Two weeks ago my girlfriends Liz, Deb, and I, got up at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning and drove two hours out to the SoCal desert – Joshua Tree National Park, to be exact. We had purchased a morning session of rock climbing through Joshua Tree Guides with one of their awesome guides, Roddy Mccalley. All three of us girls had been climbing before on rock walls in gyms or outside, but none of us have ever done any “real” rock climbing – you know, on actual rocks.
We are all adventurous women and willing to push ourselves to try something new. But we also have a healthy fear of danger. So, it took a little bit for us to warm up. Roddy was great and taught us the very basics of rock climbing on a boulder (we had to start somewhere!). It only took a few minutes each to master the large rock.
Feeling confident that we could each climb a four-foot rock, we harnessed up and took to the bigger rocks. I had recently bought additional life insurance, so I went first.
The first climb was challenging (of course, to our guide, it was the easy, less-scary climb of the day). My heart was racing. I didn’t look down while I was climbing. Roddy was great at instructing me where to go when I needed help.
My first rappel down was actually a little more frightening than the climb up because I didn’t know that I was supposed to keep my feet on the rocks hip-distance apart. I got a little out of whack and the next thing I knew, I was flying off the rock and swinging around another jutted rock. Also, I didn’t wear a long enough shirt and my pants were low-waisted, so I was concerned that I was scaring and blinding everyone below me with a bright white ass crack (luckily, I wasn’t). Although crack does have its place in rock climbing (keep reading), plumber’s crack has no place in this sport.
Liz and Deb followed the same climbing route that I did and then all three of us climbed the route a second time. Here’s a great shot of Deb showing how kick ass we all were:
Next up, we learned the basics of crack climbing. This is where you shove your feet and hands into cracks in the rock and climb up the crack.
Crack climbing was certainly a challenge. Liz got her foot stuck in the crack on her first route and we thought we were going to have to cut off her foot Aron Ralton style, but she managed to finally pop (literally – pop!) it out and climb the heck out of that rock, as evidenced below:
After we each finished four full climbs, our session ended and we took a short drive through the park. Here’s the rock that we climbed from afar:
When we exited the park, we saw the Joshua Tree Saloon, a clear omen that it was time for a drink. A few Bloody Marys and sandwiches later, we headed back to the OC (although first, Liz and I took a detour to the outlets).
In conclusion, I would most definitely go rock climbing again. It was a very fun challenge. I’ll just be sure to wear a longer shirt next time.