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Bonzo Dog Band

5.7, Trad, 60 ft (18 m),  Avg: 1.9 from 47 votes
FA: Rick Sumner and Don Reid, January 1980
California > Joshua Tree NP > Central Joshua… > Echo Rock Area > Echo Cove > Echo Cove - S Face


Locate the four large boulders atop the left end of the south face of South Echo Cove Rock. Bonzo Dog Band is the mostly-left-trending crack system that ends between the middle two of these four boulders. It starts at a large flake just left of a boulder.

There is an alternate start for this route just left of this flake, but the old quarter inch bolt was rusted and hangerless as of late October, 2002. We got onto the climb by getting a large piece high behind the flake, then stepping left onto the face. This was followed by an intimidating, wide, high step to the left, after which the climb eased up considerably, both in difficulty and ease of protection.

Unless you're much smaller than the average leader, you'll end up stretched out on your belly to build a decent gear anchor beneath the boulders.

For the walkoff, crawl back between the boulders atop the route. You'll find yourself in an open, airy cave system. Walk left until you leave the cave, then climb (low fifth class) onto the very top when it becomes convenient. Keep walking left, scramble down a couple more fourth-to-low-fifth class downclimb sections, and walk off onto the road.

Though you could reach the top of this climb via the walkoff, the traversing nature would make it a poor toprope.


Standard rack, plus something big (#4 Camalot) for flake at bottom. Gear anchor underneath large boulder on top.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Cold, Windy, and a big smile on my face
[Hide Photo] Cold, Windy, and a big smile on my face
NPG making her way up the start of Bonzo Dog Band before linking over to Ass of Dog 2/3 of the way up (9/20/20).
[Hide Photo] NPG making her way up the start of Bonzo Dog Band before linking over to Ass of Dog 2/3 of the way up (9/20/20).
A "Bonzo Dog Band" moment.<br>
Photo by Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] A "Bonzo Dog Band" moment. Photo by Blitzo.
Bonzo Dog Band (5.7+) heads up the very wide zig-zag crack system in the middle of the photo
[Hide Photo] Bonzo Dog Band (5.7+) heads up the very wide zig-zag crack system in the middle of the photo
What was up with our photographer here?  This is the start of Bonzo Dog Band.
[Hide Photo] What was up with our photographer here? This is the start of Bonzo Dog Band.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Jason Shatek
[Hide Comment] I followed this one. I thought this climb had a really stiff crux for 5.7. The crux of the climb comes right away, about 10-15 feet off the ground but it is very protectable with large cams #4 friend I think Apr 7, 2005
mmurduff Mic
[Hide Comment] Everthing these two gentlemen stated I will agree with. A #4 is necessary near the bottom which I agree is the crux.For those with either small hands or poor jamming technique, I am interested to hear how it goes leading the face left of the flake. It looks very climbable! Somethinig about this climb seems "old school", perhaps not all of the holds have broken off like many other J-Tree routes.

Mike Oct 23, 2005
[Hide Comment] Funny you should ask. I remember saying to my belayer, "*&#@, if my hands were only a little bigger I could get in a great fist jam here!" So I opted for the outside face instead, which goes just fine (in fact, it has remnants of an old bolt which tells me that's how the route was intended once upon a time). I walked my cam up high into the wide crack so the exit onto the face didn't feel that exposed. Jan 4, 2008
Kyle Wills
Chicago, IL
[Hide Comment] I lead it in the crack with as stated great fist jam, and really high, crazy awkward, yet rewardingly fun, foot jam as I plugged in my second piece, my second opted for the slab face and had a horrible time getting that second piece out.... I only laughed. Jan 4, 2009
[Hide Comment] I had a blast on this route! Fun and ever changing. If you go to the right there is rap rings now! Nov 15, 2009
Palm Desert, CA
[Hide Comment] Be advised that the rap rings that are mentioned in the post above require a significant traverse. Climbers may be better served to follow the instructions on the down climb that are provided. I'm the first to moan about the lack of "convenience anchors" (yeah, yeah... whatever), but in this case, I would suggest the cave exit. Kinda cool - with one kinda interesting hop down.
Overall, a fun route. I'd suggest grabbing another larger piece for the bottom, but that's me! Jan 10, 2010
Newport Beach
[Hide Comment] Just led this and found the start strenuous and technical; more like 5.9. Oct 22, 2012
Patrick Sanan
Lugano, Switzerland
[Hide Comment] Leading the crux was exciting. I'm glad I left this until I really felt solid leading J Tree 5.7, as this is one of the harder ones of that grade I've encountered. Mar 24, 2013
Ryan Strickland
Idyllwild, CA
[Hide Comment] Probably a better solo than lead.

BETA ALERT! If you're keeping it 5.7, you need to move left onto the face after standing on a boulder at the base of the climb. Placing gear under the flake doesn't seem like it would make the climb safer to lead, just more tedious. The slab moves are solid and no where near as slick as most 5.7 slabs in the area. The rest of the climb is better protected and easier. May 4, 2015
Matt Hagny
[Hide Comment] Have climbed this several times. Even by J-tree standards, it's a bit tricky for 5.7. Not a good one for the budding 5.7 leader. Comparable to Grand Theft Avocado. Really nice route tho. 2+ stars on 4-star scale. Mar 7, 2019