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Double Cross

5.7+, Trad, 95 ft,  Avg: 3.5 from 1,211 votes
FA: FFA: Woody Stark, Bill Briggs and Dick Webster, 1967
California > Joshua Tree NP > Hidden Valley C… > Old Woman > Old Woman - W Face


One of the best and most accessible of the easier moderates, Double Cross is perhaps the most climbed (i.e, crowded) route in the entire Park. Those who have not yet developed basic jamming technique will find this route quite difficult. Although easily protected, this route has been the site of several serious injuries and a few fatalities over the years.

Begin by climbing 25' up and then traverse left to gain the main crack. Continue for another 70' of stellar hand to fist crack. Belay from 3-bolt anchor.

If crowded (as it often is), consider Double Start (just to the right), Dogleg, or Sexy Grandma.

Descent: Rap to ground (a single 50m rope just barely makes it).

Many, many pages of discussion about the route have been moved to the Double Cross Discussion in the Southern California Forum.


Standard rack to 3" (double #3 Camalots helpful).

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Matt slots a cam mid-crux on Double Cross.
[Hide Photo] Matt slots a cam mid-crux on Double Cross.
Double Cross
[Hide Photo] Double Cross
Climber on Double Cross (5.7)
[Hide Photo] Climber on Double Cross (5.7)
Leading Double Cross for the second time in as many weeks.  I'm pretty sure this is the way it's most commonly done (and easiest).  the first piece of pro you need is right where you hop into the crack about 25 feet up.  What a fun climb, and truly easy to protect where needed.
[Hide Photo] Leading Double Cross for the second time in as many weeks. I'm pretty sure this is the way it's most commonly done (and easiest). the first piece of pro you need is right where you hop into the c…
Amazing jamming the whole way
[Hide Photo] Amazing jamming the whole way
Nate swimming up the crack, nearing the top of the route.
[Hide Photo] Nate swimming up the crack, nearing the top of the route.
Double Cross in 1980 just below the bulge crux. As I recall, a No. 10 hex fit perfect in the main crack just above the diagonal crack.
[Hide Photo] Double Cross in 1980 just below the bulge crux. As I recall, a No. 10 hex fit perfect in the main crack just above the diagonal crack.
Christa Cline bouldering at the start.
[Hide Photo] Christa Cline bouldering at the start.
Gotta love a good hand and foot jamboree!
[Hide Photo] Gotta love a good hand and foot jamboree!
An amazing route. Can't wait to climb it again.
[Hide Photo] An amazing route. Can't wait to climb it again.
no pro yet! ahhh!
[Hide Photo] no pro yet! ahhh!
Tia Stark on Woody appreciation day
[Hide Photo] Tia Stark on Woody appreciation day

