Dow leading Cactus Dog, 5.10a*
In my quest to lead a thousand routes in Joshua Tree National Park, I often find myself back in Wonderland South, North or somewhere in between. Two of my favorite areas to climb in Wonderland South are close to each other: Big Horn Mating Grotto
and Disneyland Dome
. Just to the south of Disneyland is Freak Brothers
and Pea Brain
, all three significant domes/walls in their own right. Freak Brothers is known for it’s infamously run out traverse route: I Can’t Believe it is a Girdle (5.10a***).
Just to the east of Freak Brothers is Pea Brain. At the base of Pea Brain is a unique and colorful tower named the Red Obelisk.
The four established (2017) routes on Pea Brain are located on its north face
and provide ample shade for all seasons.
There is only one established (2017) 5.14 trad route in all of Joshua Tree
per Miramontes extensive (3000+ routes) guide and it is located on Pea Brain: Dihedron (5.14a**),
established by Randy Leavitt in 1997. A worthy moderate on Pea Brain to combine with moderate routes on Disneyland and/or Freak Brothers is Cactus Dog (5.10a*)
. It is a typical Joshua Tree slab climb. Scramble up the broad right side (south) arete of the dome to a ledge at the base of two bolted lines. The right line (older bolts) is Joan Jetson (5.9).
The left line that ventures out over the arch
is Cactus Dog. These two routes share a fixed rap above. Cactus Dog is 40’ taller than Miramontes (2017) guide has it at (120’ vs 80’). The guide (2017) shows an 80’ rap down the south side. But the modern rap in place takes a single rope rap back down the north side directly over the large arch to a slung tree on a narrow ledge. Double 60m ropes would make it to the ground from the top rap or take a 2nd rap off the tree or take the 5th class ramp, via flakes, climbers right back to the ledge you started on.
Freak Brothers Dome is a major landmark for Wonderland South. Hike past its south face and turn right into the wash. Follow the wash until you run into the obvious tower named Red Obelisk (which has several bolted routes of its own). Pea Brain, with its large arch, is across the wash to the east. Cactus Dog is on the very right of the formation and Dihedron is on the very left.
Route Description (s)North Face, Routes Right to Left
Spacely Sprockets- 80’-5.8/
Joan Jetson- 80’-5.9/
Cactus Dog- 120’-5.10a*/This is a surprisingly good slab sport climb that is relatively well bolted (2017 guide says 5 bolts, but the crux is well bolted and as I recall there were a few more than 5). Start out climbing through a few bolts at a lessor grade as the line angles left to the edge over the large arch. The crux comes at about mid height where the slab can be hard to read. I know I went up and right, had to down climb when I got stumped and go up and left, therefore go up and left where the climbing hits the grade. The route is not climbed often, therefore it is somewhat dirty. Near the top it is run out, but at mid-5th class. There is old tat off the tree for your 2nd rap which I did not replace (2017) as I down climbed climbers right back to the start. Dow