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Two Scoops –  Favorite Spring Climbing Areas 

Elaina Arenz, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, applying just the right amount of pressure in the amazing and surreal, Joshua Tree, California. ©Greg Epperson

Elaina Arenz, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, applying just the right amount of pressure in the amazing and surreal, Joshua Tree, California. ©Greg Epperson

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?”

It depends.

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;)

The Climbing Chef’s foodie Thanksgiving in J-Tree

This morning we’ve got an archive blog post from the Climbing Chef, Lauren, writes about her foodie experience while climbing in J-Tree over Thanksgiving weekend (unfortunately, while sick), but there are lots of good snack and food suggestions to keep you fueled while climbing!

I just crawled out of my very warm bed and am sitting on my couch watching cooking channel with my cat and cup of warm tea. Warmth is what I am looking for after the trip to Joshua Tree. When your low is 24 degrees, you have a head cold and even your 0 degree sleeping bag isn’t cutting it…. you know you spent your Thanksgiving break with me in Joshua Tree.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time! Although I did not climb as much as hoped, I was happy just being where I was and trying to get better. Having a sinus infection/head cold at high elevation is not that fun… trust me, just say no. I did kick ass on this amazing 10a/b climb on Grain Central Station, and could not have had a better group of people to climb with.

Now, lets talk about the food….

Thursday night:
Group potluck Thanksgiving style!
-Fire roasted Turkey packets with butter and whiskey (Thank you Krista)
-Roasted pumpkin and butternut squash soup with crushed red peppers (all me)
-Mashed potatoes
-Drunken cranberry sauce (Cranberry sauce cooked in whiskey… thank you Krista)
-Sweet potatoes
-Stuffing with so much bacon it should be illegal
-Cheesecake, apple pie, pumpkin pie, etc.

The sight of five tables covered in camp stoves working on high, and all your climbing friends working around them is one that warms your heart. It was insane to see all of the food being prepared in the middle of the desert. When everyone you climb with are foodies, you know that you are going to eat good food. Sadly, because of my cold, I had no appetite and just ate some soup and turkey but everyone else devoured everything in site.

I was very excited to eat my wraps for lunch, containing:
-Turkey
-Brie cheese
-Cranberry
-Lettuce
But my container had a better plan…it totally failed and allowed melted ice into the container and drown my lunch. It was a good thing I wasn’t hungry because my sandwiches for the entire weekend were ruined. Cliff bars, apples, chocolate (with whole hazelnuts) and cheese were a great substitute though.

Friday Dinner:
-Miso soup with green onions, mushrooms and tofu (saved my life and was perfect for my cold)
-Trader Joe’s Dutchess Grey Tea (If you haven’t had it, try it)

Early bed time on Friday night because I could not seem to get warm. Maybe it was because it was way below freezing but I can’t say for sure. I’m not kidding when I say this, when I went to bed I was wearing:
-2 pairs of wool socks with foot warmers placed in between the socks
-3 pairs of long underwear
-3 base layer shirts
-1 800 fill down puffy
-1 wool lined sweatshirt wrapped around my butt and hips
-1 beanie
Then I folded my cold body into my 0 degree sleeping bag and laid down on my sleeping pad. I was still cold and I’m not a baby when it comes to cold weather.

Saturday Lunch:
-Arugula and Parmesan ravioli with an arrabiata sauce (spicy tomato sauce)

High quality organic ravioli are boiled on my camp stove for roughly four minutes and then fished out and added to the arrabiata sauce. Do not over sauce the ravioli!!! They are great alone but the sauce adds a little more flavor.

This was the perfect lunch to eat before getting packed up and heading back home, 9 hours away. Comfort food like yummy pasta is a perfect way to end a great trip in the desert.

Joshua Tree, you were amazing and I can not wait to come back to you!

Lauren Azevedo-Henderson is a climber and foodie with a degree in Art History. Lauren has been cooking all her life and has been seriously climbing for just over 2 years. While living in her ex-boyfriend’s van (only for long weekends or a week at a time) she started cooking what you would call “gourmet” food on a camp stone in the van. She now spends most of her time in Red Rock, NV and started writing her food/climbing blog “The Climbing Chef” just last year.