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] For the sake of safety: The first chance to place pro on this climb is high and in my opinion the crux of the climb. Make sure not to rely on a single pro placement when committing to moving into the crack. Jul 1, 2002
[Hide Comment] For reasons unknown to me, some people's idea of a fun little game seems to be to constantly bolt, chop, rebolt, and chop again this route. Typically, one bolt seems to go up sometime before Halloween and disappear sometime after Thanksgiving, only to reappear again the following year. Obviously, I can't guarantee that schedule. There may be a bolt there, there may not. Whatever floats your boat. Oct 30, 2002
[Hide Comment] If Dogleg is 5.8, this is 5.7(+) and no more. I agree with the pro: it's solid and safe if you play it smart. From the ledge I place a hex backed up with a cam (actually vice versa). BTW, nice web site with good beta! Nov 1, 2002
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] I thought 5.7 was fair. 2 moves of 7+ getting established in the crack, and after that nothing but good sustained 5.6 hand jamming. Keep your feet in the crack and it is easy and not strenuous. Not nearly as hard as Kor's Flake in Lumpy Ridge which is also 5.7+ I second the suggestion to place 2 pieces in the crack before moving into it as that was definitely the crux. Nov 4, 2002
Mike Epke
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Definitely a classic and I would have to say a harder climb than the other 5.7+ in the park, Mental Physics, certainly more intimidating. Enjoy! Mar 16, 2003
[Hide Comment] The first time I did this route, (very Early 70's) I ran across a Smashed beer can placed in the upper crack like a chock. I threw a sling around it, mainly to amuse my second, although it was well placed and probably would have worked. I Also think the rating is fair. You just have to understand how to jam, and you can't learn that on plastic. Hell, Damper was a 5.4 back then. That was a sandbag! Jul 11, 2003
[Hide Comment] good route all posotive good jams with excellent feet got to belay a twenty footer for a canadian just remember stay in the crack Oct 10, 2003
[Hide Comment] I've led this route three times. Yep, I'd say it is a strenuous 5.7, but the bottom was pretty easy. Although it takes great crack pro, I found myself doing arm bars at the crux (bulging crack section). Most of it was hand jams for me, but I do have small hands. I did a number of foot jams at the crux, but after that, it was easy climbing with huge holds and good pro. I am fairly conservative and tend to use lots of gear. For any beginners, you may want to follow and clean this route first, it is pumpy at the crux, so don't "hang out"; make sure your pro is good! Excellent route, but I'd rate it 5.8. Mar 1, 2004
Matt Chan
[Hide Comment] Wow! Superb moderate climbing, perfect for any leader breaking into the 5.8 range. In no way did I find the beginning hard enough to warrant a S rating. Prior to moving left into the hand crack, which by the way will steal all of your #3 cams right off your rack towards the middle, I placed a bomber TCU (yellow?) with an extra long sling. The rest is perfect jams and the occasional face hold - Three stars for sure! May 10, 2004
[Hide Comment] Yeah, this is a pretty sweet climb! Felt a little stiff for 5.7 but hey "that's why your out here". For me the hardest part was getting into the crack, after that the hand jams are really sweet! Don't forget your tape on this guy! Apr 7, 2005
C Miller
[Hide Comment] The right-hand start seems a tad easier and it offers better protection as well - a #4 Camalot (or equivalent) can be placed under the overlap midway to the start of the crack. As mentioned, this route requires actual jamming skills, which is notable as most cracks of this grade at Joshua Tree can be done without them. Four stars out of five. Apr 12, 2005
electric lady land
[Hide Comment] stellar jammin. the only route my girlfriend wanted to lead in a week at jtree. Jan 25, 2006
[Hide Comment] Excellent climb. If you know how to jam then it is no harder than 5.7, and no bolt is needed. Sep 18, 2006
Marty Brenner
Durango, CO
[Hide Comment] This route IS 5.7+ and well protected. You can place AT LEAST two good pieces getting to the crack. A #4 Camalot down lowish, a yellow (?) Metolius TCU a little higher, etc.

Some people screw up by taking the wrong line to the crack (off route). They climb straight up for it. My friend Dion made that mistake and almost died. His head landed right between two rocks at the base and he only broke his knee. Maybe we just need painted connect-the-dots on the rock to show the correct line. (HaHa)

To everyone who thinks we need to constantly change ratings to compensate for some climbers' inexperience with particular types of climbing, remember that there are different types of routes out there. A steep jug route will climb very differently than an edging route of the same grade, or a friction slab, or a finger/hand crack, a flare or, heaven forbid, an offwidth. Sure, they all have the same rating, but knowing how to climb them lies in learning the techniques of each type of climbing. Sep 28, 2006
[Hide Comment] I started from the right and was able to protect the move into the crack with a bomber nut and a gray TCU clipped to the nut as a directional. I probably wouldn't have even placed the gray TCU if it weren't for all the talk about this route being dangerous. I suppose Randy's warning is at least somewhat effective. Mar 6, 2007
[Hide Comment] If you are about 6' with larger hands then from the point where you want to move into the crack (25' up) you can place a solid #2 and get a bomber left hand jam before moving under the crack. Solid perfect hands to narrow fist jams from there pretty much to the top with a few stem rest spots for feet outside the crack if you want them. Doubles in #1-#3 camalots make pro a no brainer but smaller sizes are available.

For a few years I was psyched out of doing this climb because of all the injuries I read about but with some reach and a good hand size the move into the crack is bomber.

