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Sidewinder Rock - West Face
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YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b PG13

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 70'
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b PG13 [details]
FA: Kevin Worral & Eric Schoen, June 1974
Page Views: 8,544
Submitted By: C Miller on Jul 14, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (141)
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Was watching this fella inch his way up the dike.


Begin in the center of the formation at a left-facing flake and climb up this to a bolt. Thin face past the bolt (crux) leads into a left-arching crack system and then a vertical crack which ends at the obvious dike. Mantle up, clip a bolt and then make a long, thought-provoking traverse up and left until able to reach the top.

To descend downclimb/leap across a gap to reach a pinnacle with rap anchors located to the climber's left.

This is another semi-classic route to do and one that won't soon be forgotten. Not as scary as it looks, it's still fairly sporty and thus not recommended unless solid at the grade.


Approach from Hidden Valley Campground by skirting along the south end of The Blob and then following a trail along the west face (passing Hobbit Roof) to the mouth of Steve Canyon. As an alternative park on the Quail Springs Road (the main road) and follow a trail leading east towards The Blob and Steve Canyon.

Sidewinder climbs face and cracks up to an obvious left-slanting dike system on the large west-facing formation at the mouth of Steve Canyon.


2 bolts (3/8"), gear to 3"

Photos of Sidewinder Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Aubrey at the crux, onsighting Sidewinder.
Aubrey at the crux, onsighting Sidewinder.
Rock Climbing Photo: jumping to the rappel anchors
jumping to the rappel anchors
Rock Climbing Photo: fun moves
fun moves
Rock Climbing Photo: Walking the plank, once again....
Walking the plank, once again....
Rock Climbing Photo: "Sidewinder". Photo by Blitzo.
"Sidewinder". Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Melissa on the delicate traverse.
Melissa on the delicate traverse.
Rock Climbing Photo: almost to safety!
almost to safety!
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris Owen at the withering traverse, photo by Fre...
Chris Owen at the withering traverse, photo by Fre...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jessica Perrin pulling the face moves in 1981 or s...
Jessica Perrin pulling the face moves in 1981 or s...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb looking for gear and holds on 'Sidewinde...
Tony Bubb looking for gear and holds on 'Sidewinde...
Rock Climbing Photo: "Sidewinder". Photo by Blitzo.
"Sidewinder". Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Graham breathing easy now that the traverse is  fi...
Graham breathing easy now that the traverse is fi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Graham moving past the bolt & crux.
Graham moving past the bolt & crux.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sidewinder
BETA PHOTO: Sidewinder
Rock Climbing Photo: Dick Shockley looking for holds near the end of th...
Dick Shockley looking for holds near the end of th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb finishes up on 'Sidewinder'  (5.10b, S)....
Tony Bubb finishes up on 'Sidewinder' (5.10b, S)....
Rock Climbing Photo: Bonnie following Sidewinder
Bonnie following Sidewinder
Rock Climbing Photo: Scumming my thumb on a potato approach s...
Scumming my thumb on a potato approach s...
Rock Climbing Photo: Gettin through the biz
Gettin through the biz
Rock Climbing Photo: Sidewinder on a windy day
Sidewinder on a windy day
Rock Climbing Photo: Onsight of Sidewinder
Onsight of Sidewinder
Rock Climbing Photo: The big view and pucker traverse on Sidewinder
The big view and pucker traverse on Sidewinder

Comments on Sidewinder Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 7, 2015
By Joe Collins
Jul 15, 2002

pretty spooky
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jan 6, 2003
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

If you fell from the low crux just above the first bolt, you'd be fine. The rock there is a little poor but luckily, it's well protected. I sent a small foothold off, and there were other places where the rock had obviously been recently broken (still dropping crystals when blown on). The under-the-roof traverse is not necessarily runout. With a few cams and tricams you can sew it up. Take long slings to avoid drag.

As for the top 5.9+/10- area. You pass the bolt and perhaps some 10 or 15' feet later are on a snakey move with poor feet or poor hands. I traversed the dike as a foot traverse. With powerhouse forearms and dime edging shoes, this might be more secure as a hand-traverse. A few times I bent the left knee deeply and used my left hand to mantle sideways on the moves. If you don't normally use chalk, consider doing this route in cool weather.

At this snakey section, there is a hole in the wall, I presume where someone placed and someone else chopped a retro-bolt. SHAME! SHAME SHAME. If you use this AID hold as a crutch on lead- either that or keep in kind your ascent was 5.10b/A0, not a free ascent. Someone should properly patch the hole with epoxy and flakes of local granite.

