Giving Thanks for Rock Climbing and other Backcountry Gifts

Post by blogger | November 25, 2005      

Had a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner last evening. A couple dozen relatives (lost count), three generations of family. In the high desert of SoCal, overlooking the Morongo Valley and Joshua Tree National Park. We gave thanks for the blessing of living in our wonderful country, with the freedom and opportunity it provides — a particularly poingnent concept as my father-in-law came here with nothing as a young man (off the boat with a suitcase and no English), worked hard, and achieved success in business and in family.

The week of rock climbing has been terrific. What a place. Having been heavily involved in rock back in the 1970s and 80s, when "modern" sport style climbing was gestated, I was interested to see what "mainstream" rock climbing looked like after being away from most of it for several decades. Wow! No wonder we have two major rock climbing magazines, hundreds of guidebooks, and so much more. It just makes me laugh to think back on how we used to diss top-roping as nearly the same thing as rappelling, and now it’s become a national pastime! And forget the “outlaw” image climbing used to have. A significant number of climbers we saw were parents with children. All good, so long as the smiles are broad and fun in the air…and the 5.7s are feeling easier.

Here is a little glimpse at the rock climbing mobs that descend
on Joshua Tree during any winter weekend or holiday. This is Short
Wall yesterday morning, at Indian Cove campground. Amazing. I’d
like to see backcountry skiing get more popular, but I’m not sure
I’m up for this kind of crowd on top of my favorite run. But then,
at least the avalanches would get poodled. Click image to enlarge.
Guidebooks for backcountry skiing or rock climbing are always an interesting thing.
This is the classic pose at J Tree. It’s hilarious
how many people you see wandering along the base of the cliffs,
guidebook in hand like you’d hold a Bible at a revival. Louie and
I did our fair share. The question is, which Caribbean island did
the guidebook writer retire to with his fortune? Or perhaps he
bought a mansion in Burbank, or Palm Springs (so he can still go
climbing)? Or, did his publisher keep all the coin and he’s still
living in a tent somewhere? Or perhaps he took up backcountry skiing?
Mental training for backcountry skiing.
Louie Dawson, 1st trad lead of his life. Dad heard shouting, "can you get anything good in!"


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