Mountain Project Logo

Routes in San Ysidro

Applied Magnetics T,TR 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Chavez/Mosher T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
Daddy's Girl S 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Enigmatic Voyage TR 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Face Lift T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Fine Line T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Great Race S,TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Haunted by Waters S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Heckling, The T,TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
Many Happy Returns T,TR 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Orangahang T,TR 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Peels of Laughter T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Puny Prow T,TR 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
Return On Investment T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Rick's Route T 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c R
Rockocco T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Scrub Job T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13
Too Mucking Futch T,TR 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Vanishing Flakes T,TR 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Weeny Roofs, The T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Young William T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Elevation: 774 ft
GPS: 34.454, -119.623 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 26,750 total · 183/month
Shared By: EricT on Feb 5, 2006 with updates
Admins: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes


With a good mix of routes and strong sandstone, San Ysidro is easily the best canyon climbing in Santa Barbara. There are a few dozen routes here ranging from hard slabs to vertical and sporty. The area is east facing and surrounded by dense foliage, so it is one of the slowest areas to dry out. Good all year round, barring recent rain. By SB standards, it gets busy, but that usually just means two or three groups on weekends.

There is a gully roughly in the middle of the wall which affords a 3rd class approach to the tops of the crags.

The following routes are listed left to right: (bold print indicates "classic"):

Left of Main Wall
1. Daddy's Girl (5.11a).
2. Two Fine Sons (5.10a).
3. Speed Zoo (5.6).
4. Return On Investment.
5. Haunted by Waters.

Main Wall
6. Brown Nose Frog (5.8).
7. Puny Prow (5.10). Single bolt.
8. The Big Sleep (5.11b/c).
9. Vanishing Flakes (5.11a) - CLASSIC. Difficulty seems to depend on the humidity and temperature; if you can get up to the drilled angle, life will be sweet. #4 Friend useful to protect the top.
10. Young William (5.12a R). Thin and runout testpiece with high ground fall potential.
11. Enigmatic Voyage (5.11b).
12. Rockocco (5.5). Take a couple of larger Friends.
13. Applied Magnetics (5.9) **. Climb a bit of history. Cool start to the route. Wired nuts keep it from getting run out.
14. Too Mucking Futch (5.8). Climb the crack. Pro: wires and small cams.
15. Face Lift (5.7) - CLASSIC. VERY popular. Be sure to take two long runners to reduce the rope drag on the first pitch. There are three variations to the second pitch.
16. Tigger Treat (5.8). From the belay of Face Lift, go up and split to the right (5.9).
17. Scrub Job (5.9). Traverse right from the belay of Face Lift.
18. Chavez/Mosher (5.10 R). Traverse farther right from the belay of Face Lift. It's thin for a long ways after the bolt.
19. Great Race (5.10a) - CLASSIC. "The best 5.10a in Santa Barbara" says Reese Martin. Don't chicken out: move left at the fifth bolt to get to the upper face. The direct start is 5.10b.
20. Peels of Laughter (5.5 R) **. Easy arete, but only two bolts on the entire pitch.
21. Many Happy Returns (5.9) - CLASSIC. Fun climb, seems easier; take a #2 Friend & some medium size wired nuts.
22. Amish in Space (5.10a R). From the ledge on the second bolt on Many Happy Returns, head left a bit then straight up through steep rock. A real trouser-filling lead.
23. Orangahang (5.7) - CLASSIC. Corner to a bulge.
24. Rick's Route (5.7) **. Thin face.
25. Fine Line (5.9) **. Thinner face climbing. Three bolts.
26. Ricky Don't Lose That Number (5.9 R). Don't worry about gear, there isn't any. On-sight, free solo first ascent.
27. The Weeny Roofs (5.10b R). Crux is setting up the roof moves. Four bolts.
28. The Heckling (5.10 R).
29. Teacher's Aid (5.8).

Upper San Ysidro

Upper San Ysidro is mostly shady and pretty remote. Despite touting some very commendable routes, this crag probably only sees one ascent per year, thus the prolific overgrowth. Gnome Fingers is the best of the lot.

Once you reach the turnoff for Lower San Ysidro, hike past the turnoff till you reach a fork where the fire road crosses the stream and a trail bears right. Take the right fork. Hike about a 3/4 mile up some switchbacks and past some pipe-railings. About 200 meters past the pipe-railings, look left for a large slab sloping down towards the creek. You can't miss it. However, getting TO the crag is tricky. I suggest hiking till you are directly parallel to the crag, then hike straight down the steep slope. There's lots of Poison oak so be warned...

Getting There

101 to Montecito, then San Ysidro exit. Right on East Valley Road to Park Lane, and then a left on Mountain Drive. After a short bit on Mountain Drive, park and take the trail leading through peoples' back yards to a fire road. Check out the GPS location for help. Head up the fire road for 5 minutes and then take a left right before the gate. Cross the stream and you'll be at the base.

