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Lost Horse Wall - Right Side
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Altitude Sickness T 
Bird on a Wire T 
City Slickers T 
Dappled Mare T 
Hairline Fracture T 
Lost and Found T 
Mare's Tail T 
Roan Way T 
Swift, The T 
Wilson Regular Route T 
Unsorted Routes:

Bird on a Wire 

YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 230'
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Dave Evans, Kevin Powell & Dan Ahlborn, 1977
Page Views: 13,954
Submitted By: The Gray Tradster on May 20, 2003

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (240)
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Mike Conley leading the 2nd pitch of Bird on a Wir...


Appropriately named, You'll feel like a Bird On A Wire on this one. Maybe the best route on this wall.

Pitch-1 Climb or 3rd class up to the ledge about half way between, The Swift and Dappled Mare. Set up a belay anchor in the left facing corner a few feet right of a vertical crack.

Pitch-2 Climb the ever thinning crack system past a couple of bolts. Place a thin piece and tip-toe past it, Crux. The crack eases of and breaks right. Pick a convenient scoop to belay in. Note: Avoid setting up the belay where the route crosses Dappled Mare, (traffic jam). Some parties belay at the bolts just before the crux. This may not be a good idea. If the leader blows out the thin pro at the crux, they'll end up on top of you from high enough to do real damage to both.

Pitch-3 Continue right and up crossing Dappled Mare to the top.

With a long rope and a high tolerance for rope drag, pitches 2-3 could be combined, but why bother?


Small TCU's or nuts at crux, Trad rack to #3 Camalot

Photos of Bird on a Wire Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Michelle past the crux
Michelle past the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: on the right curving crack past the 2 bolt belay
on the right curving crack past the 2 bolt belay
Rock Climbing Photo: easier terrain
easier terrain
Rock Climbing Photo: J about to top out
J about to top out
Rock Climbing Photo: Passing on the retro-bolted "anchors" in...
Passing on the retro-bolted "anchors" in...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking Back at the First Belay
Looking Back at the First Belay
Rock Climbing Photo: Jascha following P1
Jascha following P1
Rock Climbing Photo: the first finger crack off The Ledge (from the bas...
BETA PHOTO: the first finger crack off The Ledge (from the bas...
Rock Climbing Photo: some boulder hopping on the approach
some boulder hopping on the approach
Rock Climbing Photo: the ledge
the ledge
Rock Climbing Photo: destination in sight
destination in sight
Rock Climbing Photo: another party at the bolted belay
another party at the bolted belay
Rock Climbing Photo: Hanging out in 20-30 mph Winds ... brrrr!
Hanging out in 20-30 mph Winds ... brrrr!
Rock Climbing Photo: Agina Sedler is a bird on a wire.
Agina Sedler is a bird on a wire.
Rock Climbing Photo: more fun crack after the bolted belay
more fun crack after the bolted belay
Rock Climbing Photo: A guy topping out Bird On A Wire.  Forgot to get y...
A guy topping out Bird On A Wire. Forgot to get y...
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down to the bolted belay
looking down to the bolted belay
Rock Climbing Photo: Heading up the steep crack section to the gear bel...
Heading up the steep crack section to the gear bel...
Rock Climbing Photo: "Bird On A Wire". Photo by Blitzo.
BETA PHOTO: "Bird On A Wire". Photo by Blitzo.

Comments on Bird on a Wire Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 3, 2016
By David Evans
May 29, 2003

Only one bolt was placed on the FA.
By The Gray Tradster
May 30, 2003

The first time I did this route was in the late 70's, early 80's and there was only one 1/4" bolt.The doubled bolts that are there now are in about the same vicinity, thus the comment on not belaying there.
By Murf
May 30, 2003

hell, when I first did this route in the mid-90's there was only one bolt.
By David Evans
May 30, 2003

Is it OK to add bolts anywhere and everywhere now?
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 7, 2005

Climbed last first 10a...awesome route! The bomber hold at the end of the runout crux made me giddy. highly recommended. I used lots of passive vs. cams.
By Woody Stark
Mar 8, 2005

The crux isn't runout; there's a reason the route's called "Bird on a Wire".
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 10, 2005

Well I did place a wire shortly after the belay, which I assumed as i climbed - and you so brilliantly pointed out - was the "wire." I would also posit that one would not be a "Bird" unless one were at risk of taking flight (or to put it more clearly, a long fall, aka a runout).