If you cant hand jam this climb is much harder I'd imagine. Apr 30, 2007
[Hide Comment] Wow! What an awesome climb! I have spent quite a while dreaming of sending Double Cross. I was so intimidated by all the hubbub of potential death falls that I decided not to do the climb. But, for those of you who were at Josh last weekend you too experienced the awesome weather which put me in the mood to climb DC. My advice for those who climb strong at 5.7 would be to climb some of the shorter 5.8 cracks in the park first. Such as Sail Away, or Continuum. For me it made DC more enjoyable since I pretty much new what to expect. Also, I have small hands so I had use fist jams near the top. But, I'm glad I stopped being a chicken! :) Sep 25, 2007
Catherine Conner
Phoenix, AZ
[Hide Comment] Was intimidated for a while to lead this, but lead it today. So glad I did this route. If you know how to climb straight-out crack and protect crack, you have no worries. If you question your ability to place pro or climb crack, try this on top rope first. There is NO reason for accidents. It protects well, plain & simple. There are pieces that are perfection and you will feel totally confident right before you get in the crack. If you don't feel it before beginning to jam in the crack, then don't do it (and you should have a piece below you so you can get off safely). FUN! My opinion is that it seems 5.7+ or 5.8-. Nov 25, 2007
Bill Rusk
Duluth, MN
[Hide Comment] You definently need to know how to jam. The transfer to the crack was the trickiest part. Awesome climb. Busy. Jan 22, 2008
Parker, Colorado
[Hide Comment] No bolt as of last month, no need for one, #4 camalot in pod, green alien, #1 camalot, enter the crack, pure bliss. May 13, 2008
randy baum
Minneapolis, MN
[Hide Comment] if TR'ing, use long runners or even an extended cordelette. Oct 23, 2008
David Lammers
Grand Junction, CO
[Hide Comment] Place a cam when you reach the crack and then step right of the crack and place 1 high cam to protect the start of the crack. The rest of the climb is fun and easy to protect. Enjoy :) Dec 1, 2008
[Hide Comment] This was my first true crack climb and I am now a crack addict. The first couple of jams were awkward for me, but once I got the hang of the jamming it was like swimming up the crack. The guide I was climbing with commented that I just floated right up the route. Dec 7, 2008
Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
[Hide Comment] Really fun route. I must admit that all these posts had me a little worried about leading this one. Once I got on the climb however, I found the pro to be great. You can (and I did) sew it up, starting with a solid #3 camalot just before starting into the crack. Dec 8, 2008
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
[Hide Comment] There's absolutely no need to climb up under the steepening of Route 499 into that alcove. After a few moves right of where Double Cross peters out toward the ground, step left into where the crack starts - and it's before you arrive at where the steep bit begins. Feb 13, 2010
Cat Cahoon
Seattle, WA
  5.7 R
[Hide Comment] This is a great climb and deserves all the stars it receives. I got on it for its striking character not knowing its reputation. I took the direct start. I had to pause for a while and talk myself into the move, but it wasn't difficult, just insecure and unprotected. (I didn't realize I botched the start until I read it here). Once you get into the pod under the crack everything should be alright. The crack itself is totally awesome and secure. It is wide at the top so at least bring double three's. Feb 26, 2010
Rodger Raubach
Loveland, CO
  5.8- PG13
[Hide Comment] This is a really good, but not great, climb. The rating is a bit misleading, and I've given it a 5.8- just to let others know of the serioiusness of the route. It isn't your "everyday 5.7" as the rating would seem to indicate. That said, it can be protected well with trad gear. Just don't fall off before your first placement. Oct 14, 2010
Yucca Valley, CA
[Hide Comment] "Why did they put the second bolt so high? And it's a fukkin spinner! Do it right if you are gonna do it."...

Yer GONNA have to talk to the "SKIPPER" about that one...

He's the one that put the bolts back in... Dec 14, 2010
[Hide Comment] Who died and made bolt happy climbers in charge? Dec 16, 2010
B Regan
Joshua Tree, CA
[Hide Comment] According to JOSAR records, there have been no reported deaths on Double Cross and only 1 broken ankle in the last 10 years.

Joshua Tree Climbing Ranger Dec 19, 2010
Yucca Valley, CA
[Hide Comment] "in the last 10 years."...

Are you sayiong that NO ONE has perished on Double Cross???...

