Sandbag is a route on the west face of Thin Wall in the Real Hidden Valley region of Joshua Tree National Park, California.
In my previous submission, I wrote at some length about the huge popularity of Thin Wall
. The west face
of this wall, however, seems to have the exact opposite story. I have visited this crag countless times, but I’ve never seen anyone leading or even top roping any of the routes on the west face, except for my small group of friends a number of years ago.
True to its name, Sandbag
, rated 10c, really is a sandbag. Being a short climber, I have never trusted the accuracy of my ratings, but I think Sandbag deserves a higher rating. The route is steep, at least vertical, the holds are rounded, the cracks bottom out, there are no bolts and it’s very difficult to place your own protection. On my last visit to the west face of Thin Wall, I did not see any chalk or other evidence of anyone having climbed there in some time.
There are many climbers who don’t like to be where the crowds are but still want a quick, no-risk, burn on a rock. The west face of Thin Wall and Sandbag fill that ticket beautifully. In addition to Sandbag, there is another climb on the left side of the wall called Keith’s Work, rated 11a. These two climbs may easily be top roped. To get to the top of the formation scramble up the north side of Thin Wall.
How to get to the west face of Thin Wall
From the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park drive on Park Boulevard, formerly known as Quail Springs Road, for about nine miles to a major rock formation called Intersection Rock
. Intersection Rock is a major landmark on the north side of Quail Springs Road with ample parking for visitors and climbers alike. This rock, true to its name, sit at the cross roads to “Hidden Valley Campground”, Barker Dam Road and the road to “Day use and picnic” area.
Turn right onto the road leading to day use area with a large parking lot and bathrooms. The trail to “Real Hidden Valley” is obvious and starts here. This trail leads to “Nature Loop Trail” and “Real Hidden Valley.”
After a short walk you get to the Loop Trail. Take the left fork. After a few minutes you will come to the largest formation in the area. That is The Sentinel
to your left and it’s mostly northeast facing. Walk past The Sentinal and go straight to Thin Wall. The east face of Thin Wall faces the Nature Loop Trail. Go around to the back side from the left to see the west face.
West Face of Thin Wall
One 60 meter rope. Standard rack for setting up a toprope. Extra slings.
Environmental concerns, Camping and Noise Considerations
Typical Joshua Tree landscape
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.
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
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
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 10.95$/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.