Gunks grades vs JTree grades


Original Post
byPerched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Hello all, can Gunks climbers who have actually climbed in Joshua Tree comment on how comparable in terms of difficulty or sand bagging Gunks grades are to Joshua Tree grades?

Any color you can offer on scary or mentally challenging aspects (e.g. run-outs, sketchy gear, critical techniques) of Joshua Tree would be very welcome.

My wife and I are new leaders. We have lead up to 5.5 in the Gunks (as well as Rhododendron). Any suggestions for fun easy/moderate climbs with G rated protection would also be very very welcome.

Thanks all!

Happy New Year!

Logan Schiff · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 60

I went to JTree a few years ago. Grades felt pretty comparable to the gunks though obviously if you aren't familiar with crack climbing those routes will feel harder. Slabs tend to be quite runout even where bolted so be careful.

I an sure locals will have good route suggestions.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 650

Different technique required at each place. If you don't like roofs or you are short (horizontals) then many climbs at the Gunks can seem sandbagged. If you don't like cracks then Joshua Tree can seem sandbagged.

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 960

The grades aren't dissimilar. But that's a distraction; the climbing itself is so very dissimilar that grades just aren't a basis of comparison.

Especially at lower grades - look for protectability most of all.

Start out at Atlantis wall.

Benjamin Chapman · · Small Town, USA · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 13,267

byPerched...Joshua Tree grades are notoriously stiff by CA standards, but if coming from the Gunks expect Joshua Tree grades to seem very soft by comparison. From climbing 9 summers at the Gunks and 30+ in Joshua I've found a 5.9 in the Gunks to equate to a 5.10b/c in Joshua Tree. By example; Shockley's Ceiling rated 5.6, compares to the roof move on Hobbit Roof rated 5.10a/b in Joshua Tree. Also, the last right leaning corner pitch of Gelsa (5.4) compares favorably with Double Cross (5.7+) at Joshua Tree. You won't find as many of the big horizontal roofs in Joshua Tree that are so prolific at the Gunks, and you likely won't be prepared for the grainy run out slabs you'll encounter in Joshua Tree. Many will not agree and experiences vary, but that's my experience.

J Achey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 145

Hi, byPerched, I started climbing at the Gunks and made some visits there not too long after that, so I experienced the transition you are asking about. First, you will be confronted with a lot of runout slab climbing, which the Gunks has not prepared you for at all. The only G-rated climbs you'll find will involve a lot of crack techniques, another kind of climbing the Gunks hasn't prepared you for! In general, at the grades you describe, you will either be on poorly protected slabs, or somewhat awkward but better protected cracks. Josh is a great place for toproping, especially if you are comfortable setting gear anchors, so keep that option in mind and bring plenty of long slings or a short length of static rope for set-ups. The moderate bouldering is also really fun, and a good way to get more comfortable on slabs. All in all, you're in for a challenge, and a treat. Enjoy!

Nolan Huther · · Clarkson University · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 607

Runout slab and limited protection? Sounds more comparable to the Adirondacks

byPerched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Hey all, thanks for the insights. Looks like we're in for cheese graters and knuckle scrapers.

Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 65

Just got back from J-tree. As someone else mentioned, the grades are comparable though the styles are quite different.

There is a guide book called the trad guide to joshua tree that I think would be helpful. It covers 60 routes throughout the park from 5.5 to 5.9. It's a good place to start

Have fun!

matt c. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 155

As everyone else said, the ratings are about the same but the climbing is very very different. Expect an adjustment period to get used to the friction. Another thing to keep in minds is that the ratings are josh are pretty inconsistent, so keep an eye out for this too.

Check out: Route 66, the eye, the bong and climbs on trash can rock. Have fun!

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 297

The Bong is pretty cool, except that the descent is a little 4th classy, at least the way we went. Some folks might want a belay on the downclimb. Cyclops Eye or whatever it's called might be tempting because of the grade, but me and several others I've spoken to have found it a little heads up at the grade, with some suspect rock and pretty spaced gear. Caveat emptor.

If you want to push a little Lazy Day I thought was pretty cool, short crux with extremely good gear. Right next to the road.

To me the 5.5 grade seems a little sparse out there. I'm pretty sure I've googled up a list of good Joshua Tree topropes in the past, that might open up some options for you. Or hire guide one day to get on Walk on the Wild Side or The Swift?

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 12,125

Most have pretty much said it...different style, different pro, many can be TR'd, and maybe hire a guide for first day. I was used to slab from New Hampshire slabs, and found the slabs that I did at J-Tree to seem much "sticker"...i.e. the rock is rougher.

