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The Sentinel - West Face
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Illusion Dweller 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 100'
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Matt Cox, Spencer Lennard and Steve Emerson, 1973
Page Views: 32,287
Submitted By: C Miller on Jan 1, 2005

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Crux of Illusion Dweller


Climb the obvious right-slanting crack using jams and lieback moves (it's often easier to keep one foot on the face for balance) until encountering a roof high on the route. A good rest is found here, so plug in some gear and pull the roof (crux) before topping out onto a nice ledge with a bolted anchor/rap. 100' rap from anchors or one can continue above the anchors and descend the slabby south face of the formation. Note: don't try rappelling with anything less than a 60 meter rope as it won't reach.

This excellent climb is a Josh classic and a must do route of the area as it's a long, varied pitch on good rock with a tricky start, a fun middle section and an exciting finish.

  • Some climbers may remember seeing this climb featured on the cover of the 1989 Joshua Tree supplemental guide. Another name for this climb is The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, the name of a 1965 novel by Tom Wolfe.


Located on the far right side of the west face of The Sentinel is this classic right-slanting crack (it's about 50' right from the base of Desert Song which starts behind some yuccas).


Gear to 3", bolted anchor/rap (3/8")

Photos of Illusion Dweller Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Lisa Pritchett leading Illusion Dweller
Lisa Pritchett leading Illusion Dweller
Rock Climbing Photo: Illusion Dweller from top of RFYL
Illusion Dweller from top of RFYL
Rock Climbing Photo: A beautiful line...
A beautiful line...
Rock Climbing Photo: Midway point on Illusion Dweller - if the route is...
Midway point on Illusion Dweller - if the route is...
Rock Climbing Photo: Erik Kramer-Webb on Illusion Dweller.  photo by bo...
Erik Kramer-Webb on Illusion Dweller. photo by bo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Illusion dweller
Illusion dweller
Rock Climbing Photo: Back in the day, 1997.
Back in the day, 1997.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cameron Reade following Illusion Dweller
Cameron Reade following Illusion Dweller
Rock Climbing Photo: Bruce the Brit on "Illusion Dweller" (5....
Bruce the Brit on "Illusion Dweller" (5....
Rock Climbing Photo: Tom Mason in a sea of Illusion.
Tom Mason in a sea of Illusion.
Rock Climbing Photo: dwell on the illusions
dwell on the illusions
Rock Climbing Photo: Illusion Dweller
Illusion Dweller
Rock Climbing Photo: Nice B&W photo of Taylor cruising ID on his first ...
Nice B&W photo of Taylor cruising ID on his first ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tom Mason almost done!
Tom Mason almost done!
Rock Climbing Photo: Illusion Dweller. Photo - Eric Anderson
Illusion Dweller. Photo - Eric Anderson
Rock Climbing Photo: Cover of Climbing April 2008
Cover of Climbing April 2008
Rock Climbing Photo: Nick S, onsighting Illusion Dweller.
Nick S, onsighting Illusion Dweller.
Rock Climbing Photo: Midway on Illusion Dweller (5.10b).
Midway on Illusion Dweller (5.10b).
Rock Climbing Photo: The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby ...
The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Midafternoon on Jan. 6, 2009 -- don't know who you...
Midafternoon on Jan. 6, 2009 -- don't know who you...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jackson on-sighting Illusion Dweller.
Jackson on-sighting Illusion Dweller.
Rock Climbing Photo: a bit balancy with right foot smears near the bott...
a bit balancy with right foot smears near the bott...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kyle C onsighting Illusion Dweller
Kyle C onsighting Illusion Dweller
Rock Climbing Photo: Illusion Dweller on a perfect Oct day
Illusion Dweller on a perfect Oct day

Show All 29 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Illusion Dweller Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 24, 2016
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jul 15, 2002
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

All-in-all a very nice line which eats gear and is no threat to a compitent leader.

Each one of the several cruxes is well protected, mostly by medium-sized stoppers. Each crux has a nice rest afterwards as well, to keep someone pressing the grade from getting too pumped.
By Hayden Yurkanis
Mar 31, 2003

advice for anyone who happens to poop there pants on the first 15 feet like myself...after you get to the first good hold teh difficulty significantly eases as your jams and feet become more secure. there are many, many good rests to place gear and the roof "crux" at the end has nice, gym-like holds. for me, the hardest parts were the begining and some insecure jams a litte more than midway up the wall. the flake left of the first jug 15 feet up is really lose and expands.
By Dynomight510
Aug 20, 2003
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Great gear all the way up. The first 15' section is technical requiring good body english. I could not just power through it. Though stiff, I would call this first section 5.9. The crack angles right so I was constantly looking for good right footholds and smeared a few times for the lack thereof. Rack: I used a double set of cams from .5" - 3". Tri cams at the belay and a two bolt rap station exists at the ledge. Overall, a stellar must do route that has great pro. If you decide to top rope this route, use a trad anchor over the exit crack rather than the rap bolts. You will have to climb down 5' lower from the ledge to get to a nice horizontal crack where you can build an anchor. That way, when you pull the exit move over the roof, you won't run the risk of a short pendulum to the left where the bolted anchor is. Use good extension to avoid rope wear.
By Randy
Oct 29, 2003
rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b

