Aztec), simply meaning ‘black beetle’. Its headstand pose is a warning that your next attack will elicit some nasty chemical warfare from his ass.

6:15 – Stars all gone – pre-dawn gloaming extended by clouds.
               Among books bought yesterday was R.D. Laing’s “Self and Others”. We discussed Laing and Julian Jaynes (Origin of Consciousness, etc.) at dinner.
               We are all sleeping well, except that Tomek confessed to ‘bad dreams’. And he added, “I don’t know why.” Neighbors reasonably quiet.
                Strange dreams myself:
1. Journey to aid weird deserter cult sitting and lying in mud up to necks, in a room in an old Gothic dormitory – pried off screen, negotiated through window – atmosphere of shock and disgust.
2. Tents were pitched inside a house – many others sleeping crowded around. Discussion of what to do about owners large, multi-room basement prone to flooding – I said, make it into a swimming pool.
3. I was a bit hot, and a doctor friend put a glass thermometer into my mouth and went away – later came back to find that I had broken it into several pieces in my mouth while talking, and didn’t even notice.

6:30 Good light now, headlamp off. North and West clear, South and East cloudy.

Sunrise: 7:14 KA-BLAMMO!
Slow time, slow mind
Crow: (quietly) 1. 2. 3. / 1. 2. 3. etc.

                Yesterday – led Room to Shroom for the third time. [Good hike beyond, around N Astro Dome to the Don Juan boulder.]

The fabulous 5.9 hand crack Room to 'Shroom

 Photo by Chris Mrozowski

we headed north into trackless lands...

where we steered by the Astro Domes...

...through a rat's maze... the Don Juan Boulder...

...where we consulted the sacred texts...

and experienced visions...
Brilliant cloud line slowly walking across mountaintop as sun hangs fire…

                Yesterday we visited the boulder called Pinhead (or is it just the crack problem?). The crack is  rated at  5.11-; actually it is 5.9 if properly laybacked. Nice friction problem on NW corner; no one can figure out N face.
 A relaxing workout on the Pinhead boulder.

 A smooth, baffling chess problem...

 considered from all angles...

 must eventually yield!

                  V. nice coyote performance ~ 6:30 a.m. – group nearby sings several short songs; after each they pause and a listener far away responds with a brief “Yeah!” Finally they stopped, apparently when their audience of one stopped listening. These guys’n’gals are jokers and smokers. Casual ebullience of their attitude. Why not? Jackrabbits are plentiful. Had two in our camp this morning – one walked up as close as 10 feet from the table as we drank our coffee, examined us and left unhurriedly. Taking his sweet time.
Bouldered the tiny ‘Phallus’ spire, 5.7, right behind tents. R. side is maybe 5.7, fun, l. side probably 5.9 or harder; didn’t feel quite erect enough for that. [better name for this formation: Cobra]

Girl with dreads reading at the base of the Phallus.

Tomek led ‘Circe’. 5.6 on the Cyclops w/4 pieces, good job. Good pics from above.

Tomek leads the classic 5.6 Circe

 on the right arete edge of the great dihedral...

 known as the Eye of the Cyclops.

 His anchors placements are few...

 but carefully chosen and installed.

 ...pass the crux...

 ...wind through the windy caves...

...cleverly avoid being enporcined...

 ...and outwit fearsome cornice to win through to the open sky.

                Came back, rained briefly, soup for lunch under a boulder, then I tried to lead ‘Pinched Rib’ 5.10b, failed, downclimbed. Can see target hold, but not reach it.

I'm flummoxed on "Pinched Rib" 5.10b; had to do a careful downclimb.  NOW, of course, I think I have the solution to it in my head.
Photo by Tomek Chudy.

                 Walked around – Chris led ‘Hands Off’ 5.8, flash, enjoyed it, Tomek followed. Very windy up top. Many good photos from above; brief selection follows:

 Belaying Tomek in high wind.

