Joshua Tree National Park


JTree is a very nice region in the Mojave desert offering thousands of high-quality routes on granite in an impressive desert environment. A great winter and spring destination, it has mostly trad and mixed climbing with some fully bolted slabs thrown in. The ratings can be stiff and inconsistent, the protection sparse, and the descents scary and less than obvious. Many routes that would be rated R in most other places come with no such warning, and many routes that would qualify for an X elsewhere come with an R at best. This is not your typical sport climbing area; if something doesn't feel right, don't climb it!

References: R. Vogel, Rock Climbing Joshua Tree,
The Globe Pequot Press (1992)

Mountain Project


Real Hidden Valley, Joshua Tree National Park.


5.4
The Bong (Hidden Valley Campground; The Blob - North Face ) (5.4, gear to #3 Camalot)
ascents: 05/03/2011 lead
comments: Surprisingly nice route. A short second pitch (no pro) brings one to the top of the formation. To get down, walk to climber's left from the top of the route proper, then descend broken fourth class ledges on darker rock (steep and exposed) in the general direction of where you started.
Gotcha Bush (Indian Cove; Short Wall - Right Side ) (5.4 R/X or TR)
ascents: 5/1/2011 TR
comments: Set up an anchor after climbing a protectable route nearby. The namesake bush seems to no longer exist; maybe one climber too many stepped on it.

5.5
Donna T's Route (Indian Cove; Short Wall - South Face ) (5.5, gear to #3 Camalot)
ascents: 5/1/2011 lead
comments: Nice crack with reasonable pro.

5.6
Double Dip (Echo Rock Area; Echo Rock - West Face ) (5.6, gear to #4 Camalot, bolts)
ascents: 12/24/2006 lead
comments: Climbs the huge flake on the W side of Echo Rock.
Eff Four (Echo Rock Area; Echo Rock - West Face ) (5.6, gear to #3.5 Camalot)
ascents: 12/24/2006 lead
comments: From the top of the first pitch (a full 60m) one can rappel off of two bolts with rap anchors, or/and go to the summit of Echo Rock via an unexposed free solo.
Serpent Scales (Indian Cove; Indian Palisades Corridor ) (5.6, bolts)
ascents: 5/4/2011 lead
comments: Climbs the large patina features just to the right of the smooth light-colored part of the wall. 3 bolts.
S.O.B (Indian Cove; Short Wall - South Face ) (5.6, gear to #3 Camalot)
ascents: 5/1/2011 lead
comments: A short and easy-to-protect crack.

5.7
Chivalry's Not Dead (Indian Cove; Indian Palisades Corridor ) (5.7, bolts)
ascents: 5/4/2011 lead
comments: There seems to be wholesale confusion about the routes on this part of the wall. The beta photo on mountainproject.com has it right, but the route descriptions don't. Vogel's book lists the route in the right order, but there is no photo and the fact that he lists Water Water Moccasin as the by far easiest route on the wall (which is not true) does not help. Chivalry is the second from (climber's) left on the dark part of the wall left of Harrell-Turner. It is not the same as Eyes of Amber, which is the bolted route to the left of it.
Eyes of Amber (Indian Cove; Indian Palisades Corridor ) (5.7, bolts)
ascents: 5/4/2011 lead
comments: There seems to be wholesale confusion about the routes on this part of the wall. The beta photo on mountainproject.com has it right, but the route descriptions don't. Vogel's book lists the route in the right order, but there is no photo and the fact that he lists Water Water Moccasin as the by far easiest route on the wall (which is not true) does not help. Eyes is the (climber's) leftmost route on the dark part of the wall left of Harrell-Turner. It is not the same as Chivalry's Not Dead, which is the bolted route to the right of it. It's 5.7 if you traverse in from the right; the direct start is harder.
Lickety Splits (Hall of Horrors Area; Hall of Horrors - East Wall ) (5.7R, stoppers and cams to #2 Camalot)
ascents: 5/2/2011 TR (set up from Diamond Dogs)
comments: A nice finger crack leads to an unprotected slab.
Overhang Bypass ( Intersection Rock ) (5.7, gear to #3.5 Camalot plus 1 bolt)
ascents: 12/22/2006 lead
comments: Amazing route with a wild crux hand-traversing out of the cave. The face above the overhang is protected by a bolt. Physical and committing; not for the aspiring 5.7 leader.
Stichter Quits ( Echo Rock - West Face ) (5.7, bolts)
ascents: 12/24/2006 lead
comments: Nice dike route. Rappel with 2 60m ropes, or walk off.
Toe Jam (Hidden Valley Campground; Old Woman - East Face ) (5.7, gear to #3 Camalot)
ascents: 05/03/2011 lead
comments: High-quality route; protects well with cams and stoppers.
Water Moccasin (Indian Cove; Indian Palisades Corridor ) (5.7, bolts)
ascents: 5/4/2011 lead
comments: Vogel rates it 5.4. Mountainproject's consensus rating of 5.7 seems more realistic.

