Chimney Rock, Joshua Tree

More hungry for rock than dinner, we head over to Chimney Rock to go up The Flue ( 5.8 ). I’ve backed off the start of this one on lead before, and I do it again now. The bottom 25 feet are not really protectable, on not very positive 5.8 moves. Watching Ted do it doesn’t make me want it more, but I’m happy to lower him on the first good pro and finish off the lead. A fun, awkward, tilted climb – after you reach the crack. A couple of guys gather around to watch, and we introduce ourselves to Marc, a scuba instructor on Catalina Island, and Stephen, who’s visiting from Alaska.

I set up Brownie (Ted’s bomber 11-mm rope) as a toprope on a bolted route we have no name for, but Ted has heard rated at 11b. There are some thin cranky moves at the bottom, then a hand traverse to a blank face. We both figured out a sequence up the face after a few tries, which felt really neat. We gave a Marc a swing on Brownie too. He was just getting started climbing, and bat-manned up a ways then played all over the rock until it got dark.

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