                    Tired of wind, at 4 p.m. we drove to town to get cell reception. Contacted homes: “Washing machine won’t fill, window won’t close.” [Jarring disjunct between mundane home crap so far away and the magnificence of our surroundings.] Called Todd to conform arrival tom. L.B. airport; Hannah at city meeting. Stopped at Del Taco, had fish tacos. Pilfered hot sauce as per S.O.P.; washed face, hands, forearms in restroom; went back to camp playing Prokofiev’s 5th on car stereo in the sunset. [Tomek is an accomplished classical pianist, and also a fan of jazz incl. Dixieland.]
Poles recommend reading: works of Ryszard Kapuscinski – “Soccer Wars”, “The Emperor”, “Imperium”.

                Day of the fat rat bunny! Corrupted rabbit begs for cookies, gets them.
                4:45 a.m. 40º F. light wind, very clear. Stars Galore. New moon just rising over eastern skyline. [Momentarily startled by the weird alien object on the eastern skyline – dark grey disc flanked by two glowing spikes, the sickle moon facing upward, rising over the hill’s sharp edge.] Dark disk, horned god – many aches and pains – pulled back muscle, full bladder, cold head, weird unpleasant dreams, putting on pants and boots – step outside to see the splendors, the vastness of the Galaxy! All for me!
                Drove to Long Beach, picked up Todd at airport. Hit the In’n’Out Burger on the way back. Todd had his ‘animal style’– some kind of sauce. Hit the Yellow Mart for more gas, the Stater for food, and the Holy Jeezus Thrift for a warm hat. Lucky – Chris found a nice Patagonia fleece too small for him; I got it for $4. Now reading and writing in the tent much more comfortable.

 The Desert Apes Climbing Team infesting the Long Beach airport just prior to disbanding for the winter.
Photo by Anonymous Passerby.

                Back at camp by 4 p.m. – sunny, cool breeze – the guys seemed sluggish, but I felt we should not waste time – dragged the platoon out to Echo Cove, where Chris led Fun Stuff, 5.8, and I led W.A.C. 5.8 and set a toprope, and then led R.A.F. 5.9 and Todd followed without any great difficulty. Excellent ending to long day of driving. [Note: Dodge Grand Caravan is an excellent camping vehicle and got better than 21 mph on the highway.]

Chris tops out with the dying light...

on Fun Stuff, 5.8,at Echo Cove
Things I forgot or foolishly decided not to bring:
Warm hat
Inflatable pillow
Rope hooks

Another excellent climbing day! At least for me and Chris – not so much for Todd. Breakfast: sardines and ramen noodles!

After discussion we went to the Cyclops, there to lead Spaghetti and Chili, 5.7, and Goldilocks, 5.7. As Tomek led Goldilocks in steady manner, Todd struggled mightily with the classic launch-out layback/undercling crux of S&C, gave up in spite of coaching. [He just couldn’t make himself step out there.] He was downhearted.

I led it to top, and he then still could not commit to even following. A nice route. Then we switched places – I led Goldilocks, Todd accidentally put on Chris’s Mythos which got a big laugh, but did not hinder him from following me with ease. Chris led S&C in good style; Tomek followed easily, and Todd was even more discouraged.

 Chris demos the classic equalizing-x;

 checks out the crack;

launches onto minimal or virtual footholds;

 and cruises.

Soon Chris tops out on the easy but picturesque overhang.
                Lunch. Then a quick trip to Echo Cove to retrieve a dropped wire. Todd lethargic, unwilling. So we went to Hidden Tower and I led Wild Wind, 5.9*** with the subtle and difficult rising traverse finish, probably 5.10a in my opinion. Tomek followed very well but was stumped by the start of the traverse, and instead finished straight up on the short and easy crack. Before we could toprope Sail Away a pair showed up to lead it.
               So on the spur of the moment we went to the nearby Locomotive Rock. I quickly led Jumping Jehosephat, 5.7, Chris followed leaving the gear in so Tomek could lead in turn more quickly. As Todd followed I amazed myself by toproping, with no falls, the nice 5.10b, Grain Dance, just to the right (harder in the newer books), which, long ago, I had failed on once. Three or four very hard and peculiar boulder moves at the top of the climb must be solved in sequence.
              Drove to town to check the tire pressure at the AM/PM gas station [car gave a warning, tires were about 32 psi, calls for 36.] Addicts (Todd and Tomek) bought ciggies; too late for a shower at the corner store, hours are 10-6.
              Dinner – noodles scampi w/tuna, cling peaches in syrup, hot choc., tea. Cold but not like last night – stars really magnificent. Noisy campground.

