One of the questions I get asked the most is “What’s your favorite climbing area?”
Honestly, “Where’s your favorite place to climb” is akin to asking, “What’s your favorite ice cream?”
When it comes to ice cream, I could be in a mint-chocolate-chip mood, a salted-caramel-gelato mood or a strawberry-cheesecake kind-of-mood.
When it comes to climbing, since right now I’m ready to thaw out after winter, I’m in a warm-sunshine kind-of-mood.
My favorite spring climbing areas are Joshua Tree and Indian Creek.
Both Joshua Tree and Indian creek are sunny desert places!
Joshua Tree has 6000 climbs in an amazing and surreal setting. No cell service, deep orange sunsets, stars, friction and traditional climbing.
Friction climbing means many of the handholds and footholds are invisible. But when you carefully apply just the right amount of pressure, you stick. Friction climbing can be humbling and amazing when you discover what you can hold onto.
Joshua Tree is also a favorite because of its traditional climbing history. You have to place gear and build anchors. Placing gear adds a gratifying technical element. Fixed protection, like bolts, are rare but there are many climbs in the easier grade ranges. New trad climbers can work out the physics as they practice placing gear and building anchors.
Indian Creek is my other favorite sunny-desert, spring climbing area. Indian Creek is also a trad climbing Mecca.
However, gear at Indian Creek is easier to sort out.
Indian Creek is the land of the exalted splitter crack that goes on for an eternity.
Often 8-10 of the same-size cam makes up an Indian Creek rack. Then, the (mostly) parallel-sided crack systems tend to have bolted anchors.
Bolted anchors free your attention to focus on the climbing technique itself.
Crack climbing technique requires jamming skills—stick a body part (usually fingers, hands or feet) into a crack in such a way as to gain purchase.
There is nothing like a bomber hand jam!
So pick your favorite flavor and if you can’t decide, go ahead and order up two scoops;)