Type: Sport, 50 ft
FA: Scott Cosgrove, 1989
Page Views: 3,780 total · 28/month
Shared By: Isaac T. on Nov 13, 2007
Admins: C Miller, Greg Opland, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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Don't want to give it away in case you are going for the "pure" onsight, but the route is very thin hands, delicate feet, with a few bulges to overcome. It is probably the most intriguing line on the rock, and can be quite fun to watch someone work the moves.


The North face of Headstone rock, on the west arete.


4 bolts to chains (if you are working the problem you can yard off of the solitary rusty bolt to clip the first bolt on the climb. Probably a good idea because if you fall here it is a long way down)


Was this at one time called Headmaster's Arete? Nov 13, 2007
Will S
Joshua Tree
Will S   Joshua Tree
This is an interesting route, and not as steep as I'd expected. Bring your stiff edging shoes for sure. Height definitely helps with both the climbing and at least one clip. Crux comes at the 3/4 mark with some very reachy, balancey moves going from a hueco-jug around the left side to more tiny crimps and ripples on both sides. The bulk of the route felt like very technical 5.12ish climbing on thin edges to a show-stopper 2-3 move crux. The fall between bolts 1 and 2 could be ugly...you won't hit the ground, but you might rag doll into the arete or starting boulder, and at least 2 of the bolts would be pretty exciting to clip due to insecure holds/body positions. Cool position. Take some shoulder length slings if you want to TR, the welded shuts anchor atop Cryptic are a bit back from the edge for this one. Jan 27, 2011
Will S
Joshua Tree
Will S   Joshua Tree
This climb was on the cover of Climbing #114. Nov 16, 2011
I climbed the Cutting Edge, AKA "Headstone arete" shortly after finishing the G-String. I was in the prime of my climbing life and felt extremely fit.

The line caught my eye... as it would anyone... and I assumed it was impossible. But, Bob Gaines and a few others, claimed there were holds and that, I should give it a try. I was very surprised after a short cleaning that the route was very climbable.

My first day I was able to do all the moves and started thinking about placing the bolts. On such a historic rock and a very high profile line, I was determined to place them in just the right spots. Unfortunately, the climb has very few good stances to stop and rest, and the clips although hard, are in the best possible place for clipping and safety. I used a quick draw with a long runner on the forth bolt so I could do a dangerous clip in two stages. I believe you can see the set up in the Cover photo.

The crux is a big move, using a key hold around the corner to the left and palming the true arete with your right hand. Bringing up the feet and then a dyno for a small three finger incut. It's a hard and a low percentage move, but the rest of the climbing is mid 12b/c and pretty easy to nail everytime, if you have the ability to send the crux. On my eighth day I red pointed it, on a cool shady morning, and redpointed it a few days later in the direct sun. While taking the photo that ended up on the cover of Climbing.

It is a beautiful climb and as yet unrepeated as far as I know, I've heard of many people trying it, and I heard Allan Moore is very close, at the moment. I rated it 13b, as a complete sand bag, it's more like 13c/d or even 14a, but it is much easier than the G-String.

Again, I don't think it's super reachy as my friend "KS" who is 5' 7" did all the moves and Steve S, was actually able to find a trick sequence on the crux and underclinging the three finger incut, and could do the crux statics. It is however a beautiful line in a great location. I'm very proud of this one, as I always tried to pick lines for their beauty and not just hard climbing.

EDIT, there are only four bolts, (Blitzo's photo shows five) the top is run out, but very easy 10d or 11a on positive holds, and I felt it kept the bolt count down. If there is a fifth bolt now, it was not original, but probably not a bad idea, LOL... Sep 3, 2013
I would also like to add, if anyone is looking for a great project. The bolt ladder on the North Face of the Headstone goes. It is between the Cutting Edge and the Head Master. I have done all the moves a few times, years ago, and it would make a proud line. Probably checking in at 13 plus... Sep 3, 2013
Scott, that is some really interesting back story. I am headed out to the Headstone Rock this weekend for some amazing looking easy routes that my friends will enjoy, but also looking for a project. I am not sure I can tackle such a difficult sounding 5.13, but some of the other routes look incredible as well. Thanks for your contributions to climbing. Oct 29, 2015
Has this seen a second ascent? Sep 23, 2017
Keenan Takahashi repeated it recently, either late in 2016 or earlier this year 2017. Sep 24, 2017