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Routes in Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)

Bee Line T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Black Wall Traverse V2 5+
Boss Man, The T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Chips Block T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13
Edge of Night T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Ending Crack T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Floyd T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Glory Days S 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Half Ascent T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
Lost in the Sespe T 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Mrs. Murphy's Rusty Old Packard T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13
Pine to Pine T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Pipe Cleaner T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Roadside Cracks T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Tree Root T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Wadka T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Wasp/The Sting, The T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R
White Spider, The T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
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Description

The Sespe Gorge/Black Wall offers the Central Coast's only true multi-pitch climbing within a 4-hr drive. There are around 2 dozen documented routes, all on fairly low-angle terrain and varying in quality from excellent to downright horrible. Ending Crack (5.7) and Tree Root (5.5) account for about 98% of climber traffic on any given day. Expect to encounter some loose rock and vegetation on the less popular routes.

In the summer months, the wall is in the sun most of the day.

6 bolts on the Ending Crack rappel route were replaced 9/99 by Reese Martin. 2 ropes are needed to descend most routes.

Getting There

From Ojai, head north on 33 for about 20 miles. There is a small pullout for the Black Wall on the left side of the road.

If coming from Santa Maria or San Luis Obispo, it's faster to take the 166 east out of Santa Maria towards New Cuyama (passing Silly Rocks en route), turning right (south) onto 33 up and over Pine Mountain pass. Done this way, the Black Wall and Potrero John are about 100 miles (1.5+ hrs) from Santa Maria.

18 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
V2 5+
 8
Black Wall Traverse
Boulder
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 77
Tree Root
Trad 2 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 39
Pipe Cleaner
Trad
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
 102
Ending Crack
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
 8
Bee Line
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
 8
Edge of Night
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
 9
The White Spider
Trad
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 7
Roadside Cracks
Trad
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R
 5
The Wasp/The Sting
Trad 3 pitches
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 11
Glory Days
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Black Wall Traverse
 8
V2 5+ Boulder
Tree Root
 77
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 2 pitches
Pipe Cleaner
 39
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad
Ending Crack
 102
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13 Trad 2 pitches
Bee Line
 8
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13 Trad 2 pitches
Edge of Night
 8
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Trad 2 pitches
The White Spider
 9
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Trad
Roadside Cracks
 7
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
The Wasp/The Sting
 5
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R Trad 3 pitches
Glory Days
 11
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
More Classic Climbs in Sespe Gorge (Black Wall) »

Weather Averages

High
 
Low
 
Precip
 
Days w Precip
 
Prime Climbing Season
J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
It is possible to climb at Sespe Gorge year round; however, hot summer days can be unpleasant and winter is hit or miss. Warm, winter days can actually be fantastic as this is the only time of year when you are likely to have the wall to yourself. Just keep in mind that you will climb in the shade for most of the day. Also know that Hwy 33 is subject to occasional closure due to snow, and even on warm days, high water can make the wall completely inaccessible.

The rappel-situation at Sespe is esoteric, to say the least. The two trade routes (Tree Route and Ending Crack) funnel parties to one top anchor and down one multi-pitch rappel line. On busy weekends, the rappel line can become congested. Fortunately, the rappel line shares little ground with the climbing route of Ending Crack.

Parties descending the usual rappel line are required to share a fixed anchor with any party that is climbing Ending Crack. Climbing parties and rappel parties share the P1 fixed anchor ALL THE TIME. So, do not be surprised when that party behind you starts firing up the first pitch well before you've begun your rappel. Please be friendly and accommodating whether you are the ones climbing or rapping.

None of the alternate descents from Ending Crack and Tree Route is appealing. Feb 24, 2006
Jon Hanlon   SLO
For almost half a century, climbers on Ending Crack have belayed from the crack (it IS a crack, eh). Granted, it is not as convenient, but it's one way to avoid a CF at the fixed anchor. Feb 26, 2006
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
The Black Wall has sprouted 2 new sets of bolts--one that is 80 feet below the P1 bolts of ending crack (an intermediate rap station?) and one part way up the first pitch of Wadka.

If you have information about these (who, what, when, etc.) please post it here. Aug 22, 2006
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
John,
First off, THANKS for enriching the Sespe page with all of your recent contributions.

In regard to the bolts alongside Ending Crack, the Steve Edwards book refers to the 3-bolt rap-station that is approximately 140 feet up. These were placed by Reese Martin in '99. The additional bolts lower down (which have since been removed) are the ones that we were questioning the origin of. Dec 20, 2007
Climbers,

I have finally finished the first of my downloadable e-Guides. I’ve decided to start with Sespe Gorge.

You can download the e-Guide by going to my website: centralcoastclimbing.com/to… and clicking the link below the picture. Or, just send me an e-mail (john@centralcoastclimbing.com) with the title "Sespe e-Guide Wanted" and I'll send it your way.

The e-Guide currently includes the 23 trad climbs on the Black Wall in Sespe Gorge just outside of Ojai. The climbs range in grade from 5.5 to 5.10c and include many multi-pitch climbs. In fact, the 3 pitch Ending Crack (5.7) is widely believed to be the best multi-pitch crack climb on the Central Coast. Other classics include the 2 pitch Tree Root (5.6) and the 140’ high Pipe Cleaner (5.6). Sespe is a great place to take beginners and beginning leaders. There are several 5.5 and 5.6 climbs that are well protected for emerging leaders to practice their trad and multi-pitch skills. The short approach (3 minutes) and mountain setting make it very accessible and quite enjoyable.

Please tell your friends the e-Guide is available and let me know if you have questions or edits.

Thanks,

John (john@centralcoastclimbing.com) Dec 17, 2010
Robert Arthur Bustamante
San Pedro, CA
Robert Arthur Bustamante   San Pedro, CA
Jon Hanlon, (or anyone else) what Pro do you suggest for a belay point or repel off the crack as opposed to the bolts? Feb 23, 2014
Jon Hanlon   SLO
Belay off cams and nuts. Climb to the top and descend by walking down the gully (or rap from the top anchors of you have two ropes). Feb 28, 2014
Sean
Oak Park, CA
Sean   Oak Park, CA
in summer (like today in July), the entire east-facing wall stays in the sun til 3 pm. the low-angled wall allows the overhead and just-past-overhead sun to keep shining on it. then finally into shade for rest of late afternoon

in winter (like today in Nov), the sun crosses the sky in a very low arc above the horizon, so that the wall stays in shade in early morning and doesn't get sun til 9 am, and does for only 2-3 hrs, before the sun gets past the top of the wall to cast the wall's shadow over its face for rest of day Jul 15, 2016
A Johnson
Atascadero
A Johnson   Atascadero
Does this area need a long time to dry after rain? I am hoping to get out this upcoming weekend and with light rain in the forecast mid-week I wouldn't want to do any damage. Also, with the stream at the base is it even accessible? Jan 31, 2017
Alex Bury
Ojai, CA
Alex Bury   Ojai, CA
Recovered a single climbing shoe today at Black Wall. Give me a ring to get it back:
805-850-8364 Oct 31, 2017

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