Trip Report
California Central Coast Pictorial: Part 2 Big Rocks (Hwy 166)
Wednesday December 30, 2009 6:04pm
California Central Coast Pictorial: Part 2 Big Rocks (Hwy 166)

If you thought the Pinnacles was adventurous, they you gotta try Big Rocks. Located off Hwy. 166 on Rock Front Ranch. Cobbles in half-baked sandstone. If you pick the 3 star routes, you can actually get in some really good climbing. There are a set of spires called Twin Rocks nearby on the hillside (you can’t miss ‘em) with some airy summits and some cool aid up horrific rock. None come easy. I think Precious has only seen a second ascent. Summer is hot, fall is best, but spring will do but mind the ticks. Sometimes closed during the winter after rain.

Credit: Slater
Ken Klis on Odyssey .10c. Big Rock is a 200’ tall face with good 2 pitch routes.

Credit: Slater
Larry Harris taking on Millennium, .10a, with his brother on belay.

Credit: Slater
Katie Greig on Summer Sizzle, a fun but short 5.6.

Credit: Slater
Larry Harris on Flowers on Venus 5.8, a great route up cobbles and holes on the back Outerspace Wall.

Credit: Slater
Paul Bernard on Deep Impact .10a.

Credit: Slater
Stephanie Utterback on Dodgeball 5.7.

Credit: Slater
Slater on Sith .9, on a nearby crag called Miller’s Crossing.

Credit: Slater
Slater on the FA of Tempest .10c, an intimidating line at Miller’s.

Credit: Slater
Brandon Thau on top of the first spire after the FA of the Slater-Thau .10/A1.

Credit: Slater
Twin Rocks from the 4x4 ridge.

Credit: Slater
Slater on the onsight/onlead FA of Precious .9, one of the most dangerous routes on the coast. Yes, a lot of those bowling ball sized rocks are loose. Brandon finished the route. 70' of climbing took us nearly 3 hours.

Credit: Slater
This shot was on the cover of the Santa Maria Times. Ken Klis and I were able to rescue a pair of sheep that had been stranded on a 2’ wide ledge 100’ up a cliff nearby for over 4 weeks. CDF lowered a waterline in from above to keep them alive. It took two climbers and a crane to finally get ‘em down.
I literally took the ram by the horns and chucked him in the basket. The ewe was waaaay tougher.

Happy Holidays, Tom

  Trip Report Views: 5,054
Slater
About the Author
Slater is a trad climber from Central Coast and co-author of "California Road Trip - Climber's Guide to Northern California"

Comments
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EP

Trad climber
Way Out There
  Dec 22, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
I was wondering if that big rock had been climbed.10c FA? Any signs of previous activity?

I have been curious about the big boulder in the river bed.

You been one it?
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Dec 23, 2009 - 11:29am PT
Do you have a picture with 'real' sheep on a wall? Seems that there might be a Pass The Pitons Pete joke in there somewhere - I seem to remember reading an Evans report last summer(?) that had PTPP and an inflatable sheep.
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Dec 23, 2009 - 03:14pm PT
Let's just say the sheep were nervous enough without all that nonsense. When they took Ken and the Ram down in the basket they left me up on the ledge with the lady sheep and she was not taking a liking to me. If she had charged me I would have fallen about 100' which would have sucked. But I would have taken her with me...
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
  Dec 24, 2009 - 05:23pm PT
neat looking choss Odyssey in photo 1.
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Dec 24, 2009 - 05:56pm PT
I swear this is the other half of the Pinnacles that drifted south, but is even "better" rock. Munge, you gotta come back but not in spring (tick) season. Do "Precious" at Twin Rocks and you'll find your inner climber for reals.
enjoimx

Trad climber
SLO
  Dec 25, 2009 - 12:36am PT
Awesome I cant believe those crazy sheep didnt just jump off the wall! Good for you guys!

