Towers of Uncertainty was not included in Miramontes first two editions of his extensive guide for Joshua Tree National Park. You are almost certain to have it to yourselves on most days (2018). This area consists of a bunch of relatively small formations clustered close together not even a half mile off the dirt Geology Tour Road on the west side. The ratio of sunny to shaded routes is approximately 1:1 making this a solid destination whether it is hot or cold. The amount of grass on the desert floor in this area is kind of cool. I expect it simply has seen less impact from humans over the years compared to much of the rest of the park.
Lava Dome is home to the best collection of moderates, both sunny and shaded, at the Towers of Uncertainty. Of particular note are the bolted climbs, Mauna Loa, 5.9*, and Mauna Kea, 5.11a***, along with a trad climb, Kona, 5.10a*, on Lava Dome’s south face. These routes climb well varnished rock below a block roof at the southeast end of the formation. They share a fixed rap located on that summit roof.
Park at the small pull out on the right side of Geology Tour road just shy of three miles and just before a wash. Hike a trail westward that in short order enters the jumbled landscape of Towers of Uncertainty. Leave the main trail at the first formation on your left, Two Bolt Rock, and skirt its northwest corner. Continue southwest for Lava Dome which has a more defined prominence than most of the formations in this area. The north side, well shaded, has easier routes whilst the south side, full sun, has the before mentioned good moderate routes which would receive a lot more traffic and praise if closer to the campgrounds.
Mauna Loa- 50’-5.9*/ Fun and positive (for the grade) steep varnished sport route. Five clips through 50’. Good edges for the feet and fingers. Crux about half way up, but barely noticeable. Trend up and right from there to the cold shut fixed rap above Mauna Kea. Dow
Mauna Kea- 45’-5.11a***/
Kona- 50’- 5.10a*/ Fun mixed climb utilizing the last bolt on Mauna Kea. Start below the arête on the right side of the wall. Up good cracks on the arête itself placing gear at will. Traverse left up the obvious splitter finger crack with decent feet until one positive pull before clipping the last bolt on Mauna Kea. Some more hero jug pulls up to the shared fixed rap on cold shuts. One of the better routes at its grade in this area. Dow
Nothing to Fear- 45’-5.6*/
But Fear Itself- 45’-5.8**/
Hot Flashes- 50’-5.11c**/
Lava Lamp- 50’-5.4**/
Standing Ovation- 50’-5.10a*/