Does it MATTER when it happened??? (IF it did???)... Jan 16, 2011
Johnny Ice
Tucson, AZ
[Hide Comment] The start was a little run out. I found the crux to be about halfway up. We climbed it at around 8 am in the winter. It was freezing and this was my first real crack climb. It was scarier than I thought it would be because I'm new to crack and I couldn't feel my hand. It was lots of fun. The belay was cool and full of water. Mar 30, 2011
[Hide Comment] I just climbed this again today. Due to the grade and the popularity of the route, this climb brings in a fair amount of entry level trad climbers. Other than that I don't really understand why this route has become so controversial. To be fair, it is 12' or so before you can get any gear. This is not the crux of the climb however. The couple of moves through that section seemed 5.4 or 5.5. After that there is an awesome #3 Camalot. Let's be serious. It is a trad climb, not a sport climb. Runouts should be expected especially if it is over terrain that is several grades lower than the rating of the climb. If you don't feel comfortable pulling 5.Easy no more than a boulder's height off the ground you probably shouldn't be trying to lead a 7+ just yet. Don't go adding bolts though when they don't absolutely need to be there for a competent 5.7 leader. Trad is a slow learning curve. If it feels hard, just get more comfortable at the grade and come back next time you're in the area. Every climber has been faced with the challenge of being honest with themselves. Apr 20, 2011
Sherman oaks, ca
[Hide Comment] Yeah. What he said! Easy to where the crack starts. Huge stance to camp out on, lean over into the crack and place your first piece (bomber stopper with directional for me, but several great options exist) and it's as much gear as you want from there to the top. Here's the's 5.8 and it's pure jams for 10 or 15 feet in a couple sections. So if you climb steep 5.9 buckets in the gym and have never done a hand or foot jam, or set gear, and choose this "5.7" as your first lead...expect some drama. This is an ultra classic line, with A+ pro, and the fact that there has ever been a bolt on it is truly hard to believe. May 14, 2011
Yucca Valley, CA
[Hide Comment] I was just out at Joshua Tree National Park yesterday and noticed that the bolts are actually still on Double Cross...

The bit about someone CHOPPING them must be a joke... May 22, 2011
Parker, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Locker this is a joke right? I just climbed this route again about a month ago with no bolts except for the ones at the top. This debate has baffled me for some time are we really still arguing over bolts on a 7 trad route that protects just fine after the easy first 15'? May 22, 2011
Chris D
the couch
[Hide Comment] I was out there this past Saturday, and what I can't figure out is why they bolted the direct start instead of the normal start that goes out to the right a little.

Must have been some out-of-towners... Somebody should probably chop these bolts. May 25, 2011
Russ Walling
Overlord @ FishProducts
[Hide Comment] I'll be there within the hour. This shizz is getting out of hand. Any idea who placed them? May 25, 2011
Ben Sachs
Glenwood Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] Great route. I think it's pretty stupid that the new guidebook calls the first section "unprotectable". I placed a 3.5 camalot, a 4 camalot, and a grey Alien (BOMBER) in the "runout" section. It was pretty easy, but I felt I could have fallen and the gear, especially the Alien, would have held just fine. Sorry folks, this barely even deserves a PG rating if you know how to use all those expensive widgets on your harness.

Even dumber than calling it unprotectable would be retrobolting it IMO. Oct 10, 2011
[Hide Comment] No bolts when i was out there a few months ago, #4 cam in the pod to the right is a must, unless you're gonna run it out 15 feet with no pro, amazing route. Fit my climbing style perfectly, perfect hand jams, perfect foot jams, a few good fist jams. Amazing Nov 29, 2011
Stephen Nayfach
Walnut Creek, CA
[Hide Comment] Got three cams and a bomber nut in before the initial crux. Besides the initial unprotected section, thought this route was quite safe if you have the gear to burn. Bring extra blue c4s. Dec 24, 2011
Kurt Swanson
Philadelphia, PA
[Hide Comment] The late John Bachar gives an account of free soloing Double Cross with John Long, his first free solo climb (a few minutes into the interview):… Mar 1, 2012
Ty Morrison-Heath
Bozeman, MT
[Hide Comment] Absolute blast. Best climb done so far in the park. Took a lot of #3 camalots. Placed nothing smaller than a #1. Mar 24, 2012
Tradman Man
Lake Forest
[Hide Comment] Climb this last week with my daughter. I hadn't climbed in 10 yrs (outside) and fifteen to twenty years since last time on Double Cross. Great climb was easier than I remembered. The lower section was mentally harder maybe 5.6 and the crack felt 5.4 with this new hand jammies my daughter gave me. Once in the crack the pro is great and the hand jams are solid! Lots of fun jams. Its easier than it looks. May 7, 2012
[Hide Comment] Not at ALL run-out if you have a #4 and come in from the right. Jams for days. Don't believe the hype that it's a death route. Nov 17, 2012
Nate Flink
Minneapolis, MN
[Hide Comment] This was a beautiful route! Given the Double Cross reputation, I was nervous, but once I started up the pro was bomber. It was not that strenuous - good feet outside the crack in several spots and rest stances. Plugged a #4 BD C4 into the pod in the first 15'. Then I used a #.5 purple link cam and a #3 friend to protect the initial layback into the crack. Placed five or six cams and hexes throughout the crack section from #4 size down to #.75 in a couple spots. Hand, fist and feet jamming is required. I experienced other routes at the grade that were sketchier. Jan 11, 2013
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
[Hide Comment] takes 2 good medium nut placements before the crux/moving into the crack/actually climbing of the route. Before that is just scrambling Feb 22, 2013
Jason Kim
Encinitas, CA
[Hide Comment] Great route, my first true crack climb. I started practicing crack technique in the gym a couple of months ago and it definitely helped. FWIW, this felt considerably harder and more committing than Double Dogleg, which I climbed previously. Proudest 5.7 I've ever been on, that's for sure.

