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White Lightning 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 120'
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Chris Wegener and Roy Naasz, March 1973
Page Views: 16,898
Submitted By: C Miller on Jul 9, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (527)
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Susan at the opening moves of White Lightning


Near the left side of the wall is this hand/fist crack, which lies 5' left of Poodles Are People Too (5.10b) a nice looking thin crack.

Climb the classic crack straight up, moving slightly left near the top. Rap from anchors 20' right of the finish with two ropes (120' rap) or walk right and rap from anchors atop The Importance Of Being Ernest with one rope (75').

This is a great climb at a wall with many fine crack routes. Everyone should do this climb at least once as it is a good introduction to crack climbing and Josh in general.


Pro to 3"

Photos of White Lightning Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Jenny Schillinger gets started on 'White Lightning...
Jenny Schillinger gets started on 'White Lightning...
Rock Climbing Photo: I'm belaying from the top. Fedor just past the cru...
I'm belaying from the top. Fedor just past the cru...
Rock Climbing Photo: just past the crux... felt hard, though this was t...
just past the crux... felt hard, though this was t...
Rock Climbing Photo: The business is all at the beginning on White Ligh...
The business is all at the beginning on White Ligh...
Rock Climbing Photo: Me standing in front of White Lightning
Me standing in front of White Lightning
Rock Climbing Photo: Gigi deciphering the first crux on white lightning...
Gigi deciphering the first crux on white lightning...
Rock Climbing Photo: John high up on white lightning.  Working through ...
BETA PHOTO: John high up on white lightning. Working through ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sebastian about 10 feet past the crux
Sebastian about 10 feet past the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: Jenny Schillinger on the easier section of the upp...
Jenny Schillinger on the easier section of the upp...
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris Parks gets started in the initial inset of '...
Chris Parks gets started in the initial inset of '...
Rock Climbing Photo: "White Lightning". Photo by Blitzo.
BETA PHOTO: "White Lightning". Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Eric cruising White Lightning
Eric cruising White Lightning
Rock Climbing Photo: Our gear anchor at the top of White Lightning. Tak...
BETA PHOTO: Our gear anchor at the top of White Lightning. Tak...
Rock Climbing Photo: Anne mid way up on White lightning
BETA PHOTO: Anne mid way up on White lightning
Rock Climbing Photo: A 70m rope just makes it to the ground for a topro...
BETA PHOTO: A 70m rope just makes it to the ground for a topro...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mr. Mercury topping out on the direct finish of &q...
Mr. Mercury topping out on the direct finish of &q...

Comments on White Lightning Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 27, 2017
By Rob "rk" Kalinowski
Jul 9, 2002

Great Route, must do for the grade! I thought the crux was near the start,about 10-15 ft up, when you have to enter the crack past the little slabby part.Just throw in some pro, and go! The variation to the left near the top is veryfun (6). Enjoy!
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Apr 15, 2003
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

The route was pretty good, but I've done better climbs at the grade.

You need two ropes to rapp off of the anchors just right of this, but you can walk well to the North out under a bridge and to a point of rock and find a set of bolt-anchors that allows for one rap on a single 50M rope.
By Dynomight510
Oct 1, 2003
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

The crux is a few moves after the start and the crack takes pro very well. The climb eases after that until you reach the last 20' where you can choose a 5.7 finish to the left or a 5.9 finish slightly to the right. You are at a soolid stance to place pro before you start either finish. However, the 5.9 finish involves a short sequence of 5.9 moves, so be strong enough to stop and place gear or power through the section w/o falling. The rock below you here is low angled. The 5.7 finish involves a hand crack.
By Steven Powers
Oct 2, 2003
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

its good, but not that good
By Woody Stark
Feb 21, 2004
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I've led it many times and always felt it was an eight.
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Apr 6, 2004

If this route were anywhere else besides Joshua Tree, say for example Colorado, more people would agree on it being a three star line. If I were on a desert island and could have only one climb, would this be the one I'd take with me? No. But, thinking of all the other areas where I've climbed I'm going to call this spade a spade: three stars.

