notes on San Diego rock climbing


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can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Nov 13, 2009 - 08:30pm PT
no one ever said there would be evidence.
rich sims

Trad climber
Nov 13, 2009 - 09:04pm PT
Red Book C&B of SDC page 92 I found a sneak 20 minute approach told to me by a guy who climbed EC Mt. in the 50s.
If this is the place I remember by, in, or through the reservation. It was 89-90 just before I moved to CO.

Cardiff by the sea
Nov 13, 2009 - 09:36pm PT
Kevin check your email.

Boulder climber
Nov 13, 2009 - 10:02pm PT
So I have this 5 page guide to woodson that has section 3 "the missing link, and other wonders" and "heart of the congo" written on it. The version I have is cut off on all sides of all 5 pages. Does anybody have the full version of this guide?

Also does anybody have any info/maps on all the stuff that is bolted between PhD and Vice Principals? There is a big wall with bolts up to for two lines. I also found one that looks like Driving South but has one big diamond shape pocket on it. Or does anybody have info/maps on the stuff that's below Fall Semester towards the Y Crack (I think that's what it's called). Any and all info and maps would be great. You can just email them if you don't want them posted online.

The Deerhorn Guide would be appreciated as well
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 13, 2009 - 11:46pm PT
An SD area article from the May/June 1989 issue of Rock & Ice.

Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Nov 13, 2009 - 11:53pm PT
Hi Ray. Remember one we did where we poked our way out thru the brush to the east quite a ways. I thought it looked like a climb I had seem pictures of from Smith Rock, you picked right up on this and named it the "Grain Reaction".

Out this evening at the Happy Boulders with the neighbor's dogs, cool, good session.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 14, 2009 - 12:04am PT
Another article on San Diego bouldering.


Trad climber
Nov 14, 2009 - 01:50am PT
Hello Ray!

Started climbing here in '71.
Was on many FFA's with Bill Breunner/at the Gorge BITD.
We climbed all over East County.
Was possible the first person to take the Santee Boulders seriously '71-88'.
Lived on El Nopal st. across from Magnolia Boulders 70-80's boldered alot.
I use to boulder on some of the cleanest free standing stones in El Cajon/Santee '71- but they were all blasted sooner or later to make room for industrial/residential dev.

I haven't read any posts hear just noticed title not sure what you are looking for.

Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2009 - 07:45am PT
notes on San Diego rock climbing
south east SD climbing access : mas importante

Private land - access sensitive!

Being lo-key is the sum of many things.

Goal is to: "not be there".

Climbing is within eye/ear shot of residents
dwellings, they can see and hear everything
that goes on, pretty much.

Furthermore - this stuff is near the US/mexico
border - and is today under a different level
of "scrutiny" than before. I'm sure you get my

This list'll make me look like an ass,
here goes:

* no dogs, ever
* drive slowly once off 94
* turn off the music
* avoid the "off belay" thing,
no need, you can see everything.
* be mellow, avoid loudness
* wear discrete colors, gear
* smile if U see residents
* park responsibly in good spots
* NO TRASH, this is SD, not LA
* procede into the brush, no hang out
* don't get killed, or have incidents
* if you are asked to leave, break out the Ak, and empty it :-)
* one more - no laughing or having a good time, dammit!

Trip - glad to hear you enjoyed SD rock climbing,
very happy you have joined us, any and all input/
stories or whatever welcome. Thank you.

Eric Beck - I was very lucky to share so many good
times climbing with you. It really meant a lot to me,
you need to know this. Can't thank you enough for all
your friendship and good natured support over the years.
My life, and my life as a climber would not have been the
same without it. Thanks again.
Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2009 - 08:01am PT
BITD, we climbed for ten plus years
on private property, and were only
thrown off once.

Access on private land - my magic wand

I'm gonna wave my magic wand here and
"create" the Deerhorn Valley rock climbing
area of the future.

* The place is set up: top/lower off anchors are in,
lead bolts in.
* Trails well defined.
* There are a couple small campgounds out there
run by residents, modest fee, quiet, no water, basic.
* Access to the rocks is chanelled thru "single points";
(always has been, its the brush).
* There is a moderate voluntary day use fee, sorrry, private
property - don't see any other way.

If you had private property with a really cool
recreation resourse on it, and you didn't know
anything about it, how could anything move

Is this a "vision", more like economic sense.

In other words, if you could generate revenue,
cash money, off some rocks and open area,
that resourse might start to look worthy of
being "negotiable" - I don't know.

In any event, the use would have to be lo-key.

Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2009 - 09:42am PT
Rock climbing in Deerhorn Valley began in 1975 by three
social D-listers from Mar Vista High. We had a new set of
stoppers, hexes, a rope, oval 'biners and, most importantly,
Basic and Advanced Rockcraft by Royal Robbins.

After a few of the initial clusterfukked forays, and the
inevitable meltdowns coping with our newfound need for
"accountability" - us beach kids began to move. None of us
even knew Mt. Woodson existed, that was "a long way away".

I now recognize how much I benefitted from my first two partners.
Owe 'em a lot. But, I mean, let's face it, we were basically retards,
spazmoden-incarnate, and if you'd seen the stupid sh*it we pulled
you would have said, "these idiots are gonna get killed, quick". But
we didn't. We dumped the 3/4" piece of surplus webbing we had for
rope, got rid of all the homemade chocks, pinched Basic and Advanced
Rockcraft off the Southwestern College bookstore, and became
rock climbers.
Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2009 - 10:23am PT
There was/is a need for a "summiteering" approach at Deerhorn.
We had to get on top of some huge boulders to set the top rope.
And to do that, we had to learn aid. Well, there is was, right in
Basic Rockcraft, "oh, its basic, its in the Basic book, must be easy"
and off we went.

Nailing up a nice solid Rurp seam in a 50' boulder is best done alone.
You have time to think, equalize placements, and move up safely. Two
Rurps equalized can be pretty good, little if any flex. Once, some guy
phoned me, upset about how he almost decked on the above seam,
giving me grief for the A1+ rating - guess he didn't equalize, ripped gear
and pulled his belayer off stance. Sorry, but - what can I say? The ground
is right there, and the 'plus' meant something on the rating. We didn't
know about the R and X thing back then.

Decent aid skills are a must for every rock climber, period. And the
greatest thing about Royal's books is - what's in them and, what is not
in them. The reason we had no incidents and were able to learn on
our own was because of those books. They do not lie. They do not
pretend to "show you everything". What you get is a simple utilitarian
concept, adaptable to each and every situation, inviting you toward
the things you must learn over time in the field. No substitute.

And more, there is a real spirit in Royal's books, and its the authentic
spirit of Yosemite trad climbing - you just get it, its right there. Also I
took Royal's idea of simple adaptable tools, and applied it to my life's
work. And guess what, that worked too. Positive ripple effects?

Top that.


EDIT: RE: RR's books, needless to say a wide and varied info-base
is always relevant but, the need for on-the-fly problem solving skills,
the skills that are essential in dealing with the seemingly infinite
number of variables in the field, is vital. Royal's books are about
"adaptability" - nuff said.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Nov 14, 2009 - 11:42am PT
imho, the greater deerhorn valley area is almost -- almost -- as good as woodson. but it's remotely possible i'm biased on this point.

warbler -- when we gonna see some pikkys godammit??1?
Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2009 - 12:49pm PT
Aid climbing in San Diego

There are huge boulders with inviting features to aid on many of
the hills in southeast San Diego county. And because of our early
exposure to the right instructional resource, we took them on.
Basically, we climbed every thing we could, no question.

Solo on a route scouting mission up the south slope of Mother Grundy,
I came upon this spectacular very overhanging straight-in 60' Lost Arrow
crack inside a huge corridor formed by two leaning monster boulders.

At first I thought, OMG, I found the ultimate finger crack and its in the
shade! Nope, Arrows - mostly tied off - all the way. That summer I had
nothing to do, so packed my sh*t, hiked up and nailed the thing.

Remember, this is the type of stuff where you do not want to
rip gear. The good part is, no time constraints, no belayer needing to
piss or start whining. You can take your time, evaluate each placement in
detail, enjoy youself and learn something about the rock and about
how pitons (ping feedback) and aid systems work. Even if you have no
wall goals and you only want to free climb clean, sooner or later you
will come across fixed pins. And if you've spent some time using them
(in an even moderatly "critical" way) you will "know" something about
what you are looking at when you encounter one on a free climb.

Also, these aid climbs are a good way to find out if you like aid, if you
are into it enough to venture up onto walls; what is it like? How is it
managing the gear, how does self belay work? Am I dreaming, or is
this something I can really do? You can find out on your own and in
solitude if you like, no problem. But, don't expect a great deal of peer
support for this, ok? Its going to be you, the hills, and the task at hand.
And any satisfaction that comes from getting "up close and personal"
with the rock and having a fine day in the outdoors alone. Yes, alone,
thank you.

