The lumpy granite domes feel endless as one wanders around the prickly desert of Joshua Tree National Park, but a few clean fissures splitting down these egg-shaped granite features may catch your gaze. Many are big enough for fists or hands, but some are just the right size for a satisfying finger lock. One of these finger cracks specifically goes by the name of “The Stingray”. This special line is one of the harder finger cracks in the US at 5.13d, involving campusing on finger tip jams up to an awkwardly leaning finale.
Route video on the La Sportiva Channel
We bumbled with logistics the first days, certainly spending more hours hiking than climbing. The Mojave sun made certain lines feel too hot to touch, while shady stone was quick to numb fingers. We started strong with a double Equinox onsight, but I did not manage quick success on either of the other two. We bounced around between intermittent rain showers to reach the spread out rocks. I hesitated to give full commitment on those first lines at the risk of losing skin for the real price.
Amity looking like a burnt marshmallow in the full down belay getup
We traded a few lead attempts that day and learned what it would take to link it together. I’ve put significant effort into the roof bouldering around Flagstaff this past year, which made the tips lock laddering feel reasonably secure once I found the right pods. Unfortunately, I had to rely on tape to pad my new finger wounds which added a complication - the tape needed to be especially tight to not ooze with my body weight hanging off the first joint of just a few fingers, but then my fingertips would go numb after just a handful of moves! The ambient temperature reached the 40s midday, but the stone was icy with all day shade.
Locking it down
When traveling internationally, a customs officer usually asks “are you here for business or pleasure?” while checking one’s passport. Two weeks later I drove out for a brief trip to meet Amity for more Stingray attempts. This was a business trip, with one route on my mind.
Flowing with the steepness! Hot Hands pouches hidden up my sleeves
For my second try of the day, I donned better protection including my Sportiva thermal hoodie and Neoprene straps to hold Hot Hands packets against the insides of my wrists. I’ve used this tactic a few times throughout our especially chilly winter, and it seems to add a 5-10° of comfort. This attempt was satisfying, feeling locked in and in control up until the end. I did second guess the very last finger lock as I lost sensation, but took a moment to compose, and then trusted a gritty smear for a no-pulling slab style stand up to reach the anchor jug. I concluded my business trip and drove back to Flagstaff that evening. I am eager for pleasure climbing again once our never ending winter is over!
A slabby stand up right as fingers loose all feeling