3 Days, 3 Nights in the Desert: New Jack City

Words and photos by Don Burton

Read Part II Here

After packing up the next morning, Vall and I drove our cars to the East Canyon parking area where there are a lot of different walls. Todd had to be back in Big Bear so he left the night before. I wanted to check out one of the most popular walls, Raven Rocks. As we approached we saw a lot of climbers, which reminded me it was Saturday. We had been spoiled with seeing only a handful of climbers the past two days. There were ropes hanging everywhere! We found an open route named Custom Tailored. It was a fun climb with lots of holds and nice sequences. After Vall’s turn, we decided to leave my rope after asking other climbers if they wanted to top rope it. Being an introvert, this was a nice segue for me to ask to climb on other people’s ropes, which everyone said yes. It was awesome to see everyone sharing ropes and providing beta on different routes. (Note: If climbing on another climber’s rope, make sure their anchor is safe. If you have any questions about safety, do not climb on other’s gear). We eventually gravitated towards a group that had three ropes set up. They welcomed us to climb with them. They lived in Orange County and climb at Sender One Santa Ana. The Sender One community bands together!

Don Burton with a fantastic review of his trip to New Jack City.

Raven Rocks was very clean compared to the other walls we climbed so it was nice not to be dodging any falling rocks. It even gave me the confidence to flail two thirds of the way up a tough 5.11b route on top rope, but the route I had really had my eye on to climb before I left was the classic, Route 66. It is a sustained and thoughtful 5.9. There were quick draws on all of the bolts but no anchor built so I was hoping someone else would finish the route so I could top rope it. Vall left around 3 pm but I planned to stay until dark and I still had hopes of climbing Route 66. After climbing a couple of other routes I finally worked up the nerve to climb it on lead. As I made my way towards the last bolt I realized I had reached the crux. I paused to figure out the sequence to the anchors. After trying a few moves and hanging in between, I decided to step far left on the thin ledge I had been standing on and then match my feet. This would put me in position to work my way up a short crack to the anchors. As I jammed my hands and feet into the crack, I tried to recall all of the Wide Boyz YouTube videos on crack climbing technique. Point your thumb towards your pinky, rotate you leg to wedge your foot… it was working! Before I knew it I reached the chains. It was really satisfying to top out and finish my trip on a high note.

As I was packing up, my new friends (Arturo, Christina, and Sarionne) asked if I wanted to eat dinner with them at a Vietnamese Restaurant in Victorville as they were leaving soon. “Sounds good,” I said. It turned out to be an even better way to finish my trip.

Quick Tips:

  • Bring toilet paper as the restrooms have been known to be empty.
  • No running water so bring plenty for all of your needs.
  • There are no trash bins so bring trash bags and pack out everything.
  • Check the weather before heading out. Temperatures can fluctuate drastically.
  • New Jack City Sport Climbing Guide by Jordan Robbins can be found on Amazon.


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