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Placing gear before firing off the very nifty crux...
Approach: Probably several. The easiest I've found is to locate Hobbit Roof at the base of the backside (west face) of The Blob. From here, scramble up gully to the right to the base of the route.
At 5.4, The Bong is a fantastic first trad lead and as well as an excellent free-solo. It offers excellent jams and is easy to protect. The crux is a small "roof". Beyond the crux, the angle lessens and it's straight-in jamming to the top. Once on top, a large boulder sits directly in-line with the route and offers a quick and easy anchor using a section of the rope or a long piece of webbing.
To descend, walk to climber's left and downclimb fairly easy 5th class terrain with big face holds. This will deposit you about 50' left of the base of the route. Some sideways chimneying will bring you back to your packs. (Note: it might be better to lower off first-timers from the top of the route).
Cora firing up the bong. January 2008.
BETA PHOTO: The Bong from afar!
Sometimes I think that the downclimb and getting b...
Troutman in evening light on The Bong
The view you see after climbing The Bong. Composit...
BETA PHOTO: Retrieving a stuck rope near the crux move of The ...
Me following on The Bong.
Third-classing The Bong
BETA PHOTO: Picture of the easily by-passed overhang section o...
hitting the bong
Sadie leading the Bong.
Myong leading the Bong.
BETA PHOTO: Part of the infamous "Down Climb" to get back to y...
Team solo, with Jetstream.
|By Brian Reynolds|
Mar 13, 2003
The Bong is particularly exceptional when compared to other 5.4 climbs around. I'd probably give it 2 stars out of 5, but on a scale of 0 to 3, I'd only give it 1. If it were only a bit longer ...
|By Anonymous Coward|
Nov 18, 2003
This is a great "first trad lead" to recommend to people. It's fun & easy to protect. Use caution about the downclimb, however. You may want to offer a belay to inexperienced climbers, or at least spot them from below and help them with foot placement. I'd call the downclimb 4th class rather than 5th, but still it's not exactly a stroll in the park.
From: Westminster, CO
Mar 8, 2004
Fun, but too short! Good solo! Can see why it is considred a good "First trad lead". Looked easy to protect, decent walk off, easy approach. All the makings of a good one for all that enjoy either soloing or whatever..........
|By Michael D. Thompson|
Sep 20, 2004
I did my first ever Trad lead on this route a few years back, it was a good choice for that because of how well it protected.
|By Infernal Doom Fanatic|
Oct 1, 2004
Dubious crack climb that would rank 3 stars if it were about 80ft. longer. Great gear placements with one or two tricky moves. Pretty solid and great for J-Tree beginners.
|By Chiranjeeb Buragohain|
Nov 29, 2004
This is a great climb for the beginning leader as far as the climbing and the protection goes.BUT, the downclimb leaves chicken hearted leaders like me nervous.I have done three different descents off the Blob and each one had its own bad points.
(i) First time I walked over to the opposite end of the rock and set up a rap station with webbing.There were traces of older webbing.Anyway, we rapped over Mama Woolsey and it was definitely awkward getting started on the rap.
(ii) Second descent is the chimney on the west face near to Buissonier/Papa Woolsey.The chimney is a bit slick from all the people sliding down ---it is 5th class, but secure and the exposure is low.
(iii) The descent next to the Bong is the worst in my opinion.It is 4th class maybe, but the exposure is high and a fall can be very ugly.
To sum up, set up a rap station if you can, else opt for the chimney descent.If you fall, at most you'll lose some skin and twist your ankle.
|By Andy Laakmann|
From: Bend, OR
Feb 13, 2006
Oh come on... this is a 5.4 handcrack, and as far as 5.4 handcracks go this is fricken' classic! Seriously. You can jam your way all the way up at a nice modest grade. How many 5.4 handcracks do you know? Awesome climb and classic IMO. And yes, the downclimb is about 5.2 - make sure you have a plan if this is your first trad lead.
From: San Diego, CA
Nov 20, 2006
Beginners will have no trouble with the route itself, they may injure themselves getting to or off of it however.
