The Monkey Skull is arguably the most popular climbing destination in the SSV canyon. It is a large, West facing plate with a good mix of moderate trad and moderate sport routes. Most of the climbing runs into 5.9 to 5.10+. The Monkey Skull is a good granite crag that picks up afternoon sun, has a short approach, and enough routes to keep a climbing party busy for a day.
The Monkey Skull is just about 6.5 miles up canyon. Parking can be had on the South side of the road. The crag and the trail up are obvious from the road.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Monkey Skull:
Upside The Cranium is the best of the lines on the Monkey Skull. It begins just right of the main trad dihedral on greyish, sub-vertical rock. The route begins to steepen as you approach bolt 4 and finishes up just about vertical. No one move is all that difficult, and most moves are 5.10- until near the last bolt where a long reach on thin but good edges delivers the crux (5.10c). Worth a pair of stars for the good rock, the continuity, and the fun climbing moves on well bolted stone....[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Led said 12 bolt route with red hangers yesterday 6/25/03. Might be a cruxy 10c if you stay on route. Stay away from the poison ivy tree, climb the thin face to the left of that bush, climb the crimpers to finger ledge to clip bolt 9 (I think its 9, last bolt before the traverse around the corner to the left). I placed a yellow Flex Friend on the way up the last vertical section, but this was unecessary, just quickdraws is enough gear. The only bolt not worth clipping might be #5, I back-unclipped it to keep drag down. For a minute, It felt like higher 10/11 crimpers, but its over too quickly to increase the grade above 10c...hell, it might even go at 10b if you know what to expect...I will have to climb it again to know for sure, its pretty safe climbing though, give it a try, **.
There is what looks like a moderately new bolt line on the second tier (i.e., above Upside the Cranium) leading to the skull (maybe for "Alvino's Variation," as in the BG guide?). I did not notice the bolts when I was up there last year, although they could have been there.... Any info from those who know? The guide doesn't mention bolts.
The new line above the second tier is Ripple 11b(?). I put it up early in 2011 if I remember correctly. I never got around to submitting it, but I will now. Fun slab climbing after a tough start. QDs only. Makes a nice addendum to Upside/Sunshine, etc. Enjoy.