Hence the name "Bird on a Wire," an appropriate tribute to a long fall on a small stopper. Thank you for sharing your keen insights with me. I can now climb in confidence knowing I've benefitted from your wise confirmation of my suspiscions regarding the name of the climb.
By Woody Stark
Mar 10, 2005

You're certainly welcome. Anytime I can help, just let me know.
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 29, 2005

Climbed this last week - stellar route but we kept on checking the guide to see if we were actually on the route since we couldn't find anything near a 10a section.

Belayed at the bolts - did it in 2 pitches and couldn't quite decide between 5.7 and 5.8 and figured a good bit of overgrading kept the route avalable for the locals.

Maybe with plastic boots the short slabby bit after the bolts might feel like 10a. And yes, it is perfectly well protected at this point.
By Bo Johnston
Mar 30, 2005

Sounds like you missed the crux on the first pitch. After the bolted belay it certainly is an easy finish.
By Woody Stark
Mar 31, 2005

I did it again for the umpteenth time last week; and, as usual, I fiddled with the crux to find truely good pro. This time I put in the smallest tri-cams in a couple of spots that seemed appropriate. I think they might actually work. Of course, I didn't jump off to test them. Does anyone know who put in the bolts and why they weren't set side by side? This has always seemed a bit strange to me--one of the great mysteries of life.
By Murf
Mar 31, 2005

Woody - If you read the first comment, the "belay bolts" are actually a retro job. There was only one bolt on the pitch, and it wasn't a belay.
By Woody Stark
Mar 31, 2005

I always short the first pitch at the bolts; if I fall on the crux, I may be lucky and my belayer will be a crashpad.Thanks for the info Murf.
By Adam Stackhouse
Jan 28, 2006
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Only one dinker bolt when we did it in 98(?)
By Bill Olszewski
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 8, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I agree with AC - couldn't find a 10a move. I thought the crux was supposed to be passing the bolt just above the first belay - did I miss something? One 5.9 slab move in an otherwise nice 5.7 line.
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Jan 13, 2008

Great climbing, forget about the grade. Many fun moves and sections - I particularly liked the steep, featured handcrack above the thin section.

This is a great climb for all of your roped-soloist needs - true of the entire Lost Horse wall.
By Fat Dad
From: Los Angeles, CA
Nov 20, 2008

"Is it OK to add bolts anywhere and everywhere now?"

Yes, didn't you know? Apparently, reading posts on this and other sites, the burden of justification has shifted to the party wanting to remove the added bolts. Apart from the griping, a fun route with a nice adventurous feel to it.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 14, 2009
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

good route, did it in two pitches (the second was 205'), belayed at the bolts. didnt bother with the wire at the crux, nothing looked that good when it got hard, and the bolt was at my feet, so i just went for it.

that said, bring a pile of stoppers for this one, it eats them up!

also, just because i'm curious- we walked off climbers right without much trouble, but is there a faster way back to the packs from the summit?
By Colin Parker
From: Idyllwild, CA
Jun 15, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Awesome route! Climbed this route for the first time on Saturday. We belayed about ten feet below the two bolts using gear in a pair of cracks and standing on a small ledge, somewhat uncomfortably, but very tolerable. Doing it this way, having two bolts seemed unnecessary, and none of the crux moves felt poorly protected or runout. We made the second pitch very long (~170 feet), and the third pitch was only about 40 feet. It may have been easier to combine them, but by that point the wind was making communication difficult with my belayer. Anyway, make sure you utilize your wires on pitch two, not only to conserve cams for the belays but also to honor the name of the climb ;)
By Chris Winter
From: Portland, OR
Nov 8, 2009

Go climb this route! Highly recommended. Use the bolts - ignore the bolts. Whatever - just get on it and enjoy.
By Craig Randleman
From: Phoenix, AZ
Dec 7, 2009

After the crux leaving the bolted belay, I stayed left instead of crossing over Dappled Mare. There as some interesting slab in there that made me nervous when the wind kicked up. Protectable the whole way and ran to the top with a 70m rope. Anyone else done that? It was worth doing, for sure.
By tallmark515
From: San Francisco
Dec 14, 2009

