REI Community
Hemingway Buttress (East Face Left)
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Ant Farm T 
Coyote Bait T 
Dung Fu T 
Feltonian Physics T 
Funky Dung T 
Golden Years T 
Hernie, Hernie, Hernie T 
Horn Dog T 
Man's Best Friend T 
Overseer T 
Pig in Heat T 
Poodles are People Too T 
Poodlesby T 
Prepackaged T 
Roadrunner, The T 
Rock Wren T 
Sea Monkeys T 
Smoke-a-Bowl T 
Such a Poodle T 
White Lightning T 


YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 120'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Dan Ahlborn & Tim Powell, April 1977, Direct Start: Jonny Woodward et al, January 1983
Page Views: 7,710
Submitted By: M. Morley on Oct 11, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (222)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Lisa Pritchett leading Overseer


Start up the hollow-sounding expando flake to gain the main crack above. After regaining composure, continue on 5.8 terrain that sucks up nuts until it is possible to cut up and out left onto steeper ground. This is the crux, and protects well with a .75 size cam. Pull through exciting and exposed crux and traverse left to easier ground. Gear anchor. To descend, walk to climber's right and rap from farther set of bolt anchors.


Pro to 2", many nuts.

Photos of Overseer Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Hannah on Overseer.  17 May 2017.
Hannah on Overseer. 17 May 2017.
Rock Climbing Photo: Douglas Goodrich leading "Overseer"
Douglas Goodrich leading "Overseer"
Rock Climbing Photo: Jase getting set for the crux on the Overseer
Jase getting set for the crux on the Overseer
Rock Climbing Photo: Susan on a twilight lead, 8/25/07
Susan on a twilight lead, 8/25/07
Rock Climbing Photo: "Overseer". Photo by Blitzo.
BETA PHOTO: "Overseer". Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Standard start of Overseer. One can get a piece be...
BETA PHOTO: Standard start of Overseer. One can get a piece be...
Rock Climbing Photo:  Sheryl enjoying the airy crux section of the clas...
Sheryl enjoying the airy crux section of the clas...
Rock Climbing Photo: Geoff at the crux.  He was kind enough not to plac...
Geoff at the crux. He was kind enough not to plac...

Comments on Overseer Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 24, 2016
By Josh Beck
Dec 3, 2002

The Direct Start is 10a R. Crux is 8-10' above some not so wonderful very small nut placements with solid gear another 10' below and 5' to the side of that - yikes! Fun and stimulating climbing however make it excellent, just don't fall. To me Overseer Direct felt harder than Poodles are People Too, but maybe it was just the lousy gear :)
By C Miller
From: CA
Dec 14, 2002
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Having done both starts I would recommend the direct start as it offers better and more continuous climbing. The pro on the direct start seems adequate, just make sure you're solid at the grade to fully enjoy it.
By Anonymous Coward
Jan 6, 2003

I didn't find the crux to be all that dangerous. It seems like before you commit to the left leaning crack that you can place a couple of small cams. I took a fall about seven feet above the cam i placed and it was very graceful on overhanging rock...i would recommend this climb to anyone solid at 5.8 or higher. Have fun, it is a great climb. Although i did see someone come off upside down after trying to lieback the crux moves for some reason...don't do that and you should be ok.

By Josh Beck
Jan 7, 2003

The crux of Overseer is very well protected and a clean, slightly overhanging fall as Anonymous Coward mentions. The direct start is definitely more difficult and not well protected for a fledgling 5.10a leader. I haven't fallen on 10a in a long time but it definitely got my attention and a fall wouldn't necessarily be pretty. I somewhat disagree with Chris on the adequacy of the pro but do agree that it's good, stimulating climbing for the competent leader.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Apr 14, 2003
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

The hollow flake at the bottom can be protected by a good #8 or #9 stopper about 2/3 of the way up where a "pod" is in the crack behind a fat spot. In this place and in this place only, you'd have to snap off about 3-4" of rock to pull the piece, whereas other places you'd pull about anything you placed when the 1/4" thick flake of rock breaks.

Really one of the more enjoyable routes at J-tree. A great lead!

Fairly mellow at it's grade, and easier for people with small hands who can hand-jam the upper crux.
By Jamie Silliman
From: Wilton, CA
Apr 14, 2003

The flake down low has adequate pro (wires) and after moving up and right a bit, one can get very solid pro in. The roof is really cool and solid 5.9, I thought.
By Steven Powers
Oct 2, 2003
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

make sure you know how to jam as the upper crux is thin hands, it was my first encounter with a "splitter" crack, i was leading 10+ at the time and i remember my sphincter muscles tightning up when i got to the crux but the pro is WAY bomber up there.once again this route is good but not that good.
By namascar
Nov 5, 2003
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I climbed the route last fall and took a wiper at the crux. Can certify that the protection is good.
By Joseph Lee
Oct 10, 2004

Excellent climb. The direct start involves technical moves with thin gear. To avoid rope drag, I would run out the upper section of the lower wall. It's pretty secure. Put in bomber gear up high and then crank through the short crux. Rappel over by White Lightning.
By Dustysdawg
Dec 5, 2004
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Climbed this route on Saturday, Dec 4. I thought it had very interesting moves and was a lot of fun. The protection was good the whole way. Once you step up to the stance below the crux, you can reach high and protect it with a red Alien. Then you can pull through the crux with pro above your head.
By Duke
From: Rancho Mirage, CA
Mar 22, 2005

To me the 10a Direct Start seemed easier than the 5.9 Overseer crux on top.
By Woody Stark
Mar 23, 2005

