Director Jud's Blog

Q&A Session with two former SMA Rock Climbing Summer Campers - Part 2.

Posted by Jud Millar on Mon, Mar 7, 2016

Here is second of two blog post Q&A with 2 former SMA Teen Rock Climbing Summer Camp Staff Patrick McManamon and Jason Criswell.  Over the 2015 / 2016 holidays these climbing partners embarked on a rock climbing trip that took them to Red Rocks, Nevada and Joshua Tree National Park in California.  Both Jason and Patrick are from Huntingdon, PA and were friends before working together at SMA 2 Week Adventure Camp. As we learned in the Part 1 of this blog post, they both first rock climbing at SMA Teen Summer Camp.  By the end of our conversation I was ready to go climbing!


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This was both of your first time climbing in Joshua Tree, how was your experience and what are your impressions of “J-Tree”?

Jason - Joshua Tree is one of coolest places i've ever been. It's one of those places you could probably enjoy just as much if you aren't climbing. When it dried out and we did climb I found it to be a lot different and more difficult than anticipated. Crack climbing is still new to me and mix that with sharp crystalized rock and you have a recipe for struggles. But the furry Dr. Suess trees and Mars-like rock piles made it so worth it. However, I was upset I did not spot the Lorax.

Patrick - Hard. Haha, granite climbing is different from the forgiving sandstone of central PA and Red Rock. But it's beautiful and easy to protect, and being in that environment is half the fun. Jason and I were battling rain much of the time, but when we got on climbs we had a blast, as usual.



What was one of the funniest moments of this trip?

Patrick - When we landed in Vegas we straighlined for In-N-Out burger and gorged ourselves. Haha we ate 2 triple-triples each (6 patties total). We didn't talk for 5 minutes and then just laughed at how outrageous it was. Then we went back for round 2 before we flew home haha.

Jason - Our first day in J-Tree it rained non-stop from about 2 o'clock through the night. We had nowhere to go so we sat in a pizza shop for 6 hours (seriously). We ordered coffee and about 12 lbs of food. Aside from the fact that we were in a pizza shop for longer than many of the workers shifts, many hard laughs were had here.


What did you learn on this trip?

Jason - Joshua Trees are hollow. Desert forecasts are unpredictable. How to make a mean set of tape gloves (to protect your hands). The easiest way to build a fire is to make friends who already built theirs. My stomach can house a single, double and triple cheeseburger with large cut of fries in one sitting. You can have just as much if not more fun when things don't go as planned.


Patrick - I would say we learned some patience on this trip. Joshua tree got 2 inches of rain in 4 days we were there (that's 40% of their annual rainfall). We had to change our strategy for climbing and didn't get to test ourselves on the harder stuff we initially hoped to. But we agreed that injuries and risking it on wet rock wasn't smart; we left more work to do for the next trip.



What adventure is next for you two?

Patrick - Well we're both settling into new routines in Colorado (see also: Colorado, Coloradical). We have big plans to do a winter ascent of some 14ers in the area soon if weather cooperates; of course we're going to be skiing as much as possible together, and when the weather turns warm some alpine climbing in RMNP will definitely be on the menu.

Jason - The summit of Mt. Bross lies at 14,172' and less than 5 miles from my current backyard. I think we'll strap on some snowshoes and see what these Colorado 14ers are all about while we brainstorm the next epic! I'm currently living in Alma, Colorado. South Platte is a huge climbing area about a 40 minute drive east here and is a high priority when a window of warm weather arrives.

Topics: Rock Climbing Summer Camp, Teen Rock Climbing Camp, Joshua Tree National Park

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This blog will give you the "411" about everything that is Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp!  Everything from "Summer Updates" to useful family and camp resources.  Check it out! 

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