JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
The climbing season in southern California is year ’round. Today during the winter climbers visit many desert areas spread across the southern half of the state, but Joshua Tree is the original climber’s winter playground. When the snow fell in Yosemite climbers the likes of Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt and Bob Kamps came south to the warmer weather and amazing scenery at “Josh.”
National Park status has brought many more visitors, and more rules and regulations. Back in the old days climbers could spend the entire winter there, living in Hidden Valley campground and honing their skills to a fine edge. Luminaries of the sport like John Bachar, Hidetaka Suzuki, John Yablonski, Lynne Hill and John Long – to mention just a few – did just that during the 1970s and 80s. But even today Joshua Tree is a mecca for visiting climbers from around the world.
Along with the great variety of climbing, the high desert setting offers a beautiful and unique landscape which sometimes makes one feel like they are on another planet.
Featured Route: Black President…
Black President was first climbed in December of 1984 by Craig Fry, Dave Evans and Dave Bruckman. The year 1984 had special significance thanks to George Orwell’s writing, but it was also the year that Afro Beat music, pioneered by the amazing Nigerian musician Fela Kuti really hit in America. His album was called Black President, and it inspired the naming of this climb.
These images were taken in December of 2008 by photographer Randy Wenzel. I was feeling well recovered from avm surgery 18 months before and was looking for a reasonably hard traditional Josh climb to test myself on. Black President seemed like a good choice considering the events of the previous month…