Mike working the moves on Bikini Whale
The Hidden Cliff is a rock formation in the “Real Hidden Valley” region of Joshua Tree National Park in California.
True to its name “The Hidden Cliff” is really hidden from view. It is easy to walk right past a jumble of boulders constituting the north west face and not even take a quick glimpse back. But, if you are a Joshua Tree climber searching for complete seclusion away from crowds of spectators, a short approach and a hard day of workout in the shade, The Hidden Cliff is just what you are looking for. It is interesting that a single formation can satisfy all the above criteria.
If you have ever climbed on the mega classic “Illusion Dweller” on the west face of The Sentinel
you probably noticed an overhanging rock formation directly across and not much more than 25 feet from it. The Hidden Cliff is so impossible looking that you don’t even want to spend much time looking at it. In fact, you really cannot get much distance from it to scope it out. However, if you take the time and wind your way up this very narrow and over-grown gully, you will see at least two line of bolts going up this overhanging face. The first one on the right and by far the most popular route on The Hidden Cliff is called “Bikini Whale, 12a.”
Routes of The Hidden Cliff
There is really not very much that can be said about Bikini Whale or any of the climbs on this formation except that they are steep and thin. I have never seen anyone lead any of the climbs here, although I have no doubt it happens on regular basis. Doing any of the climbs on this face, on lead or top rope, is one hell of a workout, no matter who you are. Well, if you are one in a thousand climbers who might find Bikini Whale too soft, you can always give “G String, 13d” a shot.
A personal note: I timed the great climbing icon Lynn Hill doing laps on Bikini Whale in 1990. This was a few months after she had become the first woman in the world to climb a 5.14.
Just in case you’re curious how long it took her to do Bikini Whale:
(First time- 3.5 minutes)________(Second time- 3 minutes)________ (Third time- 2.5 minutes)
Note: These times did not include lowering off.
Back to The Hidden Cliff, it is easy to get to the top of the rock and set up top rope. If you feel confident on easy ground, you can climb a chimney at the very end of the gully and go across to the top. Or, you can scamper up the boulders near the Nature-Loop-Trail to get to the top of Hidden Cliff.
|Climbs of The Hidden Cliff|
|A||Bikini Whale, 12a, 5 bolts|
|B||Railer, 12c, Start on Bikini Whale and eventually climb a crack to your left and up to the top, pro to 2.5 inches|
|C||Bikini Beach, 12b top rope, Start on Bikini Whale to a crack to your right then to the top.|
|D||G String, 13d, Start on Bikini Whale to Railer on your left then go straight up, 8 bolts|
|E||Against The Grain, 10a, Top Rope. Climb knobs to a thin crack that gets easier and to the top. Against The Grain is to the right of all the climbs.|
Camping and Noise Considerations
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 make reservations in advance.
For current Campground information please see the link bellow:
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.
Joshua Tree National Park has a very fragile ecosystem. 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.
How to get there
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 Vally” is obvious and starts here. This trail leads to “Nature Loop Trail” and “Real Hidden Valley.”
When 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 Sentinel to your left and it’s mostly east facing. Walk past The Sentinal’s north face and go left into a very narrow and hidden gully. You will have the west face of the Sentinel on your left, and the east face of Hidden Cliff to your right. Walk all the way to the end of this gully. The climbs are on your right.