Zebra Cliffs East Side, 5.8-5.11a

Zebra Cliffs East Side, 5.8-5.11a

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 33.98585°N / 116.05706°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Sign the Climber's Log


Around the World and Ice Cream for Crow Marked in the Photo Above
Around the World, 5.10b***
Around the World, 5.10b***

When it comes to the weekends, Jumbo Rocks (or entire east side of Joshua Tree National Park for that matter) offers some of the quieter climbing areas in the park. Zebra Cliffs to the east of Jumbo Rocks campground is one of those crags. It can be reached by hiking right out of the campground. However, unlike Conan’s Corridor which can also be hiked out of the campground, you will not find any classic lines like Colorado Crack not to mention you will need a tolerance for grainy rock.
Up and Down, 5.10a*
Dow leading Up and Down, 5.10a

I climbed the highest rated climb in this area according to Miramontes guide, Around the World (5.10b). It is a really unusual and cool climb but not for the faint of heart to lead or follow as it starts as an overhanging horizontal: a much shorter but stouter version of On the Lamb in Yosemite. This route is probably your target if you are back on this wall.  However, other worthy routes include Up and Down (5.10a) which can set you up for Around the World; Ice Cream for Crow (5.8) and Gorilla Tactics (5.9) for more moderate climbing; and a couple of routes on Bad Brains Block: Pea Coat Sleeve (5.10b) and Bad Brains (5.9), which anchor down the same formation to the right when facing the wall (in other words, not really a separate climbing area).

From either of the last two loops in Jumbo Rocks campground, head east around the left side of a large hill. You will see evidence of traffic in the washes in this area from hikers. Your goal is to circumvent the hill from the left any way you want and head for the obvious formation behind it which mostly faces northeast.

Route Description (s)

Routes Listed Right to Left as you Face what they call Bad Brains Block, an Extension of the NE Face

  • Pea Coat Sleeve- 50’-5.10b*/ This is a well bolted sport climb that starts just to the right of the worthy twin crack trad climb, Bad Brains. First couple bolts are easy climbing. But the rock in grainy the whole way (2016) which makes for a few spicy reachy moves in the middle. This grade could be height dependent. I am 5’11”. Might be more difficult for anyone shorter. Not deserving of a star in my opinion. Dow

  • Bad Brains- 50’-5.9*/ Where Pea Coat might not deserve its star in the guide, Bad Brains probably deserves more than one, however it is short. Stem up the easy chimney to start the right of two right leaning cracks. A crux finger crack move is in the middle of the route (not quite ring locks for most). Typical off balanced crack climbing, keeping your weight directly below you after each move. Towards the end, you get to use the other crack a bit. Fairly sustained once you get started in the cracks. Shares a fixed rap anchor with Pea Coat (leaver biners on hangers as of 2016). Dow

  • Routes Listed Right to Left as you face the NE Wall

  • Slip Siding Away- 80’-5.10cR*/

  • The Edukashun President- 50’-5.10b/

  • Horse of a Different Color- 40’-5.10c/

  • Gorilla Tactics- 60’-5.9*/Several of the routes on Zebra East are sandbagged for the grade and this is one of them. Shares the same start as Ice Cream Crow and then diverges right up through two well-spaced bolts. The moves involve a bit of route finding on grainy rock for a 5.9 face pitch. Shares the same fixed anchor with Ice Cream. Dow

  • Ice Cream Crow- 60’-5.8*/A worthy trad lead but the start is stout for the grade on grainy rock. Start up the left side (left to right crack) below the obvious wide flaring splitter on this wall (besides Around the World, the most obvious feature on Zebra East). After a few meters, a challenging mantel sets you up for easier climbing up and right around the arête to set into the wide crack. I only placed one C4#3 but you can place a #4 if you brought it. Traverse right at the top to a fixed anchor. Dow

  • Around the World- 30’-5.10b***/One must ask how a 30’ climb gets three stars in the guide, but I totally get it with this route. Typical "Disney World ride" climb at Jtree. Best to climb Up and Down, or another route or just scramble up the left gully as it starts at mid wall height.  From the top of the formation, scramble down the chimney just to the west of the route. Start the overhanging horizontal hand crack there. Protect away with C4#1s and 2s as you try and leverage your toes on edges when resetting your hands. Once you cross the arête, the rest is gravy. Follow the finger/hand rail left until the first vertical option where another couple meters of solid climbing at the grade awaits. Easy to find gear belay on top. If you do not protect the 2nd well during the initial overhanging section despite the potential rope drag, if they fall, they will have to ascend the rope. Easy descent down a gully to the east. Dow

  • Such a Line- 80’-5.10d**/

  • Up and Down- 80’-5.10a*/ Up and Down would be a better route if the three bolts were replaced. The first is a rusty button head. The third involves an old homemade hanger of sorts. If you are competent at the grade, you can still lead it on a few pieces of trusted gear but the route becomes R for sure if not X. As with most routes on Zebra, the rock is not anything to write home about. This route is worth doing for two reasons: it sets you up for the classic Around the World and the upper arete is pretty cool (runout but at an easier grade). The first solid piece was a small off set as I recall followed up by a solid C4#.3. I would not trust a fall on the first bolt. Up and Down climbs the left arête of the same feature that the obvious Around the World is on (horizontal hand crack). Gear belay on top. Descend the gully to the left. Dow

  • Dreamers- 80’-5.11aR*/

  • Cut Thin to Win- 40’-5.10c**/