21 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: San Ysidro Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at San Ysidro

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
More Classic Climbs in San Ysidro »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
I don't have photo evidence, but the base of the wall looks completely different, according to some trusted sources. It looks like a glacier went through there. Mind boggling destruction. Feb 5, 2018
I'm sure the wall is okay but San Ysidro Canyon got scoured clean in the last flood/mudslide that devastated Montecito. 1/2 of the San Ysidro ranch is just gone and the rest looks like this

static-13.sinclairstoryline… Jan 12, 2018
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
The main wall in San Ysidro canyon seems to have escaped much of the devastation that surrounds it. The Thomas Fire burned all the way down into the neighborhood below the crag. Miraculously no houses along the trail were destroyed. There is evidence of a significant controlled burn effort at the base of the crag prior to the arrival of the Thomas Fire. This may have spared the crag from the worst damage. Jan 3, 2018
Chris Bersbach
Arroyo Grande, CA
Chris Bersbach   Arroyo Grande, CA
I was just looking at the burn map, and it's clear that the crag was well inside of the burn area, as Matthew noted about a week ago. Now that the evacuation orders have been lifted, I'd be interested to hear what the canyon and the crag is like now. I've heard stories of rock being unaffected by wildfire, and stories where the heat from the fire destroyed rock quality and fixed gear. I'm sure it doesn't need to be said that the rocks are the least of most peoples' concerns right now, but I'm hoping to hear that this crag - one of the places I literally learned to climb - may still be climbable.

I'd also be willing to donate to a rebolting effort, if such a thing is needed and someone local steps up.… Dec 21, 2017
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
With the Thomas fire now approaching 250,000 acres, San Ysidro Canyon has become the most critical battleground for fire crews. Truly scary stuff:…

UPDATE: 70 mph winds raced down the canyon on Saturday pushing the fire well below the climbing site and up against the neighborhood. San Ysidro Canyon appears to have been devastated. Dec 14, 2017
Alan Cha
Berkeley, California
Alan Cha   Berkeley, California
Hey all, as of 8/7/17, climbing around the yellow jackets is manageable. The routes near Applied magnetics , Oranahang, and the 4th class gully are fine to climb. I only saw around 5 or 6 buzzing around the described area. No problems today, (unless you want to do the start of Many Happy Returns or Peels of Laughter)
I'd definitely stay clear of the rocks and trees as the base though. Aug 7, 2017
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
There is a yellow jacket nest in the ground, located between the base of Peels of Laughter and the large oak tree 20 feet back from the wall. The opening of the nest is located among some rocks and is hard to find until the swarm is on top of you. Two members of our party were each stung more than 10 times. Extreme caution is advised. Jun 22, 2017
Raylon Smith
Santa Barbara, California
Raylon Smith   Santa Barbara, California
Re: Getting There
As a first time visitor in late June 2014 I had a VERY hard time following the directions on this page to find the correct spot.

Here is a newbies guide to getting there. Park as instructed and stay on the trail (you're not really in anyone's back yard, you're near them on the trail). The trail will pop out adjacent to a road but continue along side of it. Walk past a metal gate with clearly marked signs for the trail. Stay on the main trail until you see, on the RIGHT side of the trail, a large slab sloping up and away from the trail at about a 40 degree angle. Just after you pass that look LEFT for a pathway leading down a not-very-steep decline towards the creek. Walk down this a short ways and you will see a large boulder in the middle of the trail with 2 trees behind it. Walk around the boulder, in between the trees and pop out at the base.
Jul 2, 2014
From the trail head, if you take the dirt trail and do not walk on the asphault except where you have to, then there are two gates. To get the the climbing area turn left about 100ft before the second gate. This is past the first gate on the dirt road and it is past where the sign says "Trail" and points left. Oct 21, 2013
Here's a link to footage of some of the climbs.… Oct 8, 2010
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
I replaced the filched rap-hanger, a Fixe double ring anchor, with a (much less expensive) bolt hanger and rapid links. Subsequently, someone has nabbed two sets of rapid links. I guess someone would really like us to walk off. Aug 5, 2008
Someone filched the bolt hanger and nut from one of the three bolts at the top of Orangahang. Jul 6, 2008
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
Excerpts from Anchors Away
by Duane Raleigh. Climbing Magazine, October 1992.

Anyone wishing to see the complete text, please contact me. Non-clientele will be required to pay a large fee ; ) Aug 22, 2006
Jon Hanlon   SLO
I think most people are aware of the inherent dangers of our sport, but I appreciate the reminder to evaluate fixed protection with a wary eye. I also appreciate efforts to replace unsafe bolts and anchors at our crags. The vigilance is admirable, but I am getting a little weary of the hysterical warnings about mortal danger and unsafe conditions on every climb. After 15 years of climbing on the Central Coast, it’s a wonder I am still alive! Please, leave a little adventure and discovery to the whole experience. Evaluating the conditions and making one’s own decisions are part of the process. As I have ranted before, not every climb needs to be “fixed” or needs to be toprope ready. If someone wants to replace bad anchors, great. If it is best to set a directional to eliminate a short pendulum, great. But let us figure something out on our own. Some of us enjoy that learning process.

