Land of the Free (Refill)

In case you don’t know, I have left sunny Sydney on an extended sabbatical. This is the first of my dispatches from the USA. The blog posts that follow, are my attempt to summarize some useful beta for people who wish to visit the USA to climb and shred. (Excuse the american spellings, ive been getting into character over here)

I arrived in the United States on the Same day as Christopher Columbus. Fittingly I did this by accident, and with about three weeks planning. Columbus would be proud.  First things first, Los Angeles International (LAX) is on a whole ‘nother level. It took me two and half hours to get through security clearances with a pile of weapons (ice axes) and white powder (chalk). Eventually I realized the security guard was just interested in all my exotic crap.  Lucky for me, my uncles lives around the corner and put me up for a couple of days in his beautiful house. It was super great to see family for the first time in waaay too long

Lesson 1: Allow extra time at LAX, and be ready to describe all the silly country you’ve been to and stress that you are employed and looking to climb mountains. Not having a beard seems to help a bit too.

Not shown in this picture, whole backpack of climbing rack.

First up once the Rene and Pez arrived, got fed a big breakfast by my uncle and patted his (not) big and scary dogs was Joshua Tree aka J-Tree aka Joshua T (only to rene and pez).

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is really rad. Like really really rad. I hadn’t thought much of it before I got there, once telling a friend that it didn’t have enough vert to keep me interested (Sorry Em, you were right). Firstly J tree is way bigger than you think, secondly, the runout granite masterpieces of John Long and company don’t need to be any longer. When you get to the top, your a little happy they are over. We visit J-Tree twice. Once before the valley and once after. It’s a nice location as it dries super quickly after rain and is within easy driving distance of LAX for getting on and off of those horrible boxes that move us between countries. I’m supposed to know what they’re called cause i’m supposed to design them or something. Hang on. Planes. Those are the ones.

That thing is bigger than it looks.
That thing is bigger than it looks.

Lesson 2: Listen to your friends when they say somewhere is cool.

Lesson 3: The food is crazy here. You can buy 80 tortillas for $2.50 in this country, there is constant cheap Mexican on offer and yet you can also pay way more for a meal than in Australia if you don’t pay attention. Watch out for all the added sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and just because a handle of vodka is 7 dollars doesn’t mean you need to buy it. An of course, try not to drink too much ‘soda’ even if everything seems to have free refills.

But it says it's premium...
But it says it’s premium…

Routes: We mostly hung around the Hidden Valley campground rocks. Camping was always full there. The best route we climbed was probably Double Cross (5.7+) a good handcrack. The heardest route we climbed while the Pez and Rene were around was Judas (5 .10c PG13), a John Long classic ringlocks to slab nightmare. I not secretly loved it the moment I was done. J-Tree is more varied than Yosemite, but the cracks are still good when you find them.  mountain Project and the crag have lots of beta for J-Tree.

James Peet cruising double cross in the sun.
James Peet cruising double cross in the sun.
Pez running up the John Long test piece, "Judas".
Pez running up the John Long test piece, “Judas”.


From J-Tree we ran back to LAX, collected a confused Brit by the name of James Peet and decided to slam it out to Yosemite the hipster way, from round the back through Tuolumne (aka telemetry meadows to Pez).

One the way we stopped at Bishop to catch up with Paul Thomson who was based there for a few weeks. What a town. Two world class bouldering area of way different rock and style, alpine rock routes of 14’ers, shreddding at Mammoth and way up into the Sierra’s, a coffee shop that knows how to make a Latte. Man could I live there. (If i wasn’t currently in boulder). We hit up the Happy Boulders and the Buttermilks. One gets your strong, one gets you scared. Both are awesome, I really wish we had more time there.

Routes: We just bouldered and only spent one day here, so I haven’t got many recommendations. All i’ll say is go to the Buttermilks at dusk after a snow storm and the view will blow you away.

Paul Thomson walking some problems at the happy Boulders.
Paul Thomson walking some problems at the happy Boulders.
And me getting scared off a V1 at the Buttermilks.
And me getting scared off a V1 at the Buttermilks.

Next up Tuolomne Meadows and Yosemite Valley…



2 thoughts on “Land of the Free (Refill)

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