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Headstone Rock
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Cryptic S 
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Headbanger's Ball T 
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Headstone Crack Left T 
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South Face Center TR 
SW Corner T 
Unsorted Routes:

SW Corner 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 50'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Mark Powell and Bill Feuerer, 1958
Page Views: 18,999
Submitted By: Brian Reynolds on May 5, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (333)
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Loving the exposure on the SW Corner


Awesome setting, great summit, big air underneath you. This is a great climb. It's popular, and there's often a line, but it's still well worth doing. Ss soon as you hit the corner past the second bolt, it's like there's no one else around but you and a hundred feet of air. The crux is negotiating your way over a small bulge above the second bolt -- the holds are there and bomber, though, so fire away!! This is one climb that I intend to come back and do again, many times.

For excellent photo ops, set a friend up with a camera on the sloping rock that faces the south face.


4 bolts, bolted anchor/rap (all 3/8")

Photos of SW Corner Slideshow Add Photo
From the base of headstone.
From the base of headstone.
Rapping off Headstone Rock in 1979 after doing the route.
Rapping off Headstone Rock in 1979 after doing the...
Shiloh on the SW Corner. Photo taken by Cinnamon Prowell
Shiloh on the SW Corner. Photo taken by Cinnamon P...
The hardest 5.6 in the world!
The hardest 5.6 in the world!
Super Larry leading the first climb of the day.  The wind was howling so much it almost blew him off...  Ah, J-Tree in February...
Super Larry leading the first climb of the day. T...
Climbers on the Southwest Corner and Cryptic.
Climbers on the Southwest Corner and Cryptic.
Chris solos SW corner
Chris solos SW corner
Liza Butler, of Sausalito, positively gripped on the sharp end of the Headstone.
Liza Butler, of Sausalito, positively gripped on t...
Looking burly (or just showing off) on the Headstone. <br /> <br /><a href='http://www.EarthworksImagery.com' target='_blank' rel='nofollow' >earthworksimagery.com</a>
Looking burly (or just showing off) on the Headsto...
Paul Rapping off of SW Corner near dusk.
Paul Rapping off of SW Corner near dusk.
Climbing the SW Corner on a classic JT windy day.
Climbing the SW Corner on a classic JT windy day.
45 degrees and windy on the SW Corner (5.6), Joshua Tree NP
45 degrees and windy on the SW Corner (5.6), Joshu...
Christa Cline making the step onto the arete.
Christa Cline making the step onto the arete.
View approaching Headstone
View approaching Headstone
Climbers on Headstone Rock (((2-29-2004)))
BETA PHOTO: Climbers on Headstone Rock (((2-29-2004)))
Evening shot
Evening shot
SW Corner
SW Corner
Malynda high steps near the 3rd bolt.
Malynda high steps near the 3rd bolt.
Almost at the bolt up and right of my hand.  Second time for this picture because I screwed up the names the first time.
Almost at the bolt up and right of my hand. Secon...
Taken from the nearby Adobe
Taken from the nearby Adobe
Liza Butler, of Sausalito, nears the top-out on the SW Corner.
Liza Butler, of Sausalito, nears the top-out on th...
Dalon leading the SW corner; although certianly not mandatory; a red cam fits into the small crack perfectly to protect the bulge move!
Dalon leading the SW corner; although certianly no...

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 12, 2014
By Brian Reynolds
Sep 20, 2002

Question (inspired by some bolt-war-related discussions going on over on rec.climbing right now): How many bolts were placed on this climb by the FA? When I climbed it last May, there were four, but I seem to recall some discussion that sometimes there aren't quite as many, or they get chopped, or something along those lines. So how many were there originally? And which ones were they? Anyone know?
By Murf
Oct 1, 2002

I went and took a look last year and there was a "new" bolt. New as in wasn't there a few years ago, and certainly not on the FA. Its the first bolt, right next to a small nut placement. I wouldn't expect it to be around for too much longer, if its not gone already.
By C Miller
Oct 31, 2002
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

As best I can discern there have always been four bolts on this route (SW Corner). The original two were quite close together and in fact the first bolt hanger was homemade - a piece of strapping iron with a ring. As for the bolts being new and shiny that's because they've been replaced. Lastly, you can call the the first bolt unneeded but remember when the climb was first done not all the high tech hardware available today was around, so the bolt is perhaps superfluous but historic. If you don't like it or need it don't clip it.
By misha
Feb 7, 2003

oh my god, i can remember the huge runout and deadly whippers i took on those quarter inchers. that route is definately 5.9 btw.
By Brian Reynolds
Mar 13, 2003