6:00 a.m. – gloaming.

              Woke to pee; had also gone at 1:30.  Stars then were absolutely full.  Pleiades clear, Orion, and Sirius brilliant on the horizon.

The previous evening as I was walking back from the Cyclops boulders this thought drifted through my head:

                     The horns of the Minotaur will lead you into a maze of endless beauty, 
where you will wander contented until you die.

                  No doubt what Theseus read on his fortune cookie before he headed down to Knossos. Prompted by climbing the boulder problem on the back side, somewhat highball, the crux at the very top, of course, one toe hooked on the horn as far out as possible, one set of fingers pressing into a tiny seam on the summit. Trust, verify, then trust again as you lever your weight over the edge and back into balance.
                 Remember the young man who passed by on crutches as we climbed Masochist, who had fallen from a high problem, missed his pad, and badly sprained his ankle. He was headed toward the Cyclops boulders.

 What is this guy pondering?  Wittgenstein?  Spherical trigonometry? Or which can to open for dinner?
 Photo by Tomek Chudy.

Yet another fantastic climbing day!

First Toprope:

Mt. Grossvogel, SE face

Toproped. With direct finish over mystery knob! Extremely thin. 5.10d? 5.11a?
Unknown. But as thin and as hard as anything I’ve ever done.

 Knob is manteled, then palmed, with extreme finger-edging and extreme smear-edging.

Flying on chalk and faith in the Mighty Purple Mythos! (Or substitute your favorite shoe.) 

 "You've got to be joking!"
After we all had tried toproping it, it was 1:00 p.m. Some rude names for the direct knob finish:
Slob my Knob
Polish my Knob
Paris Hilton’s Clit
and the like.

Todd’s first Josh lead: Dr. Seuss Vogel, 5.6 – no problems. 

                  Chris led Ranger Danger, 5.8 – excellent example of this type of leaning dihedral. We all followed quickly – tricky walkoff to the east. [I felt curiously sharp and strong – was last to follow, so the cleaner of the gear, and I went so quickly that the guys commented on it.  Aftereffect of going all out on Dawn treader?]

Desert apes relaxing in prehistoric landscape.

Todd suggests I lead Sidewinder, 5.10b**** in Steve Canyon.

[I wrote yet another description of the Dawn Treader. Equally well done in May notes. Except for:]

How to Climb the Mystery Knob:

                 Mantel knob w/ right hand, claw for micro holds w/left and feet, then switch to palm down on knob. Ignore the pain and work micro-edge finger holds. Get right foot onto knob somehow (this part was mysterious.) Then step up on almost nothing to get left hand to a rotten edge, then to a better one; finish in short seam on the right. It is also possible to step off rightwards from knob, rising onto mild hump, which is what Todd did – some marvelous frictioning.

10/8/2010 – another perfect, no-clouds climbing day!

Led “Count on your Fingers”. Easy 5.9, short, much pro. Chris followed.

Todd and Tomek did Fote Hog 5.6 on the Sentinel east face; Todd led P.1.

Todd belays Tomek on the second pitch, as a woman leads pitch one.

Apparently she needed to go back and reduce rope drag here.

Tomek finishing up.

Later I led “Loose Lady”, 2nd time, no falls. [first time was in 1999.] Tomek led Lucky Lady 5.8, Chris followed; Tomek followed “Loose Lady”, no falls. Todd could not do first move of “Loose”. Tough on fingers. One must accept the pain level and crank.

