Type: Trad, 250 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Roy Naasz and Chris Wegener, January 1970
Page Views: 41,894 total · 206/month
Shared By: C Miller on Jul 3, 2002
Admins: C Miller, Greg Opland, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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Walk on the Wild Side takes a sweeping line up the right side of Saddle Rocks and with it's deceptively moderate grade, multi-pitch climbing and the fact that nothing more than quickdraws are needed make it one of the most popular routes in all of Joshua Tree.

* The climb starts by scrambling up to the base and starting off the highpoint of stacked blocks.

Climbing slightly left and up to start, work your way back right to belay in a natural hole at bolt anchors. 6 bolts on this pitch
P2) Climb up and left to another bolted belay past 3 bolts.
P3) This pitch climbs past 2 bolts to an anchor. This last pitch is a little run-out, but much easier. It's possible to combine pitches 2 and 3 together for a rope stretching pitch (a 70 meter rope works well here).

The descent offers several choices: 1) Rap the route with (2) two 60 meter ropes (or a single 70m, or maybe a single 60m - see comments). The first rap is close to 100' and will take you straight down to the first anchor of Dial 911 (the next route to the left of WOWS). From here one more rap leads you to the ground.

2) The other option is to top past the last bolted anchor and walk/downclimb the ramp to the (climber's) right. At a certain point it will be best to traverse improbably out to the top of a slab to access a bolted rap anchor (this is the anchor for Presto In C Sharp). A rap from here takes you to a ledge where you will find another rap anchor that will take you down a faint waterchute and to the ground. Now walk downhill through rocks and a faint trail to the base of the rock, and back around to your packs. Please note that this descent is much longer, and slightly more involved, but has the advantage of only needing a single cord.

Lastly, if you are looking for some adventure on a long moonlit night (and/or couldn't make it on the route that day) do what the locals do and climb it by the light of the full moon.

Which way to the Wild Side?

Found on the far right side of Saddle Rocks Skirt and is the third route from the right. Please note that the climb starts by scrambling up to the base and starting off the highpoint of stacked blocks.


All bolted with bolted anchors, but for the grade not a sport climb. All bolts and anchors are 1/2" with the exception of the 3rd pitch belay which are 3/8".


Combining P2 and P3 left us with 15-20 feet remaining on a 60m rope. A set of stoppers could come in handy halfway up P1, but the route is quite reasonable without them.

Nov 4, 2002
Yucca Valley, CA
Locker   Yucca Valley, CA
Yes this one is a good one. I agree with it as a "classic". I missed a clip and ran out pitch two and three with zero problems. A suggestion to use stoppers somewhere on pitch one is questionable. Unless I was off route (Which I admit I often go to territory un-planned) all I saw that might take a placement were loose flakes. If they are the suggested spots, well....... I damned sure would not trust them. It is well protected and not neccessary to use pro. On top there are three different sets of anchors. Two chains, two bolted with rap rings, and one single bolt. Using the rap ring set up and a 60m rope takes you pretty much right back where you started from. Oct 7, 2003
Did this climb for the second time yesterday. The first time was twenty years ago. Still remains classic(imo).As far as rapping, there is a rap anchor(chains) just to left(skier's left) of the anchor for WOWS. Rap from the chains to a hanging bolted belay anchor(on the route Negro Girls)with two ropes. Rap to the ground from there. You will end up to the climber's right to the start of WOWS.Rapping this way avoids a clusterf*ck on WOWS. Oct 12, 2003
Don't trust those flakes for pro. This is a well protected route. If you would like a little more excitement vis a vis pro, try "Negro Girls" next door. Jan 23, 2004
Kevin Currigan
Kevin Currigan   Lakewood
"but for the grade not a sport climb" Amen...better be solid at grade because the bolts feel like they are way out there; especially if you are expecting a sport bolted route. This was my first JTree climb-great intro... Feb 11, 2004
Spfld, Ma
GoBotRocker   Spfld, Ma
A fun climb, Nice "Dog House", at the top of the P1. Glad I took 2 60 M ropes... My forgetful partner, calls this climb "Crazy Feet". No matter the name still fun. Oh and the acces trail is not directly across from the parking lot it's about 100' to the right as you face the cliff, look for the brown 4' tall stake with the Access Fund trail marker on it. Apr 29, 2004
Jack Thompson
Jack Thompson  
This was my fourth lead in my home town of Joshau Tree, done when I was 17 on a spectacularly clear and windy day. The experience still sticks with me, seven years later. I lead the first pitch without falls, but plenty of moments where the wind was stealing what little breath came out of me, whipping chock out of my bag in huge plumes. My focus was only broken when I feared I might be off route and those fears took further shap in the profound wonder about how I had gotten myself into such a mess. Pitch 1 ended and my more experienced partner was soon out of sight, going for the top on pitch 2. The belay device was soon up against my tie in knot, and I waited for familiar tugs on the rope or his call that he was off belay. Instead, between huge gusts of wind I heard "climb up!" My partner had done this route at leat three times before this day and I assumed we would never make the mistake of bringing a knife to a gun fight. But alas, our stupid asses had brought a fifty meter rope and I was soon shaking my head as the reality of the situation sunk in and I found myself unclipped my belay rig so we could simul. We gained the top without incident. I sat next to him, our feet hanging off the edge, saying not a word and instead, savoring the amazing panoramic view before us. I'd chew his ass later. But I coudn't bring myself to. We'd both been fools. We'd survived. There was more climbing to be done, hopefully distancing myself with each hand jam and smear, further and further away from the perils of novicedom. I'll never forget that day, as long as I live. It felt as true and adventure as any. Sep 15, 2004
Cool story Jack. Makes me sentimental for J-tree. Sep 15, 2004
The belays on this route seem to have been re-engineered for the better since I last climbed it. P1 climbs past six bolts to a three bolt belay stance in a little hole. P2 climbs past five bolts to a nice ledge. We then did two double rope rappels down chain anchors to the right (climbers right) of the route.

