Sandbag is a route on the west face of Thin Wall in the Real Hidden Valley region of Joshua Tree National Park, California.
In my previous submission, I wrote at some length about the huge popularity of Thin Wall. The west face of this wall, however, seems to have the exact opposite story. I have visited this crag countless times, but I’ve never seen anyone leading or even top roping any of the routes on the west face, except for my small group of friends a number of years ago.
True to its name, Sandbag, rated 10c, really is a sandbag. Being a short climber, I have never trusted the accuracy of my ratings, but I think Sandbag deserves a higher rating. The route is steep, at least vertical, the holds are rounded, the cracks bottom out, there are no bolts and it’s very difficult to place your own protection. On my last visit to the west face of Thin Wall, I did not see any chalk or other evidence of anyone having climbed there in some time.
There are many climbers who don’t like to be where the crowds are but still want a quick, no-risk, burn on a rock. The west face of Thin Wall and Sandbag fill that ticket beautifully. In addition to Sandbag, there is another climb on the left side of the wall called Keith’s Work, rated 11a. These two climbs may easily be top roped. To get to the top of the formation scramble up the north side of Thin Wall.
How to get to the west face of Thin Wall
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 Quail Springs Road 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. The trail to “Real Hidden Valley” is obvious and starts here. This trail leads to “Nature Loop Trail” and “Real Hidden Valley.”
After a short walk you get to the Loop Trail. Take the left fork. After a few minutes you will come to the largest formation in the area. That is The Sentinel to your left and it’s mostly northeast facing. Walk past The Sentinal and go straight to Thin Wall. The east face of Thin Wall faces the Nature Loop Trail. Go around to the back side from the left to see the west face.
West Face of Thin Wall
Essential GearOne 60 meter rope. Standard rack for setting up a toprope. Extra slings.
Environmental concerns, Camping and Noise Considerations
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.
Fees and Food