The Bolb is a rock formation in the Hidden Valley Campground of Joshua Tree National Park.
It is not clear who named this beautiful rock formation “The Blob,” but I personally feel that it deserves a much better name. The name could have come from the early 1960’s mundane monster movies and early climbers’ wild sense of imagination and humor. The East face of The Blob is steep and well featured with cracks and dihedrals. The only low angle part of this formation is on the extreme left, or the south side of the east face. The west face of The Blob, however, may hold true to its name. The west face seems to be low angle on both sides, yet it has a steep upper section with a number of climbs. The climbs of the west face don’t see much traffic due to the runout nature of the routes. There are not enough bolts there.
Climbers on Papa Woolsey, 10b, probably the most popular climb on the east face.
The history of technical climbing on The Blob dates back to the mid 1960’s. Most of the routes, however, were established during the early 1970’s to mid 1980’s by a handful of climbers such as John Long, Mark Powel, Charles Cole and Mike Waugh among others.
Climbs of the east face
Walking around Hidden Valley Campground you cannot miss this large and impressive formation. It is located right next to The Old Woman formation and behind some very popular boulders, such as Function Boulder, Hensel Boulder and Scattered Brain Boulder. Late in the afternoon, you often see a few untiring climbers who didn’t get enough on the crags all day long, and milking the last bits of energy out of their arms and fingers.
The left side of The Blob includes probably the two most popular slab climbs in all of the Hidden Valley Campground. These two climbs are Papa Woolsey, and Mama Woolsey, with Papa Woolsey, 10b, being the more popular of the two. During the peak climbing seasons, you may have to wait for your turn on these two climbs. Be forewarned, however, that the routes here are not sport climbs, and the bolts are a bit further apart than you may expect. Another popular climb is Pete’s Handful, 5.9, a short crack in a dihedral that quickly gets you to the top. Unlike Papa Woolsey that is bolt protected, you need to carry a rack and protect your own climb yourself.
Important Climbing Etiquette
Many of the rock formations in the Hidden Valley Campground, including The Blob, are located behind campsites. It is highly advised to get permission from the campsite residents to cross their site to start or finish your climb. It is most likely the campers will not protest your intrusion onto their site. They may, however, smile at you and even offer you a beer if you do, as a courtesy, ask their permission.
|A||Papa Woolsey, 10b, bolt protected|
|B||Mama Woolsey, 10a, gear |
|C||Pete's Handful, 5.9, gear |
|D||Surrealistic Pillar, 10b, danger of large rock fall, gear |
|E||Disco Sucks, 10c, gear |
|F||I'm Not Afraid Anymore, 11b, bolts and gear|
|G||Zulu Dawn, 10d, gear |
|Note||There are more climbs to the left of Papa Woolsey that could not be shown in the photo. |
There is a very popular route on the west face of The Blob called Hobbit Roof. The following photo and description is contributed by Dow Williams.
Hobbit Roof, 5.10d
The crux is right after you get the lone bolt clipped at the beginning of the route. Micro edges help you gain a left foot edge. Then a big right high step whilst simultaneously palming a bump with your right hand: An intricate move, but soft for a 5.10d by Jtree standards. The crack above is much easier. Place a solid C4#.75 underneath the roof and jam up small hands and/or ring locks. Once you get your feet up, it was easy peasy. Walk off climbers left. Dow
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.
Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail marker for approaches to many of the more popular crags. Do you 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.
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.
Old Woman formation is located across from Intersection rock. The Blob is the next rock to the Old Woman which itself is the first formation to your left as you enter Hidden Valley Campground.