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The Blob - North Face
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The Bong 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 50'
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 18,430
Submitted By: M. Morley on Jun 28, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (469)
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Third-classing The Bong


Approach: Probably several. The easiest I've found is to locate Hobbit Roof at the base of the backside (west face) of The Blob. From here, scramble up gully to the right to the base of the route.

At 5.4, The Bong is a fantastic first trad lead and as well as an excellent free-solo. It offers excellent jams and is easy to protect. The crux is a small "roof". Beyond the crux, the angle lessens and it's straight-in jamming to the top. Once on top, a large boulder sits directly in-line with the route and offers a quick and easy anchor using a section of the rope or a long piece of webbing.

To descend, walk to climber's left and downclimb fairly easy 5th class terrain with big face holds. This will deposit you about 50' left of the base of the route. Some sideways chimneying will bring you back to your packs. (Note: it might be better to lower off first-timers from the top of the route).


Standard rack.

Photos of The Bong Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Team solo, with Jetstream.
Team solo, with Jetstream.
Rock Climbing Photo: Part of the infamous "Down Climb" to get...
BETA PHOTO: Part of the infamous "Down Climb" to get...
Rock Climbing Photo: Hot chicks On Belay!
Hot chicks On Belay!
Rock Climbing Photo: Myong leading the Bong.
Myong leading the Bong.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sadie leading the Bong.
Sadie leading the Bong.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cora firing up the bong. January 2008.
Cora firing up the bong. January 2008.
Rock Climbing Photo: View from belaying below my partner climbing The B...
View from belaying below my partner climbing The B...
Rock Climbing Photo: Me following on The Bong.
Me following on The Bong.
Rock Climbing Photo: The view you see after climbing The Bong. Composit...
The view you see after climbing The Bong. Composit...
Rock Climbing Photo: Retrieving a stuck rope near the crux move of The ...
BETA PHOTO: Retrieving a stuck rope near the crux move of The ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Troutman in evening light on The Bong
Troutman in evening light on The Bong
Rock Climbing Photo: Sometimes I think that the downclimb and getting b...
Sometimes I think that the downclimb and getting b...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Bong from afar!
BETA PHOTO: The Bong from afar!
Rock Climbing Photo: Elisabeth placing on The Bong
Elisabeth placing on The Bong
Rock Climbing Photo: Picture of the easily by-passed overhang section o...
BETA PHOTO: Picture of the easily by-passed overhang section o...
Rock Climbing Photo: Classic Bong
Classic Bong
Rock Climbing Photo: hitting the bong
hitting the bong
Rock Climbing Photo: my dad is still talking about the perfect hand and...
my dad is still talking about the perfect hand and...
Rock Climbing Photo: new picture
new picture

Comments on The Bong Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 16, 2017
By Brian Reynolds
Mar 13, 2003

The Bong is particularly exceptional when compared to other 5.4 climbs around. I'd probably give it 2 stars out of 5, but on a scale of 0 to 3, I'd only give it 1. If it were only a bit longer ...
By Anonymous Coward
Nov 18, 2003

This is a great "first trad lead" to recommend to people. It's fun & easy to protect. Use caution about the downclimb, however. You may want to offer a belay to inexperienced climbers, or at least spot them from below and help them with foot placement. I'd call the downclimb 4th class rather than 5th, but still it's not exactly a stroll in the park.
By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Mar 8, 2004

Fun, but too short! Good solo! Can see why it is considred a good "First trad lead". Looked easy to protect, decent walk off, easy approach. All the makings of a good one for all that enjoy either soloing or whatever..........
By Michael D. Thompson
Sep 20, 2004
rating: 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a

I did my first ever Trad lead on this route a few years back, it was a good choice for that because of how well it protected.
By Infernal Doom Fanatic
Oct 1, 2004
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Dubious crack climb that would rank 3 stars if it were about 80ft. longer. Great gear placements with one or two tricky moves. Pretty solid and great for J-Tree beginners.
By Chiranjeeb Buragohain
Nov 29, 2004

This is a great climb for the beginning leader as far as the climbing and the protection goes.BUT, the downclimb leaves chicken hearted leaders like me nervous.I have done three different descents off the Blob and each one had its own bad points.

(i) First time I walked over to the opposite end of the rock and set up a rap station with webbing.There were traces of older webbing.Anyway, we rapped over Mama Woolsey and it was definitely awkward getting started on the rap.