I get tired of the sanitization of every crag so that is more palatable for mass-consumption. This trend is very erosive. For example, from “Face Lift” at San Ysidro: “The position of the bolt was moved approximately 4 feet to find harder rock in which to place the bolt and an easier stance from which to clip.” While you are at it, might as well add some more bolts or chip some holds to make it easier to climb.

All of these “safety improvements” (along with scads of photos, moving bolts, exaggerated warnings, etc.), appear to be an attempt to bolster a guide service. Now I understand why many of the classic lines at San Ysidro have begun sprouting retro-bolted toprope anchors.

Please consider how your actions may negatively impact climbers not included in the list of clientele. Aug 21, 2006
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
On August 15, 2006, I pulled one of the anchor bolts atop Peels/Great Race straight out of its hole with only moderate pressure. The bolt was a 1/2" wedge bolt!! It has been replaced by a Petzl Bat'inox glue-in. Aug 15, 2006
Santa Barbara, CA
EricT   Santa Barbara, CA
Matt, even if they're using an equalized anchor, rotating the chainlink on the right bolt to Great Race puts some nice leverage on the bolt. I don't know if this was the problem or if its the expansion business, either way... Aug 10, 2006
Santa Barbara, CA
EricT   Santa Barbara, CA
The right bolt on top of Peels of Laughter has a nice wobble to it. I'm guessing people have been toproping Great Race off of it and the way the bolts are set up this puts a nice force on the right bolt.

Someone who has more experience bolting want to check it out? Aug 9, 2006
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
During the week of March 20, there was a significant rock-fall event in the main descent gully at San Ysidro.

In this event, at least 30 cubic feet (3,000-lbs?) of rock fell from high in the descent gully, from opposite the start of "Scrub Job." It is obvious that a considerable amount of instability remains and that smaller rock falls are happening regularly. A refrigerator-sized chalk-stone at the top of the gully (8 feet below the large oak tree) appears to have been undercut and could release.

Fortunately, falling rock has thus far tended to stay in the gully and does not appear to immediately threaten climbers on any of the major routes--with the possible exception of climbers at the bottom of "Great Race." Be extremely cautious when using the descent gully. Apr 3, 2006
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
About the old Applied Magnetics fixed anchor:
Despite their age, the bolts themselves proved to be in decent condition. At the same time, the rock that they were in was absolutely scary. Beneath the patina, the rock was super soft and tended to remain damp for several weeks after a rain. Other than the patina itself, these bolts were essentially held in by mud.

I'm starting to learn that the greatest weakness of fixed gear in Santa Barbara is not the type of hardware or its age; rather, it's the rock itself. [Although, there is plenty of crappy gear too--including 5/16" x 3" expansion bolts all over San Ysidro.] Do not be fooled by the apparent hardness of this sandstone on its surface. Beneath the 1/4-1/8" thick patina is sandstone which is soft enough and coarse-grained enough to be scratched with a fingernail.

Climbers should be advised that there are only a very few types of fixed gear that prove solid during tests when placed in rock as soft as ours. Even a traditional climbing-specific Fixe wedge anchor has very little holding power in such conditions (they actually break the rock inside the hole). Glue-ins and Fixe Triplex expansion bolts are your only reliable bet. Every thing else (meaning most of the fixed gear in SB) should be treated with suspicion. Feb 20, 2006
Jon Hanlon   SLO
Thanks for the new set of anchors on Applied Magnetics...the old ones were looking pretty shabby.

I also noticed the horrible anchor chop-job at the top of Many Happy Returns. On another website, I read a post questioning why some of the retro-anchors were chopped, as they were essentially TR anchors.

San Ysidro has a proud history and has never been a considered a "Toproping" area, and I can understand how some could be offended by new TR anchors. I myself feel that not all of the new anchors are necessary. A directional nut can easily be placed at the top of Great Race to keep the follower out of the gully, and Vanishing Flakes could always be toproped with bomber cams. You could also TR Vanishing Flakes from Applied Magnetics with a directional in the crack. Not every climb needs to be "toprope ready."

On the other hand, San Ysidro's popularity requires some new thinking on the part of would-be choppers. People DO toprope, and the damage caused by hundreds of ropes can be greater that the damage by a couple of bolts. This can be seen by the deep rope grooves in the rock at the top of Orangahang (Maybe the anchors that got chopped were attempting to address this). I also worry about the oak tree that has suffered hundreds of rappels and ropes pulled around its trunk without the benefit of fixed slings/rap rings. If anywhere needs a retro-anchor, or rap station (or just some slings) it is here.

My point? Both sides of the issue need to be considered. Not every route should be reduced to a convenient toprope route, but at the same time we need to be able to bend our own rules to help preserve our crag.

Thanks again for your effort and expense in the replacement of the manky anchors. Feb 19, 2006
M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
Many of the routes at San Ysidro warrant a PG/R rating for seriousness. Unless you are toproping, anticipate significant runout sections on somewhat friable rock. Feb 11, 2006

More About San Ysidro

Printer-Friendly Guide
What's New
Guidebooks (3)

All Photos Within San Ysidro (85)

Most Popular · Newest