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North Astro Dome - Northeast Face
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Astronomical T 
Astroturf T 
Figures on a Landscape (aka Monkey on My Back) T 
Go Figure T 
Gunslinger T 
In Search of Hush Puppies T 
Nevermore TR 
Repo Man (aka Power Fingers) T 
Throat Warbler Mangrove  T 
Unknown Soldier T 
Zion Train T 

Gunslinger 

YDS: 5.12a/b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6a

   
Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 400'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.12b/c French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: IX- ZA: 27 British: E6 6b [details]
FA: Scott Cosgrove and Bob Gaines, April 1990
Page Views: 1,486
Submitted By: Bob Gaines on Nov 7, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (5)
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Description 

Begin about 200 feet right of Figures on a Landscape (aka Monkey on My Back), just right of the lowest point on the North Astro Dome.

Pitch 1: 12a, The "Moguls" pitch. 8 bolts. 5.9 up to the first bolt, 5.7 R to 2nd bolt, then up the moguls (5.10) to steeper, well-protected slab climbing (11b above 4th bolt and 12a above 6th bolt), then traverse left (5.10a) to a bolt belay.

Pitch 2: 11b, Steeper edging on perfect rock (5.11b) up and left past 4 bolts to another bolt belay.

Pitch 3: 12a/b/c, The "Headwall pitch". A height-dependent bouldery move right off the belay (5.12, V4/5) then follow incredible edges up the gently overhanging wall (11+) 7 bolts. Belay on a narrow ledge with a bolt anchor.

Pitch 4: 12a, The "Coral Corner". Tough stemming (5.12-) past 2 bolts in the corrugated corner leads to easier climbing past another bolt to the top. There was a fixed pin between the second and third bolts on the first ascent.


Protection 

Bolts, pro to 3 inches



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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 27, 2013
By Bob Gaines
Nov 7, 2008

One of the longest routes in the Park for the grade. The first pitch is a bit flakey, but after that the quality of the rock is excellent.

By Drewsky
Aug 10, 2009

I'll never forget the strange, undulating rock on the first pitch. The whole climb is stellar face climbing, with the hardest move being a boulder problem starting the 3rd (5.12-) pitch. The one thing I remember about the protection is that the belay anchor atop pitch 3 was a pair of 1/4" buttonheads as of 4 or 5 years ago. This is an anachronism on this route as most of the hardware appeared to be 3/8". This really should not be missed and deserves more traffic than it appears to have had.

By Josh Higgins
Mar 18, 2010
rating: 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b

The first pitch still needs some cleaning up. It's a bizarre lead that keeps you on edge due to all the potato chips waiting to peel off. Also, I think the 1st pitch is now potentially harder than it used to be. I onsighted the entire route except one 5' section I couldn't free on TR. Maybe holds broke? Or, maybe I couldn't read the micro holds well enough? The upper pitch ratings are on for someone my height (~6'), otherwise the boulder problem might be significantly harder. The quarter inch bolts are still there at the top of pitch 3. I built a belay using the two newer lead bolts below to stay safe. Bitchin route. I highly recommend the upper 3 pitches.

By Murf
Mar 18, 2010

Think I saw a lot of the ascent, seemed to go pretty cruiser. From a distance it looked like pitch 4 was the business. Saw swinging from both you guys.... the stemming corner must be a bitch.

By Josh Higgins
Apr 27, 2010
rating: 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b

Actually, I cruised the last pitch. It's definitely technical, but that's my style... The only pitch I fell on was the first, and there was nothing I could do to get that section free. I pulled on a bolt.

Here's the trip report:

pullharder.org/2010/04/26/desert-destruction/

Edit: Murf, maybe you saw me complete pitch 3 but then lower back down about 10'. I was building a belay using two of the newer lead bolts instead of using the crap 3rd pitch belay bolts. Roberto went up (couldn't miss his neon shirt) and whipped a few times, then I went up and sent first try in blue. :)

By Bob Gaines
Apr 28, 2010

Nice send, Josh!

When I get a chance, I'll go out there and replace that P3 anchor, and do some laps on that first pitch and try and clean it up a bit. I don't think it's seen much traffic, but the entire route is a classic, with great variety. Every pitch has its own distinctive character.

Good to know you can pull through the crux on P1 to get to the good stuff on pitches 2,3, and 4.

By Muff
Mar 26, 2012

Does anyone know if the P3 anchor was replaced on this? I am looking to attempt this in the near future. If the anchor has not been replaced would it be permissible that we replaced it?

Thanks for putting it up Bob!

By Bob Gaines
Mar 26, 2012

Thanks Muff. I haven't replaced that anchor yet, so if you're up for it- go for it! It's a wild route that deserves more traffic. Let me know how it goes- hope you send it!

By RTM
Mar 27, 2012

Bob, maybe you can answer, but isn't a special permit required to replace bolts in designated wilderness?

By C Miller
Administrator
Mar 27, 2012

From the NPS website - "Fixed anchors may be replaced, anchor for anchor, in wilderness."

No special permit required but you will need to hand-drill the bolts.

By Bob Gaines
Mar 27, 2012

No permit is required to replace existing bolts in wilderness as long as you hand drill them.

A "special permit" is required to place new bolts in wilderness, but since the permit process does not exist, this is the Park Service's way of saying No, but in a nice way. Theoretically, the Superintendent could approve a new bolt placement.

A special use permit is required to use a power drill in NON- WILDERNESS to replace existing bolts. Kevin Powell has been one person to take advantage of this and has done a tremendous amount of community service work that has benefited all Joshua Tree climbers in the good work he's done and continues to do (with gear generously donated by the ASCA)- all stainless and state-of-the art.

