Rock Garden Valley’s main wall is one of the better, if not best, concentrated collection of 5.8-5.9 trad climbs in Joshua Tree. Rock Candy (5.9) and Split Personality (5.9) (side by side on the wall) are stout for the grade whereas Spitwad (5.9), Young Lust (5.8) and Smithereens (5.8) are a bit soft for the grade. Regardless, all five routes are worth doing. Rock Candy is considered by Miramontes guide to be one of the top 5.9’s in all of Jtree however it is a mixed route. Rock Candy is truly one of the better thought provoking 5.9’s in Jtree despite the bolts.
Drive down Lost Horse Road and park on the left at approximately .3 miles. Rock Garden Valley Wall is across from Freeway Wall. Hike in the wash heading southeast for the upper north facing wall in Rock Garden. Scramble up the boulder choked gully to the upper main wall which receives shade most of the day. You pass a heavily featured wall on the right named, for obvious reasons, Swiss Cheese. Rock A Lot (5.7) is one of the more identifiable routes and centrally located among the before mentioned moderates. It starts in a chimney that separates the right end of the formation. To the left of this chimney is a shorter wall atop of which is a shared rap anchor.
Routes Listed Left to Right as you face the North WallPop Rocks-25m-5.10c*/Top of the Pops-25m-5.10d*/Holly Device-20m-5.10c*/The Griffin-25m-5.10aR/Fortune Cookie-25m-5.10a/Spitwad-30m-5.9**/This is an excellent (soft but fun) 5.9 lead for the aspiring trad leader. Follow the left angling crack up the left face placing gear at will. Plenty of hand jams, finger locks, etc. Fun climbing to be had all the way to the top. Use the shared rap down and climbers right to descend. Can set up a medium gear belay at the top to bring your second up. Not a good route to top rope. DowEuthyphro-25m-5.8**/Even though Miramontes gives this pitch two stars, it is not even close to deserving them. The worst route of this group by far, not sustained, not interesting, a bit run out at the top. Follow the right crack of two on this left face. Use the shared rap down and climbers right to descend. Can set up a medium gear belay at the top to bring your second up. Not a good route to top rope. DowYoung Lust-20m-5.8**/This is the better of the three 5.8’s gathered here. Follow the left side thin crack to the large ledge and shared anchor above. Has a reachy crux at the grade at the middle just past a horizontal crack. Well protected and fun lead for the grade. DowLewd and Lascivious Conduct-20m-5.10cR*/Smithereens-25m-5.8**/This is probably the easier of the 5.8 routes in this area, but is still an interesting and enjoyable lead up the right side of this middle face. Patina flakes and jugs follow the right intermittent crack system traversing left near the top to the shared anchor. DowRock-A-Lot-25m-5.7**/ Not sure about the double stars or grade on this one. A good solo at the grade as it is softer than most at this grade in Jtree. The start offers some cool stemming, but then straight forward hands to the top. There is not a functional anchor atop Rock Candy as the guide shows as of 2018. Rap Smithereens. DowCandyman-25m-5.9*/(TR)Rock Candy-25m-5.9***/This is one of the better (and stouter) 5.9 pitches in the park. Even an avid trad climber like myself can enjoy this climb despite the bolts. A mixed line following a thin seam with thoughtful sequence moves. Most 5.9’s have options, whereas Rock Candy forces you to make the correct moves for most of the pitch (many feel it should be rated 5.10- for that reason). A few micro cams and off-set cams are helpful protecting the seam which is no doubt the crux. You start in from the left, traversing to below the first two bolts before hitting the thin seam and the subsequent bolts above the seam. There are two old hangers (2015) for setting up a top rope for your friends and/or you can rap to climbers right. DowRock Dog Candy Leg-25m-5.11c*/(TR)Double Dogleg-25m-5.7**/Worthy of its two stars. A fun climb that starts up Split Personality and then traverses left on a well featured crack and then hands back straight up to a fixed rap. Full trad. Single rack to C4#2. DowSplit Personality-25m-5.9**/ I consider this a more serious lead than Rock Candy for Jtree 5.9 leaders. After placing one C4#.5 in the Double Dogleg crack, make a traverse (crux) to the thin seam up and right. Where and how to make this delicate traverse takes considerable thought and is not far up the deck. The first good pro in the right crack is a micro cam. The rest of the pitch is a breeze in comparison. The last slab move is thoughtful as well. A fixed rap anchor is above this route. DowPersonal Space-25m-5.10c*/(TR)Beck’s Bet-25m-5.8*/ Last hand crack on the right side of the wall. Full trad, but more like 5.7 Jtree than 5.8.No more difficult than Double Dog Leg. Just hands straight up. Fewmedium pieces. Rap Double Dogleg. Dow