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 ADVANCED
The Old Woman - West Face
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Orphan 
Route 499 
Sexy Grandma 

Double Cross 

YDS: 5.7+ French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ British: MVS 4b

   
Type: Trad, 1 pitch, 95'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8- French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- British: VS 4c [details]
FA: FFA: Woody Stark, Bill Briggs and Dick Webster, 1967
Page Views: 29,346
Submitted By: M.Morley on May 10, 2002
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Matt slots a cam mid-crux on Double Cross.

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Description 

One of the best and most accessible of the easier moderates, Double Cross is perhaps the most climbed (i.e, crowded) route in the entire Park. Those who have not yet developed basic jamming technique will find this route quite difficult. Although easily protected, this route has been the site of several serious injuries and a few fatalities over the years.

Begin by climbing 25' up and then traverse left to gain the main crack. Continue for another 70' of stellar hand to fist crack. Belay from 3-bolt anchor.

If crowded (as it often is), consider Double Start (just to the right), Dogleg, or Sexy Grandma.

Descent: Rap to ground (a single 50m rope just barely makes it).

Several pages of discussion about the route have been moved to the Double Cross Discussion in the Southern California Forum.


Protection 

Standard rack to 3" (double #3 Camalots helpful).



Photos of Double Cross Slideshow Add Photo
Amazing jamming the whole way
Amazing jamming the whole way
no pro yet! ahhh!
no pro yet! ahhh!
The Old Woman - West Face
BETA PHOTO: The Old Woman - West Face
Free Soloer. Yes, tight sparkly pleather clothing and a funny hat.
Free Soloer. Yes, tight sparkly pleather clothing ...
Climber on Double Cross (5.7)
Climber on Double Cross (5.7)
Darryl leading
Darryl leading
Double Cross in 1980 just below the bulge crux. As I recall, a No. 10 hex fit perfect in the main crack just above the diagonal crack.
Double Cross in 1980 just below the bulge crux. As...
Christa Cline bouldering at the start.
Christa Cline bouldering at the start.
Tia Stark on Woody appreciation day
Tia Stark on Woody appreciation day
Excellent jamming.
Excellent jamming.
This crack is oh so fine.
This crack is oh so fine.
Mr. Mercury jamming his was way to the top of the Old Woman.
Mr. Mercury jamming his was way to the top of the ...
Double Cross
Double Cross
Kelly onsighting Double Cross
Kelly onsighting Double Cross
Jesse Hull on Double Cross. Photograph by Renny Talianchich.
Jesse Hull on Double Cross. Photograph by Renny Ta...
Christa Cline jamming the final moves to the top.
Christa Cline jamming the final moves to the top.
Double Cross has at times been known to produce the infamous Terrorface.
Double Cross has at times been known to produce th...
Approaching the crux moves.
Approaching the crux moves.
Taking a break while leading Double Cross.
Taking a break while leading Double Cross.
Tom
Tom
Christmas at Jtree on Double Cross
Christmas at Jtree on Double Cross
Irvin Fernandez raps from the top of the route.  Photo: Mike Morley
Irvin Fernandez raps from the top of the route. P...
Nate swimming up the crack, nearing the top of the route.
Nate swimming up the crack, nearing the top of the...
Hillary on the route.
Hillary on the route.
Lluis demonstrates, quite correctly, how not to waste energy with foot jams.
Lluis demonstrates, quite correctly, how not to wa...
Such nice jamming.
Such nice jamming.
Leading Double Cross for the second time in as many weeks.  I'm pretty sure this is the way it's most commonly done (and easiest).  the first piece of pro you need is right where you hop into the crack about 25 feet up.  What a fun climb, and truly easy to protect where needed.
BETA PHOTO: Leading Double Cross for the second time in as man...
Irvin Fernandez on Double Cross.
Irvin Fernandez on Double Cross.
Choss pile
Choss pile
Bring Lots of Big Cams
Bring Lots of Big Cams
Moving past the overhung section of Double Cross.
Moving past the overhung section of Double Cross.
Excellent jamming 2.
Excellent jamming 2.
leading Double Cross
leading Double Cross
Bathtub belay atop Double Cross.
Bathtub belay atop Double Cross.
Me learning how to jam.  Great climb, stiff. December 2007.
Me learning how to jam. Great climb, stiff. Decem...
Aerili knows she's gunna die if she doesn't get a piece in soooooon.......... <br /> <br />A ridiculously hot January 2012 day <br /> <br />Photo by BB
Aerili knows she's gunna die if she doesn't get a ...
A classic line definitely sustained for a rating of 5.7+.....yikes!
A classic line definitely sustained for a rating o...
placing a cam on Double Cross
placing a cam on Double Cross
double cross
double cross
Jackson leading
Jackson leading
Double Cross.
Double Cross.
Comments on Double Cross Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 22, 2013
By William Prehm
Jul 1, 2002

For the sake of safety: The first chance to place pro on this climb is high and in my opinion the crux of the climb. Make sure not to rely on a single pro placement when committing to moving into the crack.

