joshua tree

Posted by: Anonymous

joshua tree - 01/11/00 08:22 PM

My climbing partner and I are considering going to Joshua Tree in February but we need more info before finalizing our decision. If anyone can post any URLs about Joshua Tree that would be great. Also, I have some general questions. What is the typical climb like out there? Type of rock, type of climbing - face, crack - sport, trad (mixed) etc. Ratings, how many pitches etc. From pictures I've seen it doesn't look like a lot of multi-pitch. Anyone have any first hand accounts/advice? We were thinking about hiring a guide for the first day to help get our bearings and then going it alone afterward. Any good local watering holes to hang out in at the end of the day? Thanks, John

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/11/00 10:37 PM

Feb. should be a pretty good time to go. Nights can still be cold, but the days should be great.

The typical climb is one pitch long, with noted exceptions at Sheep Pass and the Wonderland of Rocks. I don't see any need to hire a guide. Start at Hidden Valley Campground and do some of the classics (go early or be prepared to wait) to get your bearings. Several fun climbs are right near the road (Overhang Bypass 5.7, North Overhang 5.9, and Double Cross 5.7+ come to mind). One of my favorites is Sail Away 5.8- in the Real Hidden Valley area. It's a little hard to find the first time, but ask anyone -- or just follow the line of people.

Another good place to start is Echo Rock. Try to camp at Hidden Valley or Ryan Campground.

If it is cold or rain is imminent, go to Indian Cove and climb there. It is 1000 feet lower than the main park and more sheltered from wind and rain. It can be pouring in the main park and dry as a bone in Indian Cove.

If you're driving past Desert Hot Springs on your way out, stop at the D.H.S. Inn. They have about 7 hot tubs at varying temperatures. Showers & tubs for $3 -- it's a great way to finish the trip. Ask at the Nomad climbing shop.

I used to live in northern CA. Been to JT 4 times. If you have any questions e-mail me:


Posted by: Mike Rawdon

Re: joshua tree - 01/12/00 01:31 PM

The rock is a very coarse granitic quartzite. In some spots the surface may be coming off (you can tap it with your knuckles and hear that it's hollow) but on popular routes it should be OK. Due to its extreme coarseness, you might need to adjust your footwork. The saying at Josh is "everything's a foothold" because the locals can smear effectively up to about 89 degrees (angle). So make an effort to work on your feet. I have trouble choosing between edging shoes and smearing shoes there. Easy routes (<5.8) are mostly gear with an occasional bolt. Bring gear to 3". Tricams and SLCDs are a must (many of the cracks flare). The hard stuff is often well bolted. Top anchors often require a bunch of slings or wrapping the rope around a boulder. Descents can be easy raps, deadly downclimbing, or anything in between. Many formations lack top anchors. Josh is a great place to climb - enjoy it. The campgrounds fill by Friday AM and reserving a site is not allowed (except for large groups well in advance). Don't leave gear in your tent. Watch out for coyotes, yuccas and snakes. Don't harm the desert flora, wear sunscreen. Bring all the water and firewood you need into the park with you. Buy a guidebook. Dress warmly at night and lightly during the day. Trust me on the sunscreen.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/12/00 03:14 PM

Take Rawdons advise but also, as he said, in the easier grades it tends to be trad, both face and crack. In the middle grades (5.10's) the routes can be completely trad (usually cracks), mixed (trad in the cracks linked by bolted face climbs) or completely face climbs (either runout R/X routes or more likely bolted) In the harder grades (.11-.13) the climbs are either trad or bolted, If you have learned crack climbing on good granite (ie: Yosemite like) you will be disappointed, but they are still pretty good.

You may also want to describe the level of climbs you are interested in.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/13/00 03:23 PM

Joshua Tree (or Red Rocks) weather in February can be good or bad. Both are at about 4000 feet in elevation and can get snow that time of year. Thus far, winter hasn't really hit either place. Today it's going to be 60F at Hidden Valley in JT.Generally, you have to climb in the sun this time of year.

The rock at JT is a poor man's granite called quartz monzonite. Slabby face climbing and rounded cracks are the norm. Most people who come straight from the Gunks tear up their fingertips and hands until they start trusting their feet. The highest number of quality routes are in the 5.9/5.10 range, but there are tons of good routes to do at all grades.There are some great multi-pitch routes at JT, but you're right, most are one pitch. Bring a set of wires, TCUs, and cams up to #4.

