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Illusion Dweller

5.10b, Trad, 100 ft (30 m),  Avg: 3.8 from 880 votes
FA: Matt Cox, Spencer Lennard and Steve Emerson, 1973
California > Joshua Tree NP > Hidden Valley Area > Real Hidden Valley > Sentinel > Sentinel - W Face


Climb the obvious right-slanting crack using jams and lieback moves until encountering a roof high on the route. A good rest is found here, so plug in some gear and pull the cruxy roof before topping out onto a nice ledge with anchors.

Rap off or downclimb easy slabs on the south face.

There's a beer named after this route?

Mountain Sun Pubs & Brewery - "Just like one of the best climbs at Joshua Tree, this IPA, chock full of UK Kent Golding hops, is not only beautiful to look at, but after quaffing a few pints, you’ll have that same satisfaction as if you were pulling that final crux move at the end of the climb. This beer is also dry hopped with whole flower, UK Kent Golding hops."


The far right side of the west face is the location of this classic right-slanting crack. It's also about 50 feet right from the base of Desert Song, which starts behind some yuccas.


Gear to 3 inches, bolted anchor/rap (3/8")

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Erik Kramer-Webb on Illusion Dweller.<br>
photo by bob gaines
[Hide Photo] Erik Kramer-Webb on Illusion Dweller. photo by bob gaines
Lisa Pritchett leading Illusion Dweller
[Hide Photo] Lisa Pritchett leading Illusion Dweller
Cameron Reade following Illusion Dweller
[Hide Photo] Cameron Reade following Illusion Dweller
Midway point on Illusion Dweller - if the route is too crowded to climb, might as well scramble and fire some shots...  This lad sent sin problema.
[Hide Photo] Midway point on Illusion Dweller - if the route is too crowded to climb, might as well scramble and fire some shots... This lad sent sin problema.
Illusion Dweller from top of RFYL
[Hide Photo] Illusion Dweller from top of RFYL
A beautiful line...
[Hide Photo] A beautiful line...
dwell on the illusions
[Hide Photo] dwell on the illusions
Crux of Illusion Dweller
[Hide Photo] Crux of Illusion Dweller
Back in the day, 1997.
[Hide Photo] Back in the day, 1997.
Illusion dweller
[Hide Photo] Illusion dweller
Tom Mason in a sea of Illusion.
[Hide Photo] Tom Mason in a sea of Illusion.
Illusion Dweller
[Hide Photo] Illusion Dweller

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] All-in-all a very nice line which eats gear and is no threat to a compitent leader.

Each one of the several cruxes is well protected, mostly by medium-sized stoppers. Each crux has a nice rest afterwards as well, to keep someone pressing the grade from getting too pumped. Jul 15, 2002
Lassitude 33
[Hide Comment] The actual FA: was Cox, Lennard and Steve Emerson (not Gary Ayres). Also Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamlined Baby is the actual name given by the FA team. Tobin Sorenson and Jim Wilson made a second "first ascent" in 1974 (adding a bolt-which has long ago disappeared) and called thier supposed new route Illusion Dweller. Sorenson and Wilson were credited with the FA for a while, and the name stuck even after the FA info was (incorrectly) corrected.

It seems sort of wierd to proposed this, but perhaps I should correct the name in the new guide, giving an "aka Illusion Dweller." Not sure how that would go over with people after nearly 30 years, but as time goes on, it becomes likely this will never be corrected.

Poll anyone????? Oct 29, 2003
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
[Hide Comment] Led the route for the first time today. Haven't been on it in at least 5 years. I remembered the leaning crack being difficult so I was all psyched up for that. Figured the upper section would be easy as it's a lieback. Turns out after I completely sewed up the lower section (16 pieces was the final count) I must have run out of steam and ended up hanging at the top. I suck and nerves got the better of me. I'll be back and post my progress. Less gear & no hangs.

~Susan Feb 24, 2007
armand rollice
rancho cucamonga
[Hide Comment] What can I say very very classic route. The gear is good the whole way. The crux at the top was commiting, but your well protected with gear below. It was my goal to lead this for a long time. When i finally did. I had a blast! I sent it clean styled the moves all the way to the top. When it was all over and rapped to the ground. I saw this beautiful woman standing there watching me. Well four months later we returned to the base of Illusion Dweller. I asked her to marry me. Eight months later we got married under the oak tree at Live oak picnic area October 7th 2006 Feb 27, 2008
Los Alamos, NM
[Hide Comment] I am fascinated at all the diverse comments and varying opinions about "where the crux is"!

The first 15-20 feet were not that cruxy to me; I had solid hand and foot jams the whole way. I felt much more desperate on the upper third as you're getting close to the roof--there was a wide but shallow section here that left me doing gripping hand stacks while making more of those weird-balance angling moves.

Ultimately, the roof did prove to be the crux for me I guess; I blew my onsight here. :( Fatigue was definitely a factor! Fantastic route however!! Nov 19, 2009
[Hide Comment] Only pushes 10b because of the length, 10a overall with the main crux at the bottom. I didn't find the top too hard at all. A brown tri-cam fits perfectly in the slot under the roof. Jan 20, 2012
Bradley Gorsline
Pasadena, CA
[Hide Comment] Great route, sustained hard moves with good rests and great pro the whole way. I did a very inelegant beached whale move to surmount the roof, definitely not the way to go. Our 60m rope just barely made it to the ground (actually a small tree off right) with rope stretch. Apr 24, 2016
[Hide Comment] I remember this route, it was great fun climbing it with my buds Feb 9, 2017
Derek Field
Sedona, AZ
[Hide Comment] Mega-classic! Cruxes at bottom and top; enduro-5.9 between. Hungry bugger ate just about every last piece of gear I had, and I believe I took doubles. All I had left at the roof was a .5 camalot and a purple TCU. Fortunately, this happens to be the ideal combo to protect those moves. Go figure! Feb 27, 2017
Daniel Evans
Phoenix, AZ
[Hide Comment] If the crux of Bird of Fire is 10a, then the top out on this is 10b. This felt equally as hard as Taxman, which I would argue is a sandbag at 10a. Slash grades are dumb. I worked harder on this then Sidewinder or Poodles are people too. Like Rubicon, which is 10c due to the sustained nature of 10a moves, this route deserves a 10b rating for the same reason. It is also certainly a classic for the park. Not overrated in my opinion. Jan 7, 2018
Riverside, CA
[Hide Comment] I will confirm that I've rapped this route on a 60m. Oct 28, 2018
Matt Hagny
[Hide Comment] Save a #0.4 for the top, lest you be faced with some runout at a challenging spot in the climb. Dec 28, 2018
[Hide Comment] The routes correct name is illusion dweller. And the first ascent party is correct matt cox spencer leanard and Steve Emerson it was a fine route on a perfect day with great friends. Matt cox Dec 30, 2018
Mounir F
San Diego, CA
[Hide Comment] On the rappel, the ends of my 60m rope were hanging ~4-5 ft off the ground, with the rap going straight down from the bolts above the roof (climber's left of the roof). Not a prob to rap off the end since the ground is soft. I weigh ~140lb Oct 27, 2019
Cameron Kruse
Los Angeles
[Hide Comment] We did this with a full 70m rope. I led it, placed a directional after the roof, traversed over to the anchors, and lowered down off of a short sling anchor. I got safely to the ground, but the rope just barely made it all the way. Nov 11, 2019
Nolan Slade
Port Elgin, ON
[Hide Comment] Someone wrote: “I feel the first few moves are by far the hardest on this route. Getting off the ground is not obvious, nor easy. I think these moves are way too bouldery to be called "5.9"; the supposed crux at the roof, although definitely 5.10, is no where near as hard as the start”

I’m sorry to put it so bluntly but that is total crap. Sure, the moves are a bit balancey, but certainly not the crux. How could they be not obvious, you’re following a crackline with a nice scoop for feet and decent thin hands/off-fingers?

Anyways - this is an absolutely wonderful climb! Enjoyed every single move, and every one of the handful of distinct cruxy sections. Excellent pro throughout. Good balance required!

Didn’t place anything bigger than #1 Camalot. You could put in a 2 in a couple spots but it’s really not necessary - there’s always a plethora of options and usually an opportunity to toss in a good medium stopper.

Perfect rack:
.3 to #1 Camalot, with doubles from .5 to #1; plus, lots of nuts!

0.5 Camalot perfectly protects the roof crux. Nov 11, 2019
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
[Hide Comment] I used a #3 and #4 on the route. Could've gone without the 4, but it was nice to have it. Also save a #3 at the very top before the anchors. Anchors are a good 10 ft to the left of the top/crux of the route. Placing a 3 after the crux prevents your partner from swinging over if they fall at the crux. Dec 8, 2019
Daniel Kaye
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Climbed in part of three, we all found different ways to do many parts of it. I don't think it's occurred to many of the commenters above me that it's possible for different people with different climbing styles, strengths, and weaknesses to find different parts as the crux for them.

Also, gotta second Derek Field's comment, I think he's spot on.

Also, also, there was a black offset stuck in the top bulge when we were there (not mine) in case anyone wants to/can get that bugger out. Jan 15, 2020
Brent Kelly
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] Sharing this video of a FlyBy while I sip an Illusion Dweller IPA taster at Southern Sun with Kelley.

Cheers! Jan 17, 2020
jake w
[Hide Comment] Onsighted this after waking up at sunrise to beat the crowds. Boy, was it a battle! Felt way longer than 100ft. The crux for me was when I started dripping sweat while fiddling in pro somewhere midway up with a shitty flared jams. So stoked to get the onsight, now to try the beer! Feb 18, 2020
jt newgard
San Diego, CA
[Hide Comment] OK so plenty of comments already for this one, but I can't help adding my 2cents!

Since the comparison was brought up above, with respect to "classic-ness" and stars relative to other areas: yes of course, yosemite and the needles have the most beautiful rock of all time compared to the choss piles and flarey cracks of jtree. But the movement on this one is so good and it just keeps going and going! All sizes to jam and grab, lean and balance, then contorting to find a nice rest ... and then you get the knockout finish over the bulge. This route has gotta be one of the best places in josh to go for a big whip, the gear is bombah and the face is clean. So plug a piece and fire it baby ! Mar 2, 2020
Andrew Kelleher
New York, NY
[Hide Comment] That was awesome! I concur with the earlier beta of a 0.5 to protect the crux. That felt bomber. After that... just send it and don't look back! Not worth the pump to place anything else, you've already topped out anyway. Dec 1, 2020
Conner Van Loan
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Excellent climb. Takes great medium stoppers and protects well throughout. BEWARE of the large flake about 10-15 ft up the route. It begs to be used as an undercling jug (chalked up), but this is extremely hollow and flexes if pulled on. Belayer should wear a helmet and be aware. Jan 9, 2021