Elevation: 2,679 ft
GPS: 34.477, -119.679 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 6,040 total · 38/month
Shared By: M. Morley on Feb 3, 2006
Admins: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes


Toxic Waste Wall was developed as a high-quality sport climbing crag almost entirely by the efforts of Pat Briggs & Tony Becchio during 1991/92. Also involved were local guidebook author Steve Edwards, Tim Brown, Dave Griffith and Scott Buchanan.

I think of Upper Gibraltar and Toxic Waste Wall as basically the same crag. I typically start at the left end of TWW and work my way right towards Upper Gib. There aren't too many places within an hour's drive of SB that you can knock out a half dozen or so pretty good routes in a half day. As I have mentioned in several route descriptions, take a light rack to supplement bolt protection, and you should be fine. There may not be a bolt every body length, but I certainly wouldn't call it overly runout, dangerous or scary (if you are looking for that, go lead some of the routes at San Ysidro!).

All routes face due south, making it a great winter destination and fairly miserable during the summer months. Spectacular ocean views. As with most areas around Santa Barbara, watch for poison oak at the base of the routes and on the approach.

Getting There

From the Sheffield Reservoir at the NE corner of 192 and Mountain Drive, drive north along the winding Gibraltar Road for several miles (~15-20 minutes). Just before reaching the Main Gibraltar Rock, there is a hairpin turn to the left. Park here in the established pullout on the right (east) side of the road. If you pass under an obvious bolted face (the old Bolt Ladder) directly above the road, you've gone just a bit too far.

Note: it is possible to hike all the way from Skofield Park up the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail (~1.5 hrs) should Gibraltar Road be closed due to rockslides/construction or if you're just looking for a little extra exercise. The hike is beautiful and highly recommended.

6 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Toxic Waste Wall Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at Toxic Waste Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c PG13
Two Stone Wipe
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Hazardous Waste
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Two Stone Wipe
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c PG13 Sport
Hazardous Waste
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
More Classic Climbs in Toxic Waste Wall »

Sun & Shade

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


Stephen Pratt
Goleta, CA
Stephen Pratt   Goleta, CA
It seems like the two right-most routes and also that route on the left with the red webbing needs permenant anchors placed above them. The bolts seem just fine, but the anchors on top are pretty shady or non existant. I know I'd appreciate if someone took the time and effort to do that. If I had the gear I'd do it myself, but I'd need someone to teach me how first... anyone?? :-D Jul 10, 2006
Stephen Pratt
Goleta, CA
Stephen Pratt   Goleta, CA
My friend and I were climbing at Toxic Waste over the weekend and we replaced the old red and black webbing above Toxic Socks with a new black piece of webbing. We didn't have any tan sandstone colored webbing to match the rock, but we figured that it was pretty neutral (sandstone rock there has black marks) and having a new anchor was most important. Jul 30, 2007
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
"High-quality" and "sport climbing" are misleading. At this stage, most of the lead bolts demonstrate significant corrosion. Nearly all of the top-anchors are of poor quality. Even more importantly, there seems to be no relationship between bolt placements and crux moves or bolt placements and good clipping stances.

The crag feels like it was developed by 5.12/5.13 climbers for whom the bolted protection was merely incidental. Most routes will be hair-raising for anyone who isn't super solid at the grade.

The top-anchors are inexplicable. Aug 11, 2008
steve edwards
steve edwards   SLC, UT
Terrifying is probably a stretch but I'm sure the place is in need of the renevation after all these years. The anchors were always a bit strange, as this was old school first generation sport climbing. Holds also tend to break, so it is possible the the bolts aren't all in the right places anymore as well. This entire area could be retro'd in an afternoon for less than $100 total. Someone should probably take the time to do it. I would if I were still in the area. Aug 12, 2008
Jon Hanlon   SLO
I have climbed here lots, and never noticed anything much beyond a bunch of good climbs and fun adventures.

Steve Edwards, could you be a little more specific with your comments? You have said some things that I suspect may result in the area getting "fixed", which in the past has entailed moving bolts, cutting vegetation, relocation of anchors, addition of toprope anchors, and generally making the area toprope ready and safe for the children. Specifically, you said the area could be retro'd. Is this what you are advocating? I guess you have some say in it since you were there for lots of it, but at some point routes belong to everyone. I personally would not like to see Toxic Waste Wall emasculated and "improved." Replace bolts? - Yes, slight adjustment of bolt location due to rock breaking? - Usually. Anything beyond this, in my opinion, No. This sh1t is stealing the soul of climbing. Aug 12, 2008
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
To be clear, Jon, I am not advocating "fixing" anything. I am simply asking for truth in advertising. This is not a modern "sport crag" and should not be referred to as such. True sport crags do not usually have areas where a routine fall will result in a broken ankle

