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Central Coast

California

Description

Located between major urban centers Los Angeles to the south and the San Francisco Bay to the north, the quaint Central Coast of California spans a 300-mile stretch from the southern Santa Monica Mountains to the northern Monterey Peninsula. While known primarily for surfing, celebrities, exorbitant real estate prices, and wine-tasting (the movie "Sideways" was filmed locally), there is actually surprisingly good climbing to be found. The majority of rock around Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Ojai is medium-grade sandstone (i.e., a little friable), but there's also blue schist (Green Dome), andesite (SLO), and conglomerate (Silly Rock, Wheeler Gorge) out there. The climbing is by no means world class, but what it lacks in quality it makes up for in aesthetics. As a friend of mine would say, "maybe not 4-star climbing, but makes for a 4-star day!"

Areas like the Sespe Gorge (Black Wall) had established routes as early as the late 50s and 60s. Over the years, many well-known climbers have graced these small cliffsides, including the likes of Yvon Chouinard (Yosemite legend and founder/owner of Patagonia), Jonny Woodward (Black Diamond), Jim Donini and even Henry Barber!

Around Santa Barbara and Ventura, pioneers of the '80s and '90s included Kevin Brown, Kevin Steele, Steve Tucker, Menzo Baird, Bob Banks (author of "Ocean's Eleven") and Steve Edwards (guidebook author of "Rock Climbing Santa Barbara & Ventura"), who established many of the newer sport routes around Santa Barbara and Hwy 166/Silly Rock.

In San Luis Obispo county, pioneers include Rusty Garing, Dwight Kroll, Pete Gulyash, brothers Tim and Tobin Sorenson, Ed Sampson, Ken Klis, Tom Slater (guidebook author of "California Central Coast Climbs"), and Brandon Thau. Slater, Thau, and Klis are responsible for developing such crags as Cerro Romauldo, Cabrillo Peak and Big Rocks.

Former Access Fund director Reese Martin lived in the area for a time. Sadly, he was killed in a paragliding accident in July 2004 at the age of 49 (More...).

Guidebooks


Getting There

Hwy 101 is the major artery between Ventura and San Luis Obispo (and beyond). 99% of the routes described here lie either off the 101, 154 (San Marcos Pass), 33 (Ojai), or 166 (east of Santa Maria). Refer to specific area for details and directions.

This map will help get you oriented.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Ken Klis on Edgeucation, Bishop Peak summit.<br>
photo Tom Slater<br>
slatervision.com
[Hide Photo] Ken Klis on Edgeucation, Bishop Peak summit. photo Tom Slater slatervision.com
The Central Coast offers outstanding rest-day opportunities.  Here, Bill Vecchiarelli paddles out near the Ventura Pier.
[Hide Photo] The Central Coast offers outstanding rest-day opportunities. Here, Bill Vecchiarelli paddles out near the Ventura Pier.
Young Elephant Seal.<br>
Photo by Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] Young Elephant Seal. Photo by Blitzo.
Of all of the Central Coast's amazing native animals, THIS ONE gets my vote as the single most unbelievable.  I watched this particular fish "fly" for over 200 yards before crashing into a pier.
[Hide Photo] Of all of the Central Coast's amazing native animals, THIS ONE gets my vote as the single most unbelievable. I watched this particular fish "fly" for over 200 yards before crashing into a pier.
You can't beat the winter sunsets, driving home from the crag on the Central Coast.
[Hide Photo] You can't beat the winter sunsets, driving home from the crag on the Central Coast.
California Central Coast.<br>
Photo by Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] California Central Coast. Photo by Blitzo.
Over-wintering Monarch butterfly, Central Coast of California.  <br>
<br>
If you happen to be climbing on the Central Coast in December or January, be sure to stop by Ellwood Main, the seas-side bluffs near UC Santa Barbara.  Ellwood is home to the largest wintering population of butterflies in the state of California (some years boasting more than 1 million of the beautiful creatures).
[Hide Photo] Over-wintering Monarch butterfly, Central Coast of California. If you happen to be climbing on the Central Coast in December or January, be sure to stop by Ellwood Main, the seas-side bluffs n…
Beautiful scenery just a mile east of Gilroy.
[Hide Photo] Beautiful scenery just a mile east of Gilroy.
Emma Wood State Park. Just north of the Ventura rivemouth. The concrete blocks in the photo are the remains of a pair WWII era anti-sub gun placements.
[Hide Photo] Emma Wood State Park. Just north of the Ventura rivemouth. The concrete blocks in the photo are the remains of a pair WWII era anti-sub gun placements.
California gulls-the State Bird of Utah.<br>
Photo by Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] California gulls-the State Bird of Utah. Photo by Blitzo.
A Western Gull stands guard over a Central Coast crag.
[Hide Photo] A Western Gull stands guard over a Central Coast crag.
Tidal Pool-Central Coast.<br>
Photo by Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] Tidal Pool-Central Coast. Photo by Blitzo.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

EricT
Santa Barbara, CA
[Hide Comment] Nice work Mike, and a good description of the central coast as well. Feb 14, 2006