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5.6, Trad, 60 ft (18 m),  Avg: 2.7 from 173 votes
FA: unknown
California > Joshua Tree NP > Pinto Basin > Stirrup Tank > Zippy Rock


This is the hand crack on the left side of Zippy Rock as you approach from the parking area.

Great 5.6 hand crack!! From top to bottom hands size crack. Good early lead for aspiring trad leader as long as you have a few hand sized pieces. Seems like a good place for cold winter days.


Solid hand sized pro the whole way widening some at the top. Take a fist size or larger piece or two for the anchor at the top. Rappel slings at top or 3rd/4th class down climb. Reports in comments are a bolted rap station is present as of Jan 2016.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Rappelling off of Gargoyle. Photo Copyright Sam Cervantes 2013.
[Hide Photo] Rappelling off of Gargoyle. Photo Copyright Sam Cervantes 2013.
Steph leading Gargoyle.  Dec 2015.
[Hide Photo] Steph leading Gargoyle. Dec 2015.
Meg on lead. gargoyle 5.6
[Hide Photo] Meg on lead. gargoyle 5.6
Best 5.6 Ive ever done. Great intro to crack.
[Hide Photo] Best 5.6 Ive ever done. Great intro to crack.
Sinker foot jams for scale
[Hide Photo] Sinker foot jams for scale
Sun setting
[Hide Photo] Sun setting
Gargoyle.  Photo: Dave Rockwell, Climber, Todd Bradley
[Hide Photo] Gargoyle. Photo: Dave Rockwell, Climber, Todd Bradley
Finishing up as the crack widens
[Hide Photo] Finishing up as the crack widens
Madi seconding in the fading light
[Hide Photo] Madi seconding in the fading light
Further up, feeling super comfy and having a blast
[Hide Photo] Further up, feeling super comfy and having a blast
Me leading as the sun sets
[Hide Photo] Me leading as the sun sets
T B leading Gargoyle (ca 1982)
[Hide Photo] T B leading Gargoyle (ca 1982)

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

C Miller
[Hide Comment] A striking line from a distance which becomes less appealing closer up. Somewhat low-angled and gritty but not a total bomb either. One star out of five. Jan 18, 2006
[Hide Comment] Two stars. This is a good, easy, crack to practice your jamming technique. The rock quality is pretty good on the lower 25-30' of the crack, but it does get gritty at the top where the angle eases off. Feb 6, 2006
Brian F
[Hide Comment] Sad to say - because I disagree with the community on this one...I love Gargoyle...its one of my favorite climbs in the park. Its just so nice....I know its sad. I've climbed it at least 8 times. Prob more. Its a guilty pleasure. Mar 17, 2006
[Hide Comment] Gritty, but fun. Sep 15, 2006
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] Although not hard, the last 10' or so of the climb was an offwidth section for me and my partners. This section loses the aesthetic movement that the initial handcrack provides (unless you like offwidths - in which case, hats off to you).

The downclimb seemed roughly as hard as the climb itself, but it's only a fraction of the length. Nov 5, 2007
Colin Parker
Idyllwild, CA
[Hide Comment] Took my first ever trad fall on this one last year. Beginner mistake, tried to use the face for feet instead of squeezing them in the crack. Anyway, good hand crack and solid practice. Recommended if you're a beginner or in the area. May 27, 2009
Palm Desert, CA
[Hide Comment] I loved the approach! I thought that this was a pretty fun route - Leave the small stuff on the deck - Bring a few of #1-#3.5 range and you should be styin'! Nice secure holds all the way - a fair grade of 5.6.
Wasn't a big fan of the walk down, but there I go complaining again. Rap station around the corner and up didn't look like much fun to get to either. Nov 1, 2010
[Hide Comment] May be one of the best introductions to crack climbing in the pack. I say this because the hands and feet fit perfectly, and you don't have any face holds to cheat with. Feb 20, 2011
[Hide Comment] No cheating hand crack and comfy jams in comparison with some other cracks in JT.

There is a diagonal crack line on the wall directly behind this route. Wasn't any chalk on it, anyone know what it is? Mar 17, 2011
Shawn G
Phoenix, AZ
[Hide Comment] Good practice.

When getting down, I belayed the second as they climbed down into the gully on the south side of the formation. I rapped the route using the other end of the rope and the second as my anchor. The second unties, pull the rope and coil it by the time they walk around the corner. Now you can go climb something fun. Mar 18, 2012
[Hide Comment] I just heard reports that 2 bolts have been placed on the route, and that bolts have been added to the down climb? Can anyone confirm this?

I tend not to be an elitist when it comes to bolting, but in Jtree there are regulations for bolting, and I would be surprised if any of those who hold licenses for bolting would have done this. Nov 19, 2012
Lassitude 33
[Hide Comment] If true, I don't expect them to last. Nov 19, 2012
ediza blum
Berkeley, California
[Hide Comment] There's two bolts with rap rings as of 12/28/12 at the top. Jan 1, 2013
toddgordon Gordon
Joshua Tree, California
[Hide Comment] Good; you don't have to do that lame dicey choss decent, there is an anchor for two climbs (Gragoyle/Canalizo), climbers aren't beating up the desert getting back to their packs from walking off the back, and the rope doesn't get shreaded on gargoyle with the old gear anchor......good idea..... Jan 1, 2013
Derek Field
Sedona, AZ
[Hide Comment] You'd be hard pressed to find a better 5.5 hand crack anywhere. Solid hand jams and painful foot jams all the way. Widens to offwidth at the top, can protect this with #4, although the crack is pretty much impossible to fall out of. Rappel bolts at top as of Jan 2016. Mar 2, 2016
Curt Veldhuisen
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] Excellent route for a novice to learn hand and fist jamming, but tape them up! Mar 18, 2016
Not Hobo Greg
Joshua Tree, CA
[Hide Comment] Really fun, sharp on the inside but what else is new out here. Nov 24, 2019