Type: Trad, 170 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 7,636 total · 40/month
Shared By: Kelly on Apr 28, 2003
Admins: C Miller, Greg Opland, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin ., Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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A beauty to look at, it had to be done. Who care's the grade if the climbing is fun?


Pro to 3"


M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
Just to add to Kelly's description, Beginner's Two lies a little ways right (south) of The Bong. I've always descended to climber's left to the top of the Bong, and then downclimbed as for that route. However, this might be a case where the downclimb is harder than the actual route! Does anyone know of the easiest descent option? Apr 30, 2003
Perhaps contracting all concessions to Disney will help. Then all descents will be easily identified through the gift shops, where you can buy a photo of your face at the crux.

See The Blob comments for a 5.0 descent off the northeast. May 1, 2003
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
The easiest descent is East (towards the Old Woman). Walk and scramble along the crest of the formation. Continue heading downhill (Class 2-3) until reaching the top of Papa Woolsey. There are slings and rap rings around a large chalkstone. It is also possible to descend to the south (from atop Papa Woolsey) via a 5.0 path. Apr 5, 2006
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
Although "Beginner's Two" is an extremely fun route, prospective climbers should know that there are 2 distinct 5.7 cruxes---yes 5.7! The first is leaving the large alcove at the start of the main crack (you may be able to bypass this crux with some unprotected face climbing out to the left). The second comes near the top of the formation and pulls through a short off-width section.

This is NOT a beginners route. Apr 5, 2006
Wow, sounds a lot harder than it was back in 1977. Maybe I'll go do it again. Sep 23, 2006
Will S
Joshua Tree
Will S   Joshua Tree
Free soloed this onsight and I'd say this route is a giant sandbag for the rating. Involves a fair amount of wide climbing on low angle terrain with a crux where is steepens just before the top. Realistically probably 5.5+. Probably not a great new leader route. Although I wasn't on a rope and not looking for them, I didn't really see many places you would get gear. The Bong is a much better route both for climbing and for a new leader (it's also easier).

Easiest descent is to walk climber's right across the top of the formation to the far right end of the west face and descend low angle and ledgy terrain southwest to a point where you can work back a bit west to the top of the chimney descent commonly used for Bussonier. You will know it's the right chimney because there is an old bolt sleeve (no bolt or hanger, but the "sleeve" is still there) right at the top of the chimney. Basically go to the far right side of the formation, follow the path of least resistance down to the chimney. This is not difficult to find and is easier and safer than trying to downclimb via the Bong descent. I was cordless, I've done the Bong and the Bong descent a zillion times, and I went down the way I describe above, that should tell you something. Jan 10, 2008
Meredith Moseley
San Jose, CA
Meredith Moseley   San Jose, CA
When I did this last week, my partner and I rapped off of bolts with a nest of webbing on the other side of the rock. It's mostly a free rappel, and it landed us on a large ledge that was still about 12 feet or so off the ground. He slung a boulder, took all my gear, and rapped down to the ground. Then I dismantled his anchor and climbed down a convenient tree.

The point is: the descent isn't obvious, and the top of the formation is pretty big, so make sure you know where to head once you're done with the route (I wish we had). Feb 26, 2008
Mark L  
The Climb: Sand bag at "5.2". That is nothing new for 40 year old routes however. Stemming up the start could go at 5.5 but near the top of that section I went left on the face and regretted the decision. I probably would have been happier sitcking to the stemming a little longer.
Grovel on up through the long, tight 5.2-5.4 OW. Dont look for much pro from the beginning of the climb until after the second crux either unless you've brought a few 4-5" cams. Nearly the entire crack is 4-6" wide and flared and little other pro exists where you need it. Carrying up to a #3 camalot I could only get (primarily near the more challenging parts) 4 or 5 pieces of gear in on the 180' from start to the top. Keep on up through a few other minor challenges to what Matthew refers to as the 5.7 OW. I enjoy working on OW skills but this one was funky. Save a #3 camalot for the 2nd crux - perfect pod to fit one before starting the 2nd crux. I would suggest that you may want to be a 5.8 josh leader to tackle that little 15' OW section comfortably. There is not too much for hands and feet. You can hit whats below you with only that blue camalot in, so you dont want to botch it.

Anchor requires slightly larger gear in the main crack OR walk back further and there is a decent place to the right of the rack to use some medium pieces.

The descent: I don't think its reasonable to expect you will find the south descent without a lot of hunting. Agree with Mike the downclimb to the Bong descent looks not just harder than the climb up, but dangerous. Unless you want an adventure I dont know this route is worth doing unless you are with someone who knows the Bouisoneer descent or you know it. It's an easy chimney descent for someone use to j-tree descents but finding the top of it is somewhat hard. There is no rusted spinner bolt there anymore. A local climber I met mentioned the papa woolsey rap slings are not to be trusted lightly. Lastly, dont take a beginner on this climb without lowering them back off before you do the descent unless they are cool with hopping down boulders and 5.0 downclimbing with exposure. May 12, 2008
Brian Hench
Costa Mesa, CA
Brian Hench   Costa Mesa, CA
There is an arch near a bathtub that can be slung. A singe rope rap will get you down to the top of The Bong. From there go northeast toward some brown knobby looking rock. Work your way left into a cave and chimney down it, fourth class and then downclimb the rest of the way. It's not hard. Dec 30, 2008
I lead this route years ago and it scared the crud out of me. Insecure moves with questionable gear! Jul 31, 2009
Jason Partin
San Diego, CA
Jason Partin   San Diego, CA
DO NOT PUT SOMEONE ON IT FOR A FIRST CLIMB WITHOUT DOING IT YOURSELF FIRST! This is not a 5.2 climb, as the book says!!! The consensus on MP is 5.5 to 5.6, with a few people calling the crux move 5.7. Regardless of the exact rating (which will always be subjective) it's a difficult move through the crux, with poor protection, and decking potential should the leader fall. I learned this last weekend when I put someone on their first trad lead. They did it, but thought The Bong was a lot easier, and I agree. It's a fun route, but the 5.2 rating in Vogel's book and the name "Beginners" are deceiving for new climbers... It's a 5.5 - 5.6 crack with decking potential, so be careful. Nov 16, 2009
Joseph Stover
Batesville, AR
  5.5 PG13
Joseph Stover   Batesville, AR
  5.5 PG13
There is a bolt up high on this climb too, and just above the bolt(maybe 5-10 feet) there is a perfect pocket for a #2 C4. Up top there is a pocket that fits a purple 0.75 C4 for an anchor; a #4 would probably work good up there too, but I had to make do with a unevenly cammed #3. It seemed like the route would have protected well with several large cams, maybe #'s 4-6. It was mostly just leaning into the crack/channel and hiking up, then a few harder moves up high. The low angle makes it doable with minimal technique.

I started the climb above the hard thin vertical crack; as high as can be reached along the face slab. Maybe this makes it significantly easier.

I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner/novice trad leader. It is a good alternative if the bong is being bogarted though. Apr 26, 2010
Chris D
the couch
  5.5 R
Chris D   the couch
  5.5 R
I think I protected this the same way Joseph Stover described above, minus the .75. I just girth-hitched the bathtub arch for an anchor. I was looking pretty thoroughly for gear placements, and there are very few. The high crux of this route is a low-angle, funky, shallow off-width. If you're not at least a little familiar with off-widths I wouldn't recommend leading this. I took a #5 C4 and it was nothing but dead weight. Everything's too wide for it.

Looking up at the line from the start, I thought "Oh, man, there's either some magic going on up there, or this is a total sandbag at 5.2"

It's a total sandbag. Ha! That said, it goes at about a modern 5.5, and is quite fun, but PG13 or perhaps even R...just because the high second crux is hard or impossible to protect near the top and would be hard to fall out of without getting hurt.

Descending to the top of the Bong then taking the bong descent is not only not as hard as people make it sound, but at least as much fun as the climb if you enjoy 4th or low 5th class downclimbing. May 3, 2010
Wesley Stupar
  5.6 PG13
Wesley Stupar   Glendora
  5.6 PG13
My first trad lead after 15 years of not climbing!!! I made a mistake and headed up this thinking it was the Bong and would be an easy rated G climb. I would rate the danger as PG/PG-13 (hurt/broken but not lasting broken or dead). I had 2-3 moments where I mentally had to turn off the fear factor. Pro placements were hard to find and I thought "if I fall, I'm going to get hurt... at least cut up". I calmed myself down mentally and took my time and was always able to find pro, when I really desperately wanted it and the placement spots all had pretty comfortable/easy stances. I had Metolius Master Cams yellow - green and red, yellow and blue Camelots and a set of standard nuts. I used my blue Camelot right at the top and loved it. I downclimbed the chimney near Bussonier - its a little hairy if you're not comfortable with that. I set up a rappel anchor for my partner and several other people literally lined up to use it. I felt good in the chimney - a bit slippery, but able to stay in control - not really bad, but I did have to turn off a mental alarm there too. All in all, I had a really great climb and am very, very happy to be climbing and placing pro again! Jan 2, 2011
Mary Moser
Joshua Tree, CA
  5.5 PG13
Mary Moser   Joshua Tree, CA
  5.5 PG13
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thought this climb was a sandbag and that the pro was sparse. But then again, it's Joshua Tree and I've come to expect that. Definitely not recommended for a beginner leader. Sep 19, 2011
Ken Noyce
Layton, UT
Ken Noyce   Layton, UT
Just wanted to let everyone know that I climbed this on Saturday, and it is nowhere near 5.7 as was mentioned earlier. I would say that it was a bit harder than 5.2, but certainly not any harder than 5.4. I give it a 5.3 based on that. As far as pro goes, there is a quarter inch button-head just before the "crux" and about 10 feet above that there was a perfect pod for a #3 C4. All the climbing before the bolt was 3rd or 4th class, except for the short 5.2 stemming chimney out of the pod that looked like it had a good protectable crack at the back of it (I didn't look too hard though). As for the anchor, I used a #4, #5 (I generally take these two just for anchors at J-tree), and #2 C4 at the top of the crack. I rapped the route so that others in our group could TR it, so no personall experience with the walkoff, but my friend who did the walk off headed north and said that it was easy fifth class (like 5.0). Nov 21, 2011
Mike Grainger
Waterloo, ON Canada
  5.5 PG13
Mike Grainger   Waterloo, ON Canada
  5.5 PG13
I respectfully disagree with the above comment. I am new to leading at Joshua Tree, but lead to 5.7 in other areas and feel that a 5.5 -5.6 rating is in the ballpark for this climb. There is protection available on this climb is you look for it - if you have some small offset cams, bring them along, they will come in handy. Agree with those who note that injury is pretty much a given if you blow the insecure moves on the high crux. I set up a belay anchor with a WC Helium #4 (slightly larger than a Camalot #3) and a couple of smaller cams deep in the crack at the top. Definitely not a route for new leaders who haven't got their "lead head" yet. The down climb may be fun for those who know it, but as visitors we had no confidence in it and chose to invest in some cord and a quick link to set up a rap down to the area below the start of the Bong. All good fun and more climbing than expected, but definitely not for beginners. Dec 19, 2012
Riverside, CA
nathanael   Riverside, CA
Ha I sent some friends up this based on the guidebook "5.2". I met them at the top and they were not amused. I see others have had similar experiences. Apr 3, 2017
Mark P Thomas
Mark P Thomas   Draper
Definitely harder and more serious than Beginner's One, but not as hard as 5.7 if you are solid on crack, slab, and wide at 5.4ish. Just be ready to not be able to place pro wherever you want.

At the first steep pod I placed gear high and then climbed the slab out left as that is the obvious line of least resistance (I can see the pod direct being 5.7). It seemed doable for the grade (5.2-3ish), but falling would not be good. Low angle enough that you might get more cheese-grated than hitting anything hard, so not R.

The wide is awkward but not hard if you know how to climb wide. There is a bolt at the crux. Small cams also work in some of the seam pods. I didn't bring any offsets and felt fine enough. You can get in a lot of gear if you want in certain sections.

I used:
BD 1x#3, 2x#0.75, 1x#0.5,0.4,0.3, 1 long sling for the bolt. BD 1x#1,2,3 worked great for an anchor at the top. May 19, 2017