There are numerous guide services permitted by the park. Some advertise in the back of the climbing mags. I don't know your background, but think you could figure things out without a paid instructor. There are several different guidebooks available. The big, mostly comprehensive guidebook is currently out of print. Check airline prices into Palm Springs (1 hour away and usually the most expensive); Ontario, CA (2 hours), Las Vegas & Los Angeles (3+ hours). If you fly into Vegas, you can check out both JT and Red Rocks.

Lodging may be had at the park's campgrounds (Hidden Valley and Ryan are the most popular with climbers and are frequently full - no charge). Bring your own water and firewood if you camp. Numerous motels are in the towns of JT and Yucca Valley (20ish miles away from the campgrounds). There's a $10 entrance fee into the park that is good for a week, or use the US Dpt of Interior Golden Eagle pass ($50), which is good for a year at JT, Red Rocks, Yosemite, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/13/00 09:32 PM

I've climbed in Joshua Tree only once so I'm not the biggest expert. I did enjoy the climbing though. We went to echo rock, which is fairly close to parking, and climbed mostly 5.10 and 5.11 bolted routes, which felt easier to me that Gunks ratings, though it's hard to say becuase the rock is so different. In general, we were leading easier routes and then setting up topropes on the harder routes. Even though the harder routes were well bolted, a fall on that type of rock would hurt! If you fall and slide on the slabs you are looking at losing a lot of skin. Since we were unfamiliar with the slab climbing we opted to top rope.

Near there is a great trad route you should look out for. I unfortunately can't remember the name of this climb, but it's a crack climb on the rock formation across from Echo Rock (looking from Echo Rick towards the parking area, the formation would be on your right). It was an easily protected 5.9 sustained crack climb, very enjoyable. It follows two cracks all the way up, one pitch. I think it is marked in the books as a classic. I'd recommend it highly.

Have a great time.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/14/00 12:27 AM

Joshua Tree is great, but you're right there isn't a lot of multi pitch climbing. I wouldn't really recommend buying a guide the first day unless you think you really need one. The best place to camp is the Hidden Valley Campground, which is usually full. However in February you'll find plenty of space......bring warm clothes....however it's been very dry and warm out here in California this year! I also recommend to bring jugs of water because there is no running water out there. There is the barker dam area which has good bouldering if you want a watering hole, but it stinks because the water is not running. You'll just smell like algae. Definitely climb North Overhang on Intersection's a classic.....other good climbs are Dogleg on the the Old Woman and Mama and Papa Woolsy on the east face of the Blob....there are so many killer routes out there.....just buy Vogel's guide. Bring tape for your hands because the crack climbing will eat you up if you don't tape....the rock is fairly rough, but it's still great climbing!! Hope you have a great trip!
I'll be out in New York the third week of April and am currently looking for someone to climb with at the Gunks since I've never been there. I'll be staying in Ithaca with a friend who goes to Cornell, but want to spend a couple days climbing at least!! Let me know if your interested!

Pierre de St. Croix
(559) 636-2754

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/14/00 03:36 PM

The climb that henzomania was trying to remember is called "Touch and Go". I would second his vote -- a great 5.9 lead or TR.

I never use tape. The one time I tried it (at JT) I felt that it "aided" the climb. That may not be the case in other types of rock, but the coarse crystals at JT really bite into the tape. I've found that when you get a jam and keep it -- don't let it slip at all, you will have no problem, regardless of the type of rock.

Have a great time!


Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/14/00 08:28 PM

Was just out in J.Tree over the Xmas holiday; mind-blowingly beautiful!!! Touch and Go was swell as others have
pointed out. Also enjoyed 'Walk on the Wild Side and 'Head Stone'; the hike from the Barker Dam area to Wonderland of Rocks (a little over a mile) was spectacular.
You'll want to bring lots of tape - I shredded my hands after just a couple of days.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 01/21/00 08:39 PM

Thanks to everyone for the beta. It'll definitely make the trip more productive and enjoyable. One other thing - anyone know where I can pick up a good guide book, I want to get one before heading out there. Thanks again, John

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree guidebk - 02/08/00 07:19 PM

the guidebook is randy vogel's "joshua tree rock climbing guide". chockstone press, evergreen, colorado. someone above says it's out of print, but i don't know about that -- i have the '92 edition. it's extensive and excellent, w/ a few thousand routes, maps of the rocks, and many many photos of routes. i say buy it if you can afford it, it's very useful for routefinding and also very fun to just page through.

i was at j tree a few weeks ago, camped at ryan. it's awesome, and crawling with climbers this time of year. it gets cold at night (30F), and to reiterate what others said, no water or firewood in the park, so buy it on the way in.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: joshua tree - 02/09/00 02:25 AM

The Vogel guidebook is indeed out of print. Copies are scarce here on the west coast, so if you find one back east snag it!