Oh, and P.S. ... Big Rocks is pretty cool ;)
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 25, 2009 - 02:08am PT
definitely gotta get on some of that stuff. Precious? meh, dunno about that one. yikes!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Dec 26, 2009 - 10:51pm PT
Go to Mountain Air in SB or in SLO and buy "California Central Coast Climbs: San Luis Obispo." I think it sells for like $27 and it has everything in the county in it...

Cabrillo, Bishop Peak, Cerro Romualdo, Big Sur, Silly and Big Rocks, Wagon Caves, and a few other smaller spots.

Hope that helps - Tom
Mtntreker

Trad climber
Santa Maria
  Dec 26, 2009 - 11:06pm PT
Thanks Happy Climbing.....
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Dec 27, 2009 - 10:11am PT
Fingerlocks or Lambchops!
rhyang

climber
SJC
  Dec 28, 2009 - 11:34am PT
Cool !
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
  Dec 29, 2009 - 06:06pm PT
another great tr




keep it up!!!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Dec 31, 2009 - 08:16pm PT
Just got back from a New Year's Eve session at Big Rocks. My partner Coby and I put in a couple new routes and went up to fix up the top anchor by the summit boulder but found that someone added some nice chains to the old top anchor. Thank you whoever you are - you beat me to it!

Munge - not one tick!

Here are a couple pics from the day...

Coby on the Big Cheesy, Big Rocks.
Coby on the Big Cheesy, Big Rocks.
Credit: Slater

New Chains! Nice.
New Chains! Nice.
Credit: Slater

Coby topping out. Nice winter day!
Coby topping out. Nice winter day!
Credit: Slater

The classic Waterfall.
The classic Waterfall.
Credit: Slater

The first bolt of Triple Decker 5.7.
The first bolt of Triple Decker 5.7.
Credit: Slater

Adventure is not dead... pinnacle baggin' at Big Rocks. Coby on top of...
Adventure is not dead... pinnacle baggin' at Big Rocks. Coby on top of Triple Decker 5.7.
Credit: Slater

Hope you have a great 2010!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jan 1, 2010 - 12:47am PT
oh wow! sweet!

sorry I missed it. With the gal's day off today it just wasn't going to happen. We went and saw Avatar, no Pinnacles after all.

I dig the pics of that rock. It's like pinns, but it isn't, ya know?
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Jan 3, 2010 - 12:17pm PT
great stuff, thank you.
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Feb 1, 2010 - 12:21am PT
The gate has been locked for a couple weeks so we hiked in (about 1.5 miles to Big Rocks). There were trees down on the road, and boulders in the road that have falled from the steep hillsides above. We finished our project "Moss Do It" 5.6, which adds a second pitch to the Waterfall route. Good postion and of course a little sketchy... "Needs traffic".
Empty, green, and silent (except the sound of tiny waterfalls). Quite a stark contrast between the 90+degree temps, roar of motocycles, and gunshots that come during summer. Ahhh winter time. It's good to be local.
LuckyPink

climber
the last bivy
  Feb 5, 2010 - 12:56am PT
TY.. always wondered about those rocks and thanks for mentioning the SLO guidebook, didn't know about it. appreciate your Road Trip, too. so .. no access issue here looks like..
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Feb 10, 2010 - 01:54pm PT
It's Tom :) not Ty, but I'm glad you like Road Trip! NO access issues. BLM land, wide open.

NOTE: I'm going to replace the top anchor next to the summit boulder. That boulder is going to roll off the summit (it's a down hill slope and perched to move!) and it'll run right over the belay. Also, with a 60m rope you end up 5' above the middle anchor on "Wild 5.9", which is directly below, and it's likely someone is going to rap off the end of their rope trying to get to it. An anchor already exists 10' below the top anchor anyway, so this anchor isn't necessary.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Feb 11, 2010 - 06:25pm PT
Impressive sheep rescue.

