REI Community
Turtle Rock - South Face
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Desert Shield S 
Integrity S 
Jesus Lives S 
Kippy Korner T 
Lieback and Lingerie T 
Satanic Mechanic S 
Sexy Sadye T 
Wind Burn T 
Unsorted Routes:

Desert Shield 

YDS: 5.13a French: 7c+ Ewbanks: 29 UIAA: IX+ ZA: 29 British: E6 6c

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 70'
Original:  YDS: 5.13a French: 7c+ Ewbanks: 29 UIAA: IX+ ZA: 29 British: E6 6c [details]
FA: Scott Cosgrove, January 1991
Page Views: 3,238
Submitted By: Randy on Mar 9, 2003

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (6)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
BETA PHOTO: Desert Shield 5.13a


This is a powerful, endurance route, with some pretty hard moves. With the exception of a knee bar near the beginning of the route, there are no rests to speak of. The technical crux is near the bottom (this has gotten harder since part of a rail broke a few years back); though just linking all the moves together to the final jug is the real test.

This is not a soft 5.13a. It might seem harder if you climb in areas like Red Rocks, but more in line if you climb in places like Rifle. It is definately a harder tic than Father Figure.

This route is on less than stellar rock and has been falling apart since before Scott even red-pointed it. Glue has been used to reinforce several holds (e.g.: the large flakes on the upper section) and the key right-hand hold on the technical crux broke off (while still a project) and was re-glued on by Scott (I believe).

If the idea of using reinforced or re-glued holds is repugnent to you (it is now illegal in the Park, but was legal at the time this route was done), just do not do this route. Do not get high and mighty and harm this climb; it has seen at least a hundred ascents and is a well settled classic.

Edited by Adam Stackhouse, with the narrative provided to me by Scott Cosgrove 8/6/2013

"Back in 1991, I stumbled onto the Turtle Rock corridor repeating my friends climb Satanic Mechanic and couldn't believe my eyes. Visions of sport route heaven and massive lines everywhere. The most obvious was Desert Shield. But just some bouldering at the base proved that the rock was far from solid, and I embarked on a cleaning mission that would last for four days.

Finally, the bolts were in place, the flake and lose rock climbable, and after a few days work I was ready to send. But as fate would have it, I got the flu and Jim Karn, the best American sport climber was passing through town. I knew Jim would hike the thing on accident if he saw it and I would be robbed of my first ascent. To my girlfriend's horror, I went to the bathroom threw up and then we drove to the Park and send my project first go. Threw up at the base and had her drive me home.

The route became the flavor of the month and we all enjoyed having a new line of hard climbing so close to camp. It was and still is one of the most pumping climbs, as no one move is much harder than the next but it never gets easy. I named the climb after the first Gulf War, just because I like the name and it looks like a Shield."


Seven bolts to sport anchors (1/2"). Bring draws. It is possible to use a rope to then reach the anchors from the top.

Photos of Desert Shield Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The "easy moves."  The bolt on the left ...
BETA PHOTO: The "easy moves." The bolt on the left ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bolt topo for Desert Shield
BETA PHOTO: Bolt topo for Desert Shield

Comments on Desert Shield Add Comment
Show which comments
By Josh Beck
Mar 9, 2003

I've heard tale of a completely manufactured hold on Desert Shield ... does anyone know if this is true or not? Just curious, as my sorry ass isn't going to be going anywhere near that route ;)
By Randy
Mar 9, 2003

There are no manufactured holds on Desert Shield, but glue was used (on FA) to reinforce flakes and reglue a hold. See full route description for full beta.
By Josh Beck
Mar 9, 2003

Thanks for the history of the route... I really enjoy such stuff, it's awesome to have you and many others contributing here :) While I'm not a big fan of glue I certainly am not out doing anything about it.
By Tyler Logan
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Mar 9, 2008

For a route that required glue and is described as falling apart since it was first bolted, it does seem strange that it receives so many stars. I'm sure the moves are hard and very cool, and obviously the line is consistently steep without any ledges breaking up the action (atypical for Josh) but since when does that define "classic line"?
By elijah
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Jan 5, 2009

This is a good description of the route. I was on it last weekend (January 4, 2009) and everything looks in shape. There's glue on some key holds but nothing to cry about. I can't say if it's a classic, because I don't really know what that means, but I will say it is definitely a rad route. Anyone looking for a steep-ish sport climb will most likely enjoy this.
By peachy spohn
Mar 28, 2010
rating: 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c

A worthwhile climb with fun and consistent moves. Some of the flakes might need some more glue...they flexed a little. Over all very fun!
By Adam Stackhouse
Aug 8, 2013

See the new historical account of the climb above.
By peachy spohn
Jan 5, 2014
rating: 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c

I love this route! So good! Every time it's as good as the last...WOW! Still, the upper crescents are flexy and I hope never break.
By Dimes
From: Joshua Tree, Ca.
Feb 28, 2017

All lead and belay bolts are now 1/2" stainless steel with stainless steel hangers courtesy of the ASCA.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About