Located in California’s Mojave Desert filled with rugged landscapes, Joshua Tree National Park is a veritable desert oasis of rock climbing in the USA. With a myriad of accessible and short routes just a stone’s throw away from campsites, you couldn’t ask for a better location to build up your traditional rock climbing skills. Participate in vertical drills which cover various aspects of top rope climbing, rappelling, descending, top-managed belaying, and other skills on JTree’s quartz monzonite rocks and watch your all-around climbing game reach a whole new level. With your expert guide providing useful lessons and tips throughout this trad camp, you’ll walk away a much improved climber. Put your newly-acquired skills to the test under the supervision of your guide on the last day and feel a huge sense of accomplishment. It’s time to let adrenaline course through your veins as you crush your climbing goals in this fabulous desert environment.

  • Access various routes straight out of your campsite

  • Stunning vistas in every direction won’t leave anyone indifferent

  • Desert environment means that you can climb even after heavy rain

Itinerary

Head to Joshua Tree National Park and pick up the fundamentals of traditional rock climbing skills. Let your guide show you anchoring, belaying, and rappelling skills as you take part in climbing drills. Learn all about top rope climbing, top-managed belaying, building gear anchors, rappelling, and listen to lessons on protection, lead climbing, and more! With quality rocks at your fingertips, valuable tips from your guide, and desert vistas, you’ll leave wanting more!

  • This trad climbing clinic in Joshua Tree begins at 8 am. Your guide will teach you some gear basics and demonstrate the difference between lead climbing and top roping. You’ll have a top rope lesson until 10 am. Your first vertical drill begins at 10 am and will consist of top roping. You and the rest of the participants will be divided in 6 teams of 3 (1 climber, 1 belayer, and 1 back-up belayer.) The participants will enter the rope system by tying in with a perfectly dressed figure eight knot and clipping in with a locked GriGri. Then they’ll begin performing partner safety checks and relay various bellay commands. The climber ascends first and is then lowered by the belayer.

    Have lunch at 12 pm and continue with the vertical drill until 2.30 pm. For the next 15 minutes, you’ll get a ground demonstration on how to transition from anchor to rappelling with friction hitch back-up. From 2.45 pm until 4 pm, you’ll be divided into 3 teams of 6 and participate in a ground drill on anchor demo boards and learn how to transition from anchor to rappelling.

    Rock climbers sitting in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Kick things off by taking part in the vertical drill #2. It consists of cleaning the anchor and descending via rappelling and lowering. Top rope climb to an existing anchor, transition into a rappel backed up by a friction hitch and descend via rappel. You’ll also be introduced to another version of descending: descending via being lowered. After lunch, you’ll have a lesson on protection. You’ll also learn about anchoring skills, equalizing, direction of pull, and master-point. Work on the overhand knot on bite skill. At 2 pm, you’ll participate in a ground level anchor drill in a boulder field in 6-8 teams of 3.

    A woman climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Start off the third day by participating in the third vertical drill, trad anchor building. Top rope climb a route and build an anchor at an appropriate section of the climb. Once you complete this, you’ll be lowered and your guide will analyze the anchor. You’ll also be shown photos to see how you did. Attend a lead climbing and lead belaying lesson after lunch, and work on placing protection/clipping bolts on lead. Cap off the day with the fourth vertical drill. Attach a belay device directly from a top anchor and belay your partner up. Partners will walk off or be converted into a lower.

    Rock climbers climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The fourth day begins and you’ll listen to a rope coiling lesson and a guide’s belay lesson and demonstration on ground level. Today you’ll also participate in the fifth vertical drill. Top rope climb to anchor, self-anchor, and belay partner up via the “guide’s belay” and walk off formation. After you’ve had your lunch, you’ll continue working on the fifth vertical drill for 3.5 hours.

    A climber ascending a rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The first 30 minutes of the last day will be spent by looking at a ground demonstration on lead climbing and following. The last, sixth, vertical drill includes lead climbing to top of the climb, building anchor, belaying the follower up and descending via a “walk-off”. At 11.30 am, there will be a debrief and you’ll depart Joshua Tree National park.

