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Areas in Owens River Gorge

Central Gorge 21 / 193 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 211
Inner Gorge 14 / 103 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 115
Lower Gorge 13 / 96 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 110
Sub Gorge 0 / 15 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 15
Upper Gorge 23 / 159 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 181
Access Issue: Protect Access in Owens River Gorge! Details

Description

The Owens River Gorge is California's most concentrated sport-climbing area. It is really a year-round crag, although summers can be a bit hot. There are many moderate sport climbs in the sub 5.10 range, but the best gorge climbs seem to be in the 5.10-5.11 range. The climbing is on volcanic tuff and features edges, pockets and cracks. Most of the climbing is close to vertical but there are some steep lines as well, namely at the Eldorado Roof and the Dilithium Crystal. Most climbs, whether face, crack, corner, even off-width and chimney, are fully sport bolted. There are some good trad lines, but sport climbing is why you're here. The gorge is often crowded but if you hike a little further you can usually find some solitude. The Warm Up Wall, the Pub, the Social Platform, the China Wall and the Dilithium Crystal are the most popular areas. Please buy Marty Lewis' "Owens River Gorge Climbs" if you are going to climb here. It's a great guide to the hundreds of climbs and you'll feel good supporting the guy who put up a huge percentage of the climbs and did a large amount of work (trails, research, bridges, talking with the LADWP that owns the gorge). It's a small price to pay for a great climbing area.

Getting There

From Bishop go North on 395 to the Paradise Swall Meadows exit and turn right. Go approximately 1/2 mile and at the T intersection turn left (Gorge Rd). There are 3 parking areas to choose depending on where in the Gorge you wish to climb. The first parking area is 3.3 miles from the intersection of Gorge road and 395. Adjacent to the parking area you will go through a gate and follow the paved central gorge power station road for 1 mile down to the Central gorge power station. The second parking area also accesses the central gorge and ends just uphill from the central gorge power station. You will find a trail adjacent to the parking area that goes down a steep 2nd/3rd class loose gully. Be careful not to dislodge anything because there are climbs below the gully. This parking area is 4.8 miles up the Gorge road from the intersection of Gorge Road and 395. The last parking area is for the upper gorge. This parking area is 6.4 miles up Gorge Road from the intersection of Gorge Road and 395. You will park off the pavement and walk through a gate down the paved upper power plant road approximately 1/2 mile then drop into a 3rd class gully. There is a trail along the entire length of the bottom of the gorge so you can use any of the access points to access all climbs at Owens. There is an alternate way to get to the Gorge Road from the North. Approximately 1 mile south of Tom's Place there is a dirt road that goes East. This road starts at a sign on 395 that says Sherwin Pass 7000 feet.
One of the coolest things I have ever climbed!

632 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Owens River Gorge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 117
Dr. Evil
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 81
Lava Haul
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 183
Gorgeous
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
 131
Sendero Luminoso
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 196
Hardly Wallbanger
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 100
Superfly
Sport 2 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 143
Yellow Peril
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 87
Light Within
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 93
Pick Pocket
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 94
O.R.G.asam
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 142
Expressway
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 105
Hungover
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 101
Grindrite
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 84
Knucko's Pride of the North
Sport
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
 87
From Chocolate to Morphine
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Dr. Evil Upper Gorge > Gotham City
 117
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Lava Haul Upper Gorge > Flavin Haven
 81
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Gorgeous Upper Gorge > Gorgeous Towers
 183
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Sendero Luminoso Central Gorge > Solarium
 131
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R Sport
Hardly Wallbanger Central Gorge > Pub Wall
 196
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Superfly Upper Gorge > Gotham City
 100
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport 2 pitches
Yellow Peril Central Gorge > Great Wall of China
 143
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Light Within Central Gorge > Pub Wall
 87
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Pick Pocket Upper Gorge > Holy Trinity
 93
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
O.R.G.asam Upper Gorge > Dihedrals
 94
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Expressway Central Gorge > Social Platform
 142
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Hungover Central Gorge > Pub Wall
 105
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Grindrite Upper Gorge > Gotham City
 101
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Knucko's Pride of the North Upper Gorge > Gorgeous Towers
 84
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
From Chocolate to Morphine Central Gorge > Faulty Tower
 87
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Owens River Gorge »

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This is probably my favorite sport-climbing area. The characteristic climbs feature endurance vertical edge pulling (with a lot of pockets) -- gym fitness really pays off here. There are enough decent trad climbs to keep you honest.

