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Author: Richard Phethean

Schoolhouse Rock at Riverside Quarry

Schoolhouse Rock at Riverside Quarry

While Jen and Lauren were attending Emily’s bridal party, the kids and I decided to take a short drive out to Riverside Quarry for some rock climbing. The area is what is left of an old granite rock quarry developed by Louie Anderson and others.  It has been described as an outside sport climbing gym. The wall has a full range of bolted routes from 5.0 to 13d. We arrived just before 1pm and the weather was perfect. The girls could not wait to get on belay and start climbing. I had “convinced” Logan to come with me since I need someone to belay me as I set up top rope for the twins. I was a little nervous since my son had never belayed before, but he did an amazing job. This was also a ploy to get Logan climbing again. He lost the desire after a very uncomfortable harness mishap at San Juan last year. To the far right of the rock formation is an area with many short, easy routes aptly named Schoolhouse Rock; with routes named after episodes of that TV series. I tied in and started up “I’m Just a Bill”. No quicker than I could set up and rappel down, Ava jumped on the rope and nearly ran up. She was followed by Audrey and Logan. My kids seem to be made for slab climbing. We moved left to climb “Taxman Max”, “Dollars and Sense” ending with “Schoolhouse Rock”. Before we knew it, the time was after 4:00pm and it was time to head home. As we piled into the Excursion to leave, Logan turned to me and asked, “So when are we going climbing again?” Mission accomplished. Ava and Audrey are climbing a solid 5.8, I was able to practice leading, and Logan belayed me and is looking to climb more. As I fired up the truck, I simply replied, “Tomorrow.”

Many Firsts at Joshua Tree

Many Firsts at Joshua Tree

The 2017 whirlwind finally came to an end at Joshua Tree. We booked Indian Cove site #59 for our last hurrah. New Year’s would be spent with Jen, Logan, Ava, and Audrey relaxing in one of our favorite parks. Arriving on a Friday, I set up camp and got everyone settled in. I brought the new Coleman eight-man tent and two queen size double air beds. It was nice to bring some creature comforts while camping. The kids played games, scrambled on rocks, and enjoyed time around the fire. The next day Lauren drove out with her boyfriend. This was to be our rock climbing day. Starting on Feudal Wall, the girls all did an amazing job conquering “Duchess” and “Duchess Right”. It was neat to see my twenty-one year-old learn from her 10-year-old sisters. Exhausted, we retreated to camp, spending time bonding and practicing our photography skills. We planned on a three day trip and I woke early to set up for another day of climbing. After a quick breakfast, I top roped Short Wall above “Double Crack”. The kids sauntered over and I got them harnessed up. All of the kids (except Logan) tried their luck with this route. Finding it very enjoyable, Audrey asked if she could climb the next route to the right. It was a 5.8, “Up To Heaven”. A quick start and she was pushing through. I was blown away. Then Ava jumped on and did the same. Lauren attempted but it was clear that the twins had just upped their game and she would need more practice to keep up. Lunch arrived sooner than expected and we retired back to camp, exhausted and overjoyed. The weekend had brought Lauren’s first experience rock climbing, and Ava and Audrey’s first 5.8. That evening Logan decided he needed some time on the rocks too and climbed the backside of Moosedog Tower, solo in the dark. I gotta love these kids, knowing what they want and chasing after it.