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Bighorn Mating Grotto

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Caught Inside on a Big Set T 
Dangling Woo Li Master T 
Euphrates T 
Morning Thunder T 
Sanctuary (aka Book of Changes) T 
Take Two, They're Small T 

Bighorn Mating Grotto  

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Location: 34.05146, -116.14733 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 21,036
Administrators: C Miller, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Josh Beck on Dec 16, 2002


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Some friends show us the way to the Mating Grotto.


Hidden an hour into the Wonderland is this small cove of rock with a handful of absolutely stellar moderate routes. A quartet of great 5.10 crack pitches, a short 5.9 offwidth, and a 5.11 thin crack/face problem are all great routes and this spot is very much worth the hike. The four "must-do" routes are Dangling Woo Li Master (5.10a), Book of Changes (5.10b), Caught Inside on a Big Set (5.10b) and Morning Thunder (5.10d).

Getting There 

Walk north from Uncle Willie's parking area (just past Barker Dam parking on the remaining portion of the older dirt road). Walk past Fire Me A Burger Rock and Freak Brother's into north Wonderland Wash. Continue keeping west of Disneyland Dome and east of the Astro Domes out the north end of the wash and keep your eyes peeled for Diarrhea Dome. When you find it head for the west end of Diarrhea Dome and scramble up 3rd class-ish terrain (several possibilities) into the Grotto which is tucked in on it's west end.

Can be hard to find, use Vogel's maps and/or be familiar with the area. It takes 45 mins if you know where you're going, but can take a lot longer if you don't. It's a small/deep alcove with 100+ foot routes that's hard to see from a distance. If you hear people and you think you're close it's probably correct 'cause it's by far the most popular attraction in the area.

Climbing Season

Weather station 7.7 miles from here

6 Total Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',4],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Bighorn Mating Grotto:
Dangling Woo Li Master   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   
Sanctuary (aka Book of Changes)   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   
Caught Inside on a Big Set   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   
Morning Thunder   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 125'   
Browse More Classics in Bighorn Mating Grotto

Featured Route For Bighorn Mating Grotto
Leading Morning Thunder. January, 2005. Photo: Pat...

Morning Thunder 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b  CA : Joshua Tree National Park : ... : Bighorn Mating Grotto
The longest route in the Grotto. Climb the slight overhanging corner using crack, stem, and chimney moves. There is always a 'small' placement possibility in the corner. It will take small nuts and TCUs. Use 2' slings on all placements and the rope drag will be acceptable higher up, otherwise you might be stopped. You will be standing/stemming in body tension a few times. The crux is getting onto a left edge low on the route. It isn't over yet, and the route continues for a ways through t...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Bighorn Mating Grotto Slideshow Add Photo
Bighorm Mating Grotto from the Podium area vantage
Bighorm Mating Grotto from the Podium area vantage
Bighorn Mating Grotto
BETA PHOTO: Bighorn Mating Grotto
The view from afar.
The view from afar.
Looking back from the short 5th class climb into t...
Looking back from the short 5th class climb into t...

Comments on Bighorn Mating Grotto Add Comment
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By M.Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Oct 25, 2003
Josh's description is excellent. I'd add the following: look for a feature called the "Owl Pinnacle" on top of Diarrhea Dome. It looks like the Headstone Formation in Ryan Campground and is a good landmark as it can be seen from some distance. Or, if you're a lazy bastard, just use the GPS.
By Joe Dawson
Jan 18, 2006
I went to the Mating Grotto recently and I wrote down some info on getting there since the directions to it in Vogel are pretty awful:

Turn off main road where sign says Barker Dam. Go past the parking lot marked 'Wonderland of Rocks.'
Turn right on Queen Valley Road.

Follow the main wash to the Astro Domes. A couple of hundred yards past these, hang a right and follow another wash. This wash peters in and out. Will have to go over rock and talus uphill and a little left. Should see Freak Brothers Dome, which is unmistakable - three tall domes, the middle of which, sports an enormous roof. Head for the wash in front of these and go left on it and look for Gumby Dome in another 500 yards.

Head for the Owl Perch Boulder on top of Diarrhea Dome. There is a picture of it in the Vogel guide. Diarrhea Dome is just behind Gumby Dome, which slopes off on its left side toward the ground and has some dark patches of brown rock on it.

Pass Gumby Dome and drop down into a valley a little before Diarrhea Dome that heads around the left of it. The approach to the Mating Grotto marked in the Vogel guide is 4th class. For an easier approach, contour left around the dome for about 100 yards. There are a couple of class 3 gullies that lead up to the grotto. There is a tree in one of them. Vague enough? Go up toward the tree, but scramble left onto the slab for the easiest way up. If you took the right path, you will be in the grotto shortly.

By outdooreric
From: La Mesa, CA
Mar 25, 2007
A longer approach, but with far less boulder hopping is to continue in the main Wonderland wash about 1/2 to 3/4 mile past Freak Brothers dome until well past any recognizable landmarks. The terrain will start to take on a different character, it starts to open up and the rocks get darker and much smaller. You will now be slightly northwest of the grotto. Continue in the main wash until you can see the actual formation off to the east (to the right and slightly behind where you came from) then head straight there. This will add some distance to the walk but could actually be quicker if not comfortable with 4th class boulder scrambling.
By Randy
Jan 19, 2009
See the Approach Directions for Diarrhea Dome for full beta on getting to the Grotto.
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