One 5.10a move off the bolted anchor. Protects very well with a medium sized nut. Everything else is pretty chill. Probably a good first lead for those just breaking into the grade.
By Chuck Weber
From: SoPo, ME
Mar 10, 2010

If you feel you didn't get enough (or any) 10a on this one, do it again, top out, call it a warm up, and drop into the Rock Garden for Pop Rocks for an exciting 10b - you won't be disappointed!
By Adam Lee
May 27, 2010

WARNING: My guidebook, "Classic Rock Climbs No 1: Joshua Tree", Vogel 1997, has the topo lines for the routes on Lost Horse Wall superimposed about 20' left of where they should be on the photo. Unfortunately I only discovered this after climbing the line of Bird on a Wire shown in the book, which led to a huge runout, but a good adventure. 5.8R+ish :)
By fossana
From: leeds, ut
Mar 6, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Used the 2 bolt belay and was able to reach the easy terrain at the top of P3 in one 60m rope length with not much rope drag. Agree that this is soft for the grade.
By jmeizis
From: Colorado Springs, CO
May 10, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

A more logical way to split up the pitches is to lead the short easy crack to the broad ledge. From there you can lead a nice long pitch with no FF2 issues to where this climb hits Dappled Mare. Then do another pitch to the top. Easy, reasonably comfortable and no silly hanging belay right in the middle of the face.
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Feb 1, 2013

Belayed at the big sloping ledge and did a 200' pitch to an uncomfortable belay about 40' from the top. If traffic allows, do yourself a favor and belay where the route hits Dappled Mare. Once above that, it is a quite a ways until there is good enough gear an anchor. Definitely a fun pitch though, soft for a JT 10a.
By Offwidth UK
Dec 19, 2015

Really classy climb and more interest away from the crux than we expected given previous comments. The crux section is probably 5.9 (and keeps coming at you for about 5 metres above the bolts) but is one of the easiest at that grade we have climbed in the park (Lost Horse Wall Right seems to us to be pretty gentle on grades for JT). You can lace the crux section with offset aliens or similar but it would be OKish with standard nuts. The top pitch (if you follow the continuation crack) has some airy 5.7 PG13 padding and the first pitch felt tough for 5.7 off the big ledge. Top end of the UK grade of HVS 5b and two sets of nuts and doubled up small cams very useful

Watch out for the super sneaky and intelligent crows... they opened the zip on our rucksack lid and almost flew off with our cars keys. Also pecked a hole through the side of the sack. There wasn't even any food to be had.
By Ted Smith
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Jan 6, 2016
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13

I only took a single set of wires and ran out. Also, I used all 5 of my hexes on the crux pitch--trad anchors only. Could have placed 10 hexes easily on the middle pitch. Cams just weren't very secure due to the irregular crack system--except for smaller and micro-cams which were good. Single cams .5 to 3 and doubles 00 to .4 would suffice--with double hexes in .5 to 2 inch range and double offset nuts like the DMM alums together with a few regular nuts would have been perfect. This climb, while not your true crack climb, was an extremely pleasurable steep face climb that used irregular cracks for protection and climbing features. Taped hands are not necessary due to the rare hand jams. If you are looking for splitter cracks, move on--these are not the droids you are looking for.

The PG-13 rating is for the final pitch on easy terrain--however the leader will want to remain aware of 5.7 moves high above prior pro that are slightly awkward and perhaps unprotectable. I believe the 10A rating is protective rather than inflated to reduce undesired traffic from non-locals--as a previous posting climber suggested. Thanks for the safety consideration to all you awesome locals. My intent is to pay it forward. Cheers to all out-of-towners, and have fun on this beauty!
By Jan Tarculas
From: Riverside, Ca
Feb 22, 2016
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Route wanders left to right, right to left quite a few times. Extend your draws if you can
By Seth Hogan
From: Frisco, Co
Dec 3, 2016
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Definitely worth the short approach. This thing eats a lot of gear at most points. 1 or 2 5.10- moves and mainly sustained .8 or .9 through the first half. Anonymous Cowards comment about the jug above the crux making him "Giddy" ... when I hit that jug, I understood what giddy was.

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