Nice try, Misha. No way in hell this route is anything more than 5.6, and the only way you could've taken a huge whipper is if you decided to skip a few bolts on the way by.
By Mike Epke
From: Denver, CO
Mar 16, 2003

Awesome route, among my favorites in the whole park after two great stays. The exposure after bolt # 2 makes the route for sure. A climb that I plan to enjoy many more times.
By misha
Mar 23, 2003

I was hoping to get the crazy old trad daddies a bit more riled up. Anyways, this is my vote for possibly the best sport climb in Jtree. It's rare that you can get 75 feet of exposure after only 10 feet of climbing.
By Don Thompson
May 30, 2003

Hay climbers i have been climbing the South West route since the early 70s The route is 5.6 and the other side their use to be a excellent bolt ladder route put upby the Riverside Search and Rescue team a great aid climb until a climber decided to play God and remove the complete bolt ladder, it was a great training area for aid climbing and it helped me in getting up Half Done standard Route in the late 70sThe rock was called the Lost Pencil I am just mad that the aid ladder is gone forever because some 5.13 climber decided to destroy the aid route. The route had a overhang at the top where you could use a cliff hanger to move over the top to the rappell station. However, it is gone for good now, please do not destroy routes set up by climbers i cannot climb 5.13 and use to enjoyed the climb in the late evening when i visited Joshua Tree, now it is gone for good.

Don Thompson
By Steven Powers
Jun 10, 2003
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

i love this climb, a couple of weeks ago i was climbing the route, and there was this big group of people trying to do this route and a bunch of them kept falling, they were all swearing it was like 5.10, i got a kick out of that, then they went on to say that cryptic was easier than sw corner! tards.
By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Aug 22, 2003
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

My son and I did this one yesterday (Oh! Is it closed? Oops! Ah.........we hiked in....) and I too feel that 5.6 is about right. That first bolt caught me a bit off guard also and I wondered if it was placed after the others due to the exposure bugging someone. Whatever the case, I can see why the route is a favorite for so many. We enjoyed it very much also. The view is outstanding!
By Dynomight510
Sep 22, 2003
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

The traverse past the second bolt over to the corner feels like 5.7 but when you get the hand and foot holds correct, it's 5.6. There is potential for a pendulum after the fourth bolt for the follower. The climbing is very easy past the fourth bolt but can spook novices. But, there is an opportunity to place a few small nuts opposed 10' past the last bolt to protect the follower. Look for the flake.

Classic with great exposure.

Get the sequence correct else it feels harder.
By Steven Powers
Oct 1, 2003
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

in order to skip the "5.7" traverse part go up clip the first bolt then down climb lower to much larger foot holds,and head left there. if you do this the whole route is 5.6.
By Randy
Dec 17, 2003

FA of this fine route was by Mark Powell and Bill "Dolt" Feuerer in April, 1958. Contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, no aid was used on FA.
By Anonymous Coward
Jan 21, 2004

The move over the roof can be made a little more relaxed for beginning leader by plugging a #1 camalot just over the little roof in a short groove/crack.
By Woody Stark
Feb 7, 2004

I first climbed this route in the mid sixties. There was one quarter inch bolt with no hanger. Further, there was a horn like hold under the overhang that was used to swing out to the ridge; it's long gone. A piton was set somewhere under the overhang. We tied off the bolt with a narrow sling to "protect" the moves to the top. It was more interesting in those days.
By calitradclimber
Feb 13, 2004

Enjoyed this little route, found it to be a great warm up, sprayers beware, exposure below....the route to the right is much better...
By C Miller
Feb 26, 2004
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

A stellar route that's worth repeating over and over. The exposure and position more than make up for the shortess of the route. Climb it by the light of the moon for full value.
By Matt Chan
From: Boulder
May 10, 2004

Wish I had brought something to protect the second after clipping the last bolt. I would imagine a fall, though unlikely, would be a bit nasty after your second cleans the last draw. Anyone ever place a piece after the last bolt?
By Woody Stark
Sep 8, 2004

My daughter Tia and I took advantage of the mild temperatures yesterday to do the SW Corner and Cryptic without having to get the reservation probably required during the regular season. There were a couple of Brits on Cryptic having a hell of a time trying to get by the second bolt. Later, as I was climbing it, and out of necessity, I remembered the hidden foothold around the corner. Too late to help the Brits though.Initially, there was one bolt on the SW Corner, the remains of which can be seen near the middle bolt on the ridge. I found the route very greasy. It's been climbed so much that footholds that were once of no concern even climbing with early vibrams now are a bit dubious. If it wasn't for that, I'd recommend "delicately" removing the second ridge bolt, but not now. The bolt at the start, however, is unnecessary. One can place a firm point in the crack, traverse to the left and clip the second bolt.Cryptic has got to be one of the best short eights in the park. I find it mildly humorous ,though, that on the left is a route that's overbolted and on the right a route that will probably send you to the hospital if you blow it getting to the first bolt. I've always found the crux to be the first fifteen feet.
By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Sep 8, 2004
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

