After climbing in excess of 1000 routes in the park, one of my choice climbing destinations in Joshua Tree is named the “Loveland Area”. Bird Beak, a collection of massive boulders, one of which resembles a bird’s beak, offers an outstanding collection of varied routes. Directly across the valley to the south from Bird Beak is the location of what is considered to be the test piece 5.11c crack in Jtree, Vector, 5.11c****, located on its namesake, Vector Rock. Unfortunately, there is only one other established (2019) route at this location, All Loin, 5.10c*. You can travel up gully to the west of All Loin to reach Crocodile Rock for a few more interesting climbs.
Vector, the route itself, is on the left side wall that forms the large left facing corner of Vector Rock. It starts out hands and turns to tips via a right arching crack up the face. There is a fixed rap atop the route. The corner itself would be a classic easier route (5.7?), but no one claims it as of 2019. All Loin is up a narrow gully to climbers right. It is in the middle of the left wall, sort of hidden. A mostly finger crack up chossy rock.
You have two options on approach. I have used both and they each have their pros and cons. If you are climbing Vector and Bird Beak, it is best to use the pull out along the main park road at the east end of the valley that splits these two. If you want to combine Vector with routes at Bond Boulders and Tiger Rock, it is best to park at the parking area for Split Rock. From Split Rock, take the main trail past Frigid Tower on your right and then head northwest across several washes. Aim for the most level ground to the northeast and descend a narrow wash into a broad wash and up the other bank and aim for Bond Boulders to the north. Circumvent Bond Boulders to the right and cut left to a col that will give you vision of Vector Rock which faces north. If you find yourself further north into the broad valley wash below Bird Beak, cut left and up a narrow bush-choked wash aiming for Vector to the south. Use the photo to easily identify Vector. If coming up from the pull out along side the main Park road, just head across open desert for Bird Beak in the far distance to the west. Descend into a wash that winds its way through a slot to an open valley with Bird Beak on your right and Vector on your left.
Vector- 75’-5.11c****/ This is considered the test piece trad route at its grade in Joshua Tree. It features a clean crack that starts out mellow on hands. At mid-way it bites down to fingers and then to tips. Navigate the tips crack with faint edges for your feet. Layback up the crack when you can through the blank sections as it aggressively arches right. Near the end, face scoops start showing up easing off the grade to a fixed rap. Climbing at or near the grade lasts for approximatly 10m. This route is listed as east facing in one local guide but is definitely more north facing. Take plenty of finger gear including micro pieces. Dow
All Loin- 45’-5.10c*/ This is a dirty but worthy shallow finger corner dihedral that gives you something else to climb besides the route Vector on Vector Rock. It is located to the right, up a well shaded gully. Obvious crack, mostly fingers and even tips higher up. It involves sustained laybacking at the grade on gritty and sharp rock. There is no fixed gear, scramble down climbers right to re-enter the gully. Plenty of finger pieces. Dow