I've led this route twice; and you're right: the 10a direct is easier than the 5.9(?) at the top.
By mschlocker
From: San Diego, CA
Apr 10, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13

The bottom half of the climb up past the flakes is a little runout, but easier than 5.9. Consider slinging the first hollow flake. I did and felt it was much safer than using nuts. Climb protects very well at the crux with the aforementioned .75; bring more than one.
By Meredith DB
From: Boulder, CO
May 4, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Nice climb. Crux is short and has fun exposure.
By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Dec 27, 2006

On the non-direct regular start, in contrast to mschocker's recommendation, please do not sling the flake. A fall there would almost certainly rip the top half of the flake...I considered slinging it until I saw how much you can flex it with your hand. Similarly, nuts behind it wouldn't be the best idea. You can place a very solid hand sized piece near the leftside base of the flake, in a sort of horizontal trough . Crux bulge takes bomber thin hands cam you can place from a rest position. Fun, varied route with some length and an exciting crux.
By caughtinside
From: Oakland CA
Mar 30, 2007

One of my favorite climbs at Josh. I'd heard from a friend after I did it that she was steering clear cause she'd heard it has bad fall potential. Not true! You can place the crux gear from a very relaxed rest stance, and the crux is overhanging, and will eat more gear if you want to place more. Totally safe. I also saw someone fall at the crux while snacking on chips n' salsa in the parking lot, nothing but clean air.
By BenCooper
Dec 22, 2007

Try climbing the beginning half of dung-fu and linking it with the second half of overseer. the moves out of the chimney and onto the face below the overseer lip are pretty fun. this method of climbing these routes links the best of both.
By Rich Graziano
From: Atascadero, CA
Mar 29, 2008

Absolutely brilliant when combined with the direct start (.10a R)
By Pat C
From: Honolulu
Aug 7, 2009

I hate this climb. Both time's I've done it. I hated it. Maybe I'll like it on my third try, third time's a charm.
By The Gray Tradster
Aug 7, 2009

"Third Times a Charm

Is in Indian Cove
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Sep 19, 2009

Fun route on lead or follow. Unfortunate that the first 1/2 is low angle and non-eventful but the upper section is very fun and provides great hands.

Good stuff, I think I'm bumping it to 3 starts.

By ccmski body
From: Seattle, WA
Oct 26, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

A few years ago, not knowing any better, I headed up the direct start as my sandbagging friends stared on. After climbing a bunch, then placing three marginal pieces within a two feet of each other and finally committing to the moves left, I heard Troutman hiking up saying "I don't think I've ever seen anyone go that way..." Gotta love a breakfast of sand-out-of-a-bag. Anyways... direct start was heady, but not too hard and the upper roof is pumpy but not too hard either. Haven't done the regular start to compare
By Rockwood
From: West Jordan
Mar 22, 2010

Being a tourist attraction can happen anywhere at Joshua Tree. My partner was just about to top out on this one when I noticed on the approach behind us about 30 Chinese men coming down the trail. Their tour bus had parked and let them out to see some climbers. Why they didn't just go to Intersection Rock I don't know. They scrambled all the way up to our packs and stood on the flat boulder behind me and informed me "We are here to cheer you on" Then they all started speaking Chinese so loud I couldn't hear my partner at the top. We had to resort to our 3 pulls and you're on belay etc. As I climbed whenever I'd turn to look at them they'd all waved at me. I have to admit I kinda liked it. When I reached the top and stood up and waved down at them they all burst into applause and cheers. My partner was belaying back from the edge and couldn't see them and what lost as to what was going on and who was cheering so heartily for me. I totally felt like a hero. The climb itself was fun but the whole experience made it one of my favorite J-Tree climbs ever.
By Colin Parker
From: Idyllwild, CA
Mar 23, 2010

Great story Katie :-) I have yet to do this climb, but now I'm really looking forward to the enthusiastic audience and heroism myself! I assume that comes standard.
By Simon Hatfield
From: Oakland, CA
Apr 17, 2011

I did the direct start, and would rate it .10a PG-13 - it protects well, but the gear is quite small (Micro stoppers and BD C3's) and I found it insecure and heady. A great way to start is to climb up the easy slab left of the direct start "ramp", until an obvious small ledge allows you to traverse out and reach the first thin crack on the ramp (5.4R). Here you can get a small cam and a bomber nut, which will get you started.
By Matt N
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Oct 28, 2013

From below, you can't tell how hard the move from the top of the flake to the crack is and you'll only have an iffy nut behind a hollow flake below you. Don't worry, the moves over are mellow.
Short crux with the most solid rock (ie and gear) on route, so it feels quite safe up there, but exposed and fun.
By Phil Esra
Feb 9, 2014
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

At the start, I put a sling over the top of the flake as mentioned above and felt pretty ok about it--the force would be essentially straight down, instead of creating an outward, wedging action like a cam or nut. I'd be just as worried about cutting the sling as breaking off the flake. The move is in fact quite easy, as others have said--5.7 at most? Followed by more fun, easy climbing on crazy features up to the crux. Crazy featured rock--loved it.

I'm guessing it gets fewer stars because it's just not hard (sustained) enough relative to people's expectations of Josh 5.9. If you don't mind some easy climbing, this one is outstanding. There's a single 5.9ish move up high, and even that one move is not very difficult for Josh 5.9.
By Cron
From: Barrington, NH
Jan 24, 2016
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

One of the best JT routes of its grade IMHO. Folks are saying you can protect the bottom flake w/ nuts, just don't plan on falling on it ;)

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