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Routes in Cathedral Peak

Cave Route T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Dream Weaver T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
Long Gone Bong T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Sea Urchin V2- 5+
South Face T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Southeast Chute T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
West Face T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Elevation: 3,000 ft
GPS: 34.49, -119.718 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: Jeff Dunbar on Jun 11, 2007
Admins: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
Getting weather forecast...


When it comes to multi-pitch adventure climbing, Cathedral Peak is truly the hidden gem of Santa Barbara (hidden in plain sight!).

Cathedral peak is entirely bolt-free and offers at least 3 different multi-pitch trad lines including the Cave Route (5.6), the South Face (5.7), and a 5.10 face route on the shield to the right of South Face.

In particular, the 3-pitch South Face route is a great low-angle training climb for the moderate trad leader.

The approach hike is strenuous but the scenery is stunning and the climbing is fun and readily protectable. For further info about this wild and scenic formation, including basic route descriptions with FA details and an excellent beta photo, consult the old Steve Tucker / Kevin Steele guidebook ("Climbing! Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo" circa 1992).

Getting There

Cathedral Peak is located approx. 1 mile due south (downhill) from La Cumbre Peak, and getting there is definitely part of the adventure! The 45 minute approach hike is no joke, so bring lots of water and save half a liter per person for the return trip.

By car, take Gibraltar Road all the way up to Camino Cielo and head west (left) until you get to the La Cumbre Peak lookout tower on the left. Park on Camino Cielo and walk uphill through the gate towards the lookout tower. Take the right fork in the loop road just inside the gate.

The trail starts at a wood bench overlooking the ocean at a point where the loop road takes a sharp turn to the left (the bench is carved with the names "Christopher and Shannon" on the top rail). From the wood bench, head 100 yards downhill towards a prominent pile of rocks, then angle down and right over some class 3 and class 4 terrain to the saddle, then follow the saddle south on a good trail to the top of the ridge with your first view of the crag.

From there, work your way east, skirting just below the summit block via the north side of the ridge, and scramble down the east side gully by way of a short/steep climber's trail to the reach the base of the south face where all the climbs begin.

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Please for all that is good in the world take a right at this upturned tree
and follow the high vis. tape! THERE IS NO BENCH!!!!!! Jun 5, 2016
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
Wait a minuteĀ…I like my ankles. What are you saying about my ankles, Jeff? Oct 2, 2015
Jeff Dunbar
Charlotte, NC
Jeff Dunbar   Charlotte, NC
Ok, folks, sorry if I sandbagged a few of you by downplaying the challenges of the approach in my original description above, but for the record I am just delighted to see that so many people have now used this page to plan for (or whine about) a real adventure day at this almost-forgotten frontcountry crag.

At this point, let's just all agree that the hike to/from this crag can either be a piece of cake or a heinous bushwacking nightmare depending on the local trail conditions at the time you attempt it, your direction of travel, your level of fitness, your navigation skills, the heat, the humidity, the weight of your pack, the skinniness of your ankles, the thinness of your skin, the strength of your spine, and so on and so forth. Regardless, this is not your local sport crag, so be prepared for some adventure no matter what!

Finally, to those who are tempted to whine about their tough day climbing moderate multi-pitch trad in the gorgeous Santa Barbara hills overlooking the gorgeous Channel Islands, just think: You could be stuck living in Ohio right now, like I am. Sep 13, 2015
climb: 08/10/2015

Reading all the comments is quite entertaining (considering our group went thought the same thing), but my main pet-peeve with the description is:

For a Trad route and all the equipment and water that comes with this, what Olympic hiker thought that this is a 45 minute approach?

I'll be the first to admit that hiking wise we are not in the greatest of shapes - but the whole group did it in more like 1h and 45 minutes.