We watched Peter Croft solo this route while we were on our way down. It was an appopriate way to meet a climbing legend.

Have fun on this classic.

Will Oct 4, 2004
Good route! I'm with the 5.7+ rating. Sep 15, 2006
oxnard, ca
wes   oxnard, ca
Dont bother bringing nuts or cams. There is one spot that may take a nut but there is a bolt right next to it. Save yourself the trouble with weight its a fun climb go do it. Sep 20, 2006
Mesa AZ
ClimbPHX.com   Mesa AZ
I did this route on October 28th and led the second pitch. The first pitch was relatively easy going but the height on the second pitch makes you think. As I passed the second bolt...looking for the third I realized that I didn't go left to the anchors and had traveled about 40 feet out the wrong direction. I don't recommend this...LOL
I had to solo from the second bolt to the top, all the while thinking hard about the amount of rope trailing behind me. Make sure you go left to the anchors or you will be wondering if your life insurance covers this type of activity...Dont bring stoppers they are unnecessary, there is only one spot that may take them and its bomber handholds and a mantle and voile...your there... Oct 30, 2006
Bill Olszewski
Colorado Springs, CO
Bill Olszewski   Colorado Springs, CO
One of the best face climbs in JT - this IS traditional slab climbing! I've only done it as two pitches, just stay right of the bolted anchor on P2 and continue up the waterchute to the world's greatest belay ledge. Kick back in the "easy chair" and enjoy the view of Hidden Valley and the Wonderland. Bring several slings including a couple 4'ers for the corners of the zigzag first pitch. Apr 8, 2007
Mark L  
I led the first pitch 2 years back and for those breaking in to friction climbing at the 5.7/5.8 level would recommend eyeballing it first before leading it or taking a beginner to follow it (due to the pendulum possibility).

It felt very technical on the first pitch and falling from almost any point is usually going to involve either hitting something (such as before 2nd bolt), or penduluming. To one who is not a comfortable 5.8 Josh slab leader the average bolt space on the first pitch is probably farther than one would like. Apr 30, 2007
Check out the article in Climbing Nov 8, 2007
Oakland CA
caughtinside   Oakland CA
Did it in two pitches. I guess I was off route, I led p2, climbed up past a couple bolts. Saw an anchor 20 feet directly left, opted to keep going up. Traversed left up higher to clip one more bolt before easy runout to the top. Good slabbin' fun. Nov 24, 2007
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
When I climbed this route in 2006, we only had one rope with us so we did the walk-off. It so totally sucks. Bring a second rope and do the rap.

It seems like whichever pitch one leads (if you don't lead both) perhaps comes across as the crux pitch on this route? I lead the first pitch and thought it was the crux. My partner thought the second pitch was scarier. I guess it just depends on whether you're on TR or not? :) Mar 10, 2009
Brian Hench
Costa Mesa, CA
  5.8 PG13
Brian Hench   Costa Mesa, CA
  5.8 PG13
Come on. The walk off doesn't suck. It's all a matter of attitude. Think of it as an adventure. Mar 25, 2009
toddgordon Gordon
Joshua Tree, California
toddgordon Gordon   Joshua Tree, California
I agree with Brian;.
(But respect Eyes of Greens comment....and enjoy her comments, what she has to say, and her pics.....)...I enjoy the walkoff, and have never rapped the route in the many times I've done the climb.......If you walk off to the left, you get to go through the cool tunnel section, which is fun. Rapping the route always seemed funny to me......and you miss out on the last 150 feet of scrambling to the top of the formation....... Mar 25, 2009
peachy spohn  
This route is great fun. However, if you climb at this grade and are wanting to do it because it is bolted and 5.7+ be aware that the bolts are far apart and the moves are slab moves. Could be a scary lead if you climb 5.9 or below...even if you climb harder. One of the coolest routes though. Mar 29, 2009
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
I still say the walk-off sucked. It seemed overly long and laborious for a 2-pitch route, and my partner and I (and he is definitely an avid "adventure" climber) would have preferred to use the time to climb something else instead and get that much more in for the day. To each her/his own. Apr 10, 2009
Dan Costello
Dan Costello  
A nice route that rewards you with wonderful, continuous movement* and a hell of a view from the final station.

Between the downclimb and the rappel, I'd go with a rappel with 2 ropes so long as there are no parties climbing below yours. I don't guess that trying to rap through someone else's business on this slab would be a service to them.

[*]In other words, well-protected by Joshua Tree standards ... but not a Malibu Creek or New Jack bolt-ladder by any means. I would not suggest falling for kicks on this route. Apr 19, 2009
roman d
Pasadena, CA
roman d   Pasadena, CA
Excellent line, easily done as 2 pitches. A single 70m rope gets you down without hassle. Mar 17, 2010
Rodger Raubach  
Possibly the most enjoyable moderate route in Joshua Tree National Park. Certainly one of the longest routes here, and deservedly popular. No problem with the assigned grade, either. Oct 14, 2010
I did this route in April 2010 with my girlfriend to introduce her to multipitch climbing. We did it in two pitches with a 60m rope.Walk on the wild side is an appropriate name for the meandering and exposed nature of this climb.Since we only had one rope we walked off the back,it was definitely an adventure since we had only one headlamp to share and only found the last rappel into the boulder gulley after stemming down a long chimney ropeless. Nov 17, 2010
Eli Stein
Soulthern Caliswag
Eli Stein   Soulthern Caliswag
Rapping with one 60 meter rope is no problem. Rap the third pitch as normal. When rapping the second pitch,go straight down (not following the line of the climb at the bottom),and see two sets of rap anchors very close together; pick the left most one. Then, do a short rap to a set of ring anchors clearly seen from the top of the rap(you are no longer rapping down Walk on the Wild Side). Do one more rap from the ring anchors to ground. Down with a 60! Jan 23, 2011
Make sure you start at the highest point of boulders leaning on the wall.

I think it's pretty standard to do this in two pitches. Apr 23, 2013
RustyLane   Minneapolis
I lead this at dusk and later moonlight, awesome climb but ended finishing the on Harlequin in the dark, fun! Dec 23, 2013
Ditto what others said - be sure at to start at the hight point of the boulders at the base. I ended up running it out on the 10b X-rated If you See Crows Bark. The Miramontes Book doesn't show Negro Girls and If you See Crows Bark to the right, so this mistake is easy to make. If you are at the right-most bolted line you are at the wrong place! Jan 30, 2014
Johnny Y
Johnny Y   California
With a 60m rope, the rappel is exactly as described in Randy Vogel's book, almost the same as what Eli said but we picked the climber's right of the 2 closely spaced rap stations (not left). It is the first pitch anchor for Dial 911 and from there, a single rap (diagonally) will just make it to the start of WOTWS, remember to tie knots at the end if you have a 60m! Mar 4, 2014
Did this on my first full day in J-Tree – even for people leading much harder than 5.8, this friction route is a great way to get your head in the game for many other routes there. And it's just a beautiful outing. Finish the day with Space Mountain and a tour of the Oyster Bar area. Apr 1, 2014
Brandon Brooks
Scottsdale, az
Brandon Brooks   Scottsdale, az
I recommend that you do this route early early morning or try to time it sothat your the last group going up.

We saved this one for last and where pretty stoked about repelling it straight down vs. the route to the left.

Our guide book said it was a trad route, we didn't place any pro. Apr 25, 2014
Chris D
the couch
Chris D   the couch
"Our guide book said it was a trad route, we didn't place any pro."

As discussed above, a route that is protected entirely with bolts is not necessarily a sport route. May 19, 2014
Matt N
Santa Barbara, CA
Matt N   Santa Barbara, CA
Rapping with a 60m - be careful on your last one. You have two anchor choices for the last rap, climber's left is newer, right had button heads that still looked fine. Chose left one as someone advised above (I'm sure the right was fine and may have helped with the length).
My 60m, with device extended 2', still was a body length short of the starting boulder. Just a heads up to be prepared for it. Jan 21, 2015
Josh Cameron
  5.8 PG13
Josh Cameron   M.O.A.B.
  5.8 PG13
I've rapped off and done the walk-off. The rap is straightforward and allows you to get on with it so you can go do more climbing; just watch out for parties coming up the route after you. The walk off is an adventure and I felt it involved a bit of routefinding through the boulder field. It does turn the climb into more of a mountaineering experience though.

During July of 2004 I climbed this route a second time wanting to take my girlfriend-now-my-wife up it. Having already done the rap and only having 1 rope we did the walk off. We got the climb in the shade but got scorched on the walk-off. What made it worse was that we took a couple of wrong turns in the boulder field that led to dead-ends or drop-offs. Eventually we made it out and got back to our car. By then it was almost noon and the temp was something like 101 degrees. We both thought it sucked but adventures like these are what enrich and enliven our climbing lives. Now, looking back it was awesome. Jan 29, 2015
The Billy Goat
The Billy Goat   fontana,ca
Climbed and led this in Feb 15 for the first time in some years. What different route than I remember. Slick as hell. First bolt is a bit run out. This is a classic Josh climb, do it, it's blast but read your beta as the consequences are a bit splattering. Jan 12, 2016
Serge Smirnov
Seattle, WA
Serge Smirnov   Seattle, WA
Easier than I expected for a Joshua Tree 5.8 - would be a reasonable 5.8 slab even by non-Joshua-Tree standards IMO. Feb 21, 2016
I believe I was the party ahead of Nick on Feb 14, and wanted to give my 2 cents on the walk off since I wasn't totally clear from the thread. If following the beta from the Bob Gaines guidebook, it's the bolts on top of pitch 4 that are chopped. If you do the standard 3 pitches to the ledge where many parties rap from, you can continue up to the left in the flake/crack to another ledge where the bolts are gone, but you can sling a boulder or build a natural anchor with a few 1-2 inch cams as Nick is describing (I think he linked pitches 3 and 4). From there, you move down and right where there is another slung boulder to belay the last (5th) pitch up the easy slab. At the top of that pitch, there are rap bolts to do a short rap down to the big ledge where the rappel anchor for Right On is, and from there it's one more rap to the ground. Another note since I've done the Right On rappel twice, a 60m won't reach the bottom, either use a 70m or be comfortable down climbing the last ~10-15 feet. Mar 6, 2016
Joshua Munoz
Honolulu, HI
Joshua Munoz   Honolulu, HI
Double check and make sure that you aren't climbing If You See Crow, Bark! We made the mistake of that and it's an X-rated route. Careful out there! Mar 21, 2016
John Gassel
Somerville, MA
John Gassel   Somerville, MA
Three days later, made the same mistake as Joshua.

If you have the Miramontes guidebook, remember that it doesn't have all the routes. The right-most route on the wall is If You See Crow, Bark not Walk on the Wild Side. Don't accidentally climb a 5.10b X! Mar 31, 2016
Kevin Kent
Flagstaff, AZ
Kevin Kent   Flagstaff, AZ
From the top of P3 it's a quick easy scramble up (and right) to the top of formation if you want to top it out. From there it's trivial to rap with 1 rope down the backside, one 40' rap then one 80' rap. This puts you at the base of space mountain and a quck boulder hop down the north side back to the bottom. Feb 1, 2017
Joshua Tree, Ca.
Dimes   Joshua Tree, Ca.
All lead and belay bolts are now 1/2" stainless steel with stainless steel hangers except those at the third pitch belay and are courtesy of the ASCA. Feb 28, 2017
Stacy Gorin  
March 2017 not impressed. This route is definitely slab with poor hands and was not that fun at all. I am confused as why it has so many stars. Use 70m rope if possible. The bolts were so spaced apart and zig zagged that we wondered the whole time if we were even on route. Even some of the pics on MP are actually of the route to the left (Dial 911), which is bolted much better. Mar 13, 2017
Lol, a bomb?!?! Stacy, that's trolling territory! And you just joined MP TODAY to hate the route?! Slick, no one will know you are a troll. My lips are sealed Mar 13, 2017
Sean Cooney  
@Stacy Gorin - Don't call a slab route a bomb because it "had poor hands." That's what slab routes are. Walk on the Wild Side is also an old school JTree route, so don't expect Red Rocks style bolting and expect it follow natural weaknesses in the wall. Mar 16, 2017
Alex Mulvihill
Denver, CO
Alex Mulvihill   Denver, CO
Why is this labeled a Trad climb if it's all bolted with bolted anchors? Jan 31, 2018
Alex...it was bolted ground up so don't expect sporto bolt spacing, hence "trad". Jan 31, 2018
Mike D
Boulder, CO
  5.7+ PG13
Mike D   Boulder, CO
  5.7+ PG13
It's been 21 years since I climbed this route, and it's still one of my top ten favorite routes ever. It was also my first multi-pitch climb, and I led both pitches. This is certainly a sporty route, and by no means a sport climb despite being bolted. Apr 6, 2018
Cameron Saul
San Francisco
Cameron Saul   San Francisco
P1 was awesome. Thanks for the note about the stoppers - I took them up and found a bomb placement for a medium/large stopper at the lip of the little bulge/roof. Made me calm down for a bit. :) Apr 11, 2018
Steve Bachmeier
  5.8 X
Steve Bachmeier  
  5.8 X
Jesus Christ monkey balls...sorry to anyone who climbs after me for the poop streak I think I left on this thing. I lead P2 but couldn't really figure out MP's or Miramontes' description about it being a three-pitch climb. A guide below me said to just run it out to the top from the first belay and that's what he's always done. So, without so much as a crimp to rest on, I kept climbing hoping he was right.

It's certainly fun climbing as far as slab goes. I feel like there should be at least one more bolt between the last one on the second pitch and the top where it flattens out a bit. Oh, and I'd also like to see one between the first and second bolt of P1 - that's a decker for sure.

Then again, I'm a "new school" climber.

If you're super comfortable on Josh 5.7/8 slab then get after this thing! Apr 24, 2018
Bill Atkinson
Cambridge, MA
Bill Atkinson   Cambridge, MA
WWS- one of my own encounters with leading steep friction: wp.me/p6Isot-bh May 6, 2018
Alex Morin
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA
Alex Morin   Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA
Classic!!! Bolts are spaced perfectly, no need to worry about the run outs! I did this in two pitches, on pitch 2 it made more sense to go straight up, then traverse left 30 feet to a random belay station. Its all there just breathe and move. Oct 31, 2018
Ben Crowell
Ben Crowell  
I got to follow on this, super fun, awesome views. Mostly edging, very little smearing required. There are plenty of bolts. What would make me a little testicle-contracted about leading this would be the starts of P1 and P2. On P2, if the leader falls before clipping the first bolt, they'll land right on the belayer's head. I think if I was belaying someone on P2 again, I'd want to use a grigri or put a knot 10' down below my ATC, then untie after they clipped. Nov 3, 2018
Matt Adler  
The second pitch has 3 bolts to an anchor at climber's left. Pitch two and three can be linked together. When linking together there is an option to use a fourth bolt instead of using one of the bolts of P2's anchor. After P2's 4th bolt you can climb up and left to P3's 1st bolt. I didn't go this way but it looked like there was plenty of features to make it over easily.

On this thread, there has been some question of whether to bring nuts with you. I did. There is an opportunity on the first pitch to use it while on a traverse and the next clip is out of sight, this can inspire a little extra confidence for those that need it. Jan 3, 2019
Maxime Banel
Maxime Banel  
For those foolsh enough to go for the walk-off, here's detailed information about the walk-off, as it's definitely more than "slightly" involved.

1) You'll have to walk along the ramp to climber's right once you get to the final anchor of WotWS. It's exposed but easy terrain. Squeeze through the tunnel feature until you get to a jammed rock at the end.
2) Rap from that rock down to the narrow corridor below. There were two cordelettes around the jammed rock when we were there but bring your own just in case. The rock is moving a little but was solid enough to rap on.
3) Once in the corridor walk to your right when facing the formation you just climbed on (it's the only way anyway) and squeeze through another tunnel feature.
4) Downclimb a little to flatter ground and scramble down the slab to a barely visible anchor on the right side when facing AWAY from the rock. The scramble is easy but just don't fall. There was a cordelette at the end of the second tunnel that one could probably use to rap down that slab but we didn't use it.
5) Rap down the water streak from the anchor to the massive boulder field below.
6) We decided to cut across the boulder field to reach the desert as fast as possible and from there just walked down to the road but it would probably be possible to walk down the boulder field.

For those with a single rope it might be the only way, but it's also a lot longer than the climb itself. It might also not be super safe for those not used to improvising a way down in the mountains. In short: bring a second rope and just rap down the regular way. Feb 4, 2019