Thursday, April 12, 2007

Desert Storm!

Well, it's officially the start of week two. We are at Joshua Tree and it blows. It's blowing dirt, sand, snow, and hail.
We have met some great folks, though, and are still managing to have fun. At the moment we've taken refuge at the Beatnik cafe, a strange, somewhat dirty establishment with nasty bathrooms and sub par food. They apparently have a pest problem as well, by the health department notice posted in the front window. But they have wireless, so we're making the best of it.

We started the day with a couple new friends, Sarah and Briana, and walked over to Headstone rock to climb SW Corner. As I was belaying Jim, I looked up and noticed huge thick white clouds blowing in... what I couldn't see was the huge dust storm it was kicking up in its wake. Once Jim got to the top, however, he could see the wall of brown dust and sand and we made the decision to bail.

He rappelled off the front of the rock and we left all the draws on the bolts. Sarah and Briana ran back to camp ahead of us with the dogs to spare them from getting a bunch of sand in their eyes. I waited for Jim to get down and we hurried back to the tent where we all hunkered down with our lunches. After several lulls and gusts, Jim took Briana out to the rock formation directly behind our tent and set up a toprope to teach her all the basics of climbing.

Sarah went to watch and take pictures, and I stayed in the tent with the dogs. The temperature was dropping fast and as the clouds thickened, it got dark and started dropping ice pellets and snow on us. It was crazy. Briana reported having to brush snow/hail out of the holds as she climbed. Hows that for an introductory lesson?

The weather service is calling for continued dust storms and high winds through 8pm tonight. It's supposed to be relatively calm and warm tomorrow, with highs in the mid 70's, so we should be able to get some good climbing in before we leave.
Our other new friends are our campsite mates, a father and his son and his son's friend from Napa valley who are out on a road trip adventure for spring break. With campsites being scarce, we opted to double up. Jim has also met several other people, and as such, I have dubbed him the mayor of Ryan campground. :)

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