By Brian Reynolds
Oct 30, 2002

For reasons unknown to me, some people's idea of a fun little game seems to be to constantly bolt, chop, rebolt, and chop again this route. Typically, one bolt seems to go up sometime before Halloween and disappear sometime after Thanksgiving, only to reappear again the following year. Obviously, I can't guarantee that schedule. There may be a bolt there, there may not. Whatever floats your boat.

By Flying T
Nov 1, 2002

If Dogleg is 5.8, this is 5.7(+) and no more. I agree with the pro: it's solid and safe if you play it smart. From the ledge I place a hex backed up with a cam (actually vice versa). BTW, nice web site with good beta!

By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 4, 2002
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

I thought 5.7 was fair. 2 moves of 7+ getting established in the crack, and after that nothing but good sustained 5.6 hand jamming. Keep your feet in the crack and it is easy and not strenuous. Not nearly as hard as Kor's Flake in Lumpy Ridge which is also 5.7+ I second the suggestion to place 2 pieces in the crack before moving into it as that was definitely the crux.

By Mike Epke
From: Denver, CO
Mar 16, 2003

Definitely a classic and I would have to say a harder climb than the other 5.7+ in the park, Mental Physics, certainly more intimidating. Enjoy!

By The Gray Tradster
Jul 11, 2003

The first time I did this route, (very Early 70's) I ran across a Smashed beer can placed in the upper crack like a chock. I threw a sling around it, mainly to amuse my second, although it was well placed and probably would have worked. I Also think the rating is fair. You just have to understand how to jam, and you can't learn that on plastic. Hell, Damper was a 5.4 back then. That was a sandbag!

By ryan jacobs
Oct 10, 2003

good route all posotive good jams with excellent feet got to belay a twenty footer for a canadian just remember stay in the crack

By TraiseB
Mar 1, 2004
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

I've led this route three times. Yep, I'd say it is a strenuous 5.7, but the bottom was pretty easy. Although it takes great crack pro, I found myself doing arm bars at the crux (bulging crack section). Most of it was hand jams for me, but I do have small hands. I did a number of foot jams at the crux, but after that, it was easy climbing with huge holds and good pro. I am fairly conservative and tend to use lots of gear. For any beginners, you may want to follow and clean this route first, it is pumpy at the crux, so don't "hang out"; make sure your pro is good! Excellent route, but I'd rate it 5.8.

By Matt Chan
From: Boulder
May 10, 2004
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

Wow! Superb moderate climbing, perfect for any leader breaking into the 5.8 range. In no way did I find the beginning hard enough to warrant a S rating. Prior to moving left into the hand crack, which by the way will steal all of your #3 cams right off your rack towards the middle, I placed a bomber TCU (yellow?) with an extra long sling. The rest is perfect jams and the occasional face hold - Three stars for sure!

By Richard Beller
Dec 30, 2004
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Ten years ago, I picked Double Cross from the guidebook as my first trad lead. My rack consisted of 3 Camalots and a set of nuts. It was occupied, so I did Dogleg instead. Much hangdogging resulted, but no serious falls. Now that I've enjoyed both routes many times, I'm glad I didn't get on Double Cross that first day, though both routes (as well as Orphan) are classic JTree sandbags.

Let's get over the ego aspect of ratings. These numbers are informational -- to tell people roughly how hard it will be to get to the top. Preventing accidents should also be an important goal of any guidebook. In the eyes of many, 5.7 is a beginner rating. Double Cross is harder than many crack climbs in the park rated 5.8 and 5.9. I'd rate it 5.8+. The first 25 feet also deserves a cautionary warning of some sort. I recognize and enjoy the JTree tradition of sandbagging. I also have respect for people who establish sparsely protected climbs, and I agree that Double Cross clearly doesn't need any bolts. However, the combination of an easy grade, in a popular location, with a respectable runout deserves some cautionary warning in the guidebook. It sounds like Randy has already taken care of that. Hopefully, future accidents will be averted as a result.

