Echo Rock is a rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park, California.
This massive formation is located across from Touch And Go and is one of the most popular rock climbing areas in all of Joshua Tree National Park. There are a number of reasons for this popularity. First and foremost, it’s the low angle nature of this formation. Echo Rock is all about slab climbing. If you are looking for a rock to test and polish your balance and friction climbing techniques, Echo Rock is your rock.
Unfortunately, the amount of protection on Echo Rock leaves much to be desired. On many of the routes you climb over a hundred feet of rock with only two or three bolts. Echo Rock was developed by older generation of climbers who prided themselves on running it out. They drilled by hand, from stances, and not by powered drills from hooks. Those reasons alone cause a climber to put longer and longer distances between bolts. Be forewarned, in addition to long runouts, you may have to deal with old bolts with missing hangers. If you don’t mind these short comings, you will have a great rock to climb on.
Another reason for the popularity of Ech Rock is its ease of approach. This formation is just over half a mile from Hidden Valley Campground. The approach trail could not be better maintained, and it’s clearly marked by Access Fund. The Access Fund has done more than marking the trails to improve the area. They have built a large parking area and a bathroom facility very close to Echo Rock and vicinity. If you are climbing in this area, please use the facility. They have been put there at a great expense to keep the area as pristine as possible.
Routes of Echo Rock
The history of rock climbing on Echo Rock dates back to the golden age of route development in the early 1970s. But, it was not until the late 1970s that the best route on the entire face was established. This route is called “Heart And Sole,” rated 10a, by none other than Herb Laeger. Herb Laeger, with over a thousand first ascents to his name, seems to have had the vision for the best lines in Joshua Tree, as well as other major climbing areas.
Heart And Sole, climbs the right side of a huge flake on the south end of Echo Rock. It starts on a thin face with a healthy runout to the first bolt. You can put a piece of protection behind a flake to your left to slow a possible fall before reaching the first bolt. The landing here is ugly. From here, traverse right and up to a second bolt. From the second bolt traverse directly left on a dike-like rib to a third bolt and a right facing corner. Up to this point you are moving on a sustained 10a face, but from this point on, climbing becomes much easier, in the 5.8 range. You can also plug in as many pieces of protection as you like to make it to the top of the huge flake and the end of your climb. Traverse left on top of the flake to a bolt anchor to rappel down.
There are many more routes on Echo Rock, mostly to the left of Heart And Sole; however, they lack diversity. They are all friction climbs protected by sparcely spaced bolts. To descend most of the routes in the center and the north end of Echo Rock, walk and climb left on low angle rock to reach easier friction slabs and the bottom.
Echo Rock is west facing and gets the warm afternoon sun. It’s a great place to climb during the cold seasons. Conversly, the rock stays in the shade during the morning hours making it a good place to hang out during the warm seasons.
List of Routes
Select Climbs of Echo Rock
|A||Cherry Bomb, 10c|
|B||Stichter Quits, 5.7, bolts|
|C||Dave's Solo, 5.9, bolts|
|D||Phenomena, 11b, 11 bolts|
|E||Stick To What, 5.9|
|F||Forbidden Paradise, 10b|
|G||Fall From Grace, 10c|
|H||April Fools, 10c, badly runout|
|I||Quick Draw McGraw, 10a|
|J||The Falcon And The Snowman, 10b|
|K||Heart And Sole, 10a, 3 bolts, gear|
|L||Love And Rockets, 10b, start as for Heart And Sole, then climb straight up the face avoiding the right facing corner, bolts, runout|
|M||EFF Four, 5.6 crack, standard rack|
|N||A Dream of White Poodles, 5.8, bolts, runout|
How to get there
Just past (Intersection Rock), take the road to Barker Dam for a short distance. Shortly after getting on this road you’ll see a sign for “Key’s Ranch” Road. Take this dirt road to a large parking area on the right. Just beyond the parking area there is a sign for “Key’s Ranch Guided Tours.” You can drive further on this road to access several other climbing formations, but you will run into a locked gate for “Key’s Ranch.”
Echo Rock is visible from here and not very far. You will enter a gully from the south. Echo Rock will be on your right and Touch And Go Face on your left.
Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail markers for approaches to many of the more popular crags. Do your best to stay on these trails, and where you are forced to use a different path, choose the ones that rain can mend in time. Drainages make for good trails where there are no established ones.
Avoid stepping on native and fragile plants, and do not feed the coyotes. Coyotes are very much used to people and often hang around picnic areas and campgrounds in hopes of getting a hand out. It’s better to let them live their natural life.
Camping and noise considerations
There are nine campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. At the entrance to the park you are always asked if you would care to have a map and a brochure. The brochure will have plenty of information on the campgrounds and the map will guide you to many of the pleasant hikes throughout the park. You may even get the latest information as to availability of campsites. During the peak season (mid winter through spring) finding a campsite may become a major task. It is highly recommended to use the following link to get more information in advance.
Joshua Tree Camping
When you are camping with friends and sitting around the fire, it is easy to forget that there are other people trying to sleep in the nearby campsites. It is important to put yourself in their shoes. Keep the noise and music to a minimum and certainly not too much past 10 p.m. Your neighbors will smile at you in the morning instead of giving you dirty looks.
Fees And Food
My wife and I have had Thai food in many different restaurants and cities. This Thai place beats them all. In November when the number of visitors to Joshua Tree reaches its peak, this restaurant puts on a Thai Buffet, all you can eat for 16.00$/person. But, you must get there early, or be prepared to wait by the door for a table.