Houser Buttress is a rock formation in the Real Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park, California.
During the cold winter months when most climbers hands are too cold to even touch a rock, there is one great option. The place is Joshua Tree National Park, and the rock is Houser Buttress. This beautiful eighty foot formation is south facing and warms up nicely within a few hours after sunrise. The ease of access is another advantage about this formation, only a few hundred yards west of the parking lot with a well-travelled trail.
It should come as no surprise that Houser Buttress was noticed and climbed early in history of technical climbing in Joshua Tree. Looking at the history of the area, the names of a handful of climbers seem to keep coming up. One of the most prolific figures with several first ascents in this area is none other than Herb Laeger.
Topo of Select Routes
By the late 1970s, having fewer than half of a dozen routes, things were not going to stay the same for Houser Buttress. During the following twenty years numerous routes on the neighboring formations were established that turned the area even more popular than ever. Amongst all of these routes, one has stood above all the rest in popularity even to this day. The route's name is Loose Lady. Loose Lady offers what face climbing in Joshua Tree is all about. The rock is not quite vertical, use of friction and tiny edges are vital in making it to the top of this route. There is, however, some disagreement as to the difficulty rating for Loose Lady. Originally rated at 10b, then getting demoted to 5.8, then 5.9 and finally 5.9+. In my humble opinion, Loose lady well-deserves a 10a rating.
In addition to Loose Lady, there are a number of great climbs on this formation such as "Dummy's Delight," rated 5.9, a curving crack well to the right of Loose Lady. If you are looking for a much greater challenge, you can try "Herbie's Hideaway, rated 10d. This is a very thin crack shown on the topo with letter E. This is another one of Herb Laeger's first ascents in this area.
List of select routes
select routes of Houser Buttress
|A||Loose Lady, 10a, bolts, anchor|
|B||Dummy's Delight, 5.9, standard rack, pro to 3.5"|
|C||Lucky Lady, 5.8, bolts|
|D||Dodo's Delight, 10a, standard rack, pro to 3.5"|
|E||herbie's Hideaway, 10d, standard rack, pro thin to 2"|
How to get there
From the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park drive on Park Boulevard, formerly known as Quail Springs Road, for about nine miles to a major rock formation called “Intersection Rock.” Intersection Rock is a major landmark on the north side of Park Boulevard with ample parking for visitors and climbers alike. This rock, true to its name, sit at the cross roads to Hidden Valley Campground, Barker Dam Road and the road to Day use and picnic area. Turn right onto the road leading to day use area with a large parking lot and bathrooms. From the parking lot, walk about quarter of a mile west on a well-travelled trail to Howser Buttress.
Camping, Noise Considerations, Environmental Concerns, Fees & Food
Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail marker 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 trails.
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 camp grounds in hopes of getting a hand out. It’s better to let them live their natural life.
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.