Seriously!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Feb 23, 2010 - 02:18pm PT
The video reel made it on the Los Angeles news. We just wanted our private crag back and for all the news trucks to leave. Now it's just us and the sheep once again ;)
Greg Barnes at ASCA is pitching in some anchors to replace that old one below the summit boulder. I'll get to it after the freakin' road opens back up and the rain stops!
Thanks once again to ASCA!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Apr 13, 2010 - 04:59pm PT
The road is now open (probably for the rest of the spring and summer and fall!! hit it!
crazy horse

Trad climber
fresno, ca
  Apr 16, 2010 - 12:01am PT
right on Tom!!! great TR. we've got rock just like that outside of fresno, but it's on private land. It's where i learned to climb back in the day near Friant when you could still go up there.
Matt
Cobster

Trad climber
San Luis Obispo, Ca
  Feb 9, 2011 - 09:03pm PT
Ha I totally forgot about this day, that was super fun. I think a good warm up session with Owen may be required before the summer season!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Feb 9, 2011 - 10:02pm PT
Nice slater!
Looks like a fun time,
I know choss well myself!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Apr 18, 2011 - 11:50am PT
For some stupid reason the NFS has the gate closed even though the river is like 4" deep and the roads are dusty and cracked dry.
My 7 year old and I went to go climb but no dice. We ended up in the river looking at boulders and saw Mtn. Lion prints stalking deer prints. Kind of heeby jeeby-ish so we bailed without committing to wading the creek.
Rokrover

Trad climber
SB, CA
  Apr 18, 2011 - 02:10pm PT
That brings back memories. My wife and I were the ones who did the second ascent of Precious. Some additional pictures here: link =>

<edit> ..... Oops, forgot this album around big rock =>
Cheers,

Aussie Ted
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Apr 18, 2011 - 05:50pm PT
Ted, outstanding! Bump for your link!!
Nice wide angle lens really shows what it is like out there.
That scree pile at the base of Tower 3 (Precious) all came off on the FA (your welcome). Scary line... Good on ya!
That place really is beautiful, even if it isn't the greatest rock (or any good at all!).

Nice link for big rocks as well!
What lens is that? Fish eye?
Very cool...
Rokrover

Trad climber
SB, CA
  Apr 18, 2011 - 06:43pm PT
Thanks Tom, your original route descriptions on the alt site rc.com helped us immensely on these explorations. We love the character and atmosphere of this area. A few shots were with the Nikon 10.5 fish eye but most with the 12-24, 17-55 zooms or compacts of the day.

I should add we had our scariest trip in there when the gate was open after heavy rains. There are several clay sections that even my Jeep Rubicon with 4WD locked axles was helpless and we sweated bullets sliding sideways towards a big drop off where normal brake, steering and drive inputs had absolutely no effect.

When we stepped out of the distressed Jeep the clay immediately clumped up to create useless Frankenstein boots. Almost as exciting as plucking critical cobbles out of the walls above the last suspect bolt!

Cheers,

Ted
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Author's Reply  Apr 18, 2011 - 07:28pm PT
I've had that same encounter, I went up to see the snow, and almost slid off the cliff to certain death. It was like being on a greased slope.
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
  Apr 18, 2011 - 07:48pm PT
Glad to know someone else has climbed on some of those piles of looseness ;)
Ken

Trad climber
Arroyo Grande
  Mar 6, 2014 - 01:24am PT
"The ewe was waaaay tougher".

But Tom finally got to her. She gave mutant birth shortly after.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
  Mar 6, 2014 - 03:08am PT
One of those bolts in the photos shows what looks like a Chuck Richards type home made hanger. Richards put up a lot of FA's in the Pinnacles in the early 70's and wrote the 1974 guide. I believe he lived in Santa Maria which is in the proximity of Big Rocks.
pbernard02

Trad climber
Chester, CA
  Mar 7, 2014 - 12:23am PT
Not sure how I missed this, but I do have some fine chossy memories of this place! Haha...
Fletcher

Boulder climber
A very quiet place
  Mar 7, 2014 - 12:56am PT
That bowling ball route (Precious) looks about 10 miles beyond heinous. I'm gonna have nightmares about that tonight!

Love the Swiss cheese look of Big Rock!

Eric
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