After completing the
hike to the summit of Mt. Ryan and back
this morning, I drove a short distance west on the main park road to the
parking area for the Hall of Horrors.
Oddly, the spring park guide doesn't even mention this area or the
other technical climbing areas within the park, and I never saw the
webpage above re: climbing on the park's website until after I
got back to the RV park today. I also found an informative
MountainProject.com webpage that has
detailed information about the Hall of Horrors.
The only reason I knew about this area was seeing it from the Mt.
Ryan Trail. It's visible from the whole lower half of the trail on the
western flank of the mountain:
I could see the parking area and paths around the long rock formation and
they piqued my curiosity:
I wonder what those rocks look like up close?
There is such a difference in perspective from seeing them from above and
at a distance . . . and walking around their bases, feeling
dwarfed by their height. Here are two examples of climbers to show the
scale of the main rock formation. In these small photos it's hard to
see the climbers so I used arrows to mark them:
I parked and started reading the trail signs and interpretive panels
at the Hall of Horrors parking area. Even though I had no interest in climbing the
boulders myself, I had an interest in seeing if anyone was doing any
technical climbing. They were!
I had an easy walk around the main rock
formations and got to see several climbers going up the steep rock faces.
It's about a mile around the two longest formations, more if you circle
a couple other
smaller ones. Elevation is about 4,300 feet.
Lots of side trails go to the base of the various technical routes
for climbing but it's easy to find your way around all of the formations
on relatively flat, established trails. Signs encourage visitors to
utilize the existing access paths so plants aren't damaged:
I took 87 photos of rocks, plants, and climbers in that one-mile
walk! There were lots of wildflowers and yuccas in bloom, which added to the total.
Even though it was about 10:30 AM when I got to the Hall of Horrors
there weren't very many people around. I assume that's because this
isn't listed with hiking trails in the guide people receive when they enter the park.
WHY "HALL OF HORRORS?"
According to the Mountain Project webpage cited above, this popular
rock climbing area gets its name because the rocks are lined up in
parallel fashion forming a series of "halls" between them.
Some are wide enough for people to shimmy through with four-point
climbing like I had to do in Maine on the Appalachian Trail in
boulder-filled Mahoosuc Notch.
The Mountain Project site describes various types of climbing opportunities within
this rock formation and lists 106 different climbs. Signs at the park point climbers
to a few of the different climbs and give their difficulty rating
but I think folks have to get most of their information about the
specific locations online.
Some of the names to give climbers bragging rights are "The Exorcist,"
"The Real Hall of Horrors" (it's a
long, narrow bouldering gap between tall rock faces), "Jaws," "Jane's
Addiction," "Hemroidic Terror," "Three Bolts to Divorce,"
"Wacko Wall," "Nerd's Rump," and "Diamond Dogs."
Following are some of the photos I took while walking a mile around
the one very long rock formation and two smaller ones nearby.
I wasn't able to get the entire expanse of the large formation in one
shot from the ground, only from up on the Mt. Ryan Trail half a mile or
more away (see first two photos at beginning of this entry).
Above and below: There
are people below each red dot.
Even the "smaller" formations offer several
climbing/bouldering routes and interesting pictures:
Mt. Ryan is in the distance.
Some people may think these rocks all look alike after a while,
but I'm still fascinated by their varying shapes, colors, and arrangements.
FLORA & FAUNA
There were a lot of different wildflowers blooming here on this
date and the largest concentration of Joshua tree blooms
of anywhere I hiked or drove in the park this week.
Here are just a few wildflowers that are new to me:
White Daisy Tidytips, easily identifiable
online by its ray florets and hairy stems/foliage
Yellow Tack-Stem, another delicate-looking
flower that must be very hardy to live here
Wallace's Wooly Daisy
Above and below: Here's an example of
just one Joshua tree that's loaded with flowers;
I count 16 clusters in this photo and there
are probably a few more on the other side.
A Joshua tree flower cluster close up
Several prickly pear cacti had tight reddish-pink flower buds
that weren't open yet but will be soon. I got pictures of open cactus
blooms on other park trails that I'll show in subsequent entries.
Earlier in the morning, along the nearby Mt. Ryan Trail, I saw lots of lizards
but they all scurried into hiding before I could take their picture. This one was
happily sunning on a rock in the Hall of Horrors area and stayed still while I
got this shot:
He or she is very well camouflaged.
Next entry: hike #3 for this morning on a nearby flat, short
nature trail at Cap Rock -- and a strange tale about a young rock
star's unusual funeral nearby
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2016 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil