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White Lightning

5.7, Trad, 120 ft,  Avg: 3 from 673 votes
FA: Chris Wegener and Roy Naasz, March 1973
California > Joshua Tree NP > Lost Horse Area > Hemingway Buttress > Hemingway Buttress (E…

Description

Near the left side of the wall is this hand/fist crack, which lies 5' left of Poodles Are People Too (5.10b) a nice looking thin crack.

Climb the classic crack straight up, moving slightly left near the top. Rap from anchors 20' right of the finish with two ropes (120' rap) or walk right and rap from anchors atop The Importance Of Being Ernest with one rope (75').

This is a great climb at a wall with many fine crack routes. Everyone should do this climb at least once as it is a good introduction to crack climbing and Josh in general.

Protection

Gear to 3 inches

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Susan at the opening moves of White Lightning
[Hide Photo] Susan at the opening moves of White Lightning
Jenny Schillinger gets started on 'White Lightning.' This is one of the longer climbs in the area. Photo by Tony Bubb, 4/03.
[Hide Photo] Jenny Schillinger gets started on 'White Lightning.' This is one of the longer climbs in the area. Photo by Tony Bubb, 4/03.
A 70m rope just makes it to the ground for a toprope belay on this wall.
[Hide Photo] A 70m rope just makes it to the ground for a toprope belay on this wall.
The obvious crack line slicing the middle of the shot. The large or width/pod to the left is dung fu
[Hide Photo] The obvious crack line slicing the middle of the shot. The large or width/pod to the left is dung fu
I'm belaying from the top. Fedor just past the crux into the easier terrain.
[Hide Photo] I'm belaying from the top. Fedor just past the crux into the easier terrain.
just past the crux... felt hard, though this was the morning after saint patrick's day (2010) and the super fun night before down in town with great friends from hidden valley might have been to blame.
[Hide Photo] just past the crux... felt hard, though this was the morning after saint patrick's day (2010) and the super fun night before down in town with great friends from hidden valley might have been to bl…
The business is all at the beginning on White Lightning.
[Hide Photo] The business is all at the beginning on White Lightning.
Me standing in front of White Lightning
[Hide Photo] Me standing in front of White Lightning
Eric cruising White Lightning
[Hide Photo] Eric cruising White Lightning
Jaeson climbing through the crux.
[Hide Photo] Jaeson climbing through the crux.
Jenny Schillinger on the easier section of the upper half of of 'White Lightning.' Photo by Tony Bubb, 2003.
[Hide Photo] Jenny Schillinger on the easier section of the upper half of of 'White Lightning.' Photo by Tony Bubb, 2003.
Chris Parks gets started in the initial inset of 'White Lightning.' Photo by Tony Bubb 4/03
[Hide Photo] Chris Parks gets started in the initial inset of 'White Lightning.' Photo by Tony Bubb 4/03

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Great Route, must do for the grade! I thought the crux was near the start,about 10-15 ft up, when you have to enter the crack past the little slabby part.Just throw in some pro, and go! The variation to the left near the top is veryfun (6). Enjoy! Jul 9, 2002
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
  5.7
[Hide Comment] The route was pretty good, but I've done better climbs at the grade.

You need two ropes to rapp off of the anchors just right of this, but you can walk well to the North out under a bridge and to a point of rock and find a set of bolt-anchors that allows for one rap on a single 50M rope. Apr 15, 2003
Dynomight510
  5.7
[Hide Comment] The crux is a few moves after the start and the crack takes pro very well. The climb eases after that until you reach the last 20' where you can choose a 5.7 finish to the left or a 5.9 finish slightly to the right. You are at a soolid stance to place pro before you start either finish. However, the 5.9 finish involves a short sequence of 5.9 moves, so be strong enough to stop and place gear or power through the section w/o falling. The rock below you here is low angled. The 5.7 finish involves a hand crack. Oct 1, 2003
Steven Powers
  5.7
[Hide Comment] its good, but not that good Oct 2, 2003
[Hide Comment] I've led it many times and always felt it was an eight. Feb 21, 2004
Sirius
Oakland, CA
 
[Hide Comment] If this route were anywhere else besides Joshua Tree, say for example Colorado, more people would agree on it being a three star line. If I were on a desert island and could have only one climb, would this be the one I'd take with me? No. But, thinking of all the other areas where I've climbed I'm going to call this spade a spade: three stars.

And shaded. Apr 6, 2004
Locker
Yucca Valley, CA
 
[Hide Comment] up top taking a right instead of a left, a little pulling and then an 5.8/9. The left side, 5.7 fits. Whatever... Apr 27, 2004
[Hide Comment] Hell yeah! Classic beyond words, believe the hype. Great straight forward jamming crack with excellent gear placements throughout the pitch, nice upper moves with excellent exposure. Simply and awesome climb anywhere.Don't forget to tape your hands or risk the cheese grater. Oct 1, 2004
[Hide Comment] Good route. There are rap anchors off to the right. You can rap with one 60 meter rope but YOU NEED TO DO SOME DOWNCLIMBING. Do not rappel off the ends of your rope. Oct 10, 2004
Scott Edlin
boulder, co
  5.7+
[Hide Comment] this route was the climax of my jtree trip. beautiful line, bomber jams, excellent pro, long, and sustained qualities all combined to make this more fun to me than bastille crack in eldorado canyon. if you liked double dogleg and thought it was a little easy, step up to this. Apr 12, 2006
[Hide Comment] This a 3 out of 5 star route, that is easily accessed, accepts copious amounts of pro and lays at the lower end of the 5-scale. Highly recommended for the novice leader, or someone looking for a casual rope length climb. Apr 12, 2006
caughtinside
Oakland CA
  5.8
[Hide Comment] hate to uprate a classic, but this is one of the more physical 5.7s you'll ever do! the crux is short, but takes some power. If double cross is .7+, this is an .8. Fun climb, but Overseer is a better warmup than this thing! Mar 30, 2007
Russ Walling
Overlord @ FishProducts
[Hide Comment] From the rap anchors described, a 70m will get you all the way back down to the deck, or real close to it. Aug 26, 2007
Chris M
Hailey, ID
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Great line! The bottom crux is awkward and probably will be tough for begining leaders Oct 26, 2009
Aerili
Los Alamos, NM
 
[Hide Comment] First climbed this almost 3 years ago; still somewhat physical moves on the first third despite my much increased teckneek now (ahem). Still had a foot slip off during the crux move but pulled right through (don't remember how, it's a blur you know).

The 5.9 exit variation is thin and steep, so make sure to bring some small nuts and super small cams. Beware of Z-clipping here if you put a couple pieces close together. Jan 10, 2010
Brandontru
Nevada
  5.7
[Hide Comment] A great route for anyone who wants to go passive keep it real.


Stoppers Mar 4, 2010
TJ Esposito
San Diego, CA
 
[Hide Comment] Wasn't a bad climb but in a number of sections the feet are a little slippery from so many people climbing this route. Jun 8, 2011
Cho
[Hide Comment] As of 6/25/11 there is a hive of very aggressive (africanized?) bees 15-20 feet back from the top of the climb. When I topped out and saw them, I set a directional and belayed from in front of the big boulder, figuring it would offer sufficient protection. After a few minutes of belaying, they found me and started swarming. I did my best not to provoke them....that is, until the first sting. After that, I unleashed a furry of obscenities and swinging rope. Unfortunately, my highly tactical defenses were ineffective and I got stung twice more. After continuous cries of "are you ok" and "up rope" my partner finally topped out. The bees left her alone, so maybe they only like dark skin?? A couple of them were agro enough to follow me all the way down the rap back to the base....where they met sweet death. Jun 27, 2011
Brandt Allen
Joshua Tree, Cal
[Hide Comment] They must be back again from last summer. I was stung four times at the rap anchor while helping with some bolt maintenence. The bites itched more than hurt, but it was still scary! Jul 1, 2011
Zachary Wilson
Tucson, AZ
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Love this route, no matter what anyone else says. Straight-ahead crack climb, good pro, and strong for the grade. Nov 25, 2011
Chris D
the couch
 
[Hide Comment] Greasy at the crux.

Get pro before starting into the fist crack about twenty feet up to avoid hitting the block that the climb starts off of if you blow it. A #3 Camalot is perfect.

The hardest moves on this route are every bit as hard as the moves on 5.8 cracks in other areas. Whatever. Joshua Tree. Jan 3, 2012
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
  5.7
[Hide Comment] I did dung fu "5.7", the flue "5.8", double cross "5.7+ - 5.8", and hands off "5.8" and I thought this was the hardest one of the bunch with the flue being the easiest. First 15ft was the crux for me and very greasy. We jokingly called it grease lightening after doing the climb. Mar 17, 2012
Ryan N
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] A sandbag at that grade. Very strenuous moves and fairly long climb. Get it while it's in the afternoon shade. All sorts of gear will work big or small nuts or cams. Oct 13, 2012
Canon
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Only had one #3 camalot - wish I had at least two. Walked it up several times in the lower section. There's a hidden rail on the left side of the crack in back that must go up at least half the climb. Heck of a lot easier with that. Really cool climb, but the fact that the whole area is always mobbed takes away some of the experience. Nov 17, 2012
[Hide Comment] Easy enough (felt 8+ based on routes in WA) but the crack was hard on the hands, and especially the inside of my left forearm as I was laying back on the crack on the inside of the left side of the crack. 10ft up there is a tough part that you have to push through to get onto the main crack. I was asking for a tight belay as the rock is super rough, and the idea of taking a fall sounded - unpleasant.

Ed did a great job leading it, so I got lots of breaks to clean gear. I was a bit sketched out due to exposure by the end but did well.

It was definitely more fun than nearby Dung Fu. Mar 29, 2013
David S
San Francisco, CA
  5.7+
[Hide Comment] Very slippery climb in places. Chris D's advice about placing a #3 Camalot in the crack above the crux undercling was spot on, but ended up blocking some of the more solid jams needed to squeeze through that crux. I don't know how I ended up getting through that greasy part of the climb, but it wasn't pretty. Crux is definitely the first 20 feet.

I was a little bit disappointed by the sudden change in character of the climb about half way up. It turned into a blocky chimney with pro being placed more sporadically. Despite this, and though the line is not as pure a crack line as something like Double Cross, it still gets three stars in my book because of the length. The final crack that heads left at the end has the most beautiful jams on the climb, in my opinion.

Recommend bringing two #3s and a #4 Camalot; the crack gets a little wide in the middle and has an awkward (for placing pro) break in the width towards the back of the crack. I didn't bring a #4 and ended up placing a #9 BD hex, which I wasn't too sure of.

As others have said, this is a 5.8 anywhere else. It's Joshua Tree. So I'll call it a 5.7 (though, to be fair, this climb is significantly harder than other 5.7s I've done in the park- e.g. Lazy Day or Double Dogleg, which I thought were quite a bit easier than this). May 25, 2014
AndrewB
Sacramento, CA
 
[Hide Comment] I thought going right at the alcove was the standard route, based on watching the group ahead of us. That crack seemed tough, so I traversed back left on some face holds. Fun top out! Mar 9, 2015
Tony Whitney
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] Climbed this route last weekend. I thought it was a great climb and an excellent example of JT crack climbing (one foot in and one foot out). I am used to climbing Red Rock NV, so I might not have the comparisons down completely. This felt way harder than any 5.7 I have ever done. I guess what my partner told me is true..."In JT, the first 20 feet don't count". Apr 6, 2015
Steven Lee
Boston
  5.7+
[Hide Comment] The guidebook my partner had (thinner one with yellow) called this 5.7 and had you going up the crack just to the right at the finish. Looking at everyone's comments, sounds like I did the 5.9 variation instead? It definitely felt pretty strenuous in the end and felt harder than the undercling crux area.

Anyways, great climb. Definitely kicked my butt as a new trad leader. Lower crux and definitely the finish (the way I did it) felt harder than Dappled Mare 5.8. The middle section was a nice rest. Like others have said, wish I had 2 #3 camalots, ended up making do with a hex and slinging a horn in the middle. Was pretty physical for me.

The rappel to the right of it just made it with a 70m rope. Make sure you tie your ends! Jul 12, 2015
Cron
Albuquerque, NM
  5.7
[Hide Comment] raps fine w/ a 60 m. Just tie your ends and do a chill 10' down climb (5.2). Jan 24, 2016
alex carey
Los Angeles, CA
  5.7+
[Hide Comment] While being lowered the pressure from my foot pushing off the rock kicked off a bowling ball sized rock on the left side of the climb, about 40 feet up. May 3, 2016
Nathan Collins
Portland, OR
 
[Hide Comment] After seeing some comments about big gear I carried up a BD #3 and #4; biggest cam I placed was one #2 :P I was worried about saving the big gear for when I needed it -- I did end up using the #3 as part of the anchor -- but got by on nuts and hexes (I placed 5 of the 7 BD hexes I brought up). There are great passive placements in the smaller cracks on the sides of the big crack that is this climb.

Agree the crux about 20 feet up entering the wide crack in the small roof felt harder than other 5.7s at JTree. However, putting my arm into the wall up to shoulder found a great hand or fist jam (don't remember now). Feb 17, 2017
[Hide Comment] Just led this again today, and I still think that it is harder than 5.7. I did the 5.9 variation at the top, and I believe that the lower crux was harder than the 5.9 part. However, I also believe that it is a fantastic route! Just make sure that you are a solid 5.8 leader before you try it. May 27, 2017
Hobo Greg
My Van
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Strenuous? Sandbagged? Maybe if 5.7 is your limit, but if you know how to climb cracks, it's more like 5.6, not slippery, not strenuous. The feet are only slippery if you are trying to face climb it. It's a CRACK, climb the crack and stop the grade creep. Wait until you're climbing a few grades harder than the route you're about to grade to really get a sense of grades work, because at your limit, things will always "feel" harder than they actually are. Having said all that, it's a long, fantastic route with sinker jams, 4/5 stars to me. Jan 6, 2018
SeƱor Arroz
LA, CA
 
[Hide Comment] There's currently (March 2019) a stuck BD .75 right at the transition from the start to the wide crack. It's totally welded in and not going anywhere unless someone wants to take the time to hammer it out of there. We clipped it and kept going.

Definitely a great climb. I wouldn't describe it as a pure crack by any means. There were sections where the face to the right was better going and I love cracks.

The start is the only really tough part.

Makes a good pair of climbs with Dung Fu just to the left. Mar 20, 2019