By Jason Shatek
Apr 7, 2005

Yeah, this is a pretty sweet climb! Felt a little stiff for 5.7 but hey "that's why your out here". For me the hardest part was getting into the crack, after that the hand jams are really sweet! Don't forget your tape on this guy!

By C Miller
Administrator
Apr 12, 2005
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

The right-hand start seems a tad easier and it offers better protection as well - a #4 Camalot (or equivalent) can be placed under the overlap midway to the start of the crack. As mentioned, this route requires actual jamming skills, which is notable as most cracks of this grade at Joshua Tree can be done without them. Four stars out of five.

By d-know
From: electric lady land
Jan 25, 2006
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

stellar jammin. the only route my girlfriend wanted to lead in a week at jtree.

By Mike
From: Phoenix
Sep 18, 2006
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

Excellent climb. If you know how to jam then it is no harder than 5.7, and no bolt is needed.

By Marty Brenner
From: Durango, CO
Sep 28, 2006
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

This route IS 5.7+ and well protected. You can place AT LEAST two good pieces getting to the crack. A #4 Camalot down lowish, a yellow (?) Metolius TCU a little higher, etc.

Some people screw up by taking the wrong line to the crack (off route). They climb straight up for it. My friend Dion made that mistake and almost died. His head landed right between two rocks at the base and he only broke his knee. Maybe we just need painted connect-the-dots on the rock to show the correct line. (HaHa)

To everyone who thinks we need to constantly change ratings to compensate for some climbers' inexperience with particular types of climbing, remember that there are different types of routes out there. A steep jug route will climb very differently than an edging route of the same grade, or a friction slab, or a finger/hand crack, a flare or, heaven forbid, an offwidth. Sure, they all have the same rating, but knowing how to climb them lies in learning the techniques of each type of climbing.

By snowey
Mar 6, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

I started from the right and was able to protect the move into the crack with a bomber nut and a gray TCU clipped to the nut as a directional. I probably wouldn't have even placed the gray TCU if it weren't for all the talk about this route being dangerous. I suppose Randy's warning is at least somewhat effective.

By Mark L
Apr 30, 2007

If you are about 6' with larger hands then from the point where you want to move into the crack (25' up) you can place a solid #2 and get a bomber left hand jam before moving under the crack. Solid perfect hands to narrow fist jams from there pretty much to the top with a few stem rest spots for feet outside the crack if you want them. Doubles in #1-#3 camalots make pro a no brainer but smaller sizes are available.

For a few years I was psyched out of doing this climb because of all the injuries I read about but with some reach and a good hand size the move into the crack is bomber.

If you cant hand jam this climb is much harder I'd imagine.

By Chrystal Logan
Sep 25, 2007

Wow! What an awesome climb! I have spent quite a while dreaming of sending Double Cross. I was so intimidated by all the hubbub of potential death falls that I decided not to do the climb. But, for those of you who were at Josh last weekend you too experienced the awesome weather which put me in the mood to climb DC. My advice for those who climb strong at 5.7 would be to climb some of the shorter 5.8 cracks in the park first. Such as Sail Away, or Continuum. For me it made DC more enjoyable since I pretty much new what to expect. Also, I have small hands so I had use fist jams near the top. But, I'm glad I stopped being a chicken! :)

By Catherine Conner
From: Phoenix, AZ
Nov 25, 2007

Was intimidated for a while to lead this, but lead it today. So glad I did this route. If you know how to climb straight-out crack and protect crack, you have no worries. If you question your ability to place pro or climb crack, try this on top rope first. There is NO reason for accidents. It protects well, plain & simple. There are pieces that are perfection and you will feel totally confident right before you get in the crack. If you don't feel it before beginning to jam in the crack, then don't do it (and you should have a piece below you so you can get off safely). FUN! My opinion is that it seems 5.7+ or 5.8-.

By Bill Rusk
From: Duluth, MN
Jan 22, 2008

You definently need to know how to jam. The transfer to the crack was the trickiest part. Awesome climb. Busy.

By David Hodges
From: Parker, Colorado
May 13, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

No bolt as of last month, no need for one, #4 camalot in pod, green alien, #1 camalot, enter the crack, pure bliss.

By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Oct 23, 2008

if TR'ing, use long runners or even an extended cordelette.

