I've never thought of myself as a number chaser, but in it can be fun. In March my old friend Tom and I, after a day at Josh that totaled, oh, two climbs, decided we needed to have some sort of goal for the next day. I remembered hearing another group of climbers seeing how many "stars" the could collect in a day. I thought I'd heard 25. It was a weds, so that was promising, not too many crowds. We decided to go for thirty, but ended up with much more, fifty. We also decided we do the day without driving. We'd be using Vogel's guide to count the stars. Tom is a much stronger climber than me, so even though I'd led many of the routes on our list, we decided he'd lead most stuff, as we'd be faster that way.
7:15- We're risen. It's still cold, but we scarf breakfast and head out. Trying to move quietly in the still sleeping campground,
- we hit The Flue (5.8 ***). I'd led it before, but this time, still cold, I was happy to have a toprope through the tricky opening moves. Shortly back on the ground,
- we wander around the corner and hit Pinched Rib (10b ***)As I belay tom, climbers in the campground comment on our early start. I'm still feeling tired, and the crux stymies me for longer than it should. It doesn't bode well.
- Next up, Chalk up another one (10a ***) Hadn't done this one before, t-h-I-n, fun face moves.
- Hands off (5.8 ***) is next, by now, in a stemming, fun crack, I'm starting to get into the groove. We're on our fourth route and most people are still cooking breakfast.
- The Bong (5.4 **). Shouldn't have taken the time to flake the rope, the approach and descent took longer than the route, but oh well. I only placed one piece of gear, and could have skipped that.
- On around to Dogleg (5.8 ***). this climb feels like work, but I dig it.
- Toe Jam (5.7 **) Why is there always a line for this thing? I'm not so fond of it.....
- Doublecross (5.7 ****) First climb I ever led at Josh. Not easy, but not near as bad as everyone makes it out to be. The Perfect crack.
- Overhang Bypass (5.7 ***) What a cool climb. Awesome exposure. Fun moves.
- North overhang (5.9 ***) Ok, so even cooler exposure and even cooler moves. One of my favorite JT climbs. A quick hike over to Sailaway. Shit, someone's on it. Until now we've had awesome luck. One party, about to start Doublecross, knew of our goal and offered that we could go first, which was way cool. But know we have a party on sailaway, and she's moving slow.
- Hm. Wild wind (5.9 **) is right here, might as well..... those top moves are kinda scary.....
- We finish and cruise up sailaway (5.8 ****) By now we're at 35 stars, and we've still got plenty of daylight. We quickly start scanning the book for more starred routes that we can hit. Our new goal, 50.
Caught inside on a big set (5.10b)
- Run for your life. (10b ****) one of the two routes I hadn't done before, and maybe my favorite face climb at Josh. Hard, and pretty sustained, it's no one move wonder. Very, very cool. We're close to our goal, (at 39) but it gets dark early and we're running out of time.We need routes with fast descents that we can do pretty fast.
- We speed walk over to the eye (5.1 *** ) and cruise it quickly, and then, nearly jogging,
- head back to Touch and go (5.9 ****) I love this climb, and normally don't find it very tough, but I'm getting tired, and the crack doesn't feel as secure as normal. On the descent, I catch a cam as I hop of a boulder, and barely avoid a nasty, nasty fall. I'm tired, having fun, but tired. It's getting close to dark, but we're too close to our goal to quit.
- Heart and Sole (10b ****) is close, will give us 50, and has a rap descent, so we don't have to downclimb in the dark. Surprisingly, the traverse feels more solid than when I'd done it before, the route feels easy, and we're rapping in the dark.
50 stars in a day. Arbitrary, yeah. Silly, maybe. Fun, yup. A great day of climbing, like few I ever had, without a doubt. It was merely a goal, but it got us out there on a bunch or tremendously cool climbs, so what's wrong with that? It was a l-o-n-g drive home that night!