Popular Mechanics, 5.10a
One of the better moderate crack climbs in all of Joshua Tree
is located on the far left side of White Cliffs of Dover, named Ace of Spades (5.9).
White Cliffs of Dover is located high above a collection of objectives on the desert floor known as Hound Rocks. Hound Rocks are an easy hike from Trashcan Rock in the Quail Springs area of Jtree. Miramontes actually brags about two routes being of equal stature on White Cliffs of Dover, Popular Mechanics (5.10a) and Ace of Spades. However they share the same start (the crux first half of both routes) and Ace of Spades is by far the better climb.
Ace of Spades splits off left up the adjoining wall via a beautiful twin splitter hand crack, whereas Popular Mechanics continues up the corner seam.
White Cliffs of Dover covers a broad area of mutilated cliffs that face north
for the most part, with some morning sun hitting the east end, more in the spring and fall than during the winter. That being said, I climbed Ace of Spades and Popular Mechanics comfortably on February 1. A good combination is to warm up on several good, but short, crack climbs on the Hound Rock faces before making the hike up to the base of White Cliffs. During warmer temps, it would make more sense to head straight for White Cliffs and spend some quality time along the wall.
Park at Trashcan Rock. Locate a marked trail at the east end of the parking area (near the entrance). Follow this trail south for Hound Rock(s). Locate a lessor trail from the east side of Hound Rocks that heads southeast for the upper left side of the White Cliffs of Dover. There will be a short series of switchbacks that lead right to the base of Ace of Spades, Popular Mechanics, Card Chimney, Good Housekeeping and Scientific Americans. Your approach would vary greatly for routes on the right side (west).
Ace of Spades, 5.9
Routes Listed Left to Right as you Face the Cliffs
- Make or Break Flake- 5.10b*
- Quest for Fire- 5.11b**
- Solar Flare- 5.9
- Nolina Crack- 5.10a
- Digital Watch- 5.11aR**
- Sen Blen- 5.10c
- Jack of Hearts- 5.9*
- Scientific American- 5.8R
- Card Chimney- 5.5
- Conqueror Worm- 5.11b*
- Popular Mechanics- 5.10a***Good route, but not near as special as Ace of Spades. The right corner (Mechanics) just continues with more of the same versus the nice and steep hand sized crack (Ace) on the left wall. For some reason Miramontes has this as a 5.10a, but it is easier than Ace of Spades. Decent approach gets you away from the crowds. Both are worth doing. Both share the same start which is really the crux (finger corner). Fixed rap is at top of route. Both routes get little to no sun in January. Dow
- Ace of Spades- 5.9***Great Jtree route, ranks near the top for its grade. Decent approach gets you away from the crowds. This 5.9 is a better and more heads up route than Popular Mechanics which Miramontes has a grade harder for some reason. Both share the same start which is really the crux. Ace splits off into beautiful steep twin cracks on the left wall. Fixed rap is over to the left towards the chimney out of sight. Dow
- Good Housekeeping- 5.11a**
- Wilted Flower Children- 5.9
- High Anxiety- 5.10d*
- High Tension- 5.11d*
No Doubt Reached via a more Direct Approach
- Search for Chinese Morsels- 5.10b*
- Wokking (sic) the Dog- 5.11c
- Wanton Soup- 5.10a
- Misfortune Cookies- 5.8
- Shibumi- 5.10d*
- Dover Sole- 5.6
- Red Snapper- 5.11a*
- Red Tide- 5.10b*
- Soviet Union- 5.11c**