Friday, October 25, 2013

Winter in the Desert Southwest

I've been in the Southwest for about a month and a half now and I'm so excited to be living here. I've visited areas like Joshua Tree and Red Rock over the past 6 years, but finally moving to Flagstaff feels great. The weather is wonderful, I'm surrounded by amazing rock climbing terrain, and alpine and ski terrain isn't that far off either! I got settled into my place with my girlfriend and started hitting the trail running regularly and checking out the bouldering around Flag. The trail systems are endless and covered in comfortable ponderosa pine needles.

Running just minutes from my house in woods with no underbrush. Trail running heaven.
I got the chance to teach some learn to lead skills in Red Rock outside Las Vegas recently to some psyched climbers from Quebec! Listening to their unique version of French and trying to recall the little I retain from high school was fun. Showing them their first routes on desert sandstone was a great privilege. Red Rock presents itself as one of the better places to learn to lead with ample cracks to place gear and moderate routes on which to get a first lead. I also got out for some personal days and wrote about a spectacular route I did called Dream of Wild Turkey's 5.10a for the American Alpine Institute blog.

Julian equalizing a practice anchor with a cordalette in the Calico Hills of Red Rock, NV.
Soon I'll be heading out to another one of my favorite destinations, Joshua Tree National Park. Since I first visited here back in 2007 I've held a special place in my heart for the quartzite cracks and edges intermingled with the sea anemone-esque Joshua Trees that give the park its namesake. Since then I've been back on three occasions and I'm excited to have access to it with only a short 4 hour drive. Another great place for a Learn-to-Lead course I'll be teaching over Veteran's Day weekend!

The mega-classic Double Cross 5.7+ is a great representation of J-Tree crack!
Other areas I can't wait to visit this fall and winter include Indian Creek in Moab, UT. I'll be there for Thanksgiving, or as its more commonly known "Creeksgiving", for some splitter desert crack climbing with friends. Practicing some aid climbing technique on the big walls of Zion, UT is also on the winter tick list. The snow has started to fly in the Sierras which means backcountry skiing and ski-mountaineering trips can't be too far off. So many possibilities! I'm very happy and grateful to call the desert Southwest my home. If you haven't made a visit yet, make a point to soon!