The beta here is spot on. Treat the start like a tall boulder problem and place a couple of solid pieces before you enter the crack. I placed a #4 Camalot in the pod at the start, but that thing looks like it would explode in the event of a fall. The rest of the climb is fairly sustained, with a few stances to rest your feet when you need them.

I've been on climbs that felt sandbagged or unexpectedly scary. If you've read all the doomsday comments on here, you will walk away from this one with a smile on your face. Feb 26, 2013
Brian Martin
Bend, OR
  5.7+ PG13
[Hide Comment] If you are comfortable at the grade the runout isn't bad. Wouldn't recommend it to the inexperienced, but easily the funnest I climbed in the campground. Dec 22, 2013
[Hide Comment] You can get in good gear once you boulder up a bit. Don't cast off until you get something in. Folks deck from time to time. May 14, 2014
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] In my opinion this climb is not run out. If you take the 'easier' start slightly to the right, there is what looks like a good #2 placement. Even the direct start allows placement of gear if you need it. Sep 3, 2014
Josh C
Somewhere out West
[Hide Comment] At the start I slotted a #10 metolius (#4 C4) in the hole/hueco on the slab to the right of the crack. A little low for the crux but a good confidence piece to at least get there. Jan 28, 2015
[Hide Comment] As teh video bove clearly shows. THis climb is very well protected unless you are not solid on the grade "4th class". All of the 5th class moves are protected. In fact the first piece is placed from a hands free rest. Nov 3, 2015
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] My preferred way to protect the start is to slot a large hex over my head while standing at the bast of the crack. You can then slot a fist (meat stopper) vertically right above the hex. Way bomber. Jan 7, 2016
B-Mkll Mackall
Bozeman, MT
[Hide Comment] Just gonna add my voice to the already saturated topic here. Was scared of this climb before getting on it considering all the "fall you die!" beta available, but really found it to be both tame and SO fun. If you are scared of the undercling move to the alcove, put a .3 in the small pocket. If you are scared of the crux transition into the crack, place any (or all) of three pieces or so available.

Long story short don't worry, you'll be fine. If you've never slotted a hand jam in your life it may be harder, but that's all.

5.7 if you've climbed trad, like... ever. 5.8-5.9 if all you've done is pull gym plastic. Feb 16, 2016
Serge Smirnov
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] +1 for protecting the start with a 4" cam on the right. Feb 21, 2016
Jason Schliekelman
Woodland Hills Ca
[Hide Comment] climbed this classic yesterday with healthy respect, pulling into the crack didnt feel as difficult as pulling the little roof move of white lightning. after that just good jams and face holds. no bolts to be seen but wasnt really looking either.
Apr 19, 2017
[Hide Comment] There is absolutely no reason for a bolt on this climb. Even the bouldery start can be protected by a large BD Camelot....then just place some pro before committing to the crack. Awesome climb! Apr 23, 2017
Brian morin
Simi Valley, CA
[Hide Comment] Beta spray on gear: No need to place pro until the bottom of the crack before committing to it. Placed a purple .5 cam. Only placed one other smaller cam further up outside the crack (maybe a green .75). Rest of gear was #2s and #3s. As a new leader I brought triples of both sizes. Didn't place more than two each but the extra brought piece of mind. May 3, 2017
Wesley Neill
Sequoia National Park, CA
  5.7 PG13
[Hide Comment] Very chill, very fun. One of those climbs that you just enjoy. My fists were a little big for one part about half way up, but I'd still rate it a soft 5.7.

The first 20 feet is 5.4 climbing, but a fall wouldn't be fun. Just think about your moves before you make them and have fun!

As a side note, I watched the couple before us face climb the entire thing. The guy said he didn't like the size of the crack for his hands, and his girl didn't know how to jam yet. They both got up it just fine, so there's that. Fun for all! Mar 16, 2019