(ii) Second descent is the chimney on the west face near to Buissonier/Papa Woolsey.The chimney is a bit slick from all the people sliding down ---it is 5th class, but secure and the exposure is low.

(iii) The descent next to the Bong is the worst in my opinion.It is 4th class maybe, but the exposure is high and a fall can be very ugly.

To sum up, set up a rap station if you can, else opt for the chimney descent.If you fall, at most you'll lose some skin and twist your ankle.
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Feb 13, 2006
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Oh come on... this is a 5.4 handcrack, and as far as 5.4 handcracks go this is fricken' classic! Seriously. You can jam your way all the way up at a nice modest grade. How many 5.4 handcracks do you know? Awesome climb and classic IMO. And yes, the downclimb is about 5.2 - make sure you have a plan if this is your first trad lead.
By Blitzo
Sep 23, 2006

By mschlocker
From: San Diego, CA
Nov 20, 2006
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Beginners will have no trouble with the route itself, they may injure themselves getting to or off of it however.

If you are truly a beginner bring a long rappel sling and rings to leave up top. Otherwise downclimb left at low 5th class back to the base of the climb.

The easiest approach (and I have done many) is to walk up a dike tending up and left on the west face of The Blob. This dike widens to a sidewalk higher up and is a very cool geologic feature. This dike will also take you to the base of Beginner's Two on the way to The Bong.
By Mike Mu.
From: hagerstown
Apr 18, 2007

this was my favorite lead route at J-tree. good route to push the new leader. dont try to jam through the roof, use lieback flakes on the left to gain some ground then sink a hand jam in the main crack above the roof. easy sailing from there. my partner and i just rapped b.c we are lazy. As of 4.10.07 there was a nice rap anchor at the top. might be gone by the time you climb it, so if you are not prepared for the downclimb make sure you bring some webbing and rap rings to safely get down. you will have fun on this route!
By Benjiman
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Oct 15, 2007

As of 10/13/2007 there was a good piece of webbing slung around a bolder at the top of this climb, however it didn't have rings..
By C Miller
From: CA
Oct 15, 2007
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Benjiman - I removed the single piece of webbing you speak of as it was really nothing more than trash.

Excellent gear placements can be found just right of the block for a belay, and rapping off is a poor choice as the edge of the rock is about 30' away - pulling your rope might be possible from the vicinity of Labor Dome (if you're lucky); an easy down-climb exists a short ways to the northeast as well.
By Meredith Moseley
From: San Jose, CA
Feb 26, 2008

--Lovely view from the belay station
--Great hand holds to the left of the little roof to get around it
--Easily do-able without hand or foot jamming, but I found some great jugs inside the crack
--There were a couple of chalk-covered holds that otherwise wouldn't have been so obvious
--Placement and removal of pro was really easy
--Descent is FUN! But it was my first class 4 and a little nervewracking. Be ready for stemming or chimneying.
By Gary Schenk
Mar 12, 2008
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

This was a fun lead, and the walkoff is nothing to fear at all. If you like this and wish it was longer, try Route 66 on Gilligan's Island. It's much longer and a better crack, IMHO.
By ccmski body
From: Seattle, WA
Oct 26, 2009
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Jamming a straight in crack at this grade?! CLASSIC. Good route to run laps on solo- just don't be a jerk if there are people roping up for the climb.
By Chris D
From: the couch
Jan 3, 2010

The climb is a blast, and was my first lead at Joshua Tree. Having never followed it, and not knowing about the flake on the left alongside the roof, I scratched my head for a while wondering how it could be 5.4, but it is. You just need to find the hold to get you past the crux. Easy and obvious once you stop to take a look/feel.

The downclimb is just plain awesome. There are a couple of exposed moves where you would get badly hurt or killed if you fell, but there are good holds. slithering under the chockstone then stemming the gully back to the base of the climb was the highlight of our day (well, mine, anyway).