New bolts on new routes and relacement of existing bolts, by hand drilling, is allowed in NON-WILDERNESS without a permit, but climbers are encouraged to view the "New Route Checklist", available from the Park Service, that was developed by myself, Randy Vogel, and others when we served on the Park Service Climbing Advisory Committee.

By RTM
Mar 27, 2012

thanks for clarifying. Bob, its no wonder why you got four stars next to your name. Chris, as soon as I find out how to rate people on this site, I'm giving you four stars too bro!

By Bob Gaines
Mar 27, 2012

Rob, Four stars for you on the new Bouldering Guidebook!

By Brian Treanor
Dec 8, 2012
rating: 5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b

So, does anyone know if the belay bolts have been replaced? I'm thinking of heading out there next weekend. Unless I hear otherwise I guess I'll bring a long cordalette to equalize the bad belay with protection bolts beneath it, but it would be nice to know. I'd bring a hand drill to replace 'em but, frankly, I'm worried I botch it. Been climbing close to 30 years, but haven't been 'clinic-ed' on pulling bolts and re-drilling in the same holes, and don't want to mess up Bob and Scott's line by learning on the route.

EDIT: I climbed this with "fubar" (see comment below) yesterday. Some thoughts: (1) Some bolts need replacing on this route. The two mentioned by Josh don't look much worse than many others. The first protection bolt on P2, for example, is extending a bit from the hole. (2) I was able to do all the moves free (which is very different from actually freeing it), except the start of P3. My partner sent P3 in an impressive effort, but at 5'9" the initial moves seemed impossible for me. Of course, Bob's not bigger than I am, so I'm not saying those moves are impossible, but if you are under 6', I'm guessing that 12c or harder is appropriate. (3) The rock quality is pretty poor, as my partner mentioned. I think Bob and Scott did as well as they could in choosing the natural line on this part of the rock, but the rock quality is definitely sub-standard on the first pitch. (4) As mentioned above, we were able to do the moves free on P1 (after falls), but my partner broke a key foothold on the crux near the 7th (I think) bolt. Not sure if this changes the grade. (5) I think I counted 9, not 8, bolts on P1. (6) P2 seems harder than 11b. I'd say it is definitely harder than Gaines' "Joyride," which gets 11c. (7) In sum: P1: 12b?; very loose; persistence of key holds in doubt; really hard face climbing; good movement; well protected; some bolts may need looking at. P2: 11c?; some bolts need replacing. P3: height dependent; 12b-12d?; really, really, really good climbing!; tops out on calcified bird shit. P4: 12a?; potential awkward fall (trust me) between 1st and 2nd bolt, but not dangerous; higher up you may want a micro nut and a few small cams. Overall: This is about as good a line as you could get on this part of the North Astrodome (thanks, Bob and Scott); however, with bad rock and some old bolts (and what is up with the dozen or so empty bolt holes on the route? Broken bits on the FA?) it is hard for me to recommend this route. If the bolts get some attention, I could see my way to recommend it and go back to attempt a clean ascent. Gear: a few small micro-nuts (RP, HB offsets, etc) mostly the larger sizes, and maybe 2-3 finger size cams. #3 Camalot and a good stance for the anchor up top.

By fubar
From: Babylon
Jan 22, 2013
rating: 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b

The first pitch is like climbing on a slab covered in eggshells. At the crux I broke what seemed to be a key foothold; I can't imagine I was the first one to break an "important" hold, so it's definitely only getting harder as time goes by. The second pitch is a little better. The third pitch is awesome. The fourth pitch is okay. There is still loose rock on every pitch. With the exception of the third pitch, I don't think any of them would get a lot of stars on their own. The bolts run the spectrum from beefy metolius to spinning smc hangers. There is a pretty good-looking pin on the last pitch. I don't think you need more gear than a set of micros and two finger-sized cams. Anchor takes 3 inch gear. Have fun!

By Scott Cosgrove
Sep 4, 2013

We placed no 1/4 inch bolts on the climb, they are 5/16 button heads and completely bomber. As far as the first pitch, I never broke any holds, but it was poor rock.

I think we may have drilled shallow hook holes as we drilled all the bolts on lead, (legal at the time). I was also way into the Gunslinger by Stephen King at the time, hence the name.

Never said it was a classic, or anyone needs to recommend it...weird... but it was a fun and a great adventure, for me and my Brother Bob...

If I'm out this winter I'll go fix it, or maybe Bob has by now, but I'd belay off two 5/16 all day. After all for my first 15 years of climbing we only had 1/4, you modern varmits need to toughen up, LOL... just kidding; )

By Drewsky
Dec 27, 2013

It may not be a 'classic' in the sense that everything about it is perfect and thousands of people flock to it daily, but the route sure is a classic adventure in the Wonderland! As Bob states, it's one of the longest routes in J-Tree. The climbing is really superb at ties, especially, I thought, on P2 and P3. It's got some flaky rock, but honestly what's not to love about the 'bad' rock at J-Tree? It's taught me most of what I know about climbing. I recall that in 2002 or so my friend Bob J. was really excited one day about trying this route and I was young and psyched. I remember neither of us freed the crux on P1. I linked P2 and P3 but I definitely fell a few times starting P3. P4 was a little intimidating for us at the time. Our friend had rapped in from the top to take photos and was hanging out nearby, so we had him preclip the 1st bolt. I don't think I got P4 clean either. He got some great pictures of us and I wish I knew where the prints were. I'll post one if I find them.

Back when we attempted this I was fresh from the gym and all 'strange' bolts seemed suspect to me. Sounds like those P3 belay bolts are probably A-OK at 5/16". I know we backed them up with the last lead bolt on P3, so that's an option too. And you're right Scott: we do need to toughen up!