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Little Pine Tree Mountain

31 January-1 February 1970

By: Bob Van Allen

Leader: Bob Van Allen
Asst.: Ken Ferrell

A chill, strong wind greeted the on-time participants at Hidden Valley Campground. Such a wind made a change in plans necessary. It was far too cold in the campground to start our instruction in 3rd class climbing.

We began the morning by taking a 1/2 mile walk across the desert to an area on the SW edge of the Wonderland of Rocks. The route we found to the top of a large rock area was warming but not too strenuous. There we set up rappel practice. Wind pants, down parkas, and gloves were the order of the morning. By lunch, everyone, including some late arrivals who had difficulty in finding us, had had a chance at rappelling and we returned to camp.

After lunch, we divided into several groups and progressed with the 3rd class instruction. The weather had turned delightfully warm and calm, permitting concentration on climbing technique rather than how to keep warm. In the evening, we enjoyed another of our regular Joshua Tree roaring campfires along with birthday celebrations for Tom Van Allen and Ken Ferrell. (It was over 1 1/2 years ago Tom climbed his 100th, now he can wear the emblem.)

The wind returned for awhile during the night but the morning was perfect for our cross-country 3rd class trip. Forty-one people joined in for the 2nd annual climb of Little Pine Tree Mountain. Again we followed a devious but enjoyable route that gives the opportunity to climb a few easy 3rd class pitches.

After a short break on top we descended to the main wash where we split the group. All but 18 returned to the cars. The rest of us proceeded on an exploratory to attempt a nearby ridge. We tried a number of routes but all blanked out - at least for such a large group on a 3rd class practice. A few of the climbers expressed a desire to return with a smaller group and some equipment to see if we can find a feasible route for next year. Having not made the intended ridge (and time was running out) we set out for the cars and decided to return by crossing a small secondary ridge hoping for a good rappel on the side toward the cars. We found it. Although there was plenty of opportunity to set up a longer pitch, we picked a spot that gave about a 65-70 foot rappel. For some, this was their first real live rappel, having had their first practice the previous morning. A few down climbed a nearby chute in order to speed things up a little. All were back to the cars and returned to camp for starting home time around 3 p.m.

Again this year, this seemed to be a popular and well received trip. Most participants (from the last 3 years) seem to agree that the best time would be mid to late March. Anyone for the last weekend in March, 1971?

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