One note of caution is that walking by the river exposes one to some extremely potent stingy nettles, the buzz from which can last many hours; learn to identify and avoid these or wear long pants and socks.

The locals have put a lot of time, money and effort into really setting this place up with trails, bridges, belay platforms and drop in anchors. Please repay their generosity by taking care of what they've created. In particular, DON'T TOPROPE DIRECTLY THROUGH THE ANCHORS. Despite the fact that heavy-duty steel anchors are used, many are worn almost all the way through (some all the way). This dangerous state of affairs is primarily caused by toproping directly through the anchors which is completely avoidable -- whoever sets up the rope should clip a quickdraw through each anchor and run the rope through the draws; the last person up then puts the rope directly through the anchors, cleans the draws and lowers, or even better, rappels. Jul 29, 2006
alpinglow
city, state
alpinglow   city, state
I just took my first trip here. I wanted to praise Marty Lewis for releasing a superb guide (imho). I found it very clear, concise, and ontop of the area.

I consider myself a climbing geek, and fairly well-travelled. This guide was probably one of the better organised guides I have ever used, and well worth the money.

Nice job sir. Mar 14, 2007
426
426  
Many routes are LONG; if you bring a 60 or less, plz tie a knott. I've witnessed several deckings over the years from 'short' ropes. Best bet is a 70m or longer. Mar 26, 2007
Here is a list of links on climbing & other recreation in Owens River Gorge and nearby.

• Owens River Conservation & Recreation Directory. (1=whitewater, 2=rafting, 3=conservation, 4=fishing, 5=climbing-camping-hiking, 6=local-info) Dec 6, 2008
Crimp Nasty
Chosstown, USA
Crimp Nasty   Chosstown, USA
Is ORG climbable Nov-Feb? Sep 14, 2009
Euan Cameron
Mammoth Lakes
Euan Cameron   Mammoth Lakes  
ORG is climbable year round. On the colder winter months watch out for ice on the steep central descent. You can find spots in the sun on really cold days. Sep 16, 2009
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
Jan Tarculas   Riverside, Ca
How is climbing here during summer months of June, July, and August? Are there north/east facing walls? Walls with shade in the morning and change to different wall with shade in evening? Thanks... May 6, 2010
I spent a good part of July and August in the Gorge for two summers in a row when I first got into climbing- you can definitely climb there, but you for sure want to stay in the shade because it will be brutally hot in the sun. The Gorge runs roughly North-South, and there are some walls that face Northish (Gorgeous Towers for one), so you can typically find shade on one side or the other throughout the day. May 25, 2010
trying hard
Sierra East Side
trying hard   Sierra East Side
Amazing training area to get stronger. There are so many variations of climbing here. Some of the best climbing is even through the winter. Bachars stomping grounds! Sep 9, 2010
I've never been to ORG before. Thinking of heading there this weekend, temperatures in Bishop are in the mid-50s. Is it worth going given the cold temps? Any beta on which walls tend to see sun? Dec 21, 2010
Tom Helvie
Bishop, CA
Tom Helvie   Bishop, CA
@Thomas Bukowski
Temps in the 50's will be fine in the sun. Warm Up wall and Banana Belt in the morning, China wall, Dilithium or Warning Signs in the afternoon. Days are really short down there right now and it'll probably be real messy after all the rain/snow we had this week. Dec 21, 2010
jonathan howland
San Francisco
jonathan howland   San Francisco
By Jonathan Howland
Mar 22, 2012
Anyone have info. about the new route just right of Funky Cole Patina at Penstock?

jhowland@urbanschool.org Mar 21, 2012
About that new route on the Penstock Wall... Kelly and I put that in last year. Very fun! Pretty easy 10a. Can be done w/70m, but better as two pitches. !st: short, 5.8 crack, 3 bolts. 2nd: steep face w/ mondo buckets after the crux, 12 bolts. Upper holds are really good!
Derik (derikolson@gmail.com) Mar 30, 2012
Mike Arechiga
Oakhurst
Mike Arechiga   Oakhurst
@ derik olson, the 2 pitch route on Penstock Rock you said you and kelly did is super fun, i must be a sandbegger, i thought it was 5.8 the whole climb, good job guy's really like it happy climbing mike a. Mar 27, 2013
Xtine
Las Vegas and Sierra Eastside
Xtine   Las Vegas and Sierra Eastside
Jeff, you might be thinking of this accident where the leader had a ground fall at the China Wall. He's lucky to be alive and well, it seems from the forum link:
reddit.com/r/climbing/comme…

