Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Beach Climbing in Florida? Pt. II (Jupiter Beach)

By Joshua Jimenez

If you are making a trip to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for a day at the beach, stop at Blowing Rocks Preserve on the east coast of Florida at a beach called Jupiter Beach. Now this isn't a gateway to take you to the planet Jupiter where you would be crushed by its immense gravity before you ultimately suffocate due to lack of gravity and gas properties of the planet. Jupiter Beach sits approximately 3 hours south of Orlando in an ideal and picturesque place of golf course communities and high class retired folk. As with most national parks or preserves there is an entry fee of $2 per person. After you park at Blowing Rocks Preserve, it’s a short walk through a tangled canopy of sea grapes and then onto the beach dunes and coquina rock.

This is a beach, but it is unlike any other in Florida.

The coquina stretches from St. Augustine past Washington Oaks near Flagler Beach all the way down near Miami occasionally rising high enough to walk or even climb on. In this part of Florida it is actually tall enough to be considered climbable. Compared to Washington Oaks from our previous article, Blowing Rocks Preserve, at the right tide, has rock faces as tall as 12 feet. What makes it different from Washington Oaks besides the height is also the length. In total, the preserve only stretches for about a mile and a half, from the moment you walk on the beach and find the rocks, up to its abrupt end.

Even though Blowing Rocks Preserve is a beautiful place to visit, it is not an ideal place to climb. When you first arrive, you walk onto sand. To the left is more sand and to the right are the rocks. You can walk directly next to sand dunes on the sand or closer to the water on the rocks. In some parts, you can also walk under the rocks on the shore at low tide. Walking on the rocks barefoot is quite troublesome. If you can imagine walking on LEGOs that have been strewn all over the floor for a mile and a half, that is what walking barefoot on the plateau part of Blowing Rocks feels like. The rocks haven't been washed out on the part that you can look out at the ocean so they aren't at all smooth.

Now for the actual climbing aspect of it, that poses a different problem. The coquina is always wet and covered in this green and yellow snot that cannot be removed, by law. Traversing might seem like the best thing but that poses its own problems with blank spots and overall snot covered holds. Topping out was the next issue but try not to pierce your skin on the LEGO-sharp rock on top. When trying to check the tide conditions for Blowing Rocks, I found that most of the reports were wrong. I checked multiple charts on many websites as close as I could find to Blowing Rocks and almost all of them had different times varying by hours, not just mere minutes. At the time I went I checked low tide to be a bit after 3 in the afternoon. We arrived a bit early just after noon and the water seemed, from my amateur observation, to be at its lowest point and rising as time went on. That isn't to say that it was a problem while I was there. With it being low tide, the rock exposure was fantastic but the climbing aspect of it was not.

The best thing to try to do at Blowing Rocks is to maybe arrive at high tide and watch as the water hits the coquina rock and force plumes through holes in the rock and observe how high it goes. Don't start packing your crash pads and best shoes just yet for a short trip to this rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. As interesting as it seems, Florida climbers may still have to go out of state to get on rock that will be worth the time and effort to climb on. However, for a day trip to an interesting and different type of beach, it’s worth the visit. 

Below is a video of our fellow Aiguille Rock climbers taking their own trip to Jupiter Beach.

Jupiter Beach Bouldering from Charles garcia on Vimeo.

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