In a last minute attempt to get in a climb and a night under the stars before taking some time off, we latched onto an offer from the wonderful Erin, Douglas, and Jon to crash their Promised Land climbing party. Armed with a hand drawn AMC certified treasure map of how to get to the camping grounds and .1 mile by .5 mile directions off of mountain project, early Saturday we pointed the trusty Subaru towards Chino Valley and set off to catch up with everyone.
Now, one of the funniest results of dating the man of my dreams over the last 22 months is that we sometimes forget that we can’t read each others thoughts. For example, when coordinating how to meet up for the night, I’ll tell Tony to call me when you leave, thinking leave his work while he is thinking leave his house. Insert a hectic bike ride home to catch up. Now, add to this tendency a very crazy 3 weeks of school, work, and little sleep and suddenly we are finding ourselves an hour outside of Chino Valley with the realization that we do not have a tent packed, or a sleeping bag. Oops! Lucky, the smart phone pulled through with a quick Google search for “Prescott gear rentals.” We made a “quick” detour through the madness of downtown Prescott during the Whiskey Off Road Bike Race and rented a tent and a bag for $10 each from Rubicon outdoors- thanks Matt! A half a dozen hair raising stops across downtown again (why don’t they have turn lanes in Prescott?!) and we are back on track.
The Promised Land is about 10 miles down dirt forest service roads in the wilderness northeast of Chino Valley. Bringing back a little twinge of nostalgia for the area near Bishop, CA, the land is flat with sudden mountains and occasional cows. Having no official road signs after you turn off the main road and no pictures of the couple dozen turn left at the fork, turn right at the fork, you’ll have to do with this rendition of the drive (replaced with my green Subaru):
And, contrary to popular lyrics by Jason Aldean of:
Yeah, I’m chillin’ on a dirt road,
Laid back swervin’ like I’m George Jones.
Smoke rollin’ out the window,
An’ ice cold beer sittin’ in the console.
Ours ran more:
Yea I’m turning down some dirt road
Throwing on the emergency brake pronto,
To drive over a small boulder slow,
Ice cold Gatorade ready to go.
One road blocked by a fence and windmill later, we drove up to the clearing over looking the campgrounds. WOOOOO HOOOO!! Let’s go climb.
Here’s the thing. I’m not really a good writer, I have to work at it. Tony has a way with words and might be better apt to do this post, but climbing at the promised lands was like coming home to me and I took on the honors. (If you want to really read some great climbing articles, I recommend the late Micheal Ybarra- writer for Alpinist and Wall Street Journal). Anyways, being home. You know that feeling when you walk in the door after a long day, or when your home during the rain, or when you come home after a long trip? That’s what it felt like to climb in the Promised Land. The rock wasn’t exactly exotic, the climbing wasn’t particularly epic, but it was a rock type and climbing style that you would hang your Christmas stocking on.
Some details: The promised land is composed on many section of climbing in a canyon. You park at a smal overlook to a camping area, then follow a trail on the edge of the campground that parallels and sometimes is in the wash. You walk by a burly looking overhung looking wall on the left cross some big boulders- probably about a 15 minute approach, and the first wall you will see is Solomon. It has some easy routes and a pretty cool somewhat overhung stretch that goes more difficult. Valerie’s book on the left side of the wash, about 100 degrees ish from solomon. This area is cool as it has a lot of easy to hard sport routes and you can set up camp in the middle of the wash and chase the shade during the day working your way around routes. The area (and surrounding) is mostly sport with mostly chain anchors- you can also walk to the top and set up top ropes if you are skilled at setting up anchors. Everything we climbed that day was sport and top rope appropriate. The rock is hard metamorphic rock and is formed in a way that lends to lots of cool open hand crimps, jugs, and cool side pulls. It can be slick in places but is pretty solid. There is likely a lot more climbing there than mountainproject.com and rockclimbing.com let on. John’s boys and I took off on an exploring expedition and it looked like there were more walls put up further into the canyon, and there is the shot wall above Valerie’s. I would recommend (and next time going) to check at climbing stores in Prescott for a guide to the area. It’s a beautiful, easy hike further down into the canyon if you need to take a break from climbing during the day. Bring plenty water as you are miles from town.
Some fun pictures from the day!
Can’t wait to go back and do it again!