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Clark Canyon

California > Sierra Eastside > Mammoth Lakes Area

Description

Short steep bolted sport climbs in Bishops Tuff (volcanic rock with multitudes of holes and pockets). Climbs are 40 to 200 feet and face all directions so its easy to find sun or shade and shelter from the wind.

Getting There

About 7 miles north of the Mammoth Lakes turnoff on Rt. 395 you pass a signed rest area on the left(west). Shortly after that turn right on the Owens River Road. Drive appox. 2 miles and turn left at Big Springs Campground (Road 2S04). At just over 2 miles turn right at a fork (Road 2S06). Drive a mile to a cattle gate (please close the gates behind you), another half mile and turn right at a "T", then left through another cattle gate shortly after that. Drive another 1.7 miles to a four-way intersection, turn right and follow that to where it ends at a parking circle. The main crags are 1/4 mile up a faint trail that leads NE from the circle.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Michael McKay enjoys the stunning views of the Eastern Sierra from within Clark Canyon.
[Hide Photo] Michael McKay enjoys the stunning views of the Eastern Sierra from within Clark Canyon.
Trapped by fire. Hopefully it's once in a lifetime experience. Turned out safe, smokey, & with new friends.
[Hide Photo] Trapped by fire. Hopefully it's once in a lifetime experience. Turned out safe, smokey, & with new friends.
The last bit of the drive, Clark Canyon
[Hide Photo] The last bit of the drive, Clark Canyon
Joan Bertini rapping Area 13
[Hide Photo] Joan Bertini rapping Area 13
Good luck navigating the maze of dirt roads to get here. If I knew what I did I'd tell you, but I don't
[Hide Photo] Good luck navigating the maze of dirt roads to get here. If I knew what I did I'd tell you, but I don't
Quite the view
[Hide Photo] Quite the view
Phil Watts in the Potato Patch around 2001.
[Hide Photo] Phil Watts in the Potato Patch around 2001.
Leaving Clark Canyon on September 1st, 2017.
[Hide Photo] Leaving Clark Canyon on September 1st, 2017.
Leaving Clark Canyon on September 1st, 2017.
[Hide Photo] Leaving Clark Canyon on September 1st, 2017.
Parking lot rock Owens river fire
[Hide Photo] Parking lot rock Owens river fire
The trail to Area 13 breaks off just uphill from this boulder, Clark Canyon
[Hide Photo] The trail to Area 13 breaks off just uphill from this boulder, Clark Canyon
Storm clouds over Mammoth, Clark Canyon
[Hide Photo] Storm clouds over Mammoth, Clark Canyon

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Matt N
Santa Barbara, CA
[Hide Comment] High(er) ground clearance vehicle recommended. You can make it in a car, but you will scrape your paint along the bushes to avoid bottoming out along the last section of road because of a high center hump. A couple other rocks had to be negotiated carefully too. Nov 17, 2010
GhaMby Eagan
Heaven
[Hide Comment] The bugs were absolutely horrible on 6/16/12, mostly horseflies and 'no-see-ums', or biting gnats. DEET didn't do any good. If you're dying to climb here go early (88 degrees in the afternoon) and wear long pants and shirts. Hopefully this is a short lived thing, cause 3 days later I look like I have chicken pox and still itch like a mo-fo despite a thick layer of benadryl cream.

Hope this helps people decide which crag to hit up. I can't wait till it cools off a bit so I can get back on some of the fine lines here.

Also there is no longer a downed tree on 2S04! Jun 18, 2012
Paisley Close
Mojave, CA
[Hide Comment] Bugs are still bad! Climbed at the Potato Patch on 6/30/12 for only a few hours in the morning. Temps were perfect but I got eaten alive. The mosquitos could get through thin long sleeves, but not the no-see-ums. The no-see-ums got me before I put the long sleeves on and 3 days later I was covered in bumps that itched like crazy. Otherwise we had a great time! And there is no tree blocking the road... Jul 7, 2012
GhaMby Eagan
Heaven
[Hide Comment] August-no bugs in the evening.