    A climber in Joshua Tree National Park

Meet your guides

Mike Donaldson
5.00
Mike Donaldson
Mike grew up in Colorado and, as a result, carries the mountain spirit in his character. He's been working as a full time guide since 2012. His ascents include solo climbs on El Cap and speed climbing records on Norway’s National Mountain “Stetind”. Mi...
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Fabian Schillings “Fabi”
5.00
Fabian Schillings “Fabi”
Fabian Schillings “Fabi”
AMGA Rock Instructor
Fabi discovered rock climbing at a young age. Extensive trips to Yosemite, Joshua Tree and local San Diego areas inspired him to pursue his career as a rock climbing guide and instructor. In 2012 he obtained his Rock Instructor certification through AM...
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Chillino Rock Climbing
5.00
Chillino Rock Climbing
Chillino Rock Climbing
Chillino Rock Climbing has been offering professionally guided adventures and classes in San Diego and California since 2012. They are experts in facilitating your rock climbing experience in a safe environment, guaranteeing a superb quality of teachin...
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5.00 (4 reviews)
Al Duke about Chillino Rock Climbing on 57hours

Fun experience with multiple levels of climbing. Kyle was amazing, had a great time.

Eric O. about Chillino Rock Climbing

We had an awesome time rock climbing in Joshua Tree with Chillino Rock Climbing. Fabi and Mike were very professional and knowledgeable. They were excellent guides and very patient and enthusiastic with all of us. We never felt unsafe at any point during our adventure. All of their equipment is in excellent condition. We will be back for more!

Gretchen O. about Chillino Rock Climbing

This was SO MUCH FUN!!! A friend of ours put together a trip to Joshua Tree for a climbing adventure for 7 of us. This would be my first time climbing outdoors, and only my 3rd time climbing, at all. My boyfriend and I would definitely be ranked as beginners.
Upon our arrival, Fabi and Mike greeted us warmly in the parking lot and led us to the spot where everything was already set up and ready to go. They outfitted us with harnesses and shoes and made sure we were comfortable and properly fitted. They gave us a lesson in proper knot tying and quickly answered any questions we threw their way. Prior to climbing, they also made sure the belayer was properly trained, and able to handle the task of making sure their climber could climb up and that they could also lower them safely back to the ground.
There were 7 of us, and 2 guides, and I felt like the attention was one on one. Whenever a question or concern would arise, we could easily ask either Fabi or Mike, and they were right there to help! They helped any way they could, and even took on the task of belaying us on occasion. They were quick to offer the climbers tips on handholds and where to put our feet to help us succeed in getting to the top. We also got a surprise lesson in rappelling which was terrifying, fun and unexpected!

In summary, this was a fabulously planned and well put together adventure. I don’t think there is anything they could do to improve their service!

Also!!!! Very important!! Please scroll to the bottom of their yelp page— there are FORTY MORE 5 STAR reviews that yelp has “not recommended.”

Pam D. about Chillino Rock Climbing

Fabi led my first outdoor rock climbing trip at Joshua tree, he made sure to go over all the safety points and I felt very confident and safe the whole time. The group he led was very experienced, as well as supportive. I would definitely go climbing again with Chillino rock climbing!

Things to know

  • 57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

    We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Joshua Tree NP, CA, please refer to the California State website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

    Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

  • What you get on this adventure:

    • An experienced, local rock climbing guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • 5
    • days of rock climbing in Joshua Tree NP
    • Technical rock climbing gear
    • Camping in tents
    • Joshua Tree NP CUA and general liability insurance
    • Campground reservations, acquisitions, and fees
    • Water and waste logistics during the backcountry trip
    • Rock site acquisition and management

    What’s not included:

    • Transportation
    • Accommodations before and after the trip
    • Meals and snacks
    • Camping equipment (sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tents, etc.)
  • If you can climb a ladder, you’re good to go. Being in good shape is always a plus but far from necessary. Rock climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up a cliff using brute strength. To ensure you have a fun day, your guide will choose routes that best suit your skill and fitness level.

