The Live Oak Picnic Area features a good assortment of crack and face climbs on rough, granular rock somewhat similar to nearby Jumbo Rocks, althought the best routes here are found on light grey to dark brown patina that's much friendlier on the tips. Approaches are minimal (5-15 minutes), but most involve some scrambling over boulders and rugged terrain making this area not suitable for those with children. The Pope's Hat and The Whispering Wall are the two standout formations of the area and feature the bulk of the worthwhile routes here.
The Whispering Wall is a large south-facing formation that is sheltered to the west making this a good choice for cold and windy days. Crack and face routes up to 100' high are found here with Stemski (5.6), Jeepers Leepers (5.9 R) and Mother Board Breakdown (5.10c) being some of the better routes here.
The Pope's Hat, a landmark of the area, is a huge block sitting atop a pile of large boulders that commands an impressive view from its summit. Routes are found on almost every side of the formation and most feature quality rock. Desert Storm (5.10a/b), Nincompope (5.11d) and Pope On A Rope (5.12d) are among the best lines on the Pope's Hat formation.
The entrance to Live Oak Picnic area is located directly across the road from the entrance to Split Rocks and marked by a sign; all of the roads in the area are unpaved.
Soon after turning into the Live Oak area, make a right turn onto a dirt road which heads right (south, towards Jumbo Rocks) and parallels the paved road. Parking for The Whispering Wall, Perjury Rock and Big Bob's Big Wedge is found 0.2 miles down on the left, while The Pope's Hat and Inquisition Rock are best reached by driving the road to its end where a parking circle will be found.
Apathetic Rock, Abbey Rock and Creeper Rocks are best reached by driving straight ahead, passing the right turn used to access the other areas, to the road's end at a picnic loop.
This is one of the best crack problems anywhere. It starts out tight offwidth/big fists and fires out the slightly rising roof for thirty+ more feet of hands and fists, culminating in a wide exit that people overcome with various techniques probably mostly dependent on their hand size. The last moves can be committing.This should be on every wide-crack climber's tick list for Joshua Tree. The 5.11 rating is what's given in the Vogel guide, while the V5 is what's given in the bouldering guide ...[more]Browse More Classics in CA