(Jim's Jewel, 5.7**, above photo) “Jewel” my ass! This is easily the worst developed wall at the City of Rocks. This west facing wall is covered in lichen and sheds rock more than the typical dog or cat sheds hair. This is a lowly feature across from the stellar east face of Banana Crag. All of its climbs are rounded groove cracks up shitty rock and are short in nature. We climbed Birth Stone, 5.7**, Jim’s Jewel, 5.7** and Diamond Grinder, 5.9* before moving on, but I have zero idea how the local guide book author gave any of these routes star recommendations??? Jim must have been a friend no doubt. One does not have to suffer through climbing these routes to know they are shitty. They are full of dirt and vegetation and offer nothing for the budding 5.7-5.9 leader to learn on.
I prefer to approach by parking at the Circle Creek Trailhead. I have approached from both directions, but North Fork involves a lot more elevation loss and gain vs the relatively level approach all the way in from Circle Creek. Pass Stripe Rock on your left as you go through a gate and continue on the North Fork Trail past Nexus on your right. After Nexus, Nameless Tower’s excellent arete climb, Sub Zero, 5.11a***, can be seen at the top of the hill on your right, a broad faced arete. Beef Jello is the smaller feature still in front of you on the left. To reach Banana Crag requires a short bushwhack NE from Beef Jello, following the drainage north. Look to ascend the sage covered slopes up to the south end of Banana Crag. Jim’s Jewel is the west facing short wall directly to the east of Banana.
Extreme Clarity- 5.7X/
Straight Cut- 5.8*/
Dangling Karat- 5.9*/
Birth Stone- 5.7**/ These following three cracks are located at the south end of the west face and are all wide. There is no fixed gear or raps. Sling a stone above for rap/top rope. When ready to get off, I downclimbed 5th class climbers right, but you can walk off back and north to circumvent the feature. Unlike Miramontes Joshua Tree guidebook and other Wolverine published guides, many times the modern (2020) guide's information is found inaccurate. To label these Jim’s Jewel routes “two star” routes makes no sense. Birth Stone was full of plants and dirt, never cleaned, and the surrounding rock was sun baked, mossy and sloughing. I essentially soloed this choss pile and could not imagine a budding 5.7 trad leader getting on this thing. Gear to #5. Dow
Jim’s Jewel- 5.7**/ Just to the right of Birth Stone. Better than Birth Stone, but still not worth climbing. Wide crack with less vegetation and moss. Can fix a gear rap/belay. Gear to #5. Dow
Diamond Grinder- 5.9*/ The better of these three wide routes, but still not worth climbing. Best to skip this face all together and combine Banana Crag with Nameless and Forbidden. The furthest to the south wide crack of the three. Too many facial features to allow this to be called an off width. Take the face features away and then it might be 5.9 fun. Can use the same gear belay/rap atop Jim’s Jewel. Gear to #5. Dow