Two of the finer side by side 5.10 trad climbs in the entire park are located on a feature named Mel’s Diner: Left Mel Crack, 5.10b**, and Right Mel Crack, 5.10c**. Although similar in quality of rock and finger sized cracks, they are quite varied in movement. Both are all gear and even require gear anchors if you want to top rope them. Some would find the 5.10b lead more difficult than the 5.10c lead, each crux is completely different. These two routes are by themselves at this formation on an independent wall in front of the main formation. Other decent routes are located on the main formation behind this wall: Kickin’ Bach, 5.10a*, and Modern Jazz, 5.10b, are two notable ones. Bottom line is that there are half a dozen worthy routes at Mel’s Diner. Not a bolt in sight on any of these routes or atop them which is refreshing.
Mel’s Diner is best accessed from the Roadside Rock pullout on the south side of the park road. A straight walk several hundred yards takes you to the base of Left and Right Crack. Around left of this wall is a short ramp that takes you to the base of the other routes. The guide calls for morning sun, but during the winter most of these routes get more than half a days’ worth of sun and actually offer some protection from the wind.
Right Mel Crack- 45’-5.10c**/ I like this route more than Left. Slightly more sustained with an interesting mantle move for the crux. This crux is at the middle of the route as you strategically place a right foot out right against a slight feature as you mantle and reach (or dyno) for a finger crack. Pretty cool climbing to the top. You can place small gear just below the top to top rope or top out and use larger gear and extend it back over the wall or place one piece for a directional, traverse back to the gear station on Left if you climbed it first and get lowered. Then you have right top roped in quick order. Dow
Left Mel Crack- 45’-5.10b**/ Some claim this route is stouter than Right Mel Crack (5.10c**). They both have their cruxes but I could agree that the crux move on Left is more technical than the Right. It comes in the first third of the route: A right foot stemming on a slabby slight edge as you reach for the finger lock above. The pro is bomber on both routes but can compete with the finger pockets on this one. Once you make the horizontal (rest), the rest of the route is a breeze in comparison utilizing the featured crack. Set a top rope on medium gear just below the top of the wall. Standard rack. A few off set cams are good. Walk off to climbers left. Dow
Kickin’ Bach- 40’-5.10a*/ This is actually a decent route on varnished rock belaying off of a large flat boulder located up a gully directly behind Left and Right Mel Cracks. There is a loose block you yard on off the deck, but you can quickly protect above it (C4#.3). Some lay-back gets you up a featured seam with positive stances. The real fun is the finish. Traverse right and up to a slightly overhanging hand crack and stem to the top. Set up a top rope via medium to large gear and easily extend it over the route. Standard single rack. Quick walk off climbers right. Dow
Rock and Roll Girl- 40’-5.9/ From the same belay as Kickin’, take the obvious hand crack just to the left. Good climbing at the grade for the first half, then it eases up. I placed a directional and traversed up and right to set up a top rope on this route off of the same gear station as Kickin’. Standard single rack. Dow
Modern Jazz- 50’-5.10b/ This one is worth a star that it did not receive in Miramontes guide. From below the flat boulder that you start Kickin’, stem and climb the parallel hand/finger cracks up past a large block on your left. Traverse up and right into a hand crack to the top. If you are creative, you can still use the gear station atop Kickin’ to set up a top rope on this one. Standard single rack. Dow
Roman Pretzel- 35’-5.8/ Miramontes has this at 60’, but it is just a scramble up to the base of the short corner. I thought this was a worthy and secure solo for 5.8 at Jtree. A fun stem up jugs to the top. There is a bolted route not listed in Miramontes guide just to the right that has a fixed rap, but it is easy and quick to down climb climbers left or right. Dow