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Bikini Whale 

YDS: 5.12b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6b

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.12b/c French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: IX- ZA: 27 British: E6 6b [details]
FA: (TR) Antoine & Marc LeMenestrel 1984, FL: Kurt Smith, December 1987
Page Views: 4,725
Submitted By: Randy on Jan 1, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (16)
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Kurt Smith on the first lead of Bikini Whale (5.12...


This justifiably popular climb lies about 25 feet from the very end of the narrow corridor on the right. It and Railer, Bikini Beach, and G-String all start at the same spot (and share the 1st 2 bolts).

This 5 bolt, overhanging face route heads straight up face and seam. Many shorter climbers will want to stick-clip the 1st bolt as the move getting to it is a bit reachy.

The powerful "lock-off" crux is past the 1st bolt, though the pump factor makes the moves past the last (5th) bolt seem pretty hard too. This climb is easily (and often) top roped (bring slings to extend rope over the edge).


5 bolts, 2 bolt anchor (extension sling needed to lower or TR)

Photos of Bikini Whale Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The upper section of Bikini Whale  Photo posted wi...
The upper section of Bikini Whale Photo posted wi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bikini Whale 3,   Photo posted with consent from C...
Bikini Whale 3, Photo posted with consent from C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bikini Whale 2,   Photo posted with consent from C...
Bikini Whale 2, Photo posted with consent from C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bikini Whale start.    Photo posted with consent f...
Bikini Whale start. Photo posted with consent f...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bikini Whale
BETA PHOTO: Bikini Whale

Comments on Bikini Whale Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 9, 2017
By C Miller
From: CA
Nov 11, 2003
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Originally bolted on lead with only three bolts by Kurt Smith (two more bolts were later added with his permission).

This excellent route has a powerful boulder problem crux passing the first bolt, an easier middle section and another crux (5.11+) sequence at the last bolt. The route finishes in a hand crack after the last bolt (though listed as a sport route a single piece of pro may be desired if leading). Easily four stars out of five.
By Tyler Logan
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Apr 2, 2008
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Anybody with a recent send of this route want to comment on its grade compared to other Josh .12a routes?
By C Miller
From: CA
Apr 4, 2008
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Consensus on this site is 5.12b and the route features a powerful crux, which is out-of-character for the average JT route of the same grade.
By Eli Stein
From: Soulthern Caliswag
Feb 12, 2009

when does this route get sun (in feb)?
thanks for the beta!
By Murf
Feb 13, 2009

It gets sun for a time in the early-mid morning. The base doesn't see much sun at all.
Feb 16, 2009
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

When I did this route (back when murf was sporting purple spandex and a 3ft pony tail), the lower crux was a dyno to a rail and the upper crux was the business. Now the rail is lying on the floor, and the lower crux seems like the hardest part. I think it could be .12b or harder now.
By Muff
Jun 2, 2011
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Short or not you might want to stick clip the first bolt. Its either a deadpoint for tall people or a all points off dyno for vertically challenged people such as myself. Awesome route with crazy moves. From what I understand holds have broken off and made this route harder than the original rating of 12a. I would recommend 12b. Going from the deck to bolt two comprises the crux and boy howdy what an interesting set of powerful movements that thing is!
By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Nov 30, 2012
rating: 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b

The tech/power crux low on this route is significantly harder than something like Satanic Mechanic. I'd call the crux alone on the hard side of V5 and the route overall 12b/c. Maybe easier for tall folks. Second what Muff said about the stickclip...getting to the first bolt is a thin slab move to all out huck for people sub-5'10 or so. Fantastic climbing, exciting in the upper half with widely spaced bolts and pump inducing moves.
By Joe Terravecchia
Dec 18, 2012
rating: 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b

For me, the redpoint crux was the bit above the last horizontal. With a pump, its powerful and difficult to read onsight. The little toss at the start didn't feel bad ( I'm 5' 10") and can be safely spotted. Nice lead with 3 bolts Kurt!
By Adam Stackhouse
Jan 20, 2015
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Bachar soloed Bikini Whale (5.12b) but I don't know the year
By Jeremy Schoenborn
From: yucca valley ca
Nov 22, 2016

By toddgordon Gordon
From: Joshua Tree, California
Nov 22, 2016

Good one, Jeremy!
By Alex Shainman
May 6, 2017

We are hoping to get the route on this summer's list (permit) for bolt 1/2" bolts for each existing bolt and in the same hole, EXCEPT for bolt #1.

I think the first bolt should be moved a bit to the right (maybe up and right), which will better protect what has become the crux of the entire route. A couple years after the FA there was major breakage when a huge plate fell off and the remaining holds have eroded more since then.

The first ascensionist has already given his okay on the idea.

Most people who lead Bikini Whale these days already stick-clip the first bolt...the new bolt location will be a mandatory stick-clip, but the cruxy moves will be much better protected. The placement will be well thought out so that the draw/rope won't be in the leader's way.