I would prefer if the Area Description used Steve's words:
"old-school, first generation sport crag." Aug 24, 2008
Jeff Mahoney
Santa Barbara, CA
Jeff Mahoney   Santa Barbara, CA
Having run all these routes again yesterday I agree with Jon that, no, nothing should be retro'd. All the bolts are still in good shape (no spinners, no movement). The runouts are part of the "spice" of the wall, which I quite enjoy; if you're concerned, place a piece in between (a #1 or #.75 is all you'll need for any of the routes). However, I disagree about the top anchors which are just a plain pain in the ass; those should be replaced simply to get rid of all the rat's nests webbing, cord & tat that keeps accumulating. It's kind of a stretch to say that by putting in better top anchors this is going to turn into a "kiddie wall."

On a related note, there's been plenty broken off of Toxic Socks to warrant a 9+ (well, if you stay on the face all the way up). Sep 8, 2008
I used to climb here back in my college days at UCSB. Went back up to the Toxic Wall on 8-8-09 and was very disappointed to see that the wall has essentially been destroyed by recent fires. The face of the wall has literally been baked off. The approach is littered with sharp, angular fragments of rock that came off the wall. On closer inspection, large flakes can easily be pulled off the face wih minimal force. Bolts remain, but their security is highly questionable. Maybe it will clean up years from now and someone can redevelop the whole face. Who knows what climbs exist under the trashed face.

EDIT to add: I finally reclimbed hazardous waste and chemical warfare in may 2011 and was surprised to see that these routes have cleaned up well since the fire. Good fun, though the anchors could use some chains. Aug 22, 2009
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
I think most climbers around here would appreciate some chains on the anchors. Plated steel chains should be fine. Fixe anchor rings are the gold standard, but I believe that some hefty (at least 5/16") chains are sufficient for Toxic Waste wall, especially if you aren't top-roping directly off the chains and are using them only to "extend" the anchor or rappel. Some organizations believe in eliminating the use of chains altogether in favor of Fixe anchor rings (or similar products) but—anectdotally—beefy plated steel chains are quite strong. All in all, I suggest checking out the ASCA website. Jun 30, 2011
Oceano, CA
SmartRockClimbing   Oceano, CA
Hi everyone,
I'm thinking of visiting the Toxic Waste Wall or Upper Gibralter area. It sounds like it was affected by a fire a while ago. does anyone have a more recent conditions report (the last comment about these areas are from a while ago).


Pieter Feb 25, 2015
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
Besides the brush growing mostly back, I don't have any updates on the climbing at Toxic and Upper. Some buddies of mine recently headed up to Upper Gibraltar and had a good time, so I'm going to assume that things are at least climbable. Feb 25, 2015
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
Upper Gibraltar is in pretty fine shape. A Route Runs Through it has seen many of its lead bolts and 3//8" coldshut hangers replaced. And the rock on this formation was never seriously damaged by the Jesusita Fire.

At last check, the story at the Toxic Waste Wall was another matter. Tons (literally) of rock was blasted off this wall by the rapid expansion of water under the intense heat of the fire. Any bolts that have not been replaced since the Jesusita fire should be treated with suspicion. Feb 26, 2015
I have climbed up here a few times since the fires, but it has been half a year since I have been up to Toxic Wall. At that time I noticed "Toxic Socks" has had one of the "old chain link on a stud between washers with webbing threaded anchors" replaced with a beefy Rawl and chain.

'Hazardous Waste' and 'Chemical Warfare' had serviceable anchors. Though the webbing on the 'CW' anchor was sun bleached.

'Two Stone Wipe' has a post fire two bolt anchor with chain links which is in an excellent position for rappelling but not toproping unless you extend and add some gear directionals. Best done as a lead, bring up the second, then both rap scenario. TSW's original anchor was a few pieces of webbing around some stout Manzanita. After the fire, well... no Manzanita. It seems that even now, there still isn't much anchor worthy vegetation here.

We didn't climb it but I looked at 'Crock-O-Stimpy' towards the right end of the wall and I decided I didn't want to use myself as a test dummy on the anchor bolts....even if I could get some webbing threaded through the single chain link on threaded studs and washer combo.

In regards to the rock and climbing the routes themselves, it seemed most have achieved a steady state near the same pre-fire grade.

Some lead bolts may feel solid, but they all have been super-heated by the fires and integrity of any installation should be seriously questioned.

BTW, the "access tree" at the start of the wall/trail is hanging on by the last of its roots.
Feb 26, 2015