By David Lammers
From: Tucson, AZ
Dec 1, 2008

Place a cam when you reach the crack and then step right of the crack and place 1 high cam to protect the start of the crack. The rest of the climb is fun and easy to protect. Enjoy :)

By Nathan Stokes
Dec 7, 2008

This was my first true crack climb and I am now a crack addict. The first couple of jams were awkward for me, but once I got the hang of the jamming it was like swimming up the crack. The guide I was climbing with commented that I just floated right up the route.

By Cory
From: Boise, ID
Dec 8, 2008
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

Really fun route. I must admit that all these posts had me a little worried about leading this one. Once I got on the climb however, I found the pro to be great. You can (and I did) sew it up, starting with a solid #3 camalot just before starting into the crack.

By Chris Owen
Administrator
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Feb 13, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

There's absolutely no need to climb up under the steepening of Route 499 into that alcove. After a few moves right of where Double Cross peters out toward the ground, step left into where the crack starts - good protection soon becomes available and it's before you arrive at where the steep bit begins.

By Cat Cahoon
From: Seattle, WA
Feb 26, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b R

This is a great climb and deserves all the stars it receives. I got on it for its striking character not knowing its reputation. I took the direct start. I had to pause for a while and talk myself into the move, but it wasn't difficult, just insecure and unprotected. (I didn't realize I botched the start until I read it here). Once you get into the pod under the crack everything should be alright. The crack itself is totally awesome and secure. It is wide at the top so at least bring double three's.

By Rodger Raubach
Oct 14, 2010
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- VS 4c PG13

This is a really good, but not great, climb. The rating is a bit misleading, and I've given it a 5.8- just to let others know of the serioiusness of the route. It isn't your "everyday 5.7" as the rating would seem to indicate. That said, it can be protected well with trad gear. Just don't fall off before your first placement.

By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Dec 14, 2010

"Why did they put the second bolt so high? And it's a fukkin spinner! Do it right if you are gonna do it."...





Yer GONNA have to talk to the "SKIPPER" about that one...

He's the one that put the bolts back in...

By Krieghoff
Dec 16, 2010

Who died and made bolt happy climbers in charge?

By BRegan
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Dec 19, 2010

According to JOSAR records, there have been no reported deaths on Double Cross and only 1 broken ankle in the last 10 years.

Bernadette
Joshua Tree Climbing Ranger

By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
Jan 16, 2011

"in the last 10 years."...


Are you sayiong that NO ONE has perished on Double Cross???...

Does it MATTER when it happened??? (IF it did???)...

By Johnny Ice
From: Tucson, AZ
Mar 30, 2011

The start was a little run out. I found the crux to be about halfway up. We climbed it at around 8 am in the winter. It was freezing and this was my first real crack climb. It was scarier than I thought it would be because I'm new to crack and I couldn't feel my hand. It was lots of fun. The belay was cool and full of water.

By Greg Howland
Apr 20, 2011

I just climbed this again today. Due to the grade and the popularity of the route, this climb brings in a fair amount of entry level trad climbers. Other than that I don't really understand why this route has become so controversial. To be fair, it is 12' or so before you can get any gear. This is not the crux of the climb however. The couple of moves through that section seemed 5.4 or 5.5. After that there is an awesome #3 Camalot. Let's be serious. It is a trad climb, not a sport climb. Runouts should be expected especially if it is over terrain that is several grades lower than the rating of the climb. If you don't feel comfortable pulling 5.Easy no more than a boulder's height off the ground you probably shouldn't be trying to lead a 7+ just yet. Don't go adding bolts though when they don't absolutely need to be there for a competent 5.7 leader. Trad is a slow learning curve. If it feels hard, just get more comfortable at the grade and come back next time you're in the area. Every climber has been faced with the challenge of being honest with themselves.

By BrendanC
From: Sherman oaks, ca
May 14, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Yeah. What he said! Easy to where the crack starts. Huge stance to camp out on, lean over into the crack and place your first piece (bomber stopper with directional for me, but several great options exist) and it's as much gear as you want from there to the top. Here's the thing...it's 5.8 and it's pure jams for 10 or 15 feet in a couple sections. So if you climb steep 5.9 buckets in the gym and have never done a hand or foot jam, or set gear, and choose this "5.7" as your first lead...expect some drama. This is an ultra classic line, with A+ pro, and the fact that there has ever been a bolt on it is truly hard to believe.

By Locker
From: Yucca Valley, CA
May 22, 2011

I was just out at Joshua Tree National Park yesterday and noticed that the bolts are actually still on Double Cross...