A route I always recommend to climbers of all levels and types when visiting JTree. And that first bolt issue that always crop up............pass it by if desired as I do or clip it if desired. But there is no real need to remove it in my book. People use it and feel it is needed......
By Woody Stark
Sep 9, 2004

A competent climber will place a bolt where it is necessary due to inability to place a nut or cam to protect the same moves. I don't really care that much one way or the other whether or not that particular bolt is removed. This goes to the heart of a tactical an ethical issue in climbing; and it's basic: if there's a acceptable crack that protects the same terrain, use it. The bolting issue will, as a problem, continue to be with us. That one unnecessary bolt is only a symbol.
By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Sep 9, 2004
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Woody, I don't think that "Bolt" that was added does anything positive to add to the climb. Personally I wish it had never been placed there. I only say that now that it is there? Hell, leave the damned thing. That climb is a super cool little feller and for me, part of it's coolness are the moves at the start and the exposure. That bolt takes away from that feeling if used. But to each their own. Let's just be thankful that Jtree is not a true "Sport" area and the runnouts remain. For a 5.6 (And I think that rating nails it) it for the grade is one of the best in the park in my book........
By Infernal Doom Fanatic
Sep 30, 2004
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Avoid rappeling on the "Cryptic"/"S.W. Corner" side of the rock. My rope got stuck and resulted in free soloing S.W. Corner(Including a foot slip at the overhang) to free my rope.Killer route, one of the best indeed.
By Ryan Avery
Mar 9, 2005

Who hasn't done this route? Either way, its a good climb. I think I've done it 6 times or so over the years.
By Aaron Williams
Apr 2, 2005
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

theres three bolts right now and two of them have chains on them if you climb 5 feet higher to the very top there are really rusty coldshuts
By Jason Shatek
Apr 7, 2005
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

What a fun 5.6, I had to think about this route as I was leading it, but everything you need is there. When we were there last week it was tough to do this climb because there was always someone on it. I think this might be the "calypso" of the j-tree area. A great route with fun exposure!
By Valerie
Feb 18, 2006

Absolutely! The view from the top is so rewarding after this exhilerating climb! I will always return to Headstone. See the pics.
By 46and2
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jun 11, 2006
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Excellent route that should never be missed; may I also recommend climbing this thing in the early morning or late afternoon to get some good shade!
By Jon Hanlon
From: SLO
Sep 20, 2006

I feel lucky to have climbed this route a few times before the addition of that first bolt. I have fond memories of an exciting climb over the abyss on the way to clipping that first bolt (the one that is now the second). I feel sorry for climbers today that don't get the same reward from the SW Corner of Headstone.

I repeated it this weekend and now it's a little bland. Pablum. Retrobolters and their enablers are not only robbing others, they are screwing themselves.
By Bill Becher
Feb 9, 2007

Has anyone done this climb by moonlight? It's one of my ambitions to do on a full moon night.. Will howl from the top before rapping off..
By Dave Cox
Feb 10, 2007

Did it by moonlight a couple of years ago and it was a major blast ,but you don't get the same exposure. Also gave it a go after the 2004 snowstorm but was shutdown cold,scared and wet.
By Bill Olszewski
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 8, 2007

A must do JT classic! The exposure is great but the traverse is even more fun with a headlamp, IMHO.
By lars johnson
From: San Francisco, CA
Jun 6, 2007

5.6d A classic!!!
By seamstress
Nov 26, 2007
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Awesome climb. Climbed it Saturday morning - so cold and windy, my feet were going numb. Hands were great, but I could see how it would be greasy and slick on a hot day. I would probably not have been able to start it if this were my first climb at JT, but it isn't any harder than 5.6.
By Chris Owen
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
May 23, 2008
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

If this isn't a four star route I don't think there are any in JTree. Fulfills the original criteria for designating a route as classic.
By John Hegyes
From: Las Vegas, NV
May 23, 2008

Um, well that puts me in an awkward spot, but I'll stick to my guns: one star. By the way, this was my first route in J Tree.
By Mark Roth
From: Boulder
Dec 2, 2008

This was also my first route in JT (a few years ago). When I topped out there was another party on top that thought it was great that I was teaching my daughter to climb. It was my wife!
On our way down we saw a guy blow the third clip and smash his shins on the lip of that bottom overhang. Ouch! He pretended like it didn't hurt and went back up.
By 72HW
Jan 19, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Most def a classic, if for nothing else than the spectacular exposure. We were puzzled by the placement of the second bolt however, as the route goes a bit harder if you move up directly after clipping the first to clip it. My advice is to stay low and clip #2 as you work your way up after the traverse, or clip it and downclimb a move to the ledges moving out left.

