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JTree in Feb 2018

Original Post
Joe Ray · · Harmony · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

looking for information on where to go in JTree.  Beings that I've never been there and a guide book only tells you so much I figured I would ask.   I can lead around 5.7 trad and around 5.10 sport.  My partner is a little newer.  I need to find a good area to go that will fit both our abilities. Thanks for any info you can send my way!  I'm aware it's in socal.  But I figured it's not far from Az either. 

ClimbingOn · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 405

Joshua Tree is not really a place where you have to "choose" where to go. There are so many routes, everywhere really, that you can find a mix of grades in most places. Finding the really good routes, especially in a concentrated number within your grade range, can be a bit tricky at times.

To be in the center of the action, try to get a site in the Hidden Valley campground. You'll need to roll in fairly early on Friday to have the best chance of this, if you're going for a weekend. If you are going longer, getting a site on Sunday afternoon or any time midweek can usually be done. If Hidden Valley is full, try the Ryan campground next.

There are lots of great routes right around the Hidden Valley campground in your grade range. Just a few minutes (by foot) away is the Real Hidden Valley, with loads more excellent routes. Perhaps start at the Thin Wall, which has a number of easier, shorter routes, to get your feet under you. A few routes you likely do not want to miss in your grade range are Toe Jam and Walk on the Wild Side.

If it is cold and windy, head down to Indian Cove for the day. It's lower in elevation and often a bit sheltered from the wind, especially in Rattlesnake Canyon. Have a great trip!

Greg Opland · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2001 · Points: 187

First off, there are not a lot of what you would normally call "sport routes" in Joshua Tree. There are some for sure, but they're generally fairly dispersed, so there are very few spots where you would get a true sport climbing experience. Second, you can show up anytime on Friday in Feb (thru April) and you probably won't get a site in Hidden Valley anymore unless you get pretty lucky. Especially so in February, which marks the start of the dreaded Spring Break season. JT has exploded with visitors and climbers the last few years, and a lot of that is specifically focused on Feb thru April time frame. There has been a tendency the last few years to tour the campground and see if you can double up with someone who already has a site, but not sure what the odds of success are with that. Also, extrapolate the crowds to the relatively zero-approach nature of the crags in HVCG and RHV and expect lots of company if you attempt to climb there. Thin Wall specifically draws large groups like ants at a picnic. Crags with a bit of hiking will likely insure a better experience at that time of year. Weekday visit will also probably help some (still have the Spring Break factor).

Hamish Malin · · Fredericksburg, VA · Joined May 2017 · Points: 15

I 2nd the statement about Josh not being a good sport route destination, that being said SW Corner on Headstone (Ryan Campground) is a true gem of a sport route.  Also note that depending on where you're in from, you may find the area to be sandbagged... perhaps that's just my experience, possible due to comparing it to sport route-centric crags.

There's tons of great top roping opportunities as well; the majority of the formations have low-grade walk ups (class 4 or 5.easy) and many trad routes have bolted anchors.  This option could get you more mileage, especially if you're thin on a trad rack or short for time.


FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Pointing this out to other posters on this thread. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 135

Want to have a J Tree experience but avoid all the pitfalls of the J Tree experience people have listed above. Check out the Cochise Stronghold. Lots to do in your grade range if you don't mind a nice hike for an approach.

Greg Opland · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2001 · Points: 187

Probably worth noting that some climbers might refer to any route that is solely bolt-protected as a "sport climb", while the more traditional definition of a sport route would be something with bolts spaced fairly close together where the consequences of a fall would be pretty minimal. I've heard some attempt to refer to something like Walk on the Wild Side as a "sport route", but that is really not the case since it has some sections where there are 15 to 20 feet between bolts. Just advising caution.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Arizona & New Mexico
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