Many types of aid practice can be done in semi real-world conditions
out there. Lots of things about aiding on granite - with maybe the exception
of expando - can be set up, practiced, and understood to a certain level.
You will be in complete control of the situation, if a feature looks iffy,
you have the option to place a protection bolt, just like you would on
any other runout. Guarenteed, you will find out something about how
far you can push it.

I found out, of course, that I was not going to be a big wall climber; too
light (wall racks are too high a % of my weight) and am far too short
as well. :-) But, that didn't stop me from from going, learning what I could
and having a blast doing it. So expect no kudos from "the team". This
(solo aid in SD) is not about brownie points and, that's the best part.


swellymon, neat story, thanks.
you know, we once named a climb
"Obscurity Rules"....LOL

Trad climber
Nov 14, 2009 - 04:31pm PT
Warbler, those are some really great pics. Makes me homesick for sun and dry rock.

On another San Diego note, I remember climbing the crack on the west side of what we called "Seal Rock," just north of Escondido on the west side of I-15. It's kind of a stand alone rock up at the top of the hill. There's a great hands-off hands curving, overhanging crack on the backside.

After my friend and I were on it--struggling mightily, I might add--I mentioned to Eeyonkee that we'd done it. He said something like, "Oh yeah, what is that, like 11c, or something? I remember that the top part took some bigger cams." I just kind of nodded. Inside, I was thinking, "Crap! You led that thing??"

Trad climber
Nov 14, 2009 - 04:38pm PT

Thanks for the place like home!

I'll take sometime and do some catch-up, see where ya all been...looks like ya all been put-tin them dang rattlers on the skedaddle.

Speaking of rattlers, I recall a trip 4-5 of us made one Spring weekend @'73(Vawter may have been along) out to Corte Madera. Camped Friday night and after breakfast started the relatively short hike up to the face. We were planning on doing the 'Open Book'(Cameron/poway mt.boys FA 5.9?).

All were anticipating a fun weekend at our new haunts. As we finally made our way to the base of the 'dihedral', we had already encountered approx. 9-10 of those slithery beast. Generally right before we stepped on their tail. I am telling you, it was an infestation. If V is around, I am sure he could elaborate.

So, we get to the base of the climb and here we have 3-4 basking right on the belay rock/ledge. It was so rife with them I recall someone questioning whether or not 1-2 might fall out of the corner somewhere above. Even as we stood there I noticed everyone looking around and behind, expecting one to crawl up one of our legs any moment.

Really creepy kinda juju feeling going on. Not knowing what we would encounter on the circuitous journey back down we decided late Spring was mating season, or the were all just out of hibernation. We opted to bail, in light of the isolation/time required to get help.(This story makes us sound like a bunch of wussy's, but they didn't have any Helli's/cell phones etc. in '73)so everyone concurred.

On the way down, we took turns 'leading', not knowing if the next step down would land on one of them, our vision often being so occluded by brush etc.

Been to similar places and saw not a one.

Well, not really that much to gain from this story, just mentioned the rattlers above and this memory came to mind. I am going to read now and maybe have a little something else to add(I don't want to ask any redundant questions!)

Kevin-incredible shot up-thread...kind of our own little 'Nirvana'. Where is it? Is that you with the red ruck-sack?(do not answer if redundant).



Trad climber
Nov 14, 2009 - 04:54pm PT

Just now noticed the shots of Corte Madera above, awesome. Brings back some memories. We should start charging admission.

Super climbing shots.


Cardiff by the sea
Nov 14, 2009 - 05:00pm PT
Great pictures Kevin. Now that your posting pics, I am sure you got all kinds of good ones to share.

Social climber
Nov 14, 2009 - 05:32pm PT
Make sure to look out for them ill eagles. They be out a-pillagin' yer jobs!
Off White

Tenino, WA
Nov 14, 2009 - 05:35pm PT
Here's a San Diego rock climbing mystery photo. I'd conferred with BVB (the climber in the photo) as to where it was and we'd thought it was Corte Madera, either S Face or Spacious Enterprise, and I was all ready to post it as such to this thread, but closer inspection of the original large scan revealed the black dot above Bob to clearly be a drill and that he has a hammer on his hip, so I know our earlier conclusion is wrong since I don't think we ever drilled anything out there. It's San Diego for sure, circa 1977 or 78, but does anyone have an idea of where? Stonewall, maybe Babies On Fire?

That SD County chapparal bushwacking is burly for sure, I think I still have scars on my palms from blisters inflicted by military surplus machetes. Its right up there with the best brush I've found in the Northwest.
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