Elevation: 7,151 ft
GPS: 34.235, -117.078 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 1,630,443 total · 9,102/month
Shared By: C Miller on Feb 2, 2006
Admins: C Miller, M Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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 an abundance of climbing.

Rock in the San Bernardino Mountains is mostly granite which ranges in quality from excellent to somewhat grainy like Joshua Tree, with most being quite good. Because many of the routes are newer or don't see as much traffic they can be a little dirty or sport some lichen.

Routes in the San Bernardino Mountains are typically single pitch affairs with the odd exception, but what they 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 San Bernardino Mountains - 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 4 inches 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.

  • Singer, B. (2002). Hidden Treasures, Rock Climbing in the San Bernardino Mountains. San Bernardino, CA: Glentex Publications. The only comprehensive guidebook for the area - out of print.
  • Mayr, T. (2004). Southern California Sport Climbing Guide, 3rd Edition. Huntington Beach, CA: K. Daniels and Associates. With a limited amount of information on the area this is more of a sampling of the Holcomb Valley Pinnacles.
  • Singer, B. (2008). Hidden Treasures East: Big Bear Basin. San Bernardino, CA: Glentex Publications. Details the climbs in the Big Bear Lake Area - out of print.
  • Slater, T. (2013). Southern California Rock Climbing, California Road Trip Vol. II. Bishop, CA: Maximus Press. A sampling of routes in the Holcomb Valley Central Pinnacles are featured in this guide.
  • Owen, C. & Miller, C. (2019). Holcomb: Sky Forest Gold. Big Bear Lake, CA: Chris Owen Publishing. A complete guide to the popular Holcomb Valley Pinnacles.  

1,693 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
 200
Gold Standard
Sport
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 337
Bye Crackie
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 353
Coyotes at Sunset
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 74
Aurora Borealis
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 132
Ricochet
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 80
Vertical Epic
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 229
Powder Keg
Sport
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
 302
Pistol Pete
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 85
Tombstone Shadow
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 168
Lost Orbit
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 100
Mighty Quinn
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 170
Doc's Holiday
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 225
Coyotes in the Henhouse
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 108
Long Arm of The Law
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 94
The Incinerator
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Gold Standard Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Gold Wall
 200
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Sport
Bye Crackie Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Coyote Crag
 337
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Coyotes at Sunset Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Coyote Crag
 353
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Aurora Borealis Big Bear Lake Area > … > Black Bluff - N… > Black Bluff - N Face…
 74
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Ricochet Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Pistol Whipped Wall
 132
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Vertical Epic Big Bear Lake Area > … > Pinnacles North > Stone Wall
 80
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Powder Keg Big Bear Lake Area > … > Motherlode Rock > Motherlode Rock - N Face
 229
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Pistol Pete Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Doc Holliday Wall
 302
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Sport
Tombstone Shadow Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Tombstone Pit
 85
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Lost Orbit Big Bear Lake Area > … > Lost Orbit Rock… > Lost Orbit Rock - E F…
 168
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Mighty Quinn Big Bear Lake Area > … > Motherlode Rock > Motherlode Rock - W Face
 100
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Doc's Holiday Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Doc Holliday Wall
 170
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Coyotes in the Henhouse Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Claim Jumper Wall
 225
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Long Arm of The Law Big Bear Lake Area > … > Motherlode Rock > Motherlode Rock - W Face
 108
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
The Incinerator Big Bear Lake Area > … > Central Pinnacles > Incinerator Wall
 94
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
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