The bit about someone CHOPPING them must be a joke...

By David Hodges
From: Parker, Colorado
May 22, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

Locker this is a joke right? I just climbed this route again about a month ago with no bolts except for the ones at the top. This debate has baffled me for some time are we really still arguing over bolts on a 7 trad route that protects just fine after the easy first 15'?

By Chris D
From: the couch
May 25, 2011

I was out there this past Saturday, and what I can't figure out is why they bolted the direct start instead of the normal start that goes out to the right a little.

Must have been some out-of-towners... Somebody should probably chop these bolts.

By Russ Walling
From: www.FishProducts.com
May 25, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

I'll be there within the hour. This shizz is getting out of hand. Any idea who placed them?

By Ben Sachs
Oct 10, 2011

Great route. I think it's pretty stupid that the new guidebook calls the first section "unprotectable". I placed a 3.5 camalot, a 4 camalot, and a grey Alien (BOMBER) in the "runout" section. It was pretty easy, but I felt I could have fallen and the gear, especially the Alien, would have held just fine. Sorry folks, this barely even deserves a PG rating if you know how to use all those expensive widgets on your harness.

Even dumber than calling it unprotectable would be retrobolting it IMO.

By Scott Grover
Nov 29, 2011

No bolts when i was out there a few months ago, #4 cam in the pod to the right is a must, unless you're gonna run it out 15 feet with no pro, amazing route. Fit my climbing style perfectly, perfect hand jams, perfect foot jams, a few good fist jams. Amazing

By Stephen N
From: San Francisco, CA
Dec 24, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

Got three cams and a bomber nut in before the initial crux. Besides the initial unprotected section, thought this route was quite safe if you have the gear to burn. Bring extra blue c4s.

By Kurt Swanson
From: Philadelphia, PA
Mar 1, 2012

The late John Bachar gives an account of free soloing Double Cross with John Long, his first free solo climb (a few minutes into the interview):

www.archive.org/details/completebachar

By Ty Morrison-Heath
From: Bozeman, MT
Mar 24, 2012

Absolute blast. Best climb done so far in the park. Took a lot of #3 camalots. Placed nothing smaller than a #1.

By Tradman
From: Lake Forest
May 7, 2012

Climb this last week with my daughter. I hadn't climbed in 10 yrs (outside) and fifteen to twenty years since last time on Double Cross. Great climb was easier than I remembered. The lower section was mentally harder maybe 5.6 and the crack felt 5.4 with this new hand jammies my daughter gave me. Once in the crack the pro is great and the hand jams are solid! Lots of fun jams. Its easier than it looks.

By Canon
Nov 17, 2012
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

Not at ALL run-out if you have a #4 and come in from the right. Jams for days. Don't believe the hype that it's a death route.

By Nate Flink
From: Minneapolis, MN
Jan 11, 2013

This was a beautiful route! Given the Double Cross reputation, I was nervous, but once I started up the pro was bomber. It was not that strenuous - good feet outside the crack in several spots and rest stances. Plugged a #4 BD C4 into the pod in the first 15'. Then I used a #.5 purple link cam and a #3 friend to protect the initial layback into the crack. Placed five or six cams and hexes throughout the crack section from #4 size down to #.75 in a couple spots. Hand, fist and feet jamming is required. I experienced other routes at the grade that were sketchier.

By RNclimber
From: Riverside, Ca
Feb 22, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

takes 2 good medium nut placements before the crux/moving into the crack/actually climbing of the route. Before that is just scrambling

By Jason Kim
From: San Diego, CA
Feb 26, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Great route, my first true crack climb. I started practicing crack technique in the gym a couple of months ago and it definitely helped. FWIW, this felt considerably harder and more committing than Double Dogleg, which I climbed previously. Proudest 5.7 I've ever been on, that's for sure.

The beta here is spot on. Treat the start like a tall boulder problem and place a couple of solid pieces before you enter the crack. I placed a #4 Camalot in the pod at the start, but that thing looks like it would explode in the event of a fall. The rest of the climb is fairly sustained, with a few stances to rest your feet when you need them.

I've been on climbs that felt sandbagged or unexpectedly scary. If you've read all the doomsday comments on here, you will walk away from this one with a smile on your face.

By Vitaliy
Jun 4, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

By Brian Martin 1
From: Bend, Oregon
Dec 22, 2013
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b PG13

If you are comfortable at the grade the runout isn't bad. Wouldn't recommend it to the inexperienced, but easily the funnest I climbed in the campground.