The actual FA: was Cox, Lennard and Steve Emerson (not Gary Ayres). Also Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamlined Baby is the actual name given by the FA team. Tobin Sorenson and Jim Wilson made a second "first ascent" in 1974 (adding a bolt-which has long ago disappeared) and called thier supposed new route Illusion Dweller. Sorenson and Wilson were credited with the FA for a while, and the name stuck even after the FA info was (incorrectly) corrected.

It seems sort of wierd to proposed this, but perhaps I should correct the name in the new guide, giving an "aka Illusion Dweller." Not sure how that would go over with people after nearly 30 years, but as time goes on, it becomes likely this will never be corrected.

Poll anyone?????
By David Evans
Oct 30, 2003

Yes, I am all for renaming the route. Hey, how about "Monkey on my Back" instead of "Figures on a Landscape?"....while we are at it!!!
By M.Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Oct 30, 2003

"Tangerine Dweller"?
By C Miller
Oct 30, 2003

Keep the name Illusion Dweller as that's how it's been known for so long but mention the original name as well.

There are many routes in Josh with multiple names (some are well known and some are not) - Heart Of Darkness (aka I'm Gassed) Stand And Deliver (aka Spanish Bombs) For Peter (aka Crystal City Underground) Riddles In The Dark (aka OK Crank) Total Generic Package (aka Mr. Swing) Chocolate Chips (aka Omaha Beach) Coarse And Buggy (aka Left Out) Equinox (aka Et Tu) Dehab Clinic (aka Lee's Health Studio) Fatty Winds His Neck Out (aka Locals Only) Mama Woolsey (Effigy) Wonderful World Of Art (aka The Gerbilator) Buttered Croissant (aka Dummy's Triangle and Chongo Bolt Route) Dynamic Panic (aka East Xing Direct) Bolt Heaven (aka Dry Cleaning) Adams Family (aka Get Right Or Get Left) The Mojus (aka Slushie) Pinched Rib (aka Snake Dike and Death Dike)

and even some formations - The Old Woman (aka North Fourth) The Negropolis (aka The Naygropolis)

There's more but you get the idea.
By Tyler Logan
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Nov 12, 2003
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

I feel the first few moves are by far the hardest on this route. Getting off the ground is not obvious, nor easy. I think these moves are way too bouldery to be called "5.9"; the supposed crux at the roof, although definitely 5.10, is no where near as hard as the start--just exposed. Don't be deterred by those first moves.
By Steven Powers
Nov 15, 2003
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamlined Baby, all the way, its a great name for a great climb.
By Anonymous Coward
Jan 6, 2004

This route deserves all five of its stars. The first 15 feet is not all that hard if you're a good crack climber. If you're not a good crack climber it's a nightmare. I've watched a lot of climbers on this route, and no one seems to climb it the same way. The final 10b boulder move at the top regularly spits out leaders, probably because they're pretty tired.
By Woody Stark
Apr 30, 2004

I climbed it today for the first time. There was quite a bit of rubber slime on the first fifteen feet which didn't help. All in all a fine route. I popped a couple of times at the top due to hand and arm fatigue. Small tri-cams in the crux-crack are bombers.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 23, 2004

Hey this climb's so well known as "Illusion Dweller" that there's a beer named after it (OK it's just a brew pub in Boulder, but they do have an "Illusion Dweller IPA", but it's stated on the menu that it's named after a climb). Anyway, I say keep this name, it's way easier to say. Do you really want to tell people you did "Kandy Koated blah blah blah Baby" today (see I already forgot it). Illusion Dweller sounds pretty cool.
By Adam D
From: Los Osos, CA
Nov 3, 2004

I too thought the start was a little stiff. 10a maybe, and you have to climb a bit to get pro. When I grabbed the loose flake left of the crack on the start "ooh...that's hollow!" The fool in the gallery watching me dropped the brilliant comment, "if it blows you can take it home as a souvenir" No if it blows, i'll deck and wing it at you on my way bubs.

