Bird of Fire is in the Split Rocks area, which is removed from the main climbing scene, but this one climb alone is worth the 20 minute drive from Hidden Valley. Drive to the Split Rocks parking lot. With the road at your back, take a left on a climbers trail clearly marked with brown plastic markers. Do your best to stay on this trail, as the access fund is working hard to keep impact to a minimum, and thus keeping climbing in the Park open. Bird of Fire is on the rock that is furthest away and blocks the horizon. About 15 minutes of walking leads to the base of the wall. Some 3rd and 4th class scrambling leads to a large spacious ledge with room for a decent apres climbing party. Bird of Fire is the ruler straight hand crack to the right of a dihedral. This route receives morning sun, and is in the shade all afternoon. A great sunrise climb.
Route DescriptionThe rock in the Split Rocks-Jumbo Rocks is generally of poorer quality. The Quartz Monzonite crystals are just too big, and rub off under your climbing shoes like dried grape nuts in the bottom of yesterdays cereal bowl. But Bird of Fire is an exception. Here the enormous crystals are so big, they actually make great handholds, and everything is solid.
The crack begins just off vertical, with plates to grab and stand on, and the crack just gobbles up whatever medium stoppers you toss in #7-12. Higher up, the plates end, and the crack goes from vertical, to an oh-so gentle overhang. Here is where you toss in the small cams you saved for the crux. Nice big sidepulls and burly hand jams pull you past the overhang and to the top.
I had a religious epiphiny on this route, it's that good.
Anchor: As a rule in Josh, unless one can actually see a fixed anchor from the base of the climb, it's wise to carry some gear for an anchor, especially large cams for those big flaring cracks. Bird of Fire is no exception to this rule. The walk off is easiest by walking to the other end of the wall, hopping down into a tiny hidden slot, and then downclimbing around to the base.