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Father Figure 

YDS: 5.12d French: 7c Ewbanks: 28 UIAA: IX ZA: 28 British: E6 6b

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 50'
Original:  YDS: 5.12d French: 7c Ewbanks: 28 UIAA: IX ZA: 28 British: E6 6b [details]
FA: Scott Cosgrove, April 1988
Page Views: 6,627
Submitted By: C Miller on Dec 1, 2002

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John Bachar soloing Father Figure (5.12d), Joshua ...



This is a classic Joshua Tree sport route - short, but with demanding and unusual moves. Make your way up a steep wall past several horizontals and a lower crux (5.11+) to the top where you will encounter a somewhat reachy crux. Shorter climbers may find the crux, and the route, to be slightly harder than the rating indicates.

Left of this is Patracide, a decent short warm-up route and to the right is Factor 1, another even more difficult climb.

  • It is interesting to note that this climb has also been soloed several times!


To approach this route, walk past the right end of the west face and up slabs and boulders to reach the southern end of the formation.


4 bolts, anchors (all 1/2")

  • Bolts replaced February 2017

Photos of Father Figure Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Shaking out and getting psyched for the business.....
Shaking out and getting psyched for the business.....
Rock Climbing Photo: Scott Cosgrove on Father Figure (5.12d), Joshua Tr...
Scott Cosgrove on Father Figure (5.12d), Joshua Tr...
Rock Climbing Photo: John Yablonski working the moves with Jeff Constin...
John Yablonski working the moves with Jeff Constin...
Rock Climbing Photo: Still on easy terrain, what a beautiful route...
Still on easy terrain, what a beautiful route...
Rock Climbing Photo: getting into the business of father figure
getting into the business of father figure
Rock Climbing Photo: Didn't quite make it
Didn't quite make it
Rock Climbing Photo: Setting up to get spanked, again!!!! Photo: J. Bro...
Setting up to get spanked, again!!!! Photo: J. Bro...

Comments on Father Figure Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 2, 2017
Feb 14, 2003
rating: 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c

Father Figure, THE ULTIMATE SANDBAG. I don't care what Randy says!!! Many a .13a out there easier to send than this one.
By Randy
Feb 14, 2003

I agree with Robert that Father Figure is not 12d. At the time the 1992 guide came out, I had not done the climb and took the rating as reported by the first ascensionist (Scott Cosgrove). The rating was changed to 13a in the "Classics" guide. 12d is not really a "sandbag" since it is certainly no harder than 13a. The crux is only a few moves long, atop 5.11 climbing at the bottom (in fact the whole route is pretty short). However, for climbers less than 6 feet tall (such as myself and Robert), there is a long reach at the very top that takes some figuring out. It will be 13a in the new guide.

If you want to talk about sandbags, how about Scott rating Desert Shield 12d? It seems like it would be at least 13c at notoriously "soft" rating areas like Red Rocks. 13a/b is more like it.
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 7, 2003

Hard to believe only two stars on the best sport route I've ever done at Josh. Absolutely 13a. Do you guys know anything about the quality and real world grade of Hot Pants or the Hydra?
By John Welton
Mar 25, 2003

Josh has always maintained a standard for being harder than other areas. Why change the rating? The climb has a relatively short crux that can either frustrate you to the point of no return or allow for a quick send. In my opinion the rating should stay as 12d.

If you want a sandbag, Desert Shield is the ultimate. This climb is at least two grades harder than Father Figure. The lower crux has become substantially harder due to the missing righthanded hold next to the third bolt and the upper crux is a v6 boulder problem. We were calling it 13a just up to the second horizontal followed by the v6 boulder problem crux. I would give Desert Shield a 13b rating.
Mar 26, 2003
rating: 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c

heh, mainly I just wanted to chide Randy!

But, for the record, Coz. told me he originally rated it .13a.

