Old Woman Rock is a distinct and shapely crystalline quartz monzonite formation that punctuates the scrubby desert landscape in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s one of, if not the most, accessible crag in the park, and it’s situated across a parking lot from the iconic Intersection Rock. Old Woman Rock draws impressive crowds both due to the quality and variety of climbing she offers. From trad to sport to toprope, climbers of all ability levels can tick famed routes off their list as they slowly graduate from pristine 5.6 and work their way up into equally renowned 5.11. Most routes on Old Woman are single pitch and end in double chains.
Joshua Tree was once simply regarded as a wintertime haven for Yosemite National Park’s climbers, and its mild climate, high-quality rock, and abundance of routes earned it the designation of a sort of outdoor training gym. These climbers, reluctant to abandon their big-wall projects, would spend the winter using the accessible formations to stay in shape. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that several challenging and historic routes were established by the group of denizens regarded as the Stonemasters, and word spread like wildfire.
Today, Joshua Tree rivals Hueco Tanks, Texas, as the most popular winter climbing retreat, and it has become a sort of right of passage for North American climbers. What the crags lack in height they make up for in exposure, thought-provoking movement, and spicy slab.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of this area in the winter, it’s imperative that all visitors abide by the principles of Leave No Trace. Pack it in, pack it out.
Note: Power drilling for bolt placement is strictly prohibited without a permit. Bolts must be 3/8" or 1/2" stainless steel. All hangers and anchors must be colored to match rock.