Opinions? Comments? Concerns?
By Russ Walling
May 6, 2017
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

I don't like the idea of a mandatory stick clip. I have not been to the base in a while, but even a low bolt that you can yard on if needed to clip the crux bolt is better than a stick clip. Are guys really carrying around a stick clip these days?
By Alex Shainman
May 11, 2017

Hey Russ, thanks for your input! You should give it a ground up lead next time you're out and let us know what you think...

To answer your question, it is still relatively easy to clip the first bolt but that's not why I'm proposing moving it. There is a real possibility in the near future that the left starting hold will bust pull kinda hard on it to make the toss up to the clipping holds for bolt #1....

The main reason to move bolt #1 up and right is to better protect the now crux past it...since all the good holds have broken/worn down here, the current sequence makes one climb quite a bit farther right than what you used to have to do.

Check it out.
By Murf
May 11, 2017

From the video above, the route doesn't look substantially different from when I led it, ground up, without the first bolt clipped. I didn't dyno, I used the undercling that I thought for sure would be gone by now, but is also in the video above. And while the bolt is to the left of is now considered the crux move, my thoughts during my attempts was that I was moving toward the bolt line as I approached the second clip. In my opinion, this makes it safer when you are farther from the ground, on what is definitely easier, maybe even easy, ground.

I'm against moving the bolt, and I'm curious to why this route needs replacing? As I recall, the bolts didn't look particularly bad, and I'm sure that the list Bob G. keeps has multitudes of routes more in need.

I'm not interested in going tit for tat on this one, but I will say that:
Hey Russ, thanks for your input! You should give it a ground up lead next time you're out and let us know what you think... is kinda a silly comment.
By Tradiban
May 11, 2017

Stick clip? Lame. Than you are just top roping, not that there's anything wrong with that. Might as well pull all the bolts and TR from the top.
By Randy
May 22, 2017

I watched the video too. That is EXACTLY how the crux sequence past the first bolt has ALWAYS been done. Having lead this route perhaps dozens of times, I will admit that that thin, right-hand hold you have to really crank on has gotten smaller over time (making the move harder). Still, it is the exact same sequence - using the exact same holds.

And since this rig has been lead hundreds of times (at least), there seems zero justification for moving the bolt or making a stick clip mandatory.
By Alex Shainman
Jun 8, 2017

I was hoping to get additional inputs from some non-locals too, but it doesn't matter. I knew that the idea of a mandatory stick clip for a JTree route would be a very touchy subject, but I wanted public input. I also have lead the route multiple times since first in 1997 (last time was this spring). The moves from the 1st bolt to the 2nd bolt are now definitely harder because of the poor integrity of those holds and these holds could further break. In its current state and with a belayer totally paying attention, it's a hard fall and kinda funky but a groundfall can be prevented. If a certain hold were to break while cranking through in a certain body position, with a little too much slack out, a lighter belayer, etc, you could clobber your belayer and/or hit the deck...but climbing can be dangerous right? I'm not personally determined to relocate the bolt...only to offer an idea. So, now at this point the bolt will not get relocated.

As far as some of the above comments to my posts...there was no ill intent towards Russ, he obviously hadn't been on it in a while and I was simply wanting his opinion.

As far as why we would want to replace the bolts (hole for hole) in the first place...this is simple...Bikini Whale is a great lead route and since they are there to stay, each of those bolts are crucial and need to be trustworthy and should last a long time. Would you rather trust 25ish year old 3/8" x 2-1/4" mixed-metals bolts with hangers that are loose and can no longer be tightened OR trust 1/2" x 3-1/2 or even 5" stainless bolts??? The size difference between the 3/8" and 1/2" is not the main attraction, rather it's the fact that JTree rock isn't Yosemite hardness and with repeated falls over many years these bolts in question have obviously loosened and backed out enough to now have spinning hangers. There already is a plan in the works to replace all (most) of the existing bolts on the Sentinel west face, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to upgrade Bikini Whale at the same time.

Bolts that look good on the outside still do fail! Read my posts on Father Figure. I easily pulled out the 3rd bolt...that route now has new stainless 1/2" bolts that are going to last a long time. The FF bolts were of way lesser quality than what's currently in BW but when the bolt can no longer be tightened and the hanger is's probably time for the upgrade. The Chameleon and Some Like It Hot are other examples of this and also on the list for new bolts.

Oh! I also have an idea to revamp Blood Of Christ. Read about that too and of course let your opinions fly...
By Russ Walling
Jun 9, 2017
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Alex... lot's of if's and's and maybes in your post. Lots of crux holds are loose in Josh. That does not sound the alarm for adding bolts because "it" might break, or an inattentive belayer "could" let you deck, or a certain body position with a light belayer etc etc...

I'm not seeing or hearing anyone complain about replacement with big nice hardware. No need to explain that point. Thanks for replacing the existing bolts with good hardware.

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