Kris Solem on Games Without Frontiers, 13a/b
Future Games Rock
Joshua Tree National Park embodies thousands of rock formations. Of these thousands, only a few hundred stand out and are easily approachable. Within those few hundred, there are only a few dozen formations that become destinations of choice. Future Games Rock wins the status as one of my favorites.
I hate climbing in the sun, unless it’s very cold. Future Games Rock is north facing, and stays in the shade all day. I don’t favor formations that are too close to the roads, campgrounds or parking lots. This rock is about a mile walk weaving through giant boulders and rock formations; therefore, it does not get any none climber visitors. It offers cracks in the 5.8-5.9 range for easy days and 10b-11a cracks for more ambitious days. You can easily get to the top to set up a top rope on any of the routes. And at last but not least, it has climbs in the 12b-13b range. If you are lucky you may run into a climber who can do climbs like that. It’s an experience watching a person on a 13b slab.
A personal note: on my first visit to Future Games Rock in 1994, that exact thing happened to me. I watched the SPer Kris Solem red point the second ascent of Games Without Frontiers, 13a/b
That was more than just a treat. It was a learning process. No matter how much experience a climber may have, there is a lot more he/she can learn from an outstanding climber, as I did that day. Kris is tenacious, well organized, equipement savy and much more. For him climbing can be a science.
The Following additions were made by Kris Solem, one of the pioneers of this formation:
I had heard the crag was named by Mike Lechlinski and Mari Gingery but that is word of mouth...
The fa's as listed in Bartlett's Pinto Basin guide are:
Exploding Brow Nodules - Roger Whitehead Rb DeConto, Brad Burhow 1985
Orno-Necro - Lechlinski & Ericksson 1986
Therapuetic Tyranny - Long & Lechlinky tr 1978 / Woodward lead 1982
The Bendix Claws - Lechlinky 1986
Hang 'em High - Solem, Laeger, McCollum 1995
Games Without Frontiers - Paul borne
Invisible Touch - Laeger & Andy Brown 1986
Invisiblity Lessons - Lechlinsky, Long, Mari Gingery 1986
Dissapearing Act - Laeger, Andy Brown and Vaino Kodas 1986
note: I had the name wrong for the invisiblity lessons variation in my previous comment. It is called Invisible Touch.
Also, Jan McCollum has told me several times that he and Mike Waugh did Invisibility Lessons at least a year before the FA and called it Bee Crack.
Also, Jan and Herb shared in the bolt placements (on lead of course) on Hang 'Em High and we TR'd it then, I got the first lead the following season.
Marc - Here's an obscurity for you. Climb Bendix Claws 'till you're just above the crux, about half way up, do a difficult traverse left and finish up the left hand crack. I did it around X-mas one of those years with Jan (Herb was probably there too..) We called it Santa Claws, but figured it had to be done previously, at least as a TR..
The cool thing about Future Games Rock is that every route follows a natural line. Even the nearly featureless slab of Games Without Frontiers follows a direct line of weakness to the thin seams which then take one to the top.
Routes of Future Games Rock
This steep face offers a variety of climbs from moderate cracks to extreme face routes. If you are a moderate climber, you can try one of the best, and defintely my favorite, 5.9s in the entire Joshua Tree National Park.It’s called “ Invisibility Lessons, 5.9.” This beautiful crack starts in a right facing dihedral on the right side of the rock and follows a crack to a small roof roughly a third of the way up. Turn this roof/corner on the left and climb a sustained, but easy-to-manage crack up and left to about half way up the rock. By now you are past the crux, and the rest of the climb continues up the same, but much easier, crack to the top.
If you are looking for a face climb in the 5.10 range, you can try “Disappearing Act, 10c” put up by my friend Herb Laeger. This is the face just to the right of “Invisibility Lessons.” Typical to Herb, this climb is a bit “runout” and protected by four bolts.
There is another fine climb that was brought to my attention by Kris Solem: "Invisible Touch, 10b/c, ...is another excellent climb there done by Herb Laeger. Climb Invisibility lessons 'till just through the crux. Here one can traverse left on thin face holds about 10 feet and then follow thin cracks and seams straight up to the top. Tiny to medium stoppers and tcu's. Double rope technique recommended."
|A||Exploding Brown Nodules, 11c|
|B||Orno-Necro 11c, gear, small to 2.5 inches|
|C||Theraputic Tyranny, 11a , gear, small to 4 inches|
|D||The Bendix Claws, 11a, gear, small to 4 inches, one bolt|
|E||Hang'em High, 12b, gear, thin to 2 inches, 3 bolts and fixed pin|
|F||Continuum, 5.8, standard rack, gear up to 3 inches|
|G||Games Without Frontiers, 13a/b, gear, very thin to thin to small, need to be very creative, 3 bolts|
|H||Invisibility Lessons, 5.9, gear, Standard rack up to 2.5 inches|
|I||Disappearing Act, 10c, Gear, thin to small, four bolts|
Games Without Frontiers
Disappearing Act is the face to the right of H
Camping and Noise considerations
There are nine campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. At the entrance to the park you are always asked if you would care to have a map and a brochure. The brochure will have plenty of information on the campgrounds and the map will guide you to many of the pleasant hikes throughout the park. You may even get the latest information as to availability of campsites. During the peak season (mid winter through spring) finding a campsite may become a major task. It is highly recommended to use the following link to get more information in advance.
Joshua Tree Camping
When you are camping with friends and sitting around the fire, it is easy to forget that there are other people trying to sleep in the nearby campsites. It is important to put yourself in their shoes. Keep the noise and music to a minimum and certainly not too much past 10 p.m. Your neighbors will smile at you in the morning instead of giving you dirty looks.
Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail marker for approaches to many of the more popular crags. Do your best to stay on these trails, and where you are forced to use a different path, choose the ones that rain can mend in time. Drainages make for good trails where there are no established trails.
Avoid stepping on native and fragile plants, and do not feed the coyotes. Coyotes are very much used to people and often hang around picnic areas and camp grounds in hopes of getting a hand out. It’s better to let them live their natural life.
How to get there
Frigid Tower as seen from the trail to Future Games Rock.
Frigid Tower as seen from the Future Games Rock.
From the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park drive on Park Boulevard, formerly known as Quail Springs Road, for about nine miles to a major rock formation called “Intersection Rock.” Intersection Rock is a major landmark on the north side of Quail Springs Road with ample parking for visitors and climbers alike. This rock, true to its name, sit at the cross roads to “Hidden Valley Campground”, Barker Dam Road and the road to “Day use and picnic” area. From Intersection Rock drive another 9.6 miles on Park Boulevard to it’s intersection with Split Rocks Road. Turn left and drive to the end of the road. This is a “Day Use Area. Park here, and walk past Split Rocks on the left on a good trail down hill for a few hundred feet. On the bottom of the hill there is a smaller trail cutting off from the main trail and heads east toward a very prominent rock tower with a visible crack/chimney in the middle of it. Refer to the photo. This is Frigid Tower. Make your way toward it following the same obscure trail. Pass the tower on the left. You will see Future Games Rock soon after the tower.