Going rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park is one of those activities that I don't get enough of anymore. Luckily a friend of mine at work set up a trip far enough in advance that I could actually make it happen. The three of us left before dawn and spent the day on an adventure I hope to repeat more often.
We only were able to do a couple of climbs and some bouldering problems because real rock climbing, unlike climbing at the local climbing gym (for the most part), has real consequences. The anchors at the top are carefully evaluated and triple-checked for safety, then triple-checked again just because. That, and some incredibly powerful winds slowed the whole process down a bit more. It really didn't matter. Spirits were high and the climbing was fantastic.
It's this kind of thing I find more and more that gives my life incredible meaning. Spending time outdoors on real adventures, risking more than would ever be possible in a cubicle at the office, is what I strive to make of my life. As they say, we only live once. Better make it real.
I want more experiences that are real; somehow more tangible and in the moment. Putting tape on my hands to keep what skin I have left where it belongs, but still being OK when the rock takes a sample just makes the memories even stronger.
Climbing to the top of Headstone Rock a third time in 20 years is still one of the most exhilarating feelings I've ever felt. Helping others at the sharp end of the rope get to the top to share the experience is a bonding moment I won't forget.
A few people were nearby at the Coachella music festival. I felt like I was on another planet hanging onto holds made for few people to cling to. Placing my toes on a crystal just so; jambing my fingers and hands into Colorado Crack to get through the crux; grinding the gear on my harness into the cliff as I shimmy up a little further - these are the things I love.
There are not too many places I'd rather be. Solving problems on a 100 foot tall granite cliff is probably better than being an architect. Luckily I get to do both.
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All photos © Evan Troxel – All Rights Reserved