By gnat
Nov 6, 2004

locker buddy: how can you rate the route if you didn't do the crux... hummmmm???!!!
By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Nov 6, 2004
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Gnat, it is 5.10b. I say that confidently. It is a long story. But I had the move the first try............then something beyond my control occured.........then I got injured and had to be lowered. The whole thing was really something. I would like to say that if any of you reading this was the party opposite us on Run for your life, thanks for the encouraging words and I hope you found it at least pretty entertaining.........and to bump the story up a notch.............all of what took place lasted well over four hours and more like really was a mess and was really way to put it in words other than...........I'm glad it is over now to go back and do it clean.........................oh and it's nice to be alive....................
By Mike Hack
Nov 8, 2004

Did anyone else think this roof ("crux" at 10a/b) was much easier than the roof on RollerBall, whose 10b crux is supposed to be the lower technical section?
By namascar
Nov 8, 2004
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Great route, very popular. We found some trash at the bottom of the route...
By Josh Beck
Nov 8, 2004

I agree that Rollerball is much harder than Illusion Dweller. I also think that Rollerball is harder than Clean and Jerk, but YMMV...
By Bo Johnston
Feb 5, 2005

I was stressing about the crux as I jammed the long way up to the 10b finish and was relieved to find that the hardest work was everything before it.
By Drederek
Apr 5, 2005
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Great pitch almost as good as the Split Pillar at Squamish. Finger sized gear at the finish. I tried to clean it on rappel and with some contortions got all but a 20 year old blue Metolius tricam. Hope someone who reads about it here gets it :)
By bw1
Apr 5, 2005
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

the first 15 feet was the mental crux for me. a very nice right angling line in a beautiful area warrants a definite three star classic.
By Woody Stark
Apr 6, 2005

A little mind game here, something I've wondered about with other routes as well; If the crux overhang were the first move, when one was fresh, instead of the last, would this route be easier?
By Adam Catalano
From: Albany, New York
Feb 20, 2006

The roof crux wasn't bad at all. Definitely would be a lower grade if it was at the start of the climb. However, because of all the climbing before, it did warrent a hang for a second. Commit to lay it back and power through it. I think I found myself leaning left up the majority of the climb even though the crack leans right. Awkward huh.
Don't try to lower off the bolts and have a second clean. You'll be about 10 feet off the ground if you're using a 60 meter.
By Mike
From: Phoenix
Sep 18, 2006

This is one of my favorite J-Tree climbs. I have it pretty much wired by now, but the crux for me was always in the lower middle section. I never thought the start was that tough, and the "crux" finish is only the crux because of fatigue.
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Feb 24, 2007
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Led the route for the first time today. Haven't been on it in at least 5 years. I remembered the leaning crack being difficult so I was all psyched up for that. Figured the upper section would be easy as it's a lieback. Turns out after I completely sewed up the lower section (16 pieces was the final count) I must have run out of steam and ended up hanging at the top. I suck and nerves got the better of me. I'll be back and post my progress. Less gear & no hangs.

By Guy H.
From: Fort Collins CO
Mar 24, 2007
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

If you are tall, the roof will feel easy compared to the rest of the route. It felt like Gunks 5.8+.

One of the best 5.10 cracks that I have done.
By Brad G
From: Yosemite and elsewhere
Sep 24, 2007

The first part felt really hard and sandbagged the middle was kind of boring but the roof was classic.
By armand rollice
From: rancho cucamonga
Feb 27, 2008

What can I say very very classic route. The gear is good the whole way. The crux at the top was commiting, but your well protected with gear below. It was my goal to lead this for a long time. When i finally did. I had a blast! I sent it clean styled the moves all the way to the top. When it was all over and rapped to the ground. I saw this beautiful woman standing there watching me. Well four months later we returned to the base of Illusion Dweller. I asked her to marry me. Eight months later we got married under the oak tree at Live oak picnic area October 7th 2006
By Shipp
From: laguna beach, ca
Jan 28, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Did this climb 20 or so years ago and then again a couple of months ago. It seemed easier back then (getting old sucks). Bottom is 5.10a and the top exit move is 5.10b gym style. You can sew-up the climb the whole way. one of the top 3 best moderate cracks in the park.
By AWinters
From: NH
Jan 29, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

superb! felt like a model 10b to me. surely not a 10a. this would get 10b/c at a lot of other crags. pump factor, balancy and awkward in spots, crux finish. full-value fun climbing...
By tallmark515
From: San Francisco
Apr 8, 2009
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I have a hard time grading this route. It is definitely sustained climbing, but at 6'4" the crux at the top felt soft for .10b and although the crux off the ground was still a bit tricky, I still don't feel like it was .10b.

Either way, this is a classic Jtree route and one not to be missed.

