Pine Canyon Rock Climbing
|GPS:||37.883, -121.99 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Aron Quiter on Jun 24, 2002|
|Admins:||Aron Quiter, M Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes|
Pine Canyon is closed to climbing from February 1st through July 31st every year for Peregrine Falcon nesting.
Climbing here during the closure will result in a hefty fine and the confiscation of your climbing gear!
Pine Canyon offers some of the best adventure climbing in the Bay Area (both sport and trad) for those looking to explore on moderate multi-pitch routes. It's an obscure sand box where pushing your mental abilities and adventure level far out weigh anything gained by manufacturing routes that simply allow one to "pull hard" and improve their meager climbing abilities.
It has some of the largest formations in the Bay Area, and not as crowded as the rest of them. The sandstone in these cracks is of good quality (better than what you will find at the Boy Scout Rocks or Castle Rock State Park) and any sections that are not are protected with a bolt placement. There's definitely some loose rock up there, so wear a helmet and be careful. Some bushwhacking and route finding may be required but also part of the fun, and the total distance is under a mile.
It is most comfortably climber in summer mornings and evenings, and from November through May. You don't want to forget your swim trunks for afterwards, there's a pool near the entrance of the park.
Castle Rock is a really long rock, so there are loads of top-rope problems on the south side of the rock. Offering insanely loose rock on routes up to 100 feet, often times a 5.6 climb will turn into a 5.10. But you're on a toprope, so if climbing gets too hard, you can always bail out to the left or right. There are also a selection of topropes on the backside on rock that isn't quite so loose, though the climbs are shorter, from 25' to 50'. The top of this rock is really pointed, so there are dozens of places to put a top anchor on the holes, rocks, and trees in the top area. Although a pain in the butt to get to, this is a fairly good place to bring up someone's confidence in falling. Something will break, and they will fall. The climbs are long and often easy (5.6 - 5.11+) yet sustained.
Flintstone Rock can be a great place for lunch if you're climbing in the Pine Cliffs area, as you can often find shelter from the blistering east bay sun under it's large overhang. Because of the fragile nature of this rock, bring long slings for topropes(20'+), don't climb this area for at least 3 days after a rain storm, and be careful of loose bolts and anchors, as many of them cannot withstand too many serious falls. The rock itself offers a variety of climbing, despite the fact that presently only two climbs have been developed on it. Yabba Dabba Dudes (5.10a) is on a very chossy face that is on a large portion of rock that has cracked off the main cliff. The chimney climb that ascends this crack is the other route, Pigeon Tunnel. To the left of these two routes is an enormous overhung cave with tons of features. I would assume that the difficulty of top-roping this area has served as a barrier against further development.
Pagoda Rock is the western face of two rocks (the other being "The Rock of Ages" to the east) with a narrow alley between them. From the west the Pagoda can be noticed as having a very large face that is about 80' at the leftmost side and spans to a length of about 150' on it's right side. There are four routes on the Pagoda last I was there one of which is an aid route up the shortest side of the rock at the top of the alley between it and Rock of Ages. The other routes are on the western face ranging from 5.7 - 5.10. The best way to approach The Pagoda is from the stage road in Pine Canyon. There is a wash that leads directly up to it and is relatively easy to spot from the road. The other way to reach the Pagoda is from the state park road and walk down to it from the Pine Canyon ridgeline. If climbing on Castle Rock, there is a diagonal trail with mixed bush whacking to arrive at the Pagoda as well.
The Rock of Ages is found just behind the Pagoda. It has a large distinctive cave half way up the wall. Approach form its left side and through the narrow passageway between the Rock of Ages and the Pagoda. The rock can range form crumbly and loose to solid and clean. The base of this wall is a great place to hang out when the temps soar. You can always find shade and a nice cool breeze comes up from the bottom of the canyon. This rock sees the most traffic in the canyon, but you'll still be lucky to see anyone.
Deliverance Rock is currently home to two climbs, a 5.11b and a 5.12a, though there is potential for several other tougher routes. Being part of Pine Canyon means that this is indeed a very annoying area to get into. Deliverance rock will add to that annoyance, as there is no good trail established to access the rock from the other climbs. This rock faces north, and cannot be seen from any other direction, so without investigation or the first approach, you would have a hard time knowing that it's there. The good news about Deliverance rock is that the climbing faces north, and is also partially shaded, so this will offer some relief from the hot sun. It is also slightly overhanging, which is a difference from most of the other established routes in the area. Also, the rock here is as solid as in any of the boyscout rocks, which cannot be said about any of the other rocks in the Pine Canyon area.
Miller Pillar lies below Flintstone Rock about 200 yards and is not set far in from the Stage Road. It is back and left of the very large rock outcropping that sits very close to Stage Road as seen in the photo. There are two sets of anchors on top of the rock indicating two known routes. One route is an 8 bolt sport route while the other seems to be 100% trad. The rock is very loose and crumbly on the sport route. The cliff faces west and gets full sun from late morning onwards. Descent is off the top to the right and meets up with the trail leading down from Castle and Flintstone Rocks. The easiest approach to this area is from the Stage Road in Pine Canyon. From the parking lot, the walk in is about 15 minutes. The rocks come in full view as you approach an obvious stream wash crossing the road. An easy approach trail leads up and left of the major rock outcropping to the base of this rock. Continuing up the trail gets you to Flintstone Rock and further up to Castle Rock. Additional info from Salamanizer suchoski:
The two routes and descriptions from left to right are:
- Dingleberry Crack (5.9)Trad, (FA.Unknown) Good pro for the most part. Climb a short wall to get to the dingleberry, then get pro in and climb around. Continue up to the short crux where the crack gets continually smaller until it runs out just after a fixed pin. Climbing above the pin to the anchors is the real crux because its a bit runnout.
