Rarely do a bunch of my climbing friends plan to spend a weekend climbing outdoors together. That might seem odd, but everyone's got different schedules and goals so a lot of climbing weekends just usually end up being me and Michael and maybe one other person. So this weekend in November was special because it was the first time I've ever been to New Jack City and we were also meeting 5 of our climbing friends there for some good old fashion camping and climbing.
New Jack City is located near Barstow, California and is home to over 350 sport climbs of all varieties. It is in a high desert climate so typically my friends start climbing here fall to spring. Michael and I drove up Friday afternoon and began our first day at a wall called Boy Scout Wall.
The rock here is super cool and unique! It looked like petrified wood, but I read that it was metamorphic volcanic rock. It has a variety of holds, crimps, jugs.... opportunities to stem, mantel, overhang... it was quite diverse for one place!
We did 3 climbs on Boy Scout Wall that first day before it started getting dark. The first of these was called Reaching Rayane (5.9). Michael and I both lead this one and recall it being an easy lead. Looking up at the rock sometimes you would feel like there wasn't a hold but when you lifted your foot up on a higher foothold, you discovered there was plenty to hold onto. I think that might have been a quality of Boy Scout wall though, because other areas of NJC were more difficult and sometimes blank.
The second sport climb we did that day was Three Giant Steps (5.10a), Michael and I both also lead this one. It was another really fun route!
Then to finish off Friday we climbed a 5.10c/d right next to the 5.10a called Midway. I opted not to lead this one, but wish I had because I climbed it cleanly. The crux was at the beginning of this climb, it had a couple bouldery moves and then the rest was cake. Honestly, all these routes were really enjoyable. I think the climbs on Boy Scout Wall are a little deceiving though and are rated a little harder than they actually are.
Two leads for the first day... i was feeling pretty good! The goal was to get me on more leads this weekend and to push the grade I've been typically leading. I've been staying at a 5.9 or lower lead level when I know I can be pushing myself to climb up to the 5.10b level... its all part of the mental game that gets me.
It was just Michael and I the first day, but our friends joined up with us Saturday morning. Saturday was a rude awakening for me. We walked over to Sunnyside Wall to start on a climb rated 5.9 called Fun in the Sun. I decided to lead it, and it was a lot harder than I was expecting and I let the mental aspect of leading it get to me. I had a minor breakdown on the climb. Sometimes this happens to me. I get overwhelmed, then scared, and then I cry. Fortunately, this destructive line of thought is typically followed by me sucking it up and finishing what I started. I sit there and think to myself that there's no reason but my own fear that's keeping me from finishing and I just make myself do it. Michael is patient and just lets me have those moments. He agreed though that it seemed a bit harder than a 5.9.
Next up, a 5.10c route called Chick Flakey. Michael lead this and I followed. It had a pretty cruxy/bouldery beginning, and i struggled on that, but I could see how once you practiced this move and got a hang of it, it could be done easily. It also might help if you're tall.
After this we met our friends over at Raven Rocks. Michael lead a 5.10c called Espresso. I tried following him but found it to be a really hard route, sustained the whole way, but could be interesting to come back to when I'm a bit stronger.
We climbed Welcome to NJC 5.10a, which Michael lead and I followed. This was supposed to be a classic at New Jack City, but we found it to be really polished, especially at the beginning. It was also pretty sustained 5.10a and the last move was a bit cruxy, but juggy once you realize its there.
We ended the day over on the other side of Raven Rocks with our friends working some harder climbs Little Stiffy 5.11c which I didn't finish but was cool trying the first few moves and XXXX a 5.10d that I had no energy to do, but messed around on it anyways.
Michael told me I had to do one more lead before we stopped climbing for the day so I jumped on Little Red Book 5.10a, which was a really cool climb. The crux was more towards the top when you had to use a variety of moves, stemming, hand jamming, etc. and one of the bolts was hard to reach from a stable position. I basically had to pinch the rock, clip the bolt, then down climb a bit before restarting the move. I'm glad I did it. I ended my lead climbing on a good note for the weekend, and climbed 2 5.10as that weekend.
Saturday night was a blast being able to be with everyone. We had a campfire, cooked some interesting things (biscuits on sticks and muffins inside of oranges), drank some beer, sang some songs about slug woman and the man with fireball in his hand... to be short, things got weird in a good way. That's all I've got to say about that.
I can't wait to come back here. The climbing was sick and it made for a great weekend of climbing. It'll be a good place to come practice leading harder sport routes and getting better at sustained climbing. Also, it was nice getting out and climbing with a group of friends... brought a nice atmosphere to the weekend of climbing. We should do this more often.