I have heard that once you move to California, you would buy either a surfing board, or a pair of climbing shoes. Since I am frightened of sharks due to early exposure to Jaws without parental guidance, I ended up choosing the latter.
My first exposure to climbing was at the Caltech bouldering wall. Soon after I knew that I finally had a sport I could call "my sport" (apart from basketball which I played in middle school but stopped in highschool because my height could not keep up with those of my friends).
One thing that I enjoy when I climb outdoor is being in contact with the rocks! It gives me a (physical) connection to my research. Joshua tree rocks are mainly granite, which is slowly cooled crystalized mantle under the earth surface. Mantle holds the majority of our earth's weight. It is mainly composed of alpha elements:oxygen 45%, magnesium 23%, silicon 22%, and calcium 2.3% by weight. While the iron component is 5.8% (Source:Wikipedia). Compared to solar abundance(Asplund et al 2009), that means [alpha/Fe]~1.
My first time bouldering outdoors was at this place. Yes, I wore a helmet while bouldering! I was the only person in the park wearing a helmet. After witness a statistically low but horrendous accident in Joshua tree, I decided to be an advocate of helmet wearing. I found it disturbing that pictures in climbing magazines often show climbers not wearing helmets.
This was my first outdoor climbing place. Climbing is very similar to doing research. You have a problem; try to solve it but get stuck; you discuss with friends on finding hand/foot holds, or positions of your body; you ultimately perform the task relying on your own willpower. You may doubt whether you can possibly make it to the top, or if you should be lowered down and escape the problem. I have doubted myself several times, and am still working on mental strength. Have to believe that there will always be a solution that works for me.