BTW: the trail was riddled with Yucca plants and to top it all off i had to lie sideways in one on the wall - that was awesome :)) Sep 10, 2015
steve edwards
steve edwards   SLC, UT
Well, since someone's gone up here to boulder I would suggest the front side approach. It's a lot longer but has very little bushwhacking (depending upon how recently someone's trimmed it but it gets used as a hike and is mainly manicured every so often). Unlike the hellish back side approach, it's a great hike and, sheesh, based on how long it's taking people here to burrow through the manzanita and poison oak it might even be shorter. Granted, I'm a fast hiker, but I've gone car to car with a solo lap on the face in 3 hours. More importantly, there's a pretty good boulder field most of the way up the hillside. Did a few things here but could never get a crew psyched enough on hiking to establish its potential. The rock is a frickload better than Potter's Point. Landings do tend to need a lot of work. Jan 16, 2014
Trail is a breeze currently. Some generous person(s) cut a nice tunnel with (almost) no ducking. Jul 29, 2013
Joseph Stover
Batesville, AR
Joseph Stover   Batesville, AR
The hike was pretty tough. The trail was actually nicely maintained and easy to follow... there were a good few sections of ducking, but only a couple crawling moves. It would suck with a large bag. It's all the uphill parts that killed me. The info here on MP is enough to get you there and back. During the "tree-tunnel" section (about 2/3 the way to the peak), there are a few large poison oak plants that reach across the trail, they can mostly be avoided if you are careful (as of 4/24/2011). Apr 24, 2011
Brian Paden
Goleta CA
Brian Paden   Goleta CA
Long hike, lousy climb... biggest adventure in SB. A must do for any local. Rock quality is surprisingly good. Took us 6 hours car to car after two laps on the face. Nov 27, 2010
We did the 5.7 lieback route on Cathedral Peak above Santa Barbara. Nice, but more importantly some tips for the approach:
1. Take a GPS and map your approach. It is easier to find your way to the climb than back from it. DON'T do what we did in the dark on the way back.
2. From the "Shannon" bench at the La Cumbre lookout asphalt road, walk west 100 yards to the boulders and then down to an obvious cleared "trail." NOT toward the ocean and the mini crag below and south of the bench.
3. If you are over 4 feet tall, take a machete.
4. Watch out for the poison oak in the saddle.
5. Plan on a 3 hour round trip NOT including climbing time.
6. If you have curly hair, wear a hat. The branches in the tree tunnels will try to eat you.
7. Watch out for rattlesnakes. We had one little dude refuse to budge from the trail. Climb should be renamed "I'm tired of these mother effin snakes on this mother effin climb."
8. For the whiners who posted, There, There, I'm sure your boo-boos are healed by now. If it makes you feel any better, I got scratched up and cussed on the approach also.
9. We did this in October 2010 and did plenty of sweating. I can't imagine attempting this in the summer. Oct 27, 2010
Chris DeWitt
Sacramento, CA
Chris DeWitt   Sacramento, CA
Too much bushwacking. Even after the fire. I got cuts all over. Make sure you bring LOTS of water. I drank 2 liters myself. The climbing on the rock wasn't worth the god awful hike to me. I'll take a strenuous hike, but bushwacking in shorts and a T-shirt is NOT my cup of tea. Jun 3, 2010
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
I must be getting old :)

Can anyone recommend a good, tightly bolted, multi-pitch 5.7? Feb 20, 2008
Jeff Mahoney
Santa Barbara, CA
Jeff Mahoney   Santa Barbara, CA
Oh Matt, it's not that bad. (I DID say bring a weedwhacker, though). Feb 11, 2008
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
Heh, heh... Matt does have a point. I've always hiked from the bottom (Tunnel Trailhead) to do the route, so I can't vouch for the hike in from the top. I will say that the hike from the bottom, while not a bushwack, makes for a big day nonetheless. Feb 9, 2008
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
No where in the preceding description does it say it, so let me be the first: "HELLISH BUSHWHACKING."

I seriously considered devoting myself to sport climbing during the first 1/4-mile of this approach. Feb 1, 2008
Jeff Mahoney
Santa Barbara, CA
Jeff Mahoney   Santa Barbara, CA
Let's hear it for KEVIN STEELE! He, Laura Bylund and I were up there yesterday. (Bring a weedwhacker....) Aug 25, 2007
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
Let's hear it for the KEVIN STEELE GUIDE BOOK! Aug 6, 2007
Jeff Dunbar
Charlotte, NC
Jeff Dunbar   Charlotte, NC
I've only done the 5.7 South Face route so far, but I've listed all the other original routes (along with the original overview photo showing all the routes) from the old Steve Tucker / Kevin Steele guidebook for reference. Jun 18, 2007

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