Saddle Rock, North Face, 5.8-5.13a

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California, United States, North America
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Saddle Rock, North Face, 5.8-5.13a
Created On: Feb 25, 2014
Last Edited On: Feb 25, 2014


Space Mountain, 5.10
Space Mountain- 115’-5.10a***

My favorite group of shaded long climbs at Joshua Tree National Park are located along the north face of Saddle Rock. From a trad climber’s perspective, Wanna Bong (5.9), Unicorner (5.8) and Santa Cruz (5.9) offer outstanding moderate crack climbing. Space Mountain offers up one of the finer 5.10 sport climbs in the park in terms of exposure while Iconoclast is considered one of the better hard sport routes (5.13a). Length of routes is always an advantage of climbing on Saddle Rock. Where Have All the Cowboys Gone (5.10d) and Santa Cruz travel almost 300’ to the top of the formation. The north face basically starts left of the large break between the western and north faces at a popular tourist route named Right On (5.5). The middle routes centered around Space Mountain and Unicorner get some morning sun in February whereas the routes anchoring down either end of the wall, Wanna Bong and Santa Cruz, get little to no sun during the winter months. This wall was established by folks from all over, from as early as 1973 (Wanna Bong) to the late 2000’s.

Approach Saddle Rock Dome as you would normally from the Hall of Horrors parking area. Turn left at the dome and scramble up boulders past all the bolted slab climbs on the northwest face. Santa Cruz and Iconoclast are easily identifiable. Santa Cruz climbs the thin crack to easy face on an obvious pillar. Iconoclast is on the overhanging arête to the left. Continue scrambling up boulders and slab and at the very top along this wall is a beautiful splitter that goes from C4 #1 to #6: Wanna Bong.

Route Description(s)

    Routes Listed Right to Left as you Approach 
    Where Have All the Cowboys Gone, 5.10d
    Where Have All the Cowboys Gone, 5.10d

    Wanna Bong, 5.9+
    Wanna Bong, 5.9+

    Exhibitionist, 5.10a
    Exhibitionist, 5.10a

  • Orange Flake- 350’-5.8*

  • Kid Caligula- 300’-5.10a*

  • The Exhibitionist- 250’-5.10a*

  • Six Shooter- 80’-5.11a*

  • The Posse- 80’-5.10b*

  • Santa Cruz- 300’-5.9**/I added a 100’ pitch to Todd’s FA that makes total sense if you are climbing this route. There is an obvious crack above the top of the 2nd anchor that goes perfect with Santa Cruz (I speculate that it is Exhibitionist's last pitch. It is 5.10- at the most and Todd confirmed it was not part of the FA. It is a perfect splitter through a bulge/roof. 300' to the top where you can rap down the north face at Unicorner or stop after the steep crack ends on the west facing wall and scramble down (left) to the top of Iconoclast's rap anchors and make two raps with a 70m. The first pitch did not seem 5.9 by Jtree standards and can be easily combined with the 5th class 2nd pitch. The before mentioned third pitch was fantastic, fingers with a hand jam rest here and there up through a bulge to great hands and an easy finish. Dow

  • Where Have All the Cowboys Gone- 280’-5.10d***

  • Iconoclast- 55’-5.13a**

  • Raging Bull Dike- 160’-5.11d**

  • Narwhal- 200’-5.10b*

  • Space Mountain- 115’-5.10a***/Rated 5.10a in Miramontes book, and I thought it was stout for the Jtree grade, so concur with the 5.10b on other websites. Best not to place gear on the start to the route to avoid rope drag, there is a bolt on top of the ledge. The move from that bolt to the face is the first crux (awkward). The traverse back left over the ledge/pod is a reachy crux face move. A third cruxy move awaits near the top. Space Mountain is a sustained and pumpy face climb. Rap with a 70m just touches the ground. Dow

  • Unicorner- 80’-5.8*/Unicorner is a great route to combine for a day with Wanna Bong and Santa Cruz. It is by far the easiest of these three, but they all are moderate true trad lines within minutes of each other. I placed a #6 (needed it for Wanna Bong), but could have gotten by without it. You pop out of the off-width to easy stem-face climbing to a fixed anchor, the same fixed anchor that can be used for descent of just about any route on the main Saddle Rock dome. Dow

  • I Smell a Rat- 70’-5.10b

  • Pinnacle Aerobics- 40’-5.11a

  • Wanna Bong- 110’-5.9*/A fantastic route, off-width just does not get its due at Jtree for some reason or this would be a classic for sure. I used two C4#3's, and a single #4-#6 for the upper portion. This pitch is fantastic how it starts out .75 and goes to #6 at the top. As the off-width starts to get a bit burly, face the left wall and stem and chimney up the rest of the way. We moved a slung rap off the east side summit to the very top of this route (keep going up left) and slung a feature there, 70m gets you back from the very top, no worries. Dow