A fall from the slithering section would be long and frightening, but not likely really hurt you. None-the-less, if your second is not super solid, consider it an act of kindness to come back to the south a little from the end point to belay so as not to be at such a distance for them if they swing.

Earned the 3-star rating. Would be 4-star if not for the drilled hold and also the loose rock down low.

Can somebody patch the ugly drilled hole at the high crux? So you eliminated the retro-bolt, now there's a retro-hold!
By Steven Powers
Sep 1, 2003

i heard from a reliable source that the second bolt on the traverse isnt a retro bolt, and it was placed by the first acsentionists...... anyone else hear this?
By Randy
Sep 2, 2003
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

I wouldn't consider your source very "reliable" as the 2nd bolt on the traverse (long ago removed, but the hole is still there) was added LONG after the FA. The hole should be completely filled and camoflauged.

The crux past the 1st bolt has gotten much harder over the years as many small flakes/edges have broken off. For shorter climbers, this move can be quite challenging.
By Flying T
Sep 2, 2003

So the two bolts (one at the bottom, one at the start of the traverse) were from the FA, but there used to be another retro-bolt on the traverse, too? It was also mentioned to me that at some time in the past, the bolt at the start of the traverse had been chopped. Any story there?
By Steven Powers
Sep 2, 2003

im sorry i made a mistake, i mixed up some info sorry........
By Randy
Sep 3, 2003
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

To my knowledge (which is far from complete), the 1st bolt on the upper traverse has never been removed (except to replace it). But then again, someone removed the bolts on Stand and Deliver (who knows why) and apparently Swept Away got chopped once (maybe some sort of comment on foreign film route names?).
By Woody Stark
Nov 1, 2003
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

It took me a long time to convince my usual partners that I could give them an adequate belay for the traverse. I set it up so I could walk across the top as they moved, always keeping the belay to them vertical. Actually, I wasn't sure I could do it until I was on top. But what the hell, it worked; and I finally got it climbed. It's an excellent route that's rated correctly; though, I feel the traverse is eight not nine.
By Karen
From: Prescott
Nov 18, 2004
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

I feel the move over and above the first bolt should be rated a 10c instead of 10b. A hold or two must have broken off making it more difficult. Any opinions on this crux?
By Woody Stark
Nov 19, 2004
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

I led it again yesterday; and I would have to agree with Karen: it's gotten more difficult; I'd give it 10c.
By Randy
Nov 19, 2004
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

We did this couple weeks ago, I think it is definitely a height thing. 10b (one move at that) seemed about right to me. But for shorter people it may very well be 10c.
By Woody Stark
Nov 19, 2004
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

I better measure myself; I must be shrinking.
By Joe Brophy
From: San Diego
Feb 7, 2005
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

The move past the first bolt is the hardest for sure. But I would say still 10b. My wife is 5'3" so she for sure used different holds than I did at 5'9" but didn't say it was that hard for her as a vertically challenged person!
By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Nov 27, 2006
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13

The low crux is definitely height-dependent. Many former footholds have departed the face. At 5'8", I felt the low crux was .10c if not harder....if you're 6' or have a big ape index, it'll feel much will want a shoe that edges reasonably well...this isn't the place for your blown out "all day shoe". The ramp walk is a little nervy, but by choosing your foot placements carefully, is casual.
By JJ Schlick
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jan 10, 2007

Some friends sandbagged me onto this line telling me it was only 5.9. Pretty hard and exciting for that grade! Excellent and engaging pitch.
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Jan 11, 2007

Great route, I'd recommend protecting the opening move in the flake if there is any chance you'll come out of there as it's a bit awkward. Or not, as the first bolt is not that far up.

Will S. may be right about the crux at the bottom, technical crux, it is a bit flaky getting past that first bolt and heading up toward the large crack. For me, it was the psychological crux walking the ramp up high. Just when I thought it was easy, I looked back at the bolt and well, felt pretty uneasy.

Rumor has it no body's ever fallen from up there. I do believe I said I could be the first - but didn't.


By Murf
Jan 11, 2007

Susan - old partner of mine took the fall on the traverse just before the flake. Swung over to about his first piece under the roof, quite a flight. He got back on and sent!
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Jan 11, 2007
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

Oh my, I had never heard of someone ACTUALLY falling on the traverse. That would be a fricken' scary fall!
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Jan 20, 2007
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

I think this is a classic, it has a compelling line, and the final mental crux traverse still lingers, after 20 years.

