|Columns of the Giants
BETA PHOTO: This photo is taken from the far right side of the...
The Columns of the Giants is an andesite (volcanic) formation with rock similar to that found at the lower elevation Table Mountain areas near Sonora. The left side of the formation is vertical to gently overhanging rock that climbs similar to the lower elevation Gold Wall. The main cave on the right side, however, is ultra steep and generally tends to climb a bit more towards Jailhouse style rock crawling; bring a couple of knee pads if you climb on this side. The warm-up climbs for the crag start at 5.11+.
The main cave at Columns faces northwest and is in the shade during the morning and early afternoon hours of the summer. Thus because Columns is at an elevation of nearly 6400 feet, it makes a great place to climb during the summer months.
The quality and nature of the rock varies considerably between the left and right sides of the cliff. The rock quality is arguably better on the less steep left hand side of the cliff, which, as I mentioned above, climbs similarly to the Gold Wall. When you climb in the incredibly steep main cave on the right side, you are climbing on the underside of sheared off lava columns. Some of the "lodged" columns that you yard and knee bar on make ominous sounds when weighted and this can be eery!!
Keep in mind that because of the geologic exhibit, climbing at the Columns is extremely visible to non-climber visitors. Do your best to keep a low profile. This includes making sure that any fixed gear is adequately camouflaged; please refrain from leaving highly visible colors.
Columns of the Giants is located at Pigeon Flat on Hwy. 106 just east of Dardanelle. To find it, drive east up the Sonora Pass Highway (Hwy. 106). Just before Dardanelle (~50 miles from Sonora), you will pass the Clarks Fork Road on your left; the parking area for Column will be on the right (south) side of the road 4.7 miles past the Clarks Fork Road.
From the parking area, locate the geologic exhibit pathway and walk south on the path until you reach the end of the trail and a forest service exhibit describing the geology of the Columns. Hop the stone fence and head up the unstable talus. The main cave of the Columns will be obvious. It is less than five minutes to the talus field from the parking lot.
Also, keep in mind that the Sonora Pass Highway is seasonally closed due to snow. The closure usually goes into effect sometime in November and usually lasts until June sometime (dependent on how heavy of a snow year it is). The closure generally begins 7.2 miles east of Strawberry on the west side of Sonora Pass to about 5.3 miles west of the junction with US Hwy. 395 on the east side of Sonora Pass.
Browse More Classics in Columns of the Giants
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Columns of the Giants:
Featured Route For Columns of the Giants
: Sonora Pass (Hwy 108)
: Columns of the Giants
Begin by climbing up easy, vertical flakes and jugs to the beginning of the steep roof. Next, follow the obvious line of fixed draws out the horizontal roof for maybe 30 feet. The roof section involves traversing huge jugs, but owing to the steep nature of the roof (you actually climb slightly downwards towards the end of the roof), this section is fairly pumpy. At the end of the roof, pull the lip and clip the anchors that are slightly up and left. ...[more] Browse More Classics in CA
Overview of the Front Wall and Cave.