The road in is REALLY BAD! I wouldn't try unless you have a high clearance vehicle, or are willing to walk a mile or so. I have a tacoma 4x4 and thought that I may hit bottom. Aug 26, 2013
[Hide Comment] There is a small formation between Area 13 and The Main Island. The formation is slightly down-hill from The Alcove and the first climbs reached in Area 13. The formation is called The Wave and has four sport routes apparently bolted in the 90's by some Japanese tourists. None of the routes have names. The Mammoth climbing guide book claims they are the following grades (from left to right) 5.11d, 5.10d, 5.8, and 5.8. I climbed all of these with a few others this past week and would argue the following grades from left to right 5.10d, 5.10c, 5.9, 5.8. The left most climb is a short 4 bolt route that goes mostly straight up with some beta-intensive moves at the slight roof, above a somewhat loose left facing flake. The 10d is immediately left of the arete and has only 3 bolts. The 2nd bolt seems to be a bit bent, but the holds for the 3rd bolt and pulling over the lip are all great. The third line starts on the arete and gradually moves right onto the face for the remainder of the climb. The last climb to the far right is a fun face climb with a nice bit of an arete at the very top. All are worth doing. Cheers. Sep 3, 2013
[Hide Comment] "... drive another 1.7 miles to a four-way intersection, turn right and follow that to where it ends at a parking circle."

Don't take your new Bentley on the last stretch of the fire road. Park and walk the last stretch.
The road is really narrow and WILL scratch your car. Jul 28, 2014
Robert Shortt
San Francisco, CA
[Hide Comment] I would like to stress that a 4x4 and/or high clearance vehicle is recommended. I almost got stuck here on Sunday in my front wheel drive sedan. There is only one real nasty section, and it's somewhere in the middle. It's high clearance combined with a good hill. Going down was mostly ok. Going up was a few tires spinning and some creative thinking. Also, ditto on the paint scratches for the last section. Sep 2, 2014
[Hide Comment] We were stuck here in the fire, & in the initial chaos some gear was left near area 13 right side closer to the trail. Mostly black/ yellow black diamond draws, & djinn petzl draws. Other groups left much more I believe. Hoping someone kind (maybe local)will be willing to collect stuff till I can get back up next weekend. I'm sure the people that left full packs will be appreciative too. Beers on me or whatever you fancy. Also a draw 1/3 the way up In Yo Face. Sep 19, 2016
[Hide Comment] The bad part of the road in is now very good and easy to drive. That being said with the forest fire and the run-off this winter has wrecked the road all over. Yes the road in the bad spot is way better. The road overall is still bad. That being said the rock is good, road is ok, the trees providing shade at area 13 are DEAD. Dont get confused, if the dirt here dries out and its windy you will end up in a dust bowl. I Llove clark butt ill be super concious when I go down here now. May 13, 2017
[Hide Comment] Road Update: My prius c made it with no issues. Definitely have to drive slow but its doable Jul 5, 2017
[Hide Comment] Roads good as of yesterday. WRX to the parking... Nov 25, 2017
[Hide Comment] Any current road updates for this spring/summer (2018) would be much appreciated! Going to be in the area for a few days in July, and wondering if we can get in here in a rental car. I'm fine parking before a bad spot and walking a little farther if anyone can advise if that's possible, and what would be involved (is there parking before it gets bad, how far/hard is the hiking from there, etc.). Thanks! Apr 30, 2018
Dan O
Los Angeles, CA
[Hide Comment] We made the drive on 6/10/18 in a Mazda 3. It was hairy in a few spots and slow going, but possible. You might scratch your car on bushes in a few places getting around bad spots on the road. The next smallest car we saw was a Subaru CrossTrek and those have pretty good clearance. The road is mostly very narrow and through exposed grassland for the last couple miles. Not too much elevation gain. The only places to park would be at the intersections with other fire roads. Jun 11, 2018
Joe Chase
Westtown, NY
[Hide Comment] Made it there with a Honda Element. Scraped a few times. I would not recommend a vehicle with lower ground clearance. Jun 21, 2018
[Hide Comment] Thanks for the info! We went for it and had no problems is our rental (Nissan Rouge - mini SUV, decent clearance). The road was pretty mellow, but I don't know if I'd drive a normal car in here. The minimal amount of extra clearance we had in the Rouge made the few obstacles easy. Mostly super easy sandy road.

Great climbing! Wish we had time for a 2nd day! Really cool rock. Great pocket climbing! Jul 13, 2018
[Hide Comment] Anyone know how the road is this season? Jun 9, 2019
[Hide Comment] Update: Road is about the same as last year (Subaru will be fine, Prius might not). The swarms of mosquitoes helped lift the car through the tough spots. Jul 7, 2019