White Lightning

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Trad Climbing
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Less than two hours
Rock Difficulty:
5.7 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 3 Votes

3347 Hits
80.49% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
White Lightning
Created On: Mar 21, 2009
Last Edited On: Feb 1, 2011


Hemingway Buttress / White Lightening

White Lightning is an impressive crack located on the Hemingway Buttress Hemingway Buttress. It is visible to the naked eye even from the parking lot some ten minutes walking distance away. What makes this crack so visible and noticeable is the fact that it’s wide.

White Lightning splits Hemingway Buttress in two. It rises vertically in a straight line and extends to the top. In many places it’s too wide for your hands or even for your fists. The crux, only twenty feet from the bottom, lacks in handholds, footholds and is too wide for your fist. But, you will get past this point and cruise to the top.

You can set up your anchor inside an alcove at the end of the splitter, or you can continue to the top. There is an easy walk/scramble down around the south side using a gully/narrow corridor.

Essential Gear

Standard Trad rack, pro up to 3.5 ". Carry at least two pieces of protection up to 3.5" for the crux.


Most people seem to rappel after climbing this route. There are two options we've used in the past: (a) two 60m ropes from a two-bolt anchor a bit to the right, and (b) scramble down and right about 25 yards to two-bolt anchor, from which you can make a single-rope rap with a 60m.

Hemingway Buttress

Hemingway Buttress / White Lightening
Hemingway Buttress
Hemingway Buttress / White Lightening
Hemingway Buttress / White Lightening

Camping and Noise Considerations

Gathering CloudsGathering Clouds in Joshua Tree.

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

Noise considerations,

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.

For current Campground information please see the link bellow:

Environmental Considerations

Hemingway Buttress

Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail marker for approaches to many of the more popular crags. Do you 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 west enterance to Joshua Tree National Park, drive about eight miles to a large paved parking area with a bathroom. This parking is about two miles past Quail Springs parking, and it has its own sign, “Hemimngway” indicating that you have arrived. Looking toward the west you will see the elongated Hemingway Buttress at a few minutes walking distance.

There are at least two trails heading out toward different nearby formations and an Access Fund trail leading toward the main Hemingway Buttress. Scramble on and around a few large boulders to the base.

Red Tape

There are no permits required for climbing on the crags of Joshua Tree National Park.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-4 of 4


rhyang - Nov 22, 2010 4:13 pm - Hasn't voted

Wide ?

Two pieces to 4.5" ?? I wonder if you are thinking of Dung Fu (5.7) to the left, which has a pretty decent chimney section. On White Lightning the usual recommendation seemed to be pro to 3", and that seemed to be adequate when I led it a couple weeks ago.

There is further info at mountainproject.com


Marcsoltan - Nov 22, 2010 5:35 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Wide ?

You are right about the pro size. I also did the route with two 3 inch pieces. I usually recommend pro sizes larger than needed in order to encourage people to carry larger pieces, even if they end up not needing them. This seems a waste of energy, but I have found it to be a safe practice in the long run.



rhyang - Dec 8, 2010 12:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Descent options

Most people seem to rappel after climbing this route. There are two options we've used in the past: (a) two 60m ropes from a two-bolt anchor a bit to the right, and (b) scramble down and right about 25 yards to two-bolt anchor, from which you can make a single-rope rap with a 60m.

Also, a minor point: there is no 'e' in 'Lightning' :)


Marcsoltan - Dec 8, 2010 12:13 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Descent options

Thank you, Rob. I already sent a PM to Johnny and asked him to add the extra descent info to my page. I am also going to add your descent info to the page myself. I will also make the necessary correction on the name.


Viewing: 1-4 of 4

White Lightning

9 Images 3 Climber's Log Entries 0 Comments 4 Additions & Corrections


MyTopo Map Nearby Routes Interactive Map Routes in California


Hemingway Buttress, Central AreaRoutes