Rightly considered a great moderate sport classic, Loose Lady has no loose rock now, but has several subtle cruxes on sharp edges for the first two thirds; when the edges go away, but the difficulty doesn't, one is unnerved, having been softened up by that time.
Photo by Chris Mrozowski.

                   We went to town for showers, Taquitz guidebook, gasoline, Del Taco – much regretted later by Chris and Todd.  Back at camp we discovered uproarious new neighbors – idiot children (college kids) yammering on and on into the night.  We checked out Ryan campground, decided we are too lazy to move camp.

10/9/2010 Taquitz Expedition! Weather perfect.

                  87 miles to Idyllwild via Banning, etc., from Hidden Valley camp. Get $5 parking pass for Humber Park at the bottom of hill, in town, before driving up. From parking lot take lower trail south ~ 100 yards, then strike uphill on steep climber-scree- trail, ~ 40 min. to base.
                  The first few easy classics we approached were choked with wankers, especially “Angel’s Fright” 5.6 – two parties on first pitch. The upper party: a man was belaying a woman; inexplicably he had led a hard variation on the left, put in short slings on the pro, and did not protect the second on a long rising traverse. She was unable to follow and was asking questions that indicated inexperience. In the lower party the follower was just starting; he was wearing black bicycle tights and painfully pointy sport-climbing shoes, and had no idea how to climb the easy chimney, and was nervous, clearly in over his head. So we left.
                  Eventually Chris and Tomek led a climb called Left Ski Track (not to be confused with the Ski Track climbs at Intersection Rock in Josh), three pitches, and they enjoyed it; Todd led pitches 1, 2, and 4 of Jensen’s Jaunt, 5.6, and I led p.3. Felt tired, back tight, but the short crux on p.3 is airy, fun and not too awkward. [The kind of offwidth that intimidates at first, but becomes simple when you decide not to yield to your fearful wish to crawl inside it.]

Classic white Yosemite-style granite.

                 Note: p.2 and 3 could be combined into a very nice long pitch if using long rope. Good pro, rope drag not a problem, perfect weather. Last pitch is easy slab – Todd led with pro here and there.
Walk-off back side is slightly tricky downclimb/scramble located above and behind a large rectangular boulder – drop down small chimney, etc.

 Rejoining the Polish team at advance base camp after good climbing all around.

                 Dinner! Terrific burgers at the Lumber Mill Bar and Grill – pitcher of Hefeweizen, my first beer in ten days. Curly fries, etc. College football on the tube; players looked like grotesquely over-muscled wads of sausage. The owner/waitress came by to talk, is an old lady (near 60?), been there 40 years, who climbs or has climbed 5.11a at Suicide! Weeping Wall! Good stories of Taquitz.
                 Coca-cola on drive back – many switchbacks, but uneventful. Long, tiring day, stiff back, etc.
Came home to 4 cars clogging up our spot, and idiot children partying. One car left, was only visiting. No doubt these dolts will disappear tomorrow.


Numerologists celebrate their special day! World ending soon, say crows, Mayans.

Hence a day of miscellaneous weirdness.

Todd: “The Pickled Beet Conspiracy.” (re spilled beet juice in car)
Dave: “By Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Todd’s Mystical Dragon sauce.  The man is a gourmand of the crags.

                From the previous day, the incident of the yellow-jackets’ sandwich at Taquitz and the placing of the sandwich in the pack by well-meaning, brave-but-stupid passerby:  While hiking down along the base we saw a submarine sandwich left open on a pack; it was covered with yellow jackets scarfing up lunch in the sunlight.  Then the weirdness happened: a climber unconnected with the sandwich's owners, and a stranger to us, came by, and thinking he was doing a favor, gently picked up the sub and shook most of the wasps off of it, and stashed it in the pack lying there. He was not stung, which was amusing, as was the thought of the horrid surprise in store for the pack's owner, because those wasps were certainly not going to remain politely outside the pack as the sub became ever more appetizing inside it.  "The Case of the Insidious Lunch."

