|Ugh oh, trouble together again.|
This year we almost bailed out of our game plan however. Upon first sight of "Ixtlan" I wanted to barf. "Is that an offwidth up there?", I ask Dave after puking in my mouth. We quickly shuffle through the guide and soon realize that this classic 8 pitch 5.11+ that we'd planned to climb featured a SPLITTER 5.10d offwidth on the 3rd pitch. The book describes it as being perfectly smooth with absolutely no face holds. NIGHTMARE! I have no idea how we missed this. So with our tail between our legs, we walked away to do some other classics in Black Velvet Canyon. First we warmed up on a stellar 5.10a 2 pitch and then rapped down to climb "Our Father", an ultra classic 3 pitch 5.10d. With ample daylight, we walked over to get ready for our 'Plan B', the classic "Triassic Sands". To our disappointment, it was taken, as were most other notable routes in the vicinity.
But Ixtlan was wide open...oh joy.
|Dave Z gets his first look of Ixtlan|
|Ixtlan stands proud.|
So we sacked up and tied in, but it was not yet decided as to who got to lead the off width pitch. I banged off the first 5.11c pitch, which was gorgeous. Dave's lead was next and a hell of a lead it was, a super spicy 5.10a lightning bolt crack, absolutely stellar. As we stood at the base of the off width I say "Ok, let's rock paper scissors for it." Dave laughs and says "It's your lead buddy". "NO WAY" I yell back. And Dave just smiles and says "I would love to see you go for this, Les". I don't know if he worked some black magic mind control but I somehow agreed and immediately started up the pitch. Up until this day I had only climbed three off widths in my life: one I fell on and aided, the other was a V0 boulder problem that took me 30 minutes and the other one I laid back and death crimped face holds. But after injuring my finger early in the trip, you could say that I was ready to unleash the fury... and that I did.
|The 5.10a pitch follows the flake to lightning bolt feature and the 5.10d off width pitch follows the wide crack right out the roof.|
I am pretty sure that every climber in the Black Velvet Canyon heard my roars, screams and whimpers on my 40 minute on sight of the Ixtlan off width. Dave said he could hear my heart beating from the belay!! And despite how excruciating and horrific this battle of whits was, I might just say that it was the hardest onsight of my climbing career and definitely the most memorable!!! We cruised the rest of the route, and made it out with ample daylight. Good frickin' times that I felt all over my body for a week!
|So. Incredibly. Stoked.|
|Onsighting the classic 5.10d corner pitch on Our Father, despite my shoe being untied and nearly falling off.|
|Another view of Ixtlan, 5.11+|
After this wild adventure, Dave and Erin flew back to the great white north and we ventured back to Joshua Tree. I am getting some work done on my cedar tattoo that I am super stoked about!!
|Circus tricks in JTree with Simi Shannon from BC|
|"Silky Simi", a fellow Canadian, puts on an aerial silk show at her campsite in Hidden Valley. Check out her performance in our awesome video "Extreme Hooping in Joshua Tree".|
While we are kicking around Hidden Valley for one last time, I had a vision for a hula hoop circuit that I thought would be hilariously awesome. And thus, "Extreme Hooping in Joshua Tree" was born.
This is some of the most fun I've ever had in my life.
Check it out and share it if you like it!
After my tattoo heals, we head on to a couple new adventures as we slowly make our way home to Ontario for spring.
Peace and Lovin' out to all :)