After a few climbs, even moderate climbers will feel confident 3rd-classing this route.
By attila
Feb 26, 2010

I'm trying to figure out why so many people gush about this climb. Other than getting past the little roof, the climb isn't very interesting. The downclimb to climbers' left looked a little intimidating but there's a spot where it's easy, though a rap station would be welcome.
By Brandontyrrell tyrrell
Apr 22, 2010

Good free solo or 1st trad lead, super fun climb
Nov 1, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

A fun crack with a scary down climb. If you have small hands it may be difficult to get solid jams near the top, but the angle is such that it doesn't matter much. Enjoy!
By Wesley Stupar
From: Glendora
Jan 2, 2011

Route Finding Note: I set out to climb this and accidently climbed Beginner's Two, thinking it was the Bong. The Bong is a little more to the left of Beginner's Two. Doh!
By dstandish
From: Los Angeles
Mar 30, 2012

If the downclimb concerns you, it is easily protectable. But even if your second doesn't know how to place gear, just be sure remind your second to head left through the tunnel of sorts. Then after your second gets down, if they give you a belay you will be protected during the most exposed portion of your downclimb because the rope will be routed through the tunnel.
By Jason Kim
From: Encinitas, CA
Mar 31, 2013
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Great beginner climb, but sandbagged at 5.4 IMO. Pulling the crux, which is easily protected, feels closer to 5.6 to me. Just FYI.
By Alex Doria
From: San Diego
Aug 25, 2013

Good first lead for those who don't like eyes on them as they fondle through gear.
By Ben Crowell
Dec 13, 2013
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Good safe lead with lots of easy placements for protection up to 3". There's a nice variety of different types of jams and climbing. The downclimb was scarier than the climb and took longer. Should have rapped off.
By Christopher D. Walsh
From: Index, WA
Dec 27, 2013
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Again, the down climb is the biggest risk here. Someone keeps cutting the webbing left on the boulder at the top? As of Dec 1 2013.
By Tony Milici
From: Los Angeles
Mar 15, 2015
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

This is a very good beginner's crack climb. it was the second climb I ever led way back in 1984.
By The Gray Tradster
Jun 4, 2015

Bong is the onomatopoetic name for a piton two inches or larger.

They go bong when driven,
By FrankPS
From: Atascadero, CA
Feb 26, 2016

I'm surprised there isn't a rap anchor on top. The downclimb is quite exposed.
By Julius Elinson
Mar 8, 2016

Great easy lead. The descent was definitely exposed so go slow and be careful (nothing scary though). We went through the tunnel, went lower (but not all the way to the bottom), walked away from the wall and then circled back wide to the base.
By TomC
May 2, 2016

downclimb is really not that bad.
the approach up the gradual dike sidewalk from the southwest of the formation is easy and pretty unique.
By JohnniMo McMullin
From: Las Vegas, Nevada
Nov 15, 2016

As of 11/15/16 there is a fixed anchor (webbing and rap rings) at the top. Fun route, but too short!
By steverett
From: San Diego, CA
Jan 25, 2017

Nice big party ledge up top. I belayed my friends up and we watched the sunset from up there.

Downclimb seemed more like 5th class to me, but it looked like there were a few ways to go, so maybe I chose the more technical one. I went down some patina into the slot that goes back to the start of the climb.
By Adam Fleming
From: Moab, Utah
Feb 6, 2017
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

A perfect climb for the new leader learning how to hand jam or someone already comfortable with hand jams looking for a first solo. Stellar jams the entire way and a solid jug for the roof-pull make this an inviting climb. The only downside its short length, but hey, this is J-Tree, not the Flatirons.
By BrennaM
Feb 16, 2017

Led this pitch over the weekend. As we all know from previous comments, the climb is cool, great gear, awesome holds, less than vertical slab with features, you can almost walk up the top. However, the down climb is REALLY not bad at all. I'm a brand new trad leader with some decent experience on hard sport routes, so that may have allowed me to think the down climb was pretty easy. If you walk down climber's left when you get to the top, it's a very low angle slab for about 15 feet until you reach a small ledge. Walk around just to the right and you'll be able to drop into a cave-type hole with great footing. Then use incredible jugs for hands and amazing feet for about 8 feet, until you step onto a boulder just to the right. Climb down left around the boulder until you're stemming using the walls in which the boulder is stuck. When the space narrows, press your back against the left side and feet against the right in order to scoot under another boulder. After that, stem a little more and then an easy walk back to the base of the climb. It's about 8 minutes, really chill, and gets you back to the base of the climb. no need to carry your stuff, bring approach shoes if you want, I did the down climb in my climbing shoes to feel more secure, but could have easily done it in approach shoes. It's technically 5th class, but barely. I hope this helps!

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