- Just to the left is The Right Cheek (5.10+)sport(FA.Chad Suchoski 04) A bouldery start makes this climb much harder. A critical hold broke down low then looks to be chipped back in by some coward who wanted to bring the climb to his level. The crux is sustained through the first two bolts then eases up to .9/10 terratory on reachy juggy holds.
- All bolts are 1/2in by 3 3/4in Powers bolts. Top anchors are 4 3/4 by 1/2in Powers bolts. The bolts are bomber. The rock is a bit loose and hasn't seen to many accents. Probably better for toprope unless you have it well in hand.
The Teeth is an out of the way destination for most people, but has a few top rope problems worth checking out and one of the only clean splitter hand cracks in the Bay Area. You are sure to find solitude and shade in the summer. The rock quality varies from worthless choss to solid rock. If you don't like what you find on these rocks, no worry, there is plenty of room for new routes. Watch out for poison oak. This is one of the few area's in the canyon where poison oak is present near climbs. From the bottom of the canyon they are the group of rock furthest to the left and near the top of the hill. Approach from the top and walk down their north side to reach the climbs. There's not much of a trail but the walk is mostly open space. Approaching from the bottom of the canyon requires bushwhacking the whole way while likely unsuccessfully dodging massive amounts of poison oak.
Approach #1: approach time 25 minutes
Instead of going by car into Mt. Diablo State park via the North entrance, continue south on Oak Grove Road passing North Gate road (which takes you into Mt. Diablo State Park) on your left. Oak Grove becomes Castle Rock Road. Head up Castle Rock Road past the high school until it ends, which is the parking lot for Castle Rock Regional park (no, not the state park in San Jose).
Park, and continue on into the park about a third of a mile via the main trail. Go straight through the developed park, which has a swimming pool, several large fields, and a bathroom just to the left of the trail. The teeth, a large band of cliffs just left of the main Pine Canyon area that look like a set of crooked teeth, are visible for most approach hovering on the horizon just left of the trail. Continue on the main trail to a cattle gate (not one of the cattle gates near the parking lot), where the trail forks. Cross through the cattle gate and continue straight on the main trail, which is now called Stage Road. You will see a dam on the left eventually. From this point continue on the main trail following the barbed with fence which borders the left side of the path. The main sections of rocks will come into view on the left side of the trail as you walk, eventually all of Pine Canyon will loom to the left of the trail.
Once the Barbed wire fence ends, find a spot to head uphill, and hike uphill keeping the appropriately named Castle Rock as a reference.
Flintstone rock has a very large cave in the front of it, and is located directly below Castle rock.
Approach #2: approach time 30 minutes
To access the Pine cliffs area, enter from the north section of the park for the shortest drive and simplest reference points. Approximately 1.5 miles from the gate is a "Mt. Diablo Northwest Border" sign on the right. Park alongside the road, and head off the road at the fire road entrance, which has recently been changed from an orange gate to 5 wooden posts. On the middle post a sign stating "59 - 13", which you can see from your car hanging about 2 feet above ground. You should head onto the fire road here and head uphill through the wide area. Initially parallel to the main paved road, the fire road will move away from the paved road.
Walk along the fire road, and hang a right at the signed intersection. This heads switches back up the hill, and around a bend. About 1/2 a mile later you will reach a small pond on the right side. After the pond, you will notice a faint set of trails heading through the tall grass, one of the later ones has seen more wear. Pick your favorite, and walk along until the join into one larger trail (you can see this walking down the trail once the pond comes into view about 200 yards off the trail, and 50 or so feet above the valley floor), which heads nearly straight uphill. Walk uphill for 400 or so vertical feet to the ridge, where you will find a crossing larger trail.
Continue on past the ridge trail on a very narrow trail surrounded by really tall sharp thorny bushes. Abruptly, Lookout Rock will appear in front of you. Hang a right on a trail just prior to lookout rock, and you will find your way to Castle Rock, which has no bolts on it.
Flintstone Rock is the next rock 100 feet downhill and left from Castle Rock, and the top is visible and reachable from the left side of Castle Rock. The trail to climbing on this rock is around on the far right side of the rock, and is also surprisingly steep narrow and loose.
You know you're in the right spot when you're inside of a LARGE overhang that has lots of graffiti on it. There is an overhang on Castle rock, but they are set apart because the Flintstone rock overhang is larger, and there is a vertical chimney in the right side.
From the bottom of the canyon, work your way around the back side of the first formation (Mammoth rock)and follow the trails heading right toward the Pagoda and Rock of Ages. You will decend into a steep ravine and see several ways to go. Try and shoot for between the two big rock formations and you'll be good.
Classic Climbing Routes at Pine Canyon
Days w Precip