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Rubicon Formation
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YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: John Bald & Hank Levine, 1976 FFA: (TR) John Long and others FL: Jon Lonne, Herb Laeger, Rich Smith & Eve Uiga, December 1978
Page Views: 20,412
Submitted By: Steve Juhasz on Dec 28, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (224)
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Rubicon formation


This is my personal favorite 5.10 route in Josh. You can rappel with one 60 meter rope, but the route has at least 40 meters of climbing to it. The upper half of the climb is a sustained and exciting finger crack with excellent nut placements and lots of amazing edges for the feet. Think carefully about how you want to protect this route since placing gear along it's entire length would result in totally unbearable rope drag by the time the crux is reached. Long runners or double ropes still do not take the bite out of the zig-zag line; luckily the start and traverse are easy and don't require too much gear (back-cleaning works well too).


Take a standard rack, with emphasis on finger-sized nuts, since the upper section of the route takes nuts very well. Bolted anchor/rap at the top of the route.

Photos of Rubicon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: While I'm on Rubicon everyone else is screwing aro...
While I'm on Rubicon everyone else is screwing aro...
Rock Climbing Photo: Quinn Miller on Rubicon.
Quinn Miller on Rubicon.
Rock Climbing Photo: Fish with no pro start.
Fish with no pro start.
Rock Climbing Photo: Finding all 5 stars on Rubicon
Finding all 5 stars on Rubicon
Rock Climbing Photo: Terry killing it.
Terry killing it.
Rock Climbing Photo: Justin redpointing the route.
Justin redpointing the route.
Rock Climbing Photo: Tia Stark leading Rubicon from the (in?)direct sta...
Tia Stark leading Rubicon from the (in?)direct sta...
Rock Climbing Photo: Fish at the business section!
Fish at the business section!
Rock Climbing Photo: The Rubicon,  Joshua Tree NP Ca
The Rubicon, Joshua Tree NP Ca
Rock Climbing Photo: Near the crux...
Near the crux...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rubicon
Rock Climbing Photo: Dow leading Rubicon in Jtree
Dow leading Rubicon in Jtree
Rock Climbing Photo: Here's a good example of protecting the traverse. ...
Here's a good example of protecting the traverse. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rubicon, Joshua Tree
Rubicon, Joshua Tree
Rock Climbing Photo: An okay stance near the end of the sustained secti...
An okay stance near the end of the sustained secti...
Rock Climbing Photo: An arrangement of protection that produces little ...
BETA PHOTO: An arrangement of protection that produces little ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Continuing up Rubicon.
Continuing up Rubicon.
Rock Climbing Photo: Matt On Rubicon, amazing fingers
Matt On Rubicon, amazing fingers
Rock Climbing Photo: At the slopey jug. Photo by Cory
At the slopey jug. Photo by Cory
Rock Climbing Photo: Bob following Rubicon
Bob following Rubicon
Rock Climbing Photo: Butt shot
Butt shot
Rock Climbing Photo: One more move, and the redpoint is bagged! Ropedra...
One more move, and the redpoint is bagged! Ropedra...
Rock Climbing Photo: Greg finishing up the last few moves on Rubicon
Greg finishing up the last few moves on Rubicon
Rock Climbing Photo: Rubicon

Show All 28 Photos

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Comments on Rubicon Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 14, 2017
By C Miller
From: CA
Mar 18, 2003
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Cool route but it seems more like 5.10b. Four stars out of five.

The route was originally called Artificial Insemination and diagonaled up to the start of the crack via aid (including a shoulder stand). This (in)direct start has been free-climbed on toprope at solid 5.12. To the right is another (more) direct start that begins from a small tree (5.11a) which leads directly to the base of the upper crack; starting without the tree makes this even harder (5.11+).
By Vernon Stiefel
Mar 18, 2003

Rubicon is an excellent route on superb rock. To avoid rope drag it is possible to pull the rope once the vertical crack is reached and have your belayer move over. The gear is easily cleaned on rappel. Alternatively, the 5.11d s direct start is an option.

I thought the 5.10d rating was soft for J-Tree standards....
By Randy
Mar 18, 2003
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

I've been accused of sandbagging, but 5.10b would definitely be a sandbag. On the other hand, it is very soft for a Josh 5.10d. I am planning on re-rating the route as 5.10c in vol. 3.

As an alternative to pulling rope through, don't protect the vertical crack, put one piece in for the traverse (as far left as possible) with a runner, and climb up the upper crack a ways before placing the next piece. Viola! No rope drag. But, probably not an advisable method for the budding 5.10b leader...
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Mar 19, 2003
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

5.10c sounds about right to me.
By Josh Beck
Mar 26, 2003

I finally did this route yesterday. I would say that it was more challenging for me than most .10c's I've been on, but I have a tendancy to sew stuff up and I definitely am better at hard moves than I am at sustained climbing, so I got a pretty decent pump. I agree though that .10c sounds good. For me it was harder than Clean and Jerk or Martin Quits (which might be soft by the way), but still easier than Crescent Wrench or Robert's Crack or O'Kelley's Crack.
By David Evans
Apr 11, 2003