I would mention, however, since you'll be in the area (about 1 1/2 hrs drive) and might find yourself thinking about going there, that I did find the "easy" grades ( 5.3 - 5.7) at Taquitz to be a "whole different story". Perhaps most notable was "Fingertrip traverse" rated at 5.3 (or so?). I thought it was a "couple-to-three" grades harder (also, read the guidebook carefully here ..."Fingertrip" doesn't end at the top of the cliff, it ends on a ledge and the easiest way off-and-up is, if I recall, the last pitch of a climb rated 5.6.) I also got off route on The Gash and managed to turn a 5.3 into a 5.6 (Hey, after following a corner/crack system for 2-3 pitches you're supposed to climb a face, not stay in the crack.)

byPerched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

This is really great. Thank you all.

Happiegrrrl · · Gunks · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 60

The Chief, 5.5 True G, in the Wonderland, is probably the most Gunks-like climb at the grade out there. Plenty of good gear to build anchor atop the route(and there was a bolted convenience anchor put in a few years ago, which may or may not still be there). If not, the bolted rappel anchor is off to your left, and can be used to TR the 5.7ish slabs on the west face.

There are 2 5.3 cracks in Indian Cove at the Short Wall, which cane seem pretty like 5.3MA(my ass). Walk off the back, pretty much straight back.

There is a couple routes in Echo Cove - Chute Up, which is 5.2 and decent gear. Short, but can be used to get up at hang a TR on some nice slab routes to the right. Once you get to the "top"of Chute Up" (it's short) you'll want at least one big piece of gear if you aren't comfortable belaying with your body stance as the main point(which is completely doable). The other one there, "Helix" has a pants-filling step across to the dome next door to reach the bolted anchor. It's definitely a head trip, if one's not comfortable in trusting the rubber.

There's a couple nice, easier routes on Trashcan Rock as well. Not gimme's for the grade, and some people find the walk-off a little disconcerting, as you have to step across a chasm and though it's not a WIDE step, it's...well,okay, it's a wide step.

JulianG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 130

I started to to climb in the Gunks but I didn't I really learn to climb until I made a couple of long trips to J-Tree. I think JTree is more technical and the grades are about the same.

byPerched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks again to all. We are looking forward to checking out these suggestions and we have added top roping gear to our packs.

simplyput · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

Thin Wall provides VERY easy top rope access to a variety of grades. There's also usually a grip of people who can also give you route suggestions.
Might be s little early in the season for Tahquitz. Brrr.

Fan Zhang · · Washington, DC · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 618

I've climbed at the Gunks a few times and just got back from my first trip to Joshua Tree. I second JSH's recommendation to start out at Atlantis Wall. It's less crowded, has a good mix of sun and shade, is easy to set up top ropes (bring static rope or long cords/slings), and will give you a feel for the rock type.

I found The Eye at Cyclops to be an easy moderate climb, and better quality than the routes at Atlantis Wall. Bring a jacket and the route is in the shade. There are good gear placements if you look carefully and big holds everywhere. Save some hand sized gear for a gear anchor. Straight-forward walk off.

I recommend holding off on Double Cross unless you are solid at sustained hand/fist jamming. It's a fantastic climb but I vaguely remember Rhododendron at the Gunks to be significantly easier than Double Cross. If you are not turned off by the crowds lined up for Double Cross and decide to give it a go anyway, just remember to stay safe by bringing a #4 to place in the undercling cup and to back up your next placement in the main crack before committing to it.

At the easier grades, you're unlikely to encounter many (any?) of the horizontal roofs you're used to from the Gunks. Instead, as others have pointed out, it'll mainly be cracks and slabs.

I hope you have a great time at JTree!

Caz Drach · · Sugarhouse, UT · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 310

Enjoy J Tree!

I dont think the two are even comparable. Two entirely different styles of climbing.

Pat A · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 20

They are very different. A lot of j-tree routes required actual jamming skills. I would say the climbing is closer to the Adirondacks, nice cracks that vary in size, run out slabs and grippy granite. I would put j-tree grades about a point soft on what we see here in the east.

matt c. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 155
FanZ wrote: I recommend holding off on Double Cross unless you are solid at sustained hand/fist jamming. It's a fantastic climb but I vaguely remember Rhododendron at the Gunks to be significantly easier than Double Cross. If you are not turned off by the crowds lined up for Double Cross and decide to give it a go anyway, just remember to stay safe by bringing a #4 to place in the undercling cup and to back up your next placement in the main crack before committing to it.
Can't he just clip the bolt? Regardless the bodies piled on the base should be enough to cushion his fall if he peels.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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