Overseer, 5.9

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.02360°N / 116.1784°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.9-10a var
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 1
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log


Route Topo & VariationStandard route in solid line, and the direct start, 10a, in dotted line.

Overseer is one of the best 5.9s on the Hemingway Buttress, and in fact, in all of Joshua Tree National Park. Overseer offers mostly face climbing to start and a sustained 5.9 crack near the end.

Start on the face directly below the most prominent overhang on the whole formation. Climb this face directly up toward the right side of the overhang, bypassing it via a series of small cracks. You will have to climb around the corner on the left to gain the crux 5.9 crack.

This crack consists of finger locks and hand jams on a dihedral corner with a smooth face. You won’t have any footholds while doing this sustained crack. So make sure to put in good protection before starting up this section. At the end of this crux you will have a great foothold to rest and place more protection. The rest of the climb is significantly easier and will take you to the top.

To descend you can walk down around the back through a tunnel/gully on the south side.

There is a direct start - a few feet to the right of the standard start- rated at 10a. It’s mostly climbing on a face with some creative protection. This variation is shown in blue dotted line.

How to get there:

From the west enterance to Joshua Tree National Park, drive about eight miles on Park Boulevard to a large paved parking area with a bathroom. This parking is about two miles past Quail Springs parking, and it has its own sign, “Hemimngway” indicating that you have arrived. Looking toward the west you will see the elongated Hemingway Buttress at a few minutes walking distance.

There are at least two trails heading out toward different nearby formations and an Access Fund trail leading toward the main Hemingway Buttress. Please follow the marked trail. Scramble on and around a few large boulders to the base of Hemingway Buttress. Overseer is one of the extreme left routes on the formation.


Upper section of the route
Looking up Overseer

Essential Gear

One 60 meter rope, Standard Rack, a good and watchful belayer

Camping, Environmental concerns, noise considerations, Fees, Food

Joshua Tree landscapeTypical Joshua Tree landscape

Desert Flowers near...Desert Flowers

Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail marker for approaches to many of the more popular crags. Do your 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.


Joshua Tree at dusk
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

Noise considerations

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.

Fees and Food

Entrance station...
The best Thai food...
My wife and I have had Thai food in many different restaurants and cities. This Thai place beats them all. In November when the number of visitors to Joshua Tree reaches its peak, this restaurant puts on a Thai buffet, all you can eat for a very reasonable price per person. But, you must get there early, or be prepared to wait by the door for a table. The latest information indicates that the buffet style will be terminated by the end of February and will resume in November of 2010.



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