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A Few Gutsy Throws

The drive to J-Tree was eight or so hours including stops. Becker captained the first half with me handling graveyard duties. Fueled by Sparks, Bone Thugs and a half awake co-pilot, Jacobs, I aimed south and made a silent promise to myself to not let the Yaris drop below 90 mph. Things were going smooth. Too smooth. About an hour out of Bakersfield and the car struck something which I can only describe as hard. The car was suddenly alive as both Ross and Becker arose from their slumbers with the fear of God in their eyes. Questions flew and I calmed them down by relaying that we had no flat and the alignment was full on.

The next hour was bliss. A calm and steady 90 on desert road with Neil Young singing me along. Next stop, the Bakersfield visitor’s center. Upon trying to exit the Yaris I noticed something peculiar.

“Hm,” I said.

“Shut up,” Becker said.

“No seriously man. Shit”

We were out of the car and huddled staring at the huge hole in the body of the Yaris, just below the door. The very hard thing had somehow managed to miss all parts of the small vehicle and thrust itself into a veritable melee of carnage to the area below the driver’s door. Becker was tense. I needed a drink. Neither of us were particularly cheery.

Fast forward to near misses half asleep at the wheel and we find the Hidden Valley Campground. As expected there are no free spots. Our plan, pull up anywhere we please, park, pitch the tents and sleep. After about three hours we were all awake and eating breakfast in the morning sun admiring at the sheer awesomeness that is J-Tree. Up comes Ranger Bob to ruin the fun. We had five minutes to get our freeloading asses packed and peaced before we were out $250. Packed up and ready to go we head to the parking lot to scope out some of our first problems.

Ranger Bob returns to tell us there is an open site and we should throw a tent up there to reserve it. Becker and Ross pile in and jet over, leaving me to relax on our crash pad that conveniently doubles as a couch. Upon their return I am almost passed out and drooling on myself, the pad is so comfy.

Back to the plan. We scope problems by the parking lot and realize they all suck and it’s already getting hot, so we go back to camp where we realize there is a lot more fun to be had scrambling around the huge rocks in our backyard. My mission for this trip was to fall off of White Rastafarian, a very easy problem at V3 that just happens to soar close to 30 feet into the sky and requires a few gutsy throws. We begin to search.

On our path we run into a small crew and make small talk regarding this mega classic. They are looking for it as well and eventually we find it. A lean back crack for about 20 feet to a left hand throw to a very nice, slightly sloping
flake that widens as you cross up and over to throw a heel far too high to be considered sane and top out. Easy enough.

We throw down our one pad, and I give it a go and chump out at the throw to the flake. This happens about four times until I decide living is way less fun if you don’t make huge throws and easy problems that you can’t really brag about because it’s a V3 but you will try because it is ten times the rating’s height. So I throw and catch it. Phew. I cross a couple times and then freak out about the heel and drop the long drop.

The previously mentioned crew shows up full of decently hard climbers. The only one willing to work it with me is the girl whose name I didn’t catch, but whose body I tried my best to paw with while spotting (joking). She makes it to the throw a few times and bails. Two more follow suit and bail at the throw. I decided to try one more time that night. I am pumped and tired and hungry, tomorrow will feel
better. So I give it a go and take a fall going for one of the crosses. Bruised heel.

We boulder around a bit and then head back for sunset, fire and food.

Upon waking up, me in the car because the REI Polar Pod sleeping bag is the worst bag in the known universe, there is a tornado outside. The wind is 25 mph+ and we quickly admit defeat and pack up. I am overly bummed.

We head back to town to grab chow and then I pilot the next eight hours and Ross mans the iPod. The Mortal Kombat theme was the most popular tune for sure. The drive back can only be described as breathtaking and it genuinely makes you glad to have been born. I hope to do it again with White Rastafarian ticked.