If you are truly a beginner bring a long rappel sling and rings to leave up top. Otherwise downclimb left at low 5th class back to the base of the climb.
The easiest approach (and I have done many) is to walk up a dike tending up and left on the west face of The Blob. This dike widens to a sidewalk higher up and is a very cool geologic feature. This dike will also take you to the base of Beginner's Two on the way to The Bong.
|By Mike Mu.|
Apr 18, 2007
this was my favorite lead route at J-tree. good route to push the new leader. dont try to jam through the roof, use lieback flakes on the left to gain some ground then sink a hand jam in the main crack above the roof. easy sailing from there. my partner and i just rapped b.c we are lazy. As of 4.10.07 there was a nice rap anchor at the top. might be gone by the time you climb it, so if you are not prepared for the downclimb make sure you bring some webbing and rap rings to safely get down. you will have fun on this route!
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Oct 15, 2007
As of 10/13/2007 there was a good piece of webbing slung around a bolder at the top of this climb, however it didn't have rings..
|By C Miller|
Oct 15, 2007
Benjiman - I removed the single piece of webbing you speak of as it was really nothing more than trash.
Excellent gear placements can be found just right of the block for a belay, and rapping off is a poor choice as the edge of the rock is about 30' away - pulling your rope might be possible from the vicinity of Labor Dome (if you're lucky); an easy down-climb exists a short ways to the northeast as well.
|By Meredith Moseley|
From: San Jose, CA
Feb 26, 2008
--Lovely view from the belay station
--Great hand holds to the left of the little roof to get around it
--Easily do-able without hand or foot jamming, but I found some great jugs inside the crack
--There were a couple of chalk-covered holds that otherwise wouldn't have been so obvious
--Placement and removal of pro was really easy
--Descent is FUN! But it was my first class 4 and a little nervewracking. Be ready for stemming or chimneying.
|By Gary Schenk|
Mar 12, 2008
This was a fun lead, and the walkoff is nothing to fear at all. If you like this and wish it was longer, try Route 66 on Gilligan's Island. It's much longer and a better crack, IMHO.
From: Prescott, AZ
Oct 26, 2009
Jamming a straight in crack at this grade?! CLASSIC. Good route to run laps on solo- just don't be a jerk if there are people roping up for the climb.
|By Chris D|
From: the couch
Jan 3, 2010
The climb is a blast, and was my first lead at Joshua Tree. Having never followed it, and not knowing about the flake on the left alongside the roof, I scratched my head for a while wondering how it could be 5.4, but it is. You just need to find the hold to get you past the crux. Easy and obvious once you stop to take a look/feel.
The downclimb is just plain awesome. There are a couple of exposed moves where you would get badly hurt or killed if you fell, but there are good holds. slithering under the chockstone then stemming the gully back to the base of the climb was the highlight of our day (well, mine, anyway).
After a few climbs, even moderate climbers will feel confident 3rd-classing this route.
Feb 26, 2010
I'm trying to figure out why so many people gush about this climb. Other than getting past the little roof, the climb isn't very interesting. The downclimb to climbers' left looked a little intimidating but there's a spot where it's easy, though a rap station would be welcome.
Apr 22, 2010
Good free solo or 1st trad lead, super fun climb
Nov 1, 2010
A fun crack with a scary down climb. If you have small hands it may be difficult to get solid jams near the top, but the angle is such that it doesn't matter much. Enjoy!
|By Wesley Stupar|
Jan 2, 2011
Route Finding Note: I set out to climb this and accidently climbed Beginner's Two, thinking it was the Bong. The Bong is a little more to the left of Beginner's Two. Doh!
From: Los Angeles
Mar 30, 2012
If the downclimb concerns you, it is easily protectable. But even if your second doesn't know how to place gear, just be sure remind your second to head left through the tunnel of sorts. Then after your second gets down, if they give you a belay you will be protected during the most exposed portion of your downclimb because the rope will be routed through the tunnel.
|By Jason Kim|
From: San Diego, CA
Mar 31, 2013
Great beginner climb, but sandbagged at 5.4 IMO. Pulling the crux, which is easily protected, feels closer to 5.6 to me. Just FYI.