Its hard to think of Desert Shield as a sandbag, given that it is not the same route that it was when it was FA'd. Broken holds are what made it harder, almost making it a different climb.
By DaveS
Oct 16, 2007

I first did Father Figure when I was 16. It was my first "13a," but as far as grade consistency goes, it is 12d. Later, I hung the draws and gave a friend beta and he flashed it pretty easily. Desert Shield is a grade harder, but not 13b for me. Josh sport climbs are hard not only for the grade, but in style. It is much easier to get into the shape necessary to climb 5.13 on overhanging limestone than it is on slightly overhanging granite, but this isn't a bad thing in my opinion.
By Gregg Olson
From: ca
Oct 4, 2008
rating: 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b

I did this route in the prime of my climbing life. As much as I would love to give this a 13a rating (as it would be just about anywhere else) I felt 12d was a fair grade given the routes length and the standards of Josh ratings. It has fantastic movement and is in a great location. There are some awsome pictures of John Bacher soloing this route just after it was put up. The story I heard was Cosgrove put it up and rated it 13a, then Bacher came along and lead it 1 or 2 times, pulled the rope, soloed it and down rated to 12d !!
By peachy spohn
Mar 26, 2009

Really cool route, but like others I found it to be harder than 12d. The crux is the last move for me and a big move at that. Also, the route is in a cool area! check it out.
By Adam Stackhouse
Jan 3, 2010

Great video of the climb

By Adam Stackhouse
Nov 17, 2012

Great story about the name
By Scott Cosgrove
Sep 2, 2013

My first post to Mountain Project. I did not know what to rate it, as I'd only climbed a few other 13a at the time, and it seemed far easier than the New Deal 14a, that I believe was put up in 88 and Father Figure was done in 87.

I found the climb by mistake, after taking a lovely female climbing ranger up, Eye for an Eye, and getting lost on the descent. I went back that afternoon and place the first two bolts, 1/4 inch tapers, yipes. The second and third went in a day later and I think I red pointed it on the forth day, climbing ground up.

I rated it 13a and a German climber in camp did it second try the next day and said 12c. Bachar loved the climb and took a couple of days to do it, figuring out how to do the last move static. Bachar and I would run laps for a work out and then one day JB just went for the solo. Very Bad ass, seeing as a key hold he was using broke off.

Having done lot's of 13a after and many a 12d, I never felt Father Figure was 12d and still feel it's 13a, but right on the cusp of the grade. Ironically the first guy to flash it was 5' 4" and did the long reach static.

Later I did the Factor One to the right FF and also climb the start of Father Figure and finished on Factor One, naming it Father Factor and I also climb Factor One and finished on Father Figure naming it the Factor Figure. Factor One is probably 13b and the different link ups, about that 13ab grade as well. There is even a top rope to the left of Father Figure, can't for the life of me, remember it's grade or quality, just remember climbing it.
By Jeremy Schoenborn
From: yucca valley ca
Nov 22, 2016

By Alex Shainman
Jan 16, 2017


The crux 3rd bolt has failed and has been pulled out! It's a Petzl self-drill bolt designed for caving. It is amazingly lucky though, none of these bolts pulled or sheared off from a fall in the last 20+ years!

Bolts 1 and 2 are extremely suspect, as they're the same type/size. All four bolts/hangers are now in the process of being replaced with larger all stainless steel hardware. Due to logistics, etc I cannot give a date as to when the bolts will be replaced for sure.

Rock Climbing Photo: Father Figure bolt failure
Father Figure bolt failure

  • ***EDIT 1-20-17***
We (local climbers experienced with bolt replacements and backed by the American Safe Climbing Association), are following JTNP protocol and have filed for a permit to use a power drill to legally and properly replace all of the hardware on this classic route. Please be patient, as it may take up to 4 weeks for the permit to be approved before we can do the replacements. For more information on JTNP rules and regulations on bolting:
By Alex Shainman
Jan 21, 2017

One of the best routes of its quality, grade and style in the park! A lot of the harder (and easier) steeper bolted routes in JT have broken considerably since the FA. FF has cool features and in its current state, the rock is super solid and with fun hard moves and NO glue! The common crux sequence for most people (see videos), probably feels a bit burly compared to the late 80's/early 90's. I think there was probably a much better body position option before a left handhold broke (see pic of JB soloing). This rig definitely favors climbers with a high height to strength ratio...sorta meaning both but mostly it's an emphasis on the latter.
By Dimes
From: Joshua Tree, Ca.
Feb 15, 2017

All lead and belay bolts are now 1/2" stainless steel with stainless steel hangers. Courtesy of the American Safe Climbing Association..
By Kenji Haroutunian
From: Laguna Niguel, California
Feb 16, 2017

Way to go H.A.R.P. team in Joshua Tree! Thanks for making that one a priority.
By Matt Desenberg
From: North Berwick, ME
Apr 2, 2017

Thanks for replacing the bolts, can't wait to try it.

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