Mon, Feb 6, 2023
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I was back in Joshua Tree National Park for the last day of a 4-day roadtrip to the area, on my own for the day. I planned a six peak tour around Willow Hole in the Wonderland of Rocks, but it proved to be more than I could manage. It has many square miles of jumbled granite boulders and rocks for which Joshua Tree is famous, and there are hundreds of established climbing routes throughout the area. Cross-country travel is slow through the complex landscape, with much scrambling getting from one place to another. Still, it was good fun and left me with a reason to come back again in the future.
It would take about 20min to find my way down to the drainage between Peak 4,544ft and my next objective, Peak 4,460ft, about half a mile to the ENE. My route between the two was hardly direct - later I found that James Barlow had done a similar outing to these two summits and made a pretty neat line connecting the two. Mine was a meandering path that eventually approached the second peak from the south, with much hard class 3 scrambling that was wearing me out faster than I'd have expected, so early in the day. I was about an hour and ten minutes between summits, happy to get a chance to rest at the summit while considering my next moves. Looking east, the last three peaks stretched in a line off in that direction, looking harder still. The next in line, Peak 4,420ft, looked to have a large summit block that almost assuredly was class 5. My plan was beginning to fall apart. I descended to the east and southeast off the summit, initially making my way towards Peak 4,420ft. My heart wasn't in it, I soon realized, and I ended up just sort of wandering off towards Willow Hole, thinking I'd go visit that before heading back. I figured I could come back for the others out of Indian Cove from the north some other time, hopefully with some gear and a rope gun. By 10:30a I had found my way to the sandy wash that forms the Willow Hole Trail, but instead of visiting the Willow Hole feature to the east, I simply hiked west on the trail, with plans to climb Peak 4,602ft on the way back.
This last summit turned out to be another challenging one. I left the Willow Hole Trail to approach it from the north. This side has some very large boulders that make it tough to find a way up. I angled up and to the left, then made my way around to the east and south sides near the very top before I could find a way that worked. Looking around from the top, there was just so much rock to take in, a bit overwhelming. I left a second register here before looking (and finding) a way off the southwest side. There was a very fun gully that had more tunneling and good scrambling (better down, then up), leaving me guessing as to whether I'd find a way down until I was nearly off the mountain. I even found an unopened IPA that must have fallen from a climber's pack some years ago, though only about 2/3 of the liquid inside remained (not sure how it leaked out, but it smelled pretty rank when I opened it). I finished up back at the TH shortly before 1p, not really having the energy for another, but doing so anyway since I had a lot of time still.
This page last updated: Sun Feb 12 11:42:10 2023
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