Vagmarken Buttress

A Precipice Built for Two

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Vagmarken, west face

Vagmarken Buttress. Pretty enough to frame

Trek dates: Various 2013-15

Google Translate, Swedish ↔ English: Vägmärken ↔ Road signs

Oh-kay. Vagmarken certainly hits you square in the mouth on approach. No two ways about it, how can you miss it? The hill looms up off the flat plain as if someone has dropped a big Hershey’s chocolate nugget on the ground. Good thing the pavement bends in time, otherwise you’d drive straight into it!

Still unsure? How about Wikipedia:

Vägmärken (Markings) is the only book of former UN secretary general, Dag Hammarskjöld, which was published in 1963. The journal was discovered after his death, with a covering letter to his literary executor, “a sort of White Book concerning my negotiations with myself – and with God.”

“Markings.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Or are we lost?

Quail Springs 02 Vagmarkken from Quail Picnic

ACCORDING TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK rock-climbing author & photographer Miramontes, “The road in from the West Entrance passes along the base of this boulder-strewn hill just before entering the ‘official’ Quail Springs Area, approximately 4.8 miles from the West Entrance and 1 mile west of Trashcan Rock. A dirt turnout (GPS 34.0050442, -116.206577) with an information sign can be found across the road from the crag.”

DSCF5906Spend awhile admiring this large hill which dominates Park Boulevard before continuing the extra mile to Quail Springs Picnic Area where you will find relief at its welcoming toilet facility. The main Vagmarken rock climbing routes can be found on two large, symetrical crags or buttresses, scientifically named the Left Buttress and the Right Buttress. But first, low down on the left side of the left buttress, once you’ve left your car and are surveying the area, don’t overlook “Intimidator Rocks.” Great name, that.

Above them, on the Left Buttress as well, another fine flat granite protrusion, thickly varnished, percolates your interest which I have styled “Podium of Indecision” after one of its three main routes, the others being rather lame-sounding—”Wind Tower,” and “Vagmarken Buttress.”

Right Buttress

Since I have already let the cat out of the bag with a key *Plot Spoiler* above, let me say that on the Right Buttress (between the Joshuas in this next shot), are the climbs “Thin Spin”, “The Gear Thief,” “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party,” and “The Right Hand Dike.” Makes you wonder. →

Evidently, rock-people—or those who have rocks on their mind—have had occasion to name yet a another climbing feature at the extreme southern end of Vagmarken hill, one with 35ft to 45ft climbs (which I only recently photographed, September 2015). They call it: “The Place Sheep Sleep.”

Author Miramontes, who must be really on board with his sport, avers that “all of the routes start off a cool ledge.” He describes three routes: “Where Sheep Sleep,” “Where Sheep Shit” (sorry, I found it inadvisable to insert an aster*sk), and “Were Sheep Here First?”

Sheepishly, I end my commentary and ask that you enjoy the 3D Galleries photographed in and around the “Markings” area. The gallery section begins with a short 2D Gallery detour, the one used on the Main Index page with one or two additions.


2D Slideshow Vagmarken Buttress and the Abutting Area

(Pictures take a minute to load. See Quail Springs Area Main Index for individual 2D photos to download)

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2D “The Place Sheep Sleep”


  •  Use glasses to view 3D Anaglyphs
  • Click to Enlarge Photos

3D Anaglyph Gallery

Quail Springs Area 20141105 3DA 1080p DSCF6367

3D Anaglyph “The Place Sheep Sleep”


3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

Please feel free to download as many of the 3D Anaglyph or 3D Half Side-by-Side photographs as you wish. Windows users can Right-click and SAVE LINK AS to save the full size JPG. The Half Side-by-Sides are viewable on any 3D-capable TV, which avoids the minor problems that occur when rendering Anaglyphs from the original camera .MPO files.


I appreciate your visiting Joshuatree3D and Vagmarken Buttress galleries. When you visit Joshua Tree National Park and are wondering what that hill is at the bend in the road, you will swing around quite close to its lumpy prominence. An island in the desert.

John Murbach

Posted 2015 Jun 20

Updated 2017 Nov 8

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