There are thousands of rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park and only a relative few of them are high enough to climb in two or three pitches. The east face of The Sentinel is one such case. Viewed from a distance, the east face has a beautiful triangular shape and it glows like a golden pyramid at sunrise. This impressive formation dominates the entire Real Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park.
Although the most difficult routes of The Sentinel are located on the steep, but shorter, west face, the east face sports a number of easy to moderate routes. There are a number of short routes that have been done on the left side of the east face. These routes, for the most part, don't see a great deal of ascents. Most of the attention seems to go toward the longer routes of the middle section of the east face. The most interesting route, "Ball Bearing," rated 10a, was established by the climbing icon, Herb Laeger in the mid 1970s. This route follows a thin crack system for about ninety feet to a bolt anchor under an overhang and the end of the first pitch. Bypassing the overhang from the right, you will have another crack system to follow to reach the summit of the formation.
A more challenging route is another crack system to the left of "Ball Bearing." This route is "Be Good or Be Gone, 10d." This route is also two pitches long and reaches the top of the formation. The easiest and the longest route on the east face, however, is the all-time favorite "Fote Hog, rated 5.6." This route winds its way up via a system of cracks, faces and ledges. Due to the convoluted nature of this route, it's best done in three pitches.
Last, but not least, is my personal favorite Western Saga, 5.9 on the right side of the east face. This steep crack system can be done in one pitch, but it may be best done in two. After a rather easy first pitch and a good ledge, this crack ascends up a layback right facing dihedral to an overhang, the 5.9 crux. Placing a long sling under the overhang helps reduce friction and rope hangups. After the overhang, a solid 5.8 hand crack leads to a great ledge and end of the route.
To descend: Follow the low angle slabs on the south side of the formation.
Essential Equipment: One sixty meter rope, standard rack of nuts and cams up to minimum of two 3 inch cams, slings.
Select routes of The Sentinel, East Face
|A||Be Good or Be Gone, 10d, standard rack|
|B||Ball Bearing, 10a, standard rack|
|C||Fote Hog, 5.6, standard rack|
|D||Western Saga, 5.9, standard rack up to minimum of two 3inch cams|
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 Vally” is obvious and starts here. This trail leads to “Nature Loop Trail” and “Real Hidden Valley.”
When 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 Sentinel to your left and it’s mostly east facing.