Type: Trad, 300 ft, 3 pitches
FA: P1&2: Mark Bowling, Larry Thaxton, Deborah Beron (April, '76) // P3: Mark Wagner (1977)
Page Views: 930 total · 9/month
Shared By: Bryan G on Feb 25, 2010 with updates from john durr
Admins: C Miller, Greg Opland, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

4 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


Like the name suggests, this climb is both great and unknown. While other parties are lined up at the base of Bird on a Wire and Walk on the Wild Side, you can have this multipitch classic all to yourself. It's remote and adventurous feeling, yet it also offers solid rock and decent protection. The panoramic view from the summit is one of the best in Joshua Tree.

The Great Unknown ascends the large pillar on the southwest face of the Superdome, and then continues up the face to the summit. There are a few different ways to climb the pillar, which vary in difficulty and quality. Note that this route description and gear recommendations are for climbing the left side of the pillar.

Approach the base of the pillar by bushwhacking to a small ledge under a larger ledge.

P1 - The larger ledge is guarded by a "bouldering problem" which you'll likely want to rope up for. Climb a short crack/flake with a couple tricky moves down low. This can be linked with P2 with some added rope drag. 30 feet. 5.9

P2 - Chimney up to a stance below a small roof. A #5 BD Camalot or equivalent is very useful here as your first piece of gear. Move left around the roof and continue to jam, stem, lieback, and otherwise climb the left-facing corner all the way to its end. Belay at a small ledge with a 2 bolt belay. 100 feet. 5.9

P3 - Traverse left from the belay to reach the first bolt and then continue up past 4 more. Putting slings on some of the bolts will help you with rope drag later. After the 5th bolt, make a short traverse left to reach a large flake. Either continue up the flake until you move into a low-angle seam, or make another traverse left to pull over a small overhang. Either finish offers easy climbing. 190+ feet (depending on where you stop to belay). 5.10a

P3 (var.) - Instead of traversing left at the start, climb straight up from the belay past 2 bolts and then move left to rejoin the climb. 5.10?

To descend, head east along the top of the formation (towards the Super Block). Walk down an exposed 3rd/4th class slab and then carefully step across a very deep chimney that separates the Superdome from the Superblock. Walk to the southern corner of the Block and rap from the bolted anchors atop Lion's Share (another excellent 5.10 to do while in the area).


Gear to 4.5", bolts

The anchor on top the P2 flake and protection bolts on both P3 variations on this route have been replaced.


P2 corner is one of the best of its grade in the park *****. Great summit, worth the walk. Jan 22, 2017