The longtime home to several fine moderate routes in the 1-3 pitch range and once a popular destination for instructors from the nearby scout camp, Elephant Knob suffered significant damage in a 2002 wildfire. Despit now-sketchy rock and fixed gear, the area is still home to a very fine swimming hole with waterfall, several small water slides and moderate bouldering along the creek.
The McNally fire, which burned more than 150,000 acres in the surrounding area burned up and over Elephant Knob. Trees and rappel slings more than 100 feet off the ground were burned. The intense heat of the fire did significant damage to the rock itself. A 1/4 to 1/2" thick skin of granite exfoliated from much of the dome and clung perilously to the walls. As of 2004, much of this "skin" had still not fallen off and posed a serious threat to prospective climbers. An exploritory trip up "Elephantiasis" produced substantial rockfall, with much material still waiting to come down.
PLEASE POST UPDATES TO THE CONDITIONS AT ELEPHANT KNOB AS THEY CHANGE.
Elephant Knob is located on the lower Kern River Road (aka 22S82), approximately 1.5 past the Scout Camp. It is best approached by turning off of 22S82 onto 22S53--drive down the dirt road, park and hike up to the formation. Alternately, it is possible to park in a turnout at the 22S82/22S53 intersection and hike around the western side of the formation, but be very careful not to wander onto the closely-watched private property of the neighboring ranch.
As of 2004, this was among the only climbs free of loose rock. It is also perhaps the best crack climb on the formation.Start in a large recess below a gully on the south side of the dome. Traverses up and right and turn the corner of a blunt arete (5.6). Climb a finger & hand crack left of a pine tree (5.7). At a horizontal break, move left and climb a steep fist crack to a sloping ledge (5.7/5.8 and FUN). Belay takes small stoppers & TCUs. Rappel the gully to your starting point from sli...[more]Browse More Classics in CA
This place is BURNT (see my comment on main Needles page). Don't bother walking out there unless it's as a rest day curiosity or for some fun bouldering down in the flats. The rock is DONE, the hardware is DONE, this cliff is over with for this century, at least. Imagine a quarter mile high pile of Grape Nuts and you'll be in the neighborhood of what you're up against. If you get up something, plan on walking off, all vegetation and hardware is suspect and/or gone. Sad but true. Good thing there's lots of other great climbing nearby.