And shaded.
By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Apr 27, 2004

up top taking a right instead of a left, a little pulling and then an 5.8/9. The left side, 5.7 fits. Whatever...
By Infernal Doom Fanatic
Oct 1, 2004
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Hell yeah! Classic beyond words, believe the hype. Great straight forward jamming crack with excellent gear placements throughout the pitch, nice upper moves with excellent exposure. Simply and awesome climb anywhere.Don't forget to tape your hands or risk the cheese grater.
By Joseph Lee
Oct 10, 2004

Good route. There are rap anchors off to the right. You can rap with one 60 meter rope but YOU NEED TO DO SOME DOWNCLIMBING. Do not rappel off the ends of your rope.
By Scott Edlin
From: boulder, co
Apr 12, 2006
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

this route was the climax of my jtree trip. beautiful line, bomber jams, excellent pro, long, and sustained qualities all combined to make this more fun to me than bastille crack in eldorado canyon. if you liked double dogleg and thought it was a little easy, step up to this.
By Adam Stackhouse
Apr 12, 2006
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This a 3 out of 5 star route, that is easily accessed, accepts copious amounts of pro and lays at the lower end of the 5-scale. Highly recommended for the novice leader, or someone looking for a casual rope length climb.
By caughtinside
From: Oakland CA
Mar 30, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

hate to uprate a classic, but this is one of the more physical 5.7s you'll ever do! the crux is short, but takes some power. If double cross is .7+, this is an .8. Fun climb, but Overseer is a better warmup than this thing!
By Russ Walling
Aug 26, 2007

From the rap anchors described, a 70m will get you all the way back down to the deck, or real close to it.
By ccmski body
From: Seattle, WA
Oct 26, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Great line! The bottom crux is awkward and probably will be tough for begining leaders
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jan 10, 2010

First climbed this almost 3 years ago; still somewhat physical moves on the first third despite my much increased teckneek now (ahem). Still had a foot slip off during the crux move but pulled right through (don't remember how, it's a blur you know).

The 5.9 exit variation is thin and steep, so make sure to bring some small nuts and super small cams. Beware of Z-clipping here if you put a couple pieces close together.
By Brandontru
From: Nevada
Mar 4, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

A great route for anyone who wants to go passive keep it real.

By T.J. Esposito
From: San Diego, CA
Jun 8, 2011

Wasn't a bad climb but in a number of sections the feet are a little slippery from so many people climbing this route.
By Cho
Jun 27, 2011

As of 6/25/11 there is a hive of very aggressive (africanized?) bees 15-20 feet back from the top of the climb. When I topped out and saw them, I set a directional and belayed from in front of the big boulder, figuring it would offer sufficient protection. After a few minutes of belaying, they found me and started swarming. I did my best not to provoke them....that is, until the first sting. After that, I unleashed a furry of obscenities and swinging rope. Unfortunately, my highly tactical defenses were ineffective and I got stung twice more. After continuous cries of "are you ok" and "up rope" my partner finally topped out. The bees left her alone, so maybe they only like dark skin?? A couple of them were agro enough to follow me all the way down the rap back to the base....where they met sweet death.
By Brandt Allen
From: Joshua Tree, Cal
Jul 1, 2011

They must be back again from last summer. I was stung four times at the rap anchor while helping with some bolt maintenence. The bites itched more than hurt, but it was still scary!
By Zachary Wilson
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 25, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Love this route, no matter what anyone else says. Straight-ahead crack climb, good pro, and strong for the grade.
By Chris D
From: the couch
Jan 3, 2012

Greasy at the crux.

Get pro before starting into the fist crack about twenty feet up to avoid hitting the block that the climb starts off of if you blow it. A #3 Camalot is perfect.

The hardest moves on this route are every bit as hard as the moves on 5.8 cracks in other areas. Whatever. Joshua Tree.
By Jan Tarculas
From: Riverside, Ca
Mar 17, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I did dung fu "5.7", the flue "5.8", double cross "5.7+ - 5.8", and hands off "5.8" and I thought this was the hardest one of the bunch with the flue being the easiest. First 15ft was the crux for me and very greasy. We jokingly called it grease lightening after doing the climb.
By Ryan N
From: Bellingham, WA
Oct 13, 2012

A sandbag at that grade. Very strenuous moves and fairly long climb. Get it while it's in the afternoon shade. All sorts of gear will work big or small nuts or cams.
By Canon
Nov 17, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Only had one #3 camalot - wish I had at least two. Walked it up several times in the lower section. There's a hidden rail on the left side of the crack in back that must go up at least half the climb. Heck of a lot easier with that. Really cool climb, but the fact that the whole area is always mobbed takes away some of the experience.
By henrysunset
Mar 29, 2013

Easy enough (felt 8+ based on routes in WA) but the crack was hard on the hands, and especially the inside of my left forearm as I was laying back on the crack on the inside of the left side of the crack. 10ft up there is a tough part that you have to push through to get onto the main crack. I was asking for a tight belay as the rock is super rough, and the idea of taking a fall sounded - unpleasant.

