The Eye (5.1)
The Eye might be the easiest climb I have ever done. Our friend suggested this climb because it was in the shade in the morning and it was a very short walk from the Hidden Valley Campground parking lot.
The climb was a lot of fun, very simple and straight forward. Belay the second climber in the Eye itself (the hole you see from the parking lot). Hike down the back for the descent.
This climb is right next to The Eye. The climb starts out in the same gully that The Eye uses, but it then goes right via the only large features on the right wall of the gully. It continues up an arete to the same lever of The Eye. You can't see the Eye from there, but you know it is on the same level. There is a chock stone to sling and large gear is also useful for the belay. Exit through the Eye (hole in the rock as seen from the road) and hike down the back.
I took the second photo of Circe while climbing The Eye.
Headstone is one of our favorite places to climb at JTree. The climb can be seen from the Ryan campground. It is a short hike from Ryan campground and then a boulder scramble to get to the base of the climbs.
Cryptic follows a line of bolts along the right edge of the face. Many of the holds are thin crisp ridges, and so may not be the best choice of a first lead for someone who has only climbed in a gym. Cryptic ends on the top of Headstone at a set of fixed anchors.
SW Corner (5.6)
SW Corner moves left and up to an exposed ridge, following another line of bolts. Though the climb may not feel technically difficult, the exposure is incredible. The climb ends at the top of Headstone at a fixed anchor.
Walk on the Wild Side (5.7)
Walk on the Wild Side is a three pitch classic of the park. We climbed this in early September when there was almost no one else in the park. Because there were so few people, animals were abundant. While we were climbing this climb, we noticed a large animal on the rocks below. It was too big to be a coyote, and it had a very long tail which it wrapped around itself when it lay down to nap in the sun.
We were somewhat apprehensive because our rappel would take us to the area where this animal was. We rappelled off of old homemade bolted hangers. (I have heard that these have since been replaced by new 1/4" bolts.) As Bill weighted the hanger, I could see it deform slightly. I do not know what was scarier, the hanger or the animal below. When we hiked out, Bill saw the animal peek out from inside the rock piles. We later found out that it was a mountain lion.
Mental Physics (5.7+)
Mental Physics was on our list for way too long. We finally decided to take the hike out recently. We walked in part way and then took a picnic lunch under the Don Juan boulder. The boulder is not exactly on the way if you take the Wonderland of Rocks trail, but we came in via Barker Dam (not recommended).
The trail is good until you get close and have to do some rock scrambling. To get to the climb, you hike a bit past the climb (the obvious crack on the wall) and hike up when you see a cairn on the right.
The pro for this climb was excellent. The climb is in the sun for the whole day except for maybe winter time. You can climb up and right past the anchor (first set of bolts) up through another bolt to another anchor/rap station.
Dazed and Confused (5.9)
It was hard to get anyone in our group motivated to lead this climb because the bolts were spaced a bit far for comfort.
We set a toprope on this climb during the rap off for Mental Physics. The climb was worth doing. The moves were all there, and it was a nice way to end the day. Of course, after toproping the climb, everyone thought that they could have lead it, but the wall is hot in the sun, so instead we started the long walk back.
List of Recommended Climbs
|Name||Rating, Rock, Area; Comments|
|Walk on the Wild Side||5.7, Saddle Rock, Sheep Pass; slabby and three pitches of fun|
|Buckets to Burbank||5.8, Hall of Horrors, Sheep Pass|
|Headstone||5.6 - 5.9, various climbs, on the south face of Headstone, Sheep Pass|
|Sail Away||5.8-, Hidden Tower in the real Hidden Valley|
|Wild Wind||5.9, also Hidden Tower|
|The Flue||5.8, Chimney Rock, Hidden Valley Campground; used to downclimb the gully in the back, but now there is a bolted rap station|
|Stichter Quits, a.k.a. Black Tide||5.7, at Echo Rock|
|Double Dip||5.6, at Echo Rock; somewhat hard for a 5.6|
The Indian Cove area is a short wall where you can scramble up behind the south face to set up several top ropes, including: Tight Shoes (5.7) and Up to Heaven (5.8).
Echo Rock has several climbs that can be top roped if it is not busy. As seen in this picture, you can scramble up the left side of the rock and over to the top of Black Tide (dark curve up the face). A top rope can be set up there, though a top belay may be necessary for particular climbs
Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Guide by Randy Vogel (Chockstone Press)
Additional information and lots of gear may be obtained at Nomad Ventures, the local climbing shop in nearby Twentynine Palms