5.7+

comment: One peculiarity of JTree are the 5.n+ ratings (1 ≤ n ≤ 9). They seem to be assigned to routes for which the contemporary consensus rating is way higher than the historical rating. Reading 5.7+ as "a 5.7 that's really a 5.8 that feels like a 5.9" may be more realistic than "at the upper end of 5.7".


Double Cross (Hidden Valley Campground; Old Woman - West Face ) (5.7+, gear to #3.5 Camalot)
ascents: 12/22/2006 second
comments: High-quality jams from fingers to fists.
Walk on the Wild Side (Sheep Pass Area; Saddle Rocks - Skirt ) (5.7+, bolts)
ascents: 5/2/2011 (swung leads with PB)
comments: Scramble up to the shelf at the foot of the slab that faces the road. The three-pitch route starts at the highest point of the shelf. (NB: The sketch on the Park Service sign in the parking lot is wrong!) Hard for the grade, with long runouts. To descend, rappel with double ropes, or traverse around the corner toward the highest summit to a rap anchor. Two rappels with a steep 4th class downclimb in between lead into a gully filled with huge boulders. Pick your way down, and at some point scramble over the outside wall of the gully to reach easier ground. This descent was the scene of a fatal accident in spring 2011.

5.8
Right'N Up (Indian Cove; Short Wall - Right Side ) (5.8 X or TR)
ascents: 5/1/2011 TR
comments: Set up an anchor after climbing a protectable route nearby.
Sail Away (Real Hidden Valley; Hidden Tower (5.8, gear to #2 Camalot)
ascents: 12/22/2006 lead
05/03/2011 TR (PB led)
comments: Protects well with stoppers and cams. For the exit, use both cracks.

5.9
Count On Your Fingers (Real Hidden Valley; Thin Wall ) (5.9, gear or TR)
ascents: 12/23/2006 TR
comments: Thin Wall has a walk-up scramble from the East.
Snakes in the Grass (Indian Cove; Indian Palisades Corridor ) (5.9, TR)
ascents: 5/4/2011 TR
comments: There seems to be wholesale confusion about the routes on this part of the wall. The beta photo on mountainproject.com has it right, but the route descriptions don't. Vogel's book lists the route in the right order, but there is no photo and the fact that he lists Water Water Moccasin as the by far easiest route on the wall (which is not true) does not help. Snakes is just to climber's left of Water Moccasin; the crux is getting over a bulge low on the route.
Touch and Go (Echo Rock Area; Touch and Go Face ) (5.9, gear to #3 Camalot)
ascents: 12/24/2006 second
comments: Very nice crack in a dihedral. Getting back down is a pain (5.6 downclimb into a gully).
Wild Wind (Real Hidden Valley; Hidden Tower ) (5.9, gear to #2 Camalot, or TR)
ascents: 12/22/2006 TR
comments: Shares anchors with Sail Away.

5.9+
Lickety Dogs (Hall of Horrors; East Wall ) (5.9+ X or TR)
ascents: 5/2/2011 TR (set up from Diamond Dogs)
comments: Called Likey Dogs in Vogel's book, this is the arete between Diamond Dogs and Lickety Splits. Unprotected; set up TR from the Lickety Splits/Diamond Dogs anchor. Hard for the grade.

5.10a
Diamond Dogs (Hall of Horrors; East Wall ) (5.10a, cams to #3 Camalot)
ascents: 5/2/2011 second (PB led)
comments: A wild undercling/layback start gives way to sparsely protected face climbing. Cool route, but not for the faint-of-heart leader.
Not Forgotten (Real Hidden Valley; Hidden Tower ) (5.10a, gear from very thin to #2 Camalot, or TR)
ascents: 12/22/2006 TR
comments: Shares anchors with Sail Away. The crux is low and not easy to protect (take microcams).
Morning Warm-Up (Indian Cove; Short Wall - Right Side ) (5.10a X or TR)
ascents: 5/1/2011 TR
comments: An anchor can be set up with medium-to-large cams after climbing one of the easier routes nearby. To me it felt awfully hard for the grade.
No Calculators Allowed (Real Hidden Valley; Thin Wall ) (5.10a, gear or TR)
ascents: 12/23/2006 TR
comments: Not really harder than Count On Your Fingers.

5.10b
Harrell-Turner (Indian Cove; Indian Palisades Corridor ) (5.10b R or TR)
ascents: 5/4/2011 TR
comments: Climbs the smooth light-colored face to the left of Serpent Scales. The first bolt got chopped. Can easily be toproped from the Serpent Scales anchors.
Laura Scudders (Barker Dam Area; Lakeside Rock - West Face (5.10b, bolts, cams to #3 Camalot for anchors)
ascents: 12/23/2006 lead onsight
comments: Very thin on crumbly edges.

5.10d
Hobbit Roof (Hidden Valley Campground; The Blob - West Face (5.10d, Camalots #0.75 - 3, 1 bolt)
ascents: 5/3/2011 TR with aid
comments: I got shut down by both the face move and the start of the crack, finally resorted to direct aid.

5.11a
Congratulations (Real Hidden Valley; Thin Wall ) (5.11a R, gear or TR)
ascents: 12/23/2006 TR flash
comments: Cool route! Flashed it with lots of beta from Paul.