Place good gear at the start, when my buddy attempted to lead this a few years ago, he slipped off the starting crux and his gear pulled, sending him directly onto the Yucca below.
By Pat C
From: Honolulu
May 22, 2009
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

This route is .10a, and awesome. Just gotta be in the zone for it. The first time I lead it I had to set an anchor twice! I was so scared and hyped up that I made it a three pitch climb! Today I went back (after being punished by fisticuffs) and was feeling great, it was fast and engaging and amazing! Definitely a super climb, but again I can't say that I found anything harder than .10a on it.
By Ian G.
From: PDX, OR
Aug 27, 2009
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

The top crux protects perfectly and isn't that hard depending on how much rodent/bird poop is in the dish you're going for. Unfortunately, there was a lot of poop there when I did it...and subsequently fell.
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
Nov 19, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

I am fascinated at all the diverse comments and varying opinions about "where the crux is"!

The first 15-20 feet were not that cruxy to me; I had solid hand and foot jams the whole way. I felt much more desperate on the upper third as you're getting close to the roof--there was a wide but shallow section here that left me doing gripping hand stacks while making more of those weird-balance angling moves.

Ultimately, the roof did prove to be the crux for me I guess; I blew my onsight here. :( Fatigue was definitely a factor! Fantastic route however!!
By Reva
Jan 22, 2011

grunted my way up this climb. you use every hand jam that exists. had to rest on a fist jam. fun climb all in all.
By Brian Prince
From: morro bay, ca
Feb 5, 2011

Armando! You doggedy dog man nicely done! Congrats
By Steve Axthelm
Apr 11, 2011

Just did this again for the first time in about 25 years. Was as good as I remembered it to be.

Crux is definitely at the top, not that hard, but a bit bouldery and the place where you need to be to figure out the moves is not exactly a rest. I think the 10b rating is spot on. Reach factors into the difficulty as well.
By Benjamin Smith
May 6, 2011

I felt the hardest part was placing good gear at the start to keep from decking. Finding stances to pro from in the first 20 feet was strenuous. Other than that, it's a great route although it feels like a gimme 10b.
By Colonel Mustard
From: Sacramento, CA
Jan 17, 2012
rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b

^^^Well, it sorta is a gimme 10b, Benjamin, the new Vogel guide calls it 10a/b. I guess that's a fair summation, although I am not completely at home with slash grades myself. I've definitely done 10a's in Josh I thought were as hard as Illusion Dweller (Taxman, for one) or maybe harder.
By Tradoholic
Jan 20, 2012
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Only pushes 10b because of the length, 10a overall with the main crux at the bottom. I didn't find the top too hard at all. A brown tri-cam fits perfectly in the slot under the roof.
By Pitty
From: Marbach
Nov 28, 2012

loved to see my friend following the whole crack without jamming, think this must be a 12b or more like this :-)
By Kevin Dahlstrom
From: Fort Worth, TX
Dec 11, 2012

First Ascent by an NFL lineman:

By Scott Scharfenberg
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Dec 2, 2013
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

This was my first 5.10 trad lead and I somehow managed an onsight! Awesome climb.

I'm 6'2" with fairly large hands. The first 15-20 feet were the most technical for me, as it was a bit thin for my hands. After that, I felt it was a sheer test of endurance. Fortunately I found good stances every few moves and was able to really sew up the route. This crack really does eat up pro.

There is an amazing stance to shake out on before busting the final moves up to the roof pull. I must've sat there for 3-5 minutes. Plenty of good pro at that stance too, especially if you reach up high. Knowing that there were jugs somewhere over the roof and being tall made it significantly less of a challenge--other than being weak from exhaustion I had no problem pulling the roof.

Definitely a memorable climb. I'd love to come back when I'm stronger and do the route with proper style instead of just grunting and thrashing my way up.
By Klaas
From: Goleta
Apr 21, 2015

A fantastic line! Well sustained but good restspots! Led it without falling until the roof. There after the third try I finally made it. Watch for a very small knob for your left foot. Protects perfectly with doubles C4 from .4-3 and TCU 1 and 2 and a set of nuts.
You also can clean the route while rapelling if you do not have a follower. Use a 70m rope and prussik backup and let your belayer have you on belay on one strand so that you cant swing off to the right.
By Kyle Goupil
From: SLC, UT
Feb 17, 2016

Amazing route! Please be careful pulling on the flake at the beginning of this route. Just climbed it this past week and its very loose. If it pops off that will be bad for the belayer.
By Bradley Gorsline
From: Pasadena, California
Apr 24, 2016

Great route, sustained hard moves with good rests and great pro the whole way. I did a very inelegant beached wale move to surmount the roof, definitely not the way to go. Our 60m rope just barely made it to the ground (actually a small tree off right) with rope stretch.

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