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Areas in San Bernardino Mountains

Big Bear Lake Area 231 / 294 / 51 / 62 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 625
Galena Peak 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Highway 38 Crags 9 / 107 / 5 / 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 125
Lake Arrowhead Area 102 / 155 / 13 / 1 / 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 268
Mormon Rocks 2 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Running Springs Area 135 / 85 / 45 / 127 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 374
San Gorgonio Mountain 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0

Description

Rising east of Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Bernardino Mountains are home to the tallest peak in Southern California, Mt. San Gorgonio (11,502'/3506m), as well as numerous hiking trails, campgrounds, off-road trails and thousands, yes thousands, of rock climbs.

The rock in the San Bernardino Mountains (SB's) is mostly granite which ranges in quality from excellent to somewhat grainy ala Joshua Tree, with most being quite good. Because many of the routes are newer don't be surprised if some are a bit dirty and sport some residual lichen - it's nothing a bit of traffic won't take care of.

Routes in the SB's are typically single pitch affairs with the odd exception, but what the SB's lack in height they make up for with diversity and a plethora of crags scattered far and wide. Oddly, the neighboring San Jacinto Mountains (home to Tahquitz and Suicide Rock) seem to have gotten the wealth of multi-pitch crags. Many traditional and sport routes are found here, often with both styles at the same crag. The bouldering potential here is huge and much potential still exists for those so inclined.

Three major climbing areas exist in the SB's - the Lake Arrowhead Pinnacles, Keller Peak and the Holcomb Valley Pinnacles; these are areas with enough climbing to keep one busy for days or more. There also exists many other minor areas which are worth checking out for a day or less of climbing.

How to get there?

Four main routes exist for getting into the San Bernardino Mountains:

  • Highway 18 (southern approach) - Starts from Hwy 30, climbs into the mountains quickly via a 4 lane road, and then pinches down to a narrow and windy 2 lane road when you hit the rim, just past the Crestline turnoff. Plan on 30 minutes to the rim and another 15-20 minutes to Running Springs.
  • Highway 330 - Short and direct, this mostly two-lane highway with the odd passing lane breaks off Highway 30 in the town of Highland and ends at the junction with Highway 18 in the town of Running Springs. Expect about a 30 minute drive from Highland to Running Springs; holiday weekends can more than double this time, so plan accordingly.
  • Highway 38 - Starts at Interstate 10 in Redlands and takes a scenic route through the moutains to end at the Big Bear Lake dam. Also known locally as the "back route", this road tends to avoid the traffic common to Highway 18 with it's lack of facilities along the way. Plan on a one hour drive from Redlands to Big Bear City and note that this is a two-lane road most of the way with the odd passing lane - getting stuck behind a motorhome will increase your drive time.
  • Highway 18 (northern approach) - Leaves Highway 247 (aka the Barstow Road) in the town of Lucerne Valley and climbs steeply up the northern escarpment of the mountains to pop out on the eastern end of Baldwin Lake, which lies due east of Big Bear Lake. Plan on about 45 minutes to Big Bear Lake from the bottom.

Camping and Fire Restrictions

Free camping is available almost anywhere in the forest, often with established campsites near the climbing area.

Scattered throughout the area are a number of pay campgrounds with varying fees and degrees of comfort.

See the individual areas for more detailed camping information.

Climbing Gear

If sport climbing nothing more than a dozen draws are needed, and if climbing some of the traditional routes a standard rack to 3" should suffice for the majority of the routes. Check the individual area descriptions for more details.

Guidebooks to the Area

Below is a listing of current and old guidebooks, some of which are out of print.

  • Singer, B. (2002). Hidden Treasures, Rock Climbing in the San Bernardino Mountains. San Bernardino, CA: Glentex Publications. - the only comprehensive guidebook for this area is out of print.
  • Mayr, T. (2004). Southern California Sport Climbing Guide, 3rd Edition. Huntington Beach, CA: K. Daniels and Associates. - has a limited amount of information on the area making it more of a "select" guide.
  • Singer, B. (2008). Hidden Treasures East: Big Bear Basin. San Bernardino, CA: Glentex Publications. - covers climbs in the Big Bear Area but it too is out of print.
  • Slater, T. (2013). Southern California Rock Climbing, California Road Trip Vol. II. Bishop, CA: Maximus Press. - is the newest guide to feature a sampling of routes in the Central Pinnacles.

1,397 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at San Bernardino Mountains

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 172
Gold Standard
Sport
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 282
Bye Crackie
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 291
Coyotes at Sunset
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 106
Shoot at Will
Sport
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 179
Golden Poodle
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 106
Ricochet
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 185
Claim Jumper
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 168
One Armed Bandit
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 183
Powder Keg
Sport
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
 234
Pistol Pete
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 122
Lost Orbit
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 129
Doc's Holiday
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 174
Coyotes in the Henhouse
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 78
Long Arm of The Law
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 69
The Incinerator
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Gold Standard Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Gold Wall
 172
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Sport
Bye Crackie Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Coyote Crag
 282
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Coyotes at Sunset Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Coyote Crag
 291
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Shoot at Will Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Tombstone Pit
 106
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Golden Poodle Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Coyote Crag
 179
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport
Ricochet Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Pistol Whipped Wall
 106
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Claim Jumper Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Claim Jumper Wall
 185
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
One Armed Bandit Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Claim Jumper Wall
 168
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Powder Keg Big Bear Lake Area > … > Motherlode Rock > Motherlode Rock - N Face
 183
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Pistol Pete Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Doc Holliday Wall
 234
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Sport
Lost Orbit Big Bear Lake Area > … > Lost Orbit Rock > Lost Orbit Rock - E Face
 122
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Doc's Holiday Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Doc Holliday Wall
 129
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Coyotes in the Henhouse Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Claim Jumper Wall
 174
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Long Arm of The Law Big Bear Lake Area > … > Motherlode Rock > Motherlode Rock - W Face
 78
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
The Incinerator Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Incinerator Wall
 69
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
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No more stupid fees (for those that comply with these kinds of things)

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