I vote "Rubicon" is 5.10c.
By Donno
From: Newport Beach
Jun 6, 2003

I've 'dogged this route twice now, but I know I can do it! :-). This means it's not 10d. I vote 10c.
By M. Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Oct 23, 2003
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Finally did it!!! Awesome - one of the best for the grade!
By Mike Hack
Apr 11, 2004

I finally understand some of the "10b" comments in this thread. The first time I led it, I sewed it up near the bulge below the big hold, pumped out and fell off. Felt much pumpier than C&J. The second time I just put a #2 TCU below the bulge, #3 BD at the big hold, #1 TCU a stance above, and then it was done. Less of a brawl than C&J; more delicate and sustained. But I don't know if any single move was harder than 10b . . .
By Adam Stackhouse
Jun 11, 2004
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

In my day, this coveted climb was a bit feared. But it is evident the secret is out. As for my opinion, the bottom, crappy crack before the traverse part bothers me the most. After that, this climb stands as a testimate to pure crack climbing. With stances galore, I kept asking where's the crux? A number 3 cam at the opening 3/4 up and a small cam at the crux is the key. Before that this crack sux up cams and nuts like no tomorrow. The direct start is grainy and hard. Too bad.
By Ben Craft
Oct 11, 2004
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

It appears there are two directs starts to this climb. Start in the left leaning seam and stem off the tree is about 5.11a. It is a nice alternative for the second if no gear is placed on the traverse.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Oct 18, 2007
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

A great route- got the onsight last season. It's best to just solo to the base of the main crack- its cruiser the whole way and provides a nice .11a option for your second. I'd also call this .10c at most- I felt comfortable on it the whole way, which is rarely the case for me on a .10d.
By caughtinside
From: Oakland CA
Nov 27, 2007
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Best crack I have done in Josh to date, very high quality! Not one of those pebbly on the inside ones.
By gregory huey
From: Irvine, CA
Nov 17, 2009
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

Bagged the redpoint on this excellent 10d (one of the best at JT?) Oct 24 2009. I used minimal pro with long slings over the easy hand-crack (approach) section and had no problem with rope drag (of course _had_ I fallen there it might have not been so great... - but the hand-crack is super-easy). This was my third ascent and the second on lead - benefited greatly from previous experience protecting the 10d finger-crack section - it eats up finger-sized stoppers great. This time I racked all my finger-sized stoppers each on their own draw, which made placing protection quick & easy. I actually used stoppers exclusively over the 10d finger-crack section. I'm posting a picture that shows my protection scheme.
By John Long
Jul 14, 2011

The history on this is a little screwy. Before Herb and com. ever did this route, Bachar and I top roped the thing via the direct start. It was grainy and quite hard for the mid-70s. We most certainly would have led it but there was not way to protect the bottom part so we just strung a TR and had at it - as so often happened BITD.

I did the route various times after that first effort and was amazed how well it cleaned up. There were also a few little flakes that got wrenched out of the crack that made it much more doable.

UPDATE: Came across some old pics and notes on this one after a friend of mine from the local climbing gym went out today and did this crack.

To the best of my knowledge, Bachar and I did the FA on top rope and it was a grain fest and we had to crank out a bunch of loose shite from the crack. The direct start was also grainy and hard for the time - like 11d. Herb, Lonnie and others led the route by way of a huge traverse in from the right along that horizontal crack, but we always thought this was a cheat. So around 1975, Richard Harrison and I did it from the bottom, straight up. We probably should have put a bolt in so the original, direct start would become the way to do this classic, but back then the idea was to run the cord on everything.

By Souljah
From: Northern NM
Apr 26, 2012

Devours medium stoppers. Good foot placements. A great 10c imho.
By Tradiban
Apr 23, 2013
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

I shuffled an anchor through the traverse. A MUST do for JT.
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Jan 27, 2014
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Excellent. The finger crack is amazing. Flows really well, protects well (gear is a bit fiddly - imagine placing cams or nuts in super grainy granite with large crystals, because this is what you will be doing!). I placed a number 2 about 10 feet off the deck, then placed a number 1 above it and removed the number two. Then worked up to the rest where the traverse starts, placed the number 2 again to the left, and took out the number one. Backed up the number 2 with a number 3 about 5 feet to the left, and then ran the traverse for about 15 feet and placed a red alien. Extended 24" runners on all the traverse pieces. Just keep your weight on your feed through the traverse. It isn't bad. The feet get much easier about halfway through the traverse. You will be able to stand up on good feet and rest at the base of the crack. Climb up a bit, get a first high piece, then down climb and rest up for the rest of the crack. There are some decent rests on the crack, you just have to find them! Lots of nuts higher, and finger sized aliens.
By Adam Freund
Mar 13, 2015
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

One of my all-time favorite routes. The individual moves aren't hard, it's just the pump factor. I've done the traverse start with two ropes as well as with one. I think just using a single 60m rope, being conscious of rope drag when placing gear, and using long slings where appropriate in the traverse section is the best method. It also makes it easier to belay the second. If top roping, try the harder direct starts to the left.
By Gabriella Venus 1
Jan 14, 2017
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

One of my fave routes in j-tree. Did both starts, the indirect was more fun. Running it out to the finger crack felt natural as the climbing gets easier and easier the further you traverse. Did not notice a tree on the direct start but felt solid at 11b.

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