List of elements composing the well-rounded trad. lead climber:

Face climbing
Jamming and other crack techniques
The usual protection placement skills

Fear control

9 useful life rules from rock climbing, according to Matthew Childs in his TED talk, and embellished by me and other Taoists.
  1. Don’t let go! Hang in there. The monkey-brain will send you up a solution very soon.
  1. He who hesitates is lost. See clearly, act swiftly.
  1. Have a plan. Be as careful at the end of a project as at the beginning.
  1. Do the move in front of you. Focus on each task in turn.
  1. Know how to rest. Find an interstice in the blank pain and gather strength.
  1. Strength ain’t everything. Samson lacked subtlety, and suffered sorely.
  1. Opposition gives opportunity. Samson chained to one pillar is weak; chained to two pillars he is strong.
  1. Fear weakens, sabotages effort and concentration. Wall it off.
  1. Know when to let go. If you must fall, try to tweak the circumstances in your favor.

               Kind of a rest day. Soloed chimney-only version of “Skinny-dip” 5.7 (a purely nominal rating) in order to assist Chris in backing off (chimney itself is v. easy.) He, and probably me too, are just too big to fit through the hole. Then we all tried to toprope the attractive 5.10d “Invisible Touch” without success.

 We saw a climber disappear into this hole...

And emerge on the other side, so we knew it could be done...

So Chris gave it an all-out try, until he heard cracking noises in his rib cage, and wisely desisted.

"Invisible Touch", 5.10d;
...we just couldn't see it.

The Bald Eunuch of the Cyclops! Weird guy in orange shorts came up, soloed the Cyclops’ Eye just before Todd’s lead – later heard him yelling in unknown languages (to his alien god, etc.?) from the summit. 
Photo by Chris Mrozowski

Foodstains on the table will be cleaned by sun, rain, wind, animals. Casual dirtbag companionship. [primitive society of men without women or any immediate worries.]

Photo by Tomek Chudy

               Todd led “Masochist”, 5.8, 3 bolts, short but fun, not painful. Long gear anchor needed; easy access through “Tubers in Space” 5.4, to left.

               Rapped the Cyclops to examine 'Olympics' climb – ‘new’ bolt near crux. Should try.

10/11/10 2:30 a.m. pee break

~50º F. Total, dead silence.

No wind.

No clouds.

No moon.

Orion, the Hunter. 6½ Pleiades. The great blue bell of Sirius ringing across the desert.

[Inevitably I must quote the mad, doomed poet Delmore Schwartz:

Silence is a great blue bell
Swinging and ringing, tinkling and singing,
In measure’s pleasure, and in the supple symmetry
Of the soaring of the immense intense wings
Glinting against
All the blue radiance above us and within us, hidden
Save for the stars sparking, distant and unheard in their singing.”]

Coyotes sleeping or hunting.

The desert which is not empty. Not, as people imagine, a reduction of existence.
Not [Ogden Nash]:

Over the Great Gromboolian Plain
Awful Darkness and Silence Reign.

But instead, a realm full of life and infinite context.

               One day, I don't know which, we were idling around the camp, goofing off, when all at once an expensive car drove up and parked in our lot, a well-dressed older gentleman in suit and tie got out, whipped out an expensive camera, took a picture of the picturesque nomad Tomek as he sat at the picnic table, as if he were a coyote, got back in his car and drove off.  I was insulted on Tomek's behalf, of course, but the vast mental gulf between that tourist and ourselves, though typical, struck me as interesting in itself.  I suspect we could not have communicated meaningfully with this specimen, who clearly considers us to be the specimens worthy of note.  Perhaps he will write his own essay on his photo: "Out in the last few useless pockets of California desert one still may find a few pathetic refugees from the Psychedelic Sixties," and so forth.  We substitute a spurious context out of sheer laziness, and fail to connect.   

             If an individual is mostly context, what is left as the unique property of the self? Only interpretation, owned interaction with the world. And this is real, hence powerful:

57 Hence the way is great; heaven is great; earth is great; and the king is also great.
     Within the realm there are four things that are great, and the king counts as one.