(EDIT: I now realize the first bolt was added later, which makes the SECOND bolt placement a whole lot easier to understand as it used to be the first... how confusing!)

Overall a 5.6 route with big, committing moves that can no doubt make the new leader over think what needs to happen, making the route seem much harder than it is.

The crux for me was moving past the last bolt - a weird feeling high step onto lower angle stuff. Not hard per se, just exposed...
By ChanVan
Feb 21, 2009

Killer route to do sans light on a full moon!
By Dan Costello
Apr 19, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

SW Corner was my first real lead.

The combination of silent terror and exhilaration I felt then has been there ever since. I've climbed this route at sunset, at dawn, during a windstorm, in the rain, and by the light of the full moon and there's nothing better than dragging someone to Joshua Tree so they can do it too. (And so I have an excuse to climb it again.)

By Pat C
From: Honolulu
Jun 4, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Climb this guy barefoot! All of a sudden that 5.6 rating feels like runout 5.10. I'd never climbed barefoot before, but I figured this would be a good test piece. Don't take chalk either. The fear is incredible! One can feel it radiate through their body. Become the zen master. I love this climb.
By Chris D
From: the couch
Feb 26, 2010

Got up early and grabbed a couple of kids from the campsite next to me to head over and climb this route last weekend. I'd been eyeballing this route and drooling over it ever since I started climbing (after years of admiring the formation as a non-climber). I offered to lead it, and honestly, was relieved that another in the group wanted to lead it more than I did. Getting to the third bolt is a beautiful Josh runout over super exposure.

Anyway, it was even better than I'd thought it would be. I'm glad I wasn't around to climb this route in the sixties before it was "ruined" by someone placing an extra bolt. It would have been a shame to have been disappointed on this spectacular climb.

In any event, I don't see how the extra bolt at the start makes the runout to the third (formerly second) bolt any less exciting. If you peel on the moves traversing to and starting up the arete, you're gonna have an exciting ride.
By ScooterV
From: Chandler, AZ
Dec 29, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I climbed this great one just after Christmas and it says 50 ft but I think 60 and the start is already around 80 ft off the floor and stepping out onto the arette had my knee shaking pretty badly. What a great route!
By tsuji
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 25, 2011

One of the best 5.6 climbs I've done!
By Daniel Kane
From: San Jose
Apr 24, 2011
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I enjoyed this climb a lot. The climb was nothing impressive, not to me, but it was fun and the view from the top makes it a great end of the day, watch the sunset sort of event.
By Canon
Nov 7, 2011

Great exposure. If you're looking to TR this one from the bolts up top, you'll need webbing for a long anchor extension, and probably set a directional on the highest bolt. Otherwise it would be a hell of a pendulum.
By Tavis Ricksecker
From: Bishop, ca
Jan 19, 2012

Fun climb for the grade, but not exactly a five star classic.
By Rob Selter
From: running springs Ca
Apr 22, 2012

Good climb, nice exposure, but not worth all the hype.
By Climb To Safety
From: california
Mar 14, 2013
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

First climb of the day on march 13, 2013. Ive been talking about this climb for well over a year. Hidden valley camp was filled up so we camped at ryan, with a great view of the sw corner. We couldnt pass it up this time, and it was well worth the time. I wish the climb were 20 feet longer, but aesthetically, this thing is begging to be climbed. Great summit, with a great view, and fun 5.6 climbing the entire way.
By Matt Michael
From: Oceanside, CA
Apr 19, 2013

I personally enjoyed Cryptic much more, but a fun climb to do at least once. Sent my buddy up on it for his first lead ever. I think the exposure got him. He managed to pull it off, but was a little shaky hah.
By Alex Peterson
From: Kamas, Utah
Jul 2, 2013
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Classic must do route. Gets sun even early in the morning in the summer. Its starting to get greasy, but that just makes it better.
By Hyrum j. C
From: St george, ut
Mar 12, 2014

hey i found a rope in front of this climb on 3/09/2014. if its yours let me know.