Ed did a great job leading it, so I got lots of breaks to clean gear. I was a bit sketched out due to exposure by the end but did well.

It was definitely more fun than nearby Dung Fu.
By David S.
From: San Francisco, CA
May 25, 2014
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Very slippery climb in places. Chris D's advice about placing a #3 Camalot in the crack above the crux undercling was spot on, but ended up blocking some of the more solid jams needed to squeeze through that crux. I don't know how I ended up getting through that greasy part of the climb, but it wasn't pretty. Crux is definitely the first 20 feet.

I was a little bit disappointed by the sudden change in character of the climb about half way up. It turned into a blocky chimney with pro being placed more sporadically. Despite this, and though the line is not as pure a crack line as something like Double Cross, it still gets three stars in my book because of the length. The final crack that heads left at the end has the most beautiful jams on the climb, in my opinion.

Recommend bringing two #3s and a #4 Camalot; the crack gets a little wide in the middle and has an awkward (for placing pro) break in the width towards the back of the crack. I didn't bring a #4 and ended up placing a #9 BD hex, which I wasn't too sure of.

As others have said, this is a 5.8 anywhere else. It's Joshua Tree. So I'll call it a 5.7 (though, to be fair, this climb is significantly harder than other 5.7s I've done in the park- e.g. Lazy Day or Double Dogleg, which I thought were quite a bit easier than this).
By AndrewB
From: Davis, CA
Mar 9, 2015

I thought going right at the alcove was the standard route, based on watching the group ahead of us. That crack seemed tough, so I traversed back left on some face holds. Fun top out!
By Tony Whitney
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 6, 2015

Climbed this route last weekend. I thought it was a great climb and an excellent example of JT crack climbing (one foot in and one foot out). I am used to climbing Red Rock NV, so I might not have the comparisons down completely. This felt way harder than any 5.7 I have ever done. I guess what my partner told me is true..."In JT, the first 20 feet don't count".
By polloloco
From: Downey, CA
Jul 12, 2015
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

The guidebook my partner had (thinner one with yellow) called this 5.7 and had you going up the crack just to the right at the finish. Looking at everyone's comments, sounds like I did the 5.9 variation instead? It definitely felt pretty strenuous in the end and felt harder than the undercling crux area.

Anyways, great climb. Definitely kicked my butt as a new trad leader. Lower crux and definitely the finish (the way I did it) felt harder than Dappled Mare 5.8. The middle section was a nice rest. Like others have said, wish I had 2 #3 camalots, ended up making do with a hex and slinging a horn in the middle. Was pretty physical for me.

The rappel to the right of it just made it with a 70m rope. Make sure you tie your ends!
By Cron
From: Barrington, NH
Jan 24, 2016
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

raps fine w/ a 60 m. Just tie your ends and do a chill 10' down climb (5.2).
By alex carey
May 3, 2016
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

While being lowered the pressure from my foot pushing off the rock kicked off a bowling ball sized rock on the left side of the climb, about 40 feet up.
By Nathan Collins
From: Portland, OR
Feb 17, 2017

After seeing some comments about big gear I carried up a BD #3 and #4; biggest cam I placed was one #2 :P I was worried about saving the big gear for when I needed it -- I did end up using the #3 as part of the anchor -- but got by on nuts and hexes (I placed 5 of the 7 BD hexes I brought up). There are great passive placements in the smaller cracks on the sides of the big crack that is this climb.

Agree the crux about 20 feet up entering the wide crack in the small roof felt harder than other 5.7s at JTree. However, putting my arm into the wall up to shoulder found a great hand or fist jam (don't remember now).
By Billy B.
May 27, 2017

Just led this again today, and I still think that it is harder than 5.7. I did the 5.9 variation at the top, and I believe that the lower crux was harder than the 5.9 part. However, I also believe that it is a fantastic route! Just make sure that you are a solid 5.8 leader before you try it.

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