So you want to try rock climbing? Now that we’ve explained how to get started, here are some places to practice your skills outdoors in Southern California.
For outdoor climbing, it’s important to be with someone who has experience climbing outdoors and is familiar with top rope anchor building. Go with someone that knows what they’re doing, or contact an outdoor climbing guiding service. Technical climbing is inherently dangerous (this is written on climbing gear itself!). This is a list of places that have easy sport climbing routes available to set up for top rope, or have easy boulder problems.
A popular spot to start roped rock climbing is Malibu Creek – it’s pretty packed during the weekends. Lots of beginner sport routes in the Stumbling Blocks area, plus top-roping only area at Planet of the Apes wall that has a walk-up. Just keep in mind that Stumbling Blocks is accessible only by a traverse over water. This Rock Pool area is also popular with large families, picnickers, and loud drunk college kids.
A popular bouldering spot is Stoney Point. Hundreds of boulder problems in this area. You will need a crash pad for outdoor bouldering – a large mat/pad that folds into a large backpack, essentially.
A renowned climbing area close to LA is Joshua Tree, which has both bouldering and lots of trad climbing (cracks where one places their own protective gear into the rock). It’s a desert, so remember to bring lots of water and keep in mind that the season for climbing out here is winter.
Up by Big Bear there is an area with lots of beginner to intermediate sport routes called Holcomb Valley. A bit of a drive to get to – on dirt roads – but a gorgeous forested area and nice place to hang out. Free camping available, no amenities.
A very picturesque beach crag that is top-rope only, and you can walk up to the top easily. The easier climbs are on the beach side (directly into the sand). There are only about 5 routes at this spot, however, you can lay out on the beach or swim with the dolphins if it’s too busy to get on. Awful, right?
Right off Highway 33, there is a collection of sport routes with an easy and pretty approach. Currently being developed as a trad climbing area as well (the cracks). Conveniently located very close to campgrounds and of course, sweet Ojai.
Other places to climb are: Horse Flats, Riverside Quarry, Pt Mugu, Echo Cliffs, Tick Rock, etc
A short list of a few outdoor guiding services in LA:
Photos © 2015 Kris Holbrook
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