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Black President T 

Black President 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 120'
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Craig Fry, Dave Evans & Dave Bruckman, December 1984
Page Views: 3,361
Submitted By: Randy on Jan 1, 2005

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Barack Obama


This is simply a great route and well worth the hike. The fact that several other fine routes are found nearby (and the now historically prescient nature of the route name) should put this on your "Must Do" list.

This face and crack route begins just right of center of the formation, on the face just right of a recess/crack (Vice President). There is a large patch of cactus near the base.

Moderate, but unprotected face climbing leads to a bolt which protects moves (easy 5.10) into a shallow crack system. Follow this crack to a horizontal break. Above here, a second bolt protects thin face moves up and right (5.10d -- height dependant) to reach a series of left leaning cracks (5.11a) which provide challenging climbing to the very end.

Belay at a two bolt anchor on the dike.

You can make a 115 foot rappel (single 70 meter rope just makes it) from the belay anchor. Beware of the cactus around the base when pulling your ropes if you do rappel.

Alternatively, downclimb the south shoulder (down and right; 5.6).


Bring a nice variety of mostly thin nuts and smaller cams, with a few up to perhaps 2 inches.

Photos of Black President Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Thank you to CF/DE/DB for a fantastic route.
Thank you to CF/DE/DB for a fantastic route.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Prez from the approach...
BETA PHOTO: The Prez from the approach...
Rock Climbing Photo: Black President.   The spicy downclimb prompted th...
BETA PHOTO: Black President. The spicy downclimb prompted th...

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 12, 2017
By Murf
Dec 4, 2003
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

The first crux seems somewhat height dependent, the taller you are the easier it is. The upper crux definately seemed harder than the first.
By Murf
Dec 5, 2003
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

OK, OK, BP is three stars!! I'm more of a 5 star guy. This 3 star system is *way* too restrictive to me. I don't think there should be many 5 star climbs ( obviously ), so only the very best would have the max. I'd give BP 4 of 5 and 3 of 3.
By Adam Stackhouse
Jun 4, 2004
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

I agree with the idea that the three star system is less than desirable. The use of a 5 star is "mo betta."
By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Jun 7, 2004

My take on the star system. Randy V. uses a five star system. Mike M uses three. Each in my eyes gets the point across. I think I will put my own guide together and my own star system. I am going to use a 30 star system.
By tony grice
Apr 19, 2006
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Is it called black president because its soooo funky? Or just because the crux seems improbable.
cool route kinda stout for 10 plus eh.
By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Dec 4, 2007

Single 70m rope will just reach on rap. Agree with Murf, the first crux is height dependent, if you're under 5'8" or so, this would be really rough. Beware the molina if you're belaying, I impaled myself on the thing. Great climbing, long pitch for Josh at 35 meters.
By Kristian Solem
From: Monrovia, CA
Dec 15, 2008
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

I did this climb day before yesterday, 12/13/08. Actually I was out there mid week as well with Ryan Mattock, but I hosed myself by plugging the last jam with a red camalot thinking I was going to pull the exit on face holds. Bad idea. Went back and hiked it on Sat. Best to just gun the exit with solid gear below. Especially with 120 feet of rope hanging below, that one last clip could be a deal breaker.

I do think that pushing the grade above 5.10d is a bit inflationary. Some Josh .11a’s which I think are a bit tougher are Bendix Claws, Crime of the Century, Coarse and buggy, Natural Selection and Winds of Woopee… And is The Importance of Being Ernest (at .10c/d) any easier? The first crux is definitely height dependent though…

The last time I did this one previously was about 10 years ago, with Jim Bridwell and Rachel McCollum. A day to remember for sure. It looks to me like this place sees less traffic today than back then…
By Murf
Dec 15, 2008
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

So after hanging you go back a few days later and send it and grade it .10d? I don't know, sounds like an .11a onsite grade to me, especially since the crux for you (like me) seemed to be the upper crack.
By Kristian Solem
From: Monrovia, CA
Dec 15, 2008
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

Hi Murf...

What happenned to me didn't have as much to do with the difficulty as my own foolishness. Anyway, we all know how subjective these things are. What do you think of my comparisons though?
By Murf
Dec 16, 2008
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Pretty good... lets spray about it here
By Drewsky
Feb 18, 2010

Is the most expedient approach made through the vegetated wash south of Diarrhea dome and southwest of the Elephant Arches formation itself? It was definitely one of the harder approaches I've experienced in Joshua Tree. Also, prickly pear cactus: 1; Rope: 0.
By Adam Stackhouse
Feb 18, 2010
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c


having done it both ways, I'd suggest turning in around Gumby Dome, which when heading towards the Elephants would be on your left. Beyond an initial mini scramble at the beginning, the approach is fast and flat.
By Craig Fry
Jan 28, 2011

I named the Route the Black President from inspiration from Fela Kuti form Nigeria, and his album named Black President

Super great album, afro-beat, which is African Reggae
By Simon Hatfield
From: Oakland, CA
Jan 12, 2017
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13

What a great route in a beautiful place, we had a blast on this thing. A bolt at the perfect spot for the thin middle crux and an exciting gymnastic finish that is a rarity in Joshua Tree.

I graded it .11a as I thought it was harder than Raked over the Coles, Physical Graffiti and even Swept Away. About equivalent to Coarse and Buggy. Agreed a tad easier than Bendix Claws.

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