  • Joshua Tree National Park has plenty of options for beginner climbers. Whether you’ve never climbed before or are transitioning from the gym to outdoor climbing, your guide will customize the day to suit your skill level and objectives. With a guide by your side, you’ll learn something new, stay safe on the rocks, and most importantly, have fun!

    For intermediate to advanced climbers,Joshua Tree National Park has loads of routes to spend the day on. Your guide will discuss your objectives and customize the day to your goals. Let your guide plan the day so you can focus on developing your skills while climbing the classic routes or best hidden gems the area has to offer.

  • All technical climbing equipment will be provided by your guiding service. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:

    • Helmet
    • Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device, and chalk bag
    • Ropes
    • Rock shoes (included in the price, but we recommend bringing your own if you have them)
    • Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)

    Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:

    • Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 40L bag)
    • 33+ gallon bags
    • Day pack for day hikes
    • Sleeping bag (rated to 15 F)
    • Sleeping pad (Ensolite or Therm-a-Rest)
    • Lightweight tent
    • Plastic or nylon ground sheet
    • 4 water bottles (at least 1 quart capacity each)
    • Synthetic or wool socks
    • Tennis shoes
    • Closed-toe hiking or approach shoe
    • Medium weight long underwear top
    • Lightweight long-sleeved, hiking shirt
    • Synthetic pullover or wool sweater
    • Rain jacket or poncho
    • T-shirts
    • Warm down jacket for cold weather
    • Medium weight long underwear bottoms
    • Rain pants
    • Lightweight hiking pants (zip-off shorts style)
    • Quick dry board shorts
    • Warm fleece pants
    • Underwear
    • Synthetic or wool gloves or mittens
    • Synthetic or wool hat
    • Baseball cap or sun visor
    • Bandanas
    • Meals and snacks
    • Toiletries (sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, toilet paper, toothbrush, tooth paste, etc.)
    • Sunglasses
    • Headlamp
    • Journal or notebook and pencils
    • Cup, rounded plate or bowl, spoon, and fork
    • Medications
    • Extra glasses — optional
    • Extra batteries — optional
    • Binoculars — optional
    • Camera — optional

    Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

  • Group sizes and prices:

    • The group size for this trad rock climbing camp is up to 18 campers with 2-5 guides at a 4:1 guest-to-guide ratio.
    • It takes a minimum of 3 participants for this trad climbing camp to operate.
    • Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

    Trad climbing camp in Joshua Tree National Park can be arranged for bigger groups. Contact us prior to booking.

    Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
    • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to climb on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

    If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • A 30% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 3 months (90 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

    • To receive a full refund you may cancel your trip at least 3 days (or 72hrs) before your scheduled trip.
    • There is no refund if canceling within 72hrs of your scheduled trip.
  • To get to Joshua Tree National Park, most people fly into Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) 45 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park. From there, you can drive or take a bus.

    Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, you’ll meet your guide at different locations/climb sites throughout the program. Exact locations will be announced before each day. The camp will take place at Belle Campground sites #2, #4, and #5. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

Have more questions? Read our FAQ,

Learning outcomes

With this 5-day trad climbing camp in Joshua Tree, you’ll learn the following skills:

  • Knots: overhand, figure 8, figure 8 follow through, figure 8 on a bite, overhand knot on a bite, double overhand on a bite (“BHK”), double barrel stopper knot.
  • Hitches: clove hitch, girth hitch, auto-block.
  • Anchoring skills: placing trad gear, equalizing, tying the master point (various knots)
  • Belaying skills: safety checks, belaying with assisted belay devices
  • Rappelling skills: rappelling with friction hitch back up, “fireman’s belay”, single line rappel with GriGri.

The “soft skills” you’ll learn and cover include:

  • Exploring the value and purpose of recreational rock climbing (sport vs. (climbing) practice)
  • How to create a fun climbing trip for yourself and others
  • How to set up a rock site so that you and your friends have the most fun
  • How to camp and recreate successfully in a national park
  • How to recreate with a light ecological footprint, while employing “leave no trace” principles
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