Remember to belay the follower so that they don't swing the other direction. See Woody's entry (Nov 1 2003).
By armand rollice
From: rancho cucamonga
Feb 27, 2008

Fell at the first bolt. Then pulled the move. Getting up onto the rail from the crack was tricky. Then the traverse had me going. It took me three tries to finally commit to walk across. My heart was pounding, I was sweaty but kept my cool as best as I could. When it was all over, I heard an applause from the audience below TR Candelabra. What a memorable day that was for me. Not in a hurry to do it again. Well maybe.
By Shipp
From: laguna beach, ca
Feb 28, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

This climb is all about the traverse. W/ the exception of the face move past the first bolt, everything up to the 2nd bolt is pretty straight forward 5.6 to 5.8.

The traverse is 5.7 to 5.9. The 5.9 move is near the end (about 15' out from the bolt). A fall here would mean a huge pendulum for the leader.
By peachy spohn
Mar 26, 2009

Great climb on great rock (except the start is a little crumbly). I think the grade is good, but the traverse is pretty spooky...definitely heady and a PG13/R I think. Four stars!
By Colonel Mustard
From: Sacramento, CA
Feb 15, 2010
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

A fun and engaging climb throughout. The bolt hole on the upper traverse has since been filled in by caughtinside, although I was too busy trying not to be scared to notice the workmanship. Really though, the traverse is fairly trivial as far as the moves go. They may feel like 5.9 moves waaay off the bolt but I'd say 5.7, max, essentially something only a poncey lil brit would puss off leading ;). Perhaps bringing a #4 instead of burying #2 would have been appreciated by my follower in the lower crack traverse, however.
By Chad Namolik
From: Three Rivers, CA
Feb 2, 2013

this is a good route. 3 stars. very exciting traverse at 2nd bolt is 5.8+PG. face move at 1st bolt felt 10- and im tall. crack midway through 5.8/9. gear = small/med nuts and cams for crack and belay. a few shoulder slings and longer Qdraws.
By Tradiban
Nov 26, 2013
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

Less than par rock on the first part keeps this from being classic, watch out for the sucker jug above the crack, it will make a widow out of some pretty lady someday.
Nov 30, 2013

Great route. Thin slab crux down low going past first bolt.

Proper use of runners will keep the rope running a straight diagonal line and the leader won't have to contend with drag making them feel like they are being pulled back to the right.

Although both leader and follower have to contend with a possible pendulum fall, IMO the follower has an easier time of it since the traverse gets harder as you go. IOW, you are much less likely to come off at the start of the traverse as you are towards the end.

Resist the temptation to put the whole of your feet on the dike. Keep only your toes on as close to the edge as possible, so as to keep your upper body from wanting to tip backwards. Trust in your feet and don't over commit your left hand with long reaches past where your feet are.

Just did it for the second time (as follower) nearly 20 years after my first time (lead). Just as fun and thought provoking as I remember. Gets good sun towards 11am/noon onward.
By Aaron O
From: Seattle, WA
Jan 21, 2014

Did this route a couple of years ago with a buddy and fell at the first bolt on follow. I did the rest of the route clean and it replayed in my head for a solid year. After coming back the year after, I sent it clean and fought with every last bit to get the slab move past the first bolt. It was really windy that day, probably blowing at 30 MPH or a little more, but I didn't really think about how that would affect the traverse. It was pretty spooky, every time there was a gust I had to lay flat on the wall, and then scurry along as far as I could when it wasn't blowing. Probably my favorite route in JTree.
By Russ Walling
Jan 21, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

The chopped bolt and subsequent hole was patched years ago. How is that fix holding up???
By dnaiscool
Apr 18, 2015

CLASSIC JT...What is so cool about the traverse is that when the feet get thin, the hands get better, and when the hands get thin, the feet are OK...that's what makes the traverse 5.9. But that move at the first bolt is PDH IMO...harder than the moves on "Sundance" at Suicide or "Shit for Brains" at Tahquitz, which are .10b...and the holds continue to erode, so this part of the route looks nothing like it did back when it was put up.
By Ryan Strickland
From: Idyllwild, CA
Dec 7, 2015
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13

I managed to take the fall midway through the traverse...wasn't too bad. I ended up back even with the roof. It was a clean fall, no problems. I even climbed everything up to there on-sight. I really just wasn't concentrating enough on my foot placement during the traverse and lost balance. Climbed back up and finished the route.

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