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Best Roadside Top-Rope Cliffs at Joshua Tree: AFPA Rock

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AFPA Rock: A Fun Top-Rope Cliff at Joshua Tree
AFPA Rock offers some fun top-rope climbing routes on its south-facing wall.

Cindy McCaffrey stems up "Which Bitch" on AFPA Rock on the west side of Joshua Tree.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green

AFPA Rock, a quarter mile up the park road from Trashcan Rock and Quail Springs Picnic Area, is a good south-facing cliff at Joshua Tree National Park in southern California that offers several long crack and face climbing routes. The cliff, easily accessed from the road, is often warm, sunny, and sheltered from the wind, making it a good bet in cooler weather.

AFPA Rock Offers Good Top-Rope Climbs

The AFPA Rock routes, while not necessarily great leads, are fun and worthwhile top-rope climbs that follow crack systems up to 100 feet long. The cliff is never busy, making it a good alternative top-rope venue when Trashcan Rock and Lizard’s Hangout are jammed with climbers. The top of the cliff has lots of cracks for gear placements and boulders that can be tied off as natural protection. You need to look around and be creative to set up solid toprope anchors.

Top-Rope Equipment You Need

Lots of cracks are on a ledge system along the top of AFPA Rock, offering great places to make equalized top-rope anchors from gear. No bolts are found so bring a standard rack of equipment to create anchors. Bring a set of cams like Friends or Camalots; a set of Stoppers or other wired nuts; and long slings to build a safe anchor. You also need to bring some long extender slings, lengths of webbing, or an extra rope to extend your anchor from the gear placements to a master point for the rope on the cliff edge. A single rope, either a 165-foot (50-meter) or 200-foot (60-meter) climbing rope, is fine for top-roping at AFPA Rock. Remember to always follow SECURE to build a secure and sturdy toprope anchor.

Finding AFPA Rock

From the west entrance to Joshua Tree National Park southeast of the town of Joshua Tree, drive southeast on Park Boulevard, the park’s scenic drive road, for 5.9 miles. If you’re coming from Intersection Rock to the southeast, drive 2.6 miles on the park road from the Real Hidden Valley junction at Intersection Rock. Park on either shoulder of the road and hike 300 feet to the cliff base. The described routes begin on the left side of the south face of AFPA Rock.

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