Bird Beak Area (aka Beak Boulder), 5.8-5.10c

Bird Beak Area (aka Beak Boulder), 5.8-5.10c

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 34.02579°N / 116.0514°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
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Dow leading Modern Warfare, 5.10a*
Dow leading Modern Warfare, 5.10a*
Dow leading the unpublished 5.9 arete
Dow leading the unpublished 5.9 arete
Tubular, 5.8
Tubular, 5.8

This is an all-day destination in the Pinto Wye area marked by a massive boulder that looks like a bird, not just a beak, but a bird with a beak.  However, most of the routes are found on the boulders in and around the bird looking boulder itself.  In my pursuit to climb over 1000 different routes in Joshua Tree National Park, my visit to the Bird Beak area came between 900 and a 1000.  Yet, to date, this is my favorite crag in the entire park.  I first noticed Bird Beak when I hiked into Bond Boulders and Tiger Rocks.  In Miramontes 3rd edition guide, there were still only two (and a top rope which I typically don’t count as a route) routes listed at this location.  However, to date, has half a dozen routes listed as well as we climbed additional routes not yet published.

The primary reason for visiting the Bird Beak area is the excellent off-width climbs listed in the Miramontes guide.  Modern Warfare, 5.10a*, and Kamikaze Crack, 5.10c*, are two of the better off-width climbs in the park.  They are located just meters apart on the back side (northwest) of the Bird Beak formation.  Neither require an extensive assortment of wide gear to lead (single #5 and #6 at most).  Back on the southeast side, enter a chasm below the main Bird Beak feature, a true cave of sorts.  There is a bolted wide flake in a chamber on your left. I could not find this route published as of 2019, but give it a 5.10a rating.  This is a fun and interesting fully bolted climb with some wide technique and/or layback moves required.  It contains its own fixed rap anchor.  At the entrance to the same chamber is a perfect chimney slot.  Half way in is a bolted chimney climb, again, unpublished as of 2019:  5.8 fully bolted chimney climb to a fixed rap.  In front of Bird Beak and to the east is an obvious arete (photo).  Access it by clipping a bolt and mantling over a void onto the arete proper.  Climb the right side via easy groping up to the top and a fixed anchor on the opposing side.  This route is fun regardless of what grade you lead.  Again, it is unpublished as of 2019.  There is yet another arete a few meters to the east, in front of a published route named Totally Tubular.  This arete has maybe one 5.10a move to gain the arete from the short end of this feature.  There is a bolt high on the face and then grab a finger flake on the left side and saddle up to climb the arete through bolts on the right side to a fixed rap at top.  Totally Tubular, 5.8, is a burrow chimney just right of this bolted arete.  This route offers the most fun you will find at this grade in Jtree.  Tubular is not published in the local guides, but is published on  Fat climbers beware!  Squeeze Play, 5.10a, climbs the outside of this chamber, and is not recommended due to chossy rock.  The bolted face, 5.10c, to the right, is worthwhile, but unpublished as of 2019.  It is well bolted utilizing some interesting slab features.  There is a fixed anchor atop this route and you can rap the arete route to the left.

Park at one of two locations:  either at a small side pullout off of Park Blvd just south of the Cottonwood road junction or at Split Rocks trail head.  From Park Blvd, hike northwest across open desert and eventually gain a significant wash that cuts around the north side of a hill in front of you.  Stay in the wash straight at a Y (right) and continue around the hill.  On the other side of the hill, and through a brief slot in the wash, you will have full visual (photo) of the “Bird Beak” rock formation straight ahead. Continue in the wash and look for cairns leading up the hill to the right end of the Bird Beak boulder ledge system.  Cut back left to the climbs.  From Split Rock, there will be a lot of hiking up and down in ravines to reach this area.

Northwest Face, Listed Left to Right

Modern Warfare- 40’-5.10a*/ The obvious left side wide splitter of the excellent off-width pair located on the clean northwest face.   Fists, deep hands and knees lead to an overhang finish.  #2’s through #5’s fit, whereas a #6 will just get in the way of arm bars near the end.  Plenty of feet to help you through the overhang.  Gear anchor, #.5 to #3.  Walk off or rap the chimney directly to the south off of a fixed rap.   Single to #5.  Dow

Kamikaze Crack- 40’-5.10c*/ The crux is early but not near as difficult as many other 5.10 off-widths in Jtree.  Chimney climb facing left up the wide crack utilizing flared chimney technique.  Strenuous, but not overly technical.  Easy to place pro from #4 to #6. Mid-way comes hands and fists, make the transition to moderate crack climbing and finish.  Gear anchor utilizing the floor splitter off left allows for less rope issues if setting up for top rope. Walk off or rap the chimney directly to the south off of a fixed rap.   Single #2 to #6.  Dow

In the Chamber underneath Bird Beak

(unnamed)- 45’-5.10a/ One of the more unique climbs in Jtree:  a fully bolted wide flake off-width deep in the recess of massive boulders (think headlamps).  Well bolted by Jtree standards.   Some chicken wing early on, then some lay back to an easier finish to a fixed rap.  Dow

(unnamed)- 45’-5.8/ Fully bolted pure chimney climb.  Perfect chimney width to teach on.  Standard chimney technique the whole way up good rock.  Well bolted by Jtree standards (4 or 5) to a fixed rap.  Dow

Bolted Arete Climbs

(unnamed)- 70’-5.9/ One of two unique arete climbs located just meters from each other.  Well bolted and appears retro bolted as of 2019.  Make the first clip before mantling up onto the bolted arete.  Easy arete climbing with feet and a positive arete grip the whole way.  Steepens a little near the end.  One old bolt/hanger remains as of 2019 but not needed.  Fixed rap down the opposing side.  Dow

(unnamed)- 40’-5.10a/ The more unique of the two arete climbs.   Cradle the start at the arete bottom to make the first clip on the end face of the feature.  Then climb the left side via a finger flake to flip to the right side and easy going via groping the arete from there, well bolted, to a fixed rap.  Dow

Totally Tubular Routes

Totally Tubular- 40’-5.8/ The best route at this grade in the park!  A true “tube” offering chimney, hands and squeeze.  Climb the triangular chimney to the right of the bolted arete.  Burrow in to the base and climb basically three cracks at the same time placing gear at will.  The exit is a true (fun) squeeze.   Fixed anchor serves this route and the bolted route to climbers right.  Single rack to #4.  Dow

Squeeze Play- 40’-5.10a/ A chossy entry makes this the worse lead of the group.  Not recommended.  

(unnamed)- 50’- 5.10c/ A well bolted (6) slab climb angling right to left.  Several no hand, high step, physical slab balance moves are the crux.  Not the cleanest route.  The start utilizes a corner like feature.  The finish ends at a fixed anchor.  Can rap the arete route climbers left.  Dow



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