Watergate Rock is one of many formations loosly gathered in what is referred to as the “Comic Book” area. Comic Book is a classic and tall (by Jtree standards, 300') 5.10 wide crack trad lead on a broad south facing dome like feature located up on a hill side across Big Horn Pass road (to the east) from the much more popular Echo Rock and Candy Bar climbing areas. There is quite a bit of good climbing in the Comic Book area, and on many days you will not see another climbing party. It does not demand near the hike as the Wonderland areas, it just lacks the social crag element that most urban climbers prefer.
Watergate Rock is the most stand-alone feature in this group. It is as close to the Cyclops parking area as it is from the standard pull out parking for the Comic Book area. It sits out in the middle of the desert floor to the southwest of the Comic Book wall itself and offers a broad east facing slab that receives morning sunshine in the winter. On that slab is one decent splitter that I recommend for beginner trad leaders, Fifteen-Minute Gap, 5.6*. This is a well featured, relatively low angled, pure splitter that doglegs left near the finish to its own fixed anchor. The rest of the easy to moderate routes on Watergate are slab and face climbs to the left of Fifteen-Minute. There are several bolted 5.11 climbs to the right.
Park at the side parking area off of Big Horn Pass road designated by a trail marker (2018) for the hike into Comic Book. It is located on the right not even a half mile north of the left turn for the large Echo parking area. There are multiple side road pull offs. Essentially you are looking to hike southeast skirting the rocky formations along the bottom of the large hill on your left. Watergate Rock is essentially straight ahead and in view out in the open desert. You are hiking towards its northeast face where all of its climbs are located. To climb Fifteen Minute, scramble up through the left side of a massive boulder laying against the slab to a ledge that runs below the face out left where half a dozen easy bolted climbs are located, several of which are not yet mentioned in Miramontes 3rd edition guide.
I Am Not a Crook- 40’-5.7/
Pardon Me- 45’-5.9R/
White Collar Crime- 55’-5.6*/ This route is given a runout rating (two bolts) in the local guide, but as of 2018 is well bolted (six). A new route or two has also been added between White Collar and H.R. Hardman and are not in the local guide as of 2018. Climb the well bolted slab with features to the true summit of the formation and the only fixed rap on the summit (several fixed anchors). Not a secure solo for 5.6. Dow
(unnamed bolted routes between these two-2018)
H.R. Hardman- 50’-5.8*/ Well bolted slab climb just to the left of the cool splitter named Fifteen Minute gap. Fixed belay anchor but need to rap White Collar (2018). Dow
Fifteen Minute Gap- 50’-5.6*/ A secure solo. Stem up the left side of a boulder to the base of the crack. Jam the well featured crack as it arches left and finishes at its own fixed belay anchor but need to rap White Collar (2018). Dow
Dirty Tricks- 55’-5.11d*/
Malicious Deception- 55’-5.11b*/
Gordon Liddy- 40’-5.11a*/