Good spot in JTree for easy, “kid sized” top-ropes ?


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Dave Kos

Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 14, 2012 - 05:07pm PT
A family friend of mine wants me to teach their kids climbing, specifically in JTree. (They’ve never been there and really want to see it.) I know JTree pretty well, but don’t really know of a good first “wall” for teaching. I’m aware that guides work there all the time doing the same thing, but I’d like to avoid the common school areas and am willing to hike a bit in order to avoid the crowds.

Of course there is a tremendous amount of rock in JTree, but I’ve been challenged to find a good spot to take the little newbies. I’ve taken my own kids a few times and managed some TRs, but the climbs were less than ideal.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

1) Climbs suitable for kids 5-10 years old who have never climbed before.
2) Does not have to be a “named” / numbered climb.
3) Must be a TR of course, about 30-40 feet max, solid anchors (but not necessarily bolts.)
4) Less than 5.6. (Can be really easy, as long as is still 5th class terrain.)
5) Preferably a face/slab with lots of positive features. Not a wide crack or anything that requires actual use of crack technique (I’ve found that kids don’t naturally understand crack technique as well as they do face climbing.)
6) I have to be able to easily get to the top so I can set it up (e.g. preferably there is a 3rd/4th class to the top, or solo if really easy)
7) Preferably a walkoff from the top in case someone gets sketched about lowering, and so I can clean up the climb without down-soloing.
8) Open, safe, area at the base (i.e. does not start on a ledge or in thick bushes)
9) Preferably there are several routes in the same general area, so we can easily set up a progression of difficulties
10) Bonus points if it ends on a "summit"

I’m basically looking for climbs that are like the kid’s “first time” routes in a gym.

I know about Atlantis Wall and the Short Wall (Indian Cove.) These sota meet my criteria, but I’ve found that even the 5.5. on Atlantis and the “5.3” cracks on Short Wall were somewhat difficult for newbie young kids.

Any suggestions are appreciated.


Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 14, 2012 - 05:11pm PT
A couple of possibilities...

* Trash Can Rock (Quail Springs)
* Bear Island (on the trail to Willow Hole)
* Outward Bound Slab (ditto ^^)

The first option will most likely be crowded, the other two you have a reasonable chance of having to yourself.

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Jan 14, 2012 - 05:11pm PT
The Block to the right of the Barker Dam parking lot is good. Lots of variations and anchor bolts on top.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Jan 14, 2012 - 05:36pm PT
Try this...

and this...

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jan 14, 2012 - 05:52pm PT
I taught my kids how to climb by finding good boulder problems for them to do. No hassles with crowds or ropes...just cruise around looking for good, short nuggets with big holds. In this way, they get in tons of mileage and learn how to move over stone REALLY fast. Extra bonus is that evrything they do is an FA, you don't have to hassle with gear, and the very best part -- no crowds! It's just you and the chillins trolling the desert and scoping sweet new lines for the kids to crush. Uber-quality family time, without the distractions of Trash Can Rock on a Sunday. My best family climbing days were just me and Kyle and Hanna scoping new stuff to do at Big Rocks or Capitol Reef, 100 miles from the nearest other climbers, just us and the sun and the wind and lots of good snacks to eat. How often it is that we don't recognize the best days of our lives until 20 years after the fact...

In any event, after they get good and strong and honed, you can start dinking with gear and rope and routes. By that time, they'll crush everthing you put 'em on. BTW, this is pretty much the same program that Tom and Elke pursued with Chris. They had a circuit of pint-sized problems for him at Woodson; the rest is history.

Four-year-old Kyle highballin' at Big Rocks.

David Plotnikoff

Mountain climber
Emerald Hills, CA
Jan 14, 2012 - 06:31pm PT
Lizard's Hangout, far right side is a jug-fest for little kiddies. Not too tall, either. Your friend is going to need to build a gear anchor or two. Bring some long slings, larger wired hexes or cams .5 through 2. No rack? No problem. Bring 30 feet of webbing and sling the features on top.

Also consider Short Wall, right side, in Indian Cove CG. Again, gear anchors and long slings.

I can say with some assurance that both of these are as good as Atlantis and Tire Tread Wall for the tykes. Alex was six and she loved them.
Dave Kos

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 23, 2012 - 04:41pm PT
Thanks all, for the information and recommendations. We went to Lizard's Hangout this weekend and had a great time. We had the place all to ourselves!

We will check out some of the other areas in the future.

"Goeb's Goes Gecko" and "Off to See the Lizard" were perfect top-ropes for the first-timers and kids. Several long (10+ foot) slings are very useful for anchors.

Off to See the Lizard (aka Komodo Dragon)
Off to See the Lizard (aka Komodo Dragon)
Credit: Dave Kos

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Jan 23, 2012 - 06:07pm PT

Cute photo! Glad everybody had a good time...

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jan 24, 2012 - 12:41pm PT
I'm really glad no one suggested "Short Wall in Indian Cove. There are now some semi-resident rattlesnakes atop the segment for Double Crack, Toejam Express, and Gotcha Bush. Anyone else seen them recently?
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jan 24, 2012 - 12:49pm PT
Yikes. I'm planning on taking my two oldest (5-1/2 and 8) out to Josh for the first time shortly. I'll make a point of avoiding that area (though the crowds may be worse than the snakes).

Social climber
Jan 24, 2012 - 12:50pm PT

Rattlesnakes shouldn't be a problem this time of the year...



Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jan 24, 2012 - 12:51pm PT
credit: crotch, iirc

This is short wall.

Social climber
Jan 24, 2012 - 01:01pm PT


THAT is the CLASSIC funny as sh!t photo!!!...



Jan 24, 2012 - 01:12pm PT
Kos, that's a great kids pic.

That Short Wall aid pic, though, would make a perfect 'poor belay stance' illustration in a how-to book. Is that Weld_It on lead, by any chance?

Fremont, CA
Jan 24, 2012 - 01:18pm PT
... and I thought my kids left all their sh!t laying all over the place. They can't hold a candle to those two.
Dave Kos

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 24, 2012 - 01:24pm PT
Thanks apogee.

That's our "big guy." He complains a lot when he climbs, but I think he's starting to like it. :-)

As for that picture at the Short Wall, I agree there is some "WTF?" going on there.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Jan 24, 2012 - 01:37pm PT
I've always taken kids to Quail Springs picnic area. Great TRs, just right for kids. Crowded it can be. But you can tailgate right there in front of the wall. They can wait in the car if it's cold, etc.

IF you have time to explore there is some great stuff around the hill to the south behind Sheep Pass group campground.
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