A New Frontier July 1 2016 - Mark Rafferty
Climbing Joshua Tree 2015

Over the past couple weeks my motivation has shifted from climbing classic routes to discovering and developing my own routes and areas. John and I have set a couple of small routes in the past but this year were looking for something that was more awe struck. Last year we scoped out this line on the upper face of Dire Spire. Looking down from the summit you could identify multiple crystal patches on the face with a little exposure. Immediately I saw the beauty of a route and believe it could later be considered a classic. 


Just weeks after seeing its potential John and I were back ready to ground up hand drill this face. With little to no experience bolting and with very little endurance we spend over an hour on each bolt hanging off of Black Diamond grappling hooks. Only making it about 25 feet up the face with two bolts placed we were sent back to the ground due to a rain storm. The whole process of drilling and setting those bolts on lead didn't go as smooth as planned. To be completely honest I felt like a moron. With no experience in this sort of field I knew I had to research a lot more. 


Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, to a full year until John and I returned to finish our route. This time feeling fresh and motivated to finish the route in one final go. After a couple hours of discovering the route John hammered in the final bolt and was lowered to make the first ascent. Rock, Paper, Scissored for the lead I started up the 70 foot face that we created. In the end we placed only 4 bolts and used a horizontal crack as protection up the south west upper face of Dire Spire. In remembrance of our friend Nehemiah we decided to call  the route "Questionable Ink" (5.9 PG13).