Top Destinations in Joshua Tree

This one is for my good friend Carol who is excited to get after it in one of my favorite places to frolic along the boulders amongst the magnificent Joshua Trees.

I spent a good amount of time in Joshua Tree over the past 3 years living in San Diego. Taking upon some of my fondest memories in discovering a deeper connection to the sport of climbing. Tying into the sharp end for my first trad leads, with many more times to follow, sharing lasting memories with people I know will be connected to me forever. Every sunrise and sunset being ever so unique with the passing of the moon, brining the most beautiful natural colors that dance within the clouds.

One could say this place is magical, the deepening connection to mother earth while climbing deepens the connection within yourself. If you find yourself wandering through this desert, here are some of my favorites that I want to go back and do again…

Some of my all-time favorite ‘first routes’ that I lead up in J-tree are followed:

  • Double Cross (5.7+) – My first time on this climb took me 45 minutes, with a minor panic attack, at night with just my headlamp, and my good friend Jordan with a very patient belay. I lost count of the times I have gone up it but if it was your first time out to J-tree with me, I most likely took you up it. It’s run out at the start, but it’s really mellow climbing, just trust in your feet.
  • Sail Away (5.8-) – Fun moves, smaller crack (take nuts and small gear), really fun traverse out left moving into the other crack.
  • Leaping Learner (5.7) – It’s over by Sail Away, cruxy start move into an enjoyable climb.
  • Dapple Mare (5.8) – Fun multi-pitch with awesome down climbing traverse.
  • Pope’s Crack (5.9) – Trust in the feet, get your jam on.
  • North Overhang (5.9) – There is one move, and it’s so well protected. Look at the cool retro fixed piece at the top…however don’t clip it.


Stepping up to the rope…

  • Bird on Fire (5.10a) – Just a beautiful fun line.
  • Illusion Dweller (5.10b) – You’ll understand where it gets its name from the top…it’s not as hard as it seems….
  • Sidewinder (5.10b) -Look at it before you hop on, working on trusting your feet, Pope’s Crack would be a good warm up for this one).
  • Right Ski Track (5.10a) – It’s right there…
  • If you’re up for a hike/adventure : Perfect Fingers (5.10a) – It’s located deep in the heart of Queen Mountain amongst Lower Waltz Rocks.
  • Bird on a Wire (5.10a) – Another multi pitch over on Lost Horse Wall. Work on your nut placements.

Pushing Yourself

  • Rubicon (5.10c) – Great handcrack into long 20′ traverse (you can protect this just mind rope stretch) into splitter fingers and smearing feet. So radical.
  • EBGB’s (5.10d) – Powerful mantle into delicate slab climbing.
  • Martian Quits (5.10c) – If you like putting your fingertips through a ton of pain like I do…


  • O’Kelley’s Crack (5.10c) – Although in Mountain Project says it’s 5.11a…It’s hard right of the deck…
  • Coarse and Buggy (5.11a/b)
  • Hot Rocks (5.11c)
  • Wangerbanger (5.11c)
Clémence on Coarse and Buggy during my last outing to Joshua Tree. 

I hope this is useful in whatever your adventure entails, and this is simply a handful of some of the awesome climbs that can be found spread across Joshua Tree’s beautiful desert landscape.


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