- so wrote the old man.

I am the King, of all I survey. Hence it is incumbent on me to survey well and with intent.

Earth – physical universe.
Heaven – consciousness, the mental universe.
Tao, the way – the presumed, hypothetical algorithm that links Heaven and Earth. The way it all theoretically harmonizes.
King – the self that experiences, creates, owns them all.

Here I am probably surveying some girl's scientifically interesting anatomy rather than the guy I'm belaying.
Photo by Tomek Chudy.

                 After breakfast I led Sidewinder, 5.10b**** as a flash, onsight lead. A personal milestone, and a wonderful climb in every way. An entire separate essay will be needed to clarify the meaning of this climb in my turbulent head.

Photo by Todd Bradley

This guy emerged from the initial crack not long after I had climbed through.
Photo by Tomek Chudy.

Standing on not much, working the first crux.
Photo by Tomek Chudy.

Placing a somewhat superfluous nut...
Photo by Tomek Chudy.

...because the next move was trivial. 
Photo by Tomek Chudy.

Finishing up the very thin, man-on-a-wire crux traverse. 
Photo by Tomek Chudy.

                 Yet another perfect climbing day. Followed Todd on The Bong, 5.4, on the Blob. Sleepy. Hot, not much breeze.

                 Took Todd bouldering before dinner behind the Cyclops.

On the back side of this classic set of boulders are found Horns of the Minotaur and Invisible Wave, among others.  (These are just my own names for them.)

Saw 2 shooting stars after dinner, one of them big. ¼ moon casting sharp shadows. Good place for telescope.

Tomorrow – last day.

10/12/10 4:35 a.m.

¼ moon long since set. Total silence, no wind. Saw two more major shooting stars, one very bright and large, could briefly see glowing core.

“The real drug is meaning.”

Sidewinder still fresh in the mind.

Pro list in order

1. Medium nut at top of flake, 24” sling.
2. Bolt at lower crux, 24” sling
3. Brown or purple tricam partway out the arching crack, 48” sling
4. # 9 DMM nut at a horn, 30” sling. This nut was questionable and probably unnecessary.
5. large wired nut halfway up vertical crack, 24” sling
6. final bolt to protect traverse, 24” sling.

With this group the rope drag on the last delicate traverse is reasonable. Doubtful, really, whether double ropes would have reduced the drag enough to justify the increased weight.

Sunrise ~ 7:15 a.m. – take off hat.

I actually look forward to getting up at 4:30 a.m. to pee – the weather has been very clear and stable for the last six days – no wind. Heard an owl this morning (I think). Cadence: hoohoo, hoo, hoo. Repeat. Off to the west. Coyotes sounding off distantly at breakfast.

Sometimes I feel like my shadow’s casting me,
Some days the sun don’t shine;
Sometimes I wonder why I’m still running free
All up and down the line.”
- Warren Zevon

YET ANOTHER! perfect climbing day…

Atlantis Wall in Lost Horse area.

                   Last day to climb. Todd led a 5.5 and a 5.8, we all followed, Chris led a couple of 5.8s, and I toproped, flash, onsight, “Ceremony”, 5.10c*, a pretty set of almost-vertical boulder moves.   Chris did it 2nd try; I was sorely tempted to lead it, but thought it would be fun to leave it for next trip.  After watching me and Chris and getting beta, Todd also succeeded on it.  He's stronger than he thinks he is.

                   Drove back around to Hemingway, IRS wall, etc. but in the end decided to save time, go back to camp. Chris led the Flue, 5.8 *** with some trepidation but no falls, we all followed, and that was that.

 The start is not obvious, and is steep too.

A bit of awkwardness in the middle...

and he cruises up to the anchor.

                  Off to the showers, gas station, bank and La Casita Nueva for sizzling fajitas served on cast-iron and Negra Modela. Some colorful bikers and the usual fat-blob humanoids everywhere. Another perfect day in JT.  Next time: visit J.T. Saloon, tank museum, desert hot springs.



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He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, Ring'd with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls.