Type: Trad, 1000 ft (303 m), 7 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 1,657 total · 26/month
Shared By: Drew Chojnowski on May 26, 2019
Admins: Jason Halladay, Mike Hoskins, Anna Brown

You & This Route

4 Opinions
Your To-Do List: Add To-Do ·
Your Star Rating:
Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty Rating:
-none- Change
Your Ticks:Add New Tick
Use onX Backcountry to explore the terrain in 3D, view recent satellite imagery, and more. Now available in onX Backcountry Mobile apps! For more information see this post.
Warning Access Issue: Power drilling is prohibited in the Organ Mountains Wilderness. DetailsDrop down

Description Suggest change

The Jewel was included on the old Southwestern Mountaineers (SWM) topo mountainproject.com/photo/1… as the longest route at the East Slabs (8 pitches), and one of few East Slabs routes to follow crack/corner systems rather than blank R-rated slab. The three out of four stars it earned from the SWM is high praise considering the other SWM topos, in which number of stars usually correlates with difficulty. For a moderate route (5.7+), this was clearly a favorite among those who climbed it. The route is named after a large vein of crystals behind a tree exactly 60m off the ground.

As we discovered in the first repeat of the route in possibly ~40 years (?), the Jewel is indeed excellent despite requiring a massive effort and intimate familiarity with the area in order to efficiently approach, climb, and descend in a single day push. The approach is long, the bushwacking is occasionally severe (on and off route), and the descent involves a sketchy rappel followed by downclimbing many hundred feet of sometimes treacherous 3rd/4th class. The reward is a fun, long route featuring a diverse range of climbing on mostly immaculate granite studded with chicken heads and enough cracks to make it only barely R-rated. For me, the crux was following the downclimb pitch.

We followed the topo, breaking pitches up accordingly, only linking 1 and 2. What follows is the recommended pitch breakup for a team solid at the grade.

P1 (5.8, 30m): Climb the obvious, left-facing, intermittently-vegetated corner to the first of two trees.

P2 (5.8, 45m): Continue up the acute corner from the second tree, surmounting a small roof. This leads to a small ledge which leads into a left-facing flake. Build belay on finger sized gear and the best stance.

P3 (5.8R, 50m): Climb the flake as it becomes more hollow, taking care to set good gear before moving right and then up the knobby slab to a good stance and two rusted ¼ inch bolts. Clip both of them and make a few thin slabs moves up to a better ledge. Traverse leftward to a shallow, flaring, pocketed crack that leads to various belay options (shrubs, stoppers in flakes, and/or wedged blocks).

P4 (5.8, 55m): Follow the broken corner past a yucca crux and other bushes to the roof, where perfect handjams lead right to a right facing corner. Climb this corner up the widening crack. This leads to a terrace on the left with a couple good ledges for belay.

P5 (5.6, 30m): Climb to the large ponderosa pines above (1 alive, 1 dead) via one of several marginally-protectable alternatives, one of which entails 30 feet of blank 5.6 slab. Belay from one of the pine trees (we used the dead one).

P6 (5.7, 30m): From the dead pine tree, traverse up and right through some oak to a down and rightward weakness. Downclimb the ramp, then make a couple face moves down into the vegetated gully below. Make sure to place a lot of pro to ease the anxiety of your followers who will all of a sudden find themselves on lead.

P7 (5.7, 55m): From the large pine tree in the gully, climb the clean right-facing corner (#3-#5 cams), following it as it goes out of sight of the belayer left and upward. One will encounter rap tat upon arriving at the end of the route. A far less protectable alternative to the wide crack is the 5.6 slab to the right (as shown in the old SWM topo). The first pro would be about 30-40 feet off the ground if taking the slab alternative.

Location Suggest change

Approach as for East Slabs, leaving packs and backup water at the huge boulder (Bivy Boulder) north of Sugarloaf. Instead of heading up toward the East Slabs however, stay low to the NE and bushwack/scramble around the corner heading climber's left. Once past the main east slabs, bushwack or scramble slabs up to the major formation due south of the East Slabs. Expect the approach to take a minimum of 3 hours, perhaps considerably more for those unfamiliar with the Organs.

Descent involves one rappel and a lot of downcliming/scrambling. At the top of P7, locate rap tat attached to a variety of features including a flake and a tree, and do a short (40ft) rappel down to a large ponderosa pine below. Then scamble angle downward and skier's left until the Bivy Boulder is spotted. The angle will ease up such that this becomes mostly a walkoff. Once at the boulder, either repeat the approach or take the otherwise fastest way down back to the Sugarloaf trail.

Protection Suggest change

Rack: Doubles set of cams from .3 to #4 recommended, but a single set of cams is sufficient for teams solid at the grade. Set of stoppers RPs to medium/large. 15 slings and draws. 60 meter rope (though 70m might enable some pitch linking).