I was originally posting to warn folks headed to the Central Gorge (in the warmer/hot months) to be aware of the rattlesnakes that live underneath the "steps" and crevices while heading down the gully from the lot. You don't always hear their rattles, especially if they are surprised. I don't think it's too frequent but watch your step. Ran into one this past weekend and it was a very close call. May 20, 2014
Mike Arechiga
Oakhurst
Mike Arechiga   Oakhurst
i would like to give a super big thanks to kelly corder for putting up a bunch of new routes this year!!!, for a guy that they said in the 9th edition of the owens river gorge guide book " low on talent and experience" lol :-) on putting up routes in the gorge, he had done an awesome job in all these years in my opinion, it takes a lot of sweat, hard work, and money to do so, and thanks for posting info on his new routes here on m.p. next month it will be 9 years since a new ownes river gorge guide book has been put out, it's super helpful to have these up grades, and once again thanks for all the fun and new stuff in the gorge, happy climbing mike a. Sep 3, 2014
amarius
Nowhere, OK
amarius   Nowhere, OK
Marker for Upper/Central/Lower Gorge turnoff from 395
37.445812, -118.571733
Obvious, but my navigator missed it ;)

If you don't feel like scrambling down for Central Gorge access, park for Lower, drop into valley, hike up. Longer approach, but easier. Jan 27, 2015
Adam Block
Colorado Springs, CO
Adam Block   Colorado Springs, CO
Was recently here and encountered almost every single party there toproping multiple laps through the mussies! There seems to be a dangerous standard practice here. Always prepare to rap here, the anchors can be very heavily worn down because of these careless parties. Oct 26, 2015
Andrew Child
Santa Clara
Andrew Child   Santa Clara
Don't let the fact that this is the same rock type as Smith fool you. The rock is much smoother and has tenancy to form horizontal edges. Tons of fun. Dec 20, 2016
There was a record breaking turnout for the Owens River Gorge this Thanksgiving.

Bad behavior that I noticed:
I saw at least ten groups camping near the pipeline and other DWP infrastructure.
There is no camping allowed on DWP land even if you have a sprinter van and a guitar. How hard is that to understand?

Cars parked on the asphalt at the North Parking Area.
Do not park on the road, make sure all four tires are off the road. The DWP has giant vehicles that need to pass through.

Plastic bags full of poop all over the place.
If you put poop into a bag you must pack it out to your car and then drive it to a trash receptacle. The DWP does not employ any janitors to pickup your poop. The ancient technique of burying poop works real well. It's completely biodegradable and eliminates the plastic bags and fossil fuels required to transport the bag to the dump.

Climbers trusting their life to one bolt at belays.
Bolts fail. Clip into both bolts at anchors. We need to keep climber deaths to a minimum so that the DWP doesn't close the Gorge.

Happy climbing and thanks for helping! Nov 28, 2017
Would anyone like to share good camping spots (legal) close to ORG? We'll be travelling in a campervan.
Thanks
/Erik Feb 4, 2018
Encountered a loose dog (black short-hair, lab probably, gray on snout) nosing around the power plant (yes, the operational one) on Wednesday May 2. I work for CA DWR and I can tell you that we would have no tolerance for people letting their dogs run around loose on our access roads and facilities. If an LADWP truck hits a dog or a worker gets bitten, we will almost certainly get kicked out of the gorge.
The dog returned to a large group of climbers on Banana Belt and I went back and talked to one of them but they didn't admit to owning the dog. Please please please do not let your dogs run loose on the access road! If the OWG is still open next year I'm taking credit personally. May 4, 2018
Please consider leaving your dogs at home. If you're bringing a dog climbing, be considerate of other users. Bring a leash. Use it, especially when you're not actively controlling your animal, like when your off the ground, climbing. Digging, wandering, fighting other dogs, chasing wildlife, distracting climbers. These are all things dogs do, when their owners aren't acting responsibly. Please be a responsible owner/human being! It's appreciated. May 14, 2018

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