Elevation: 3,800 ft
GPS: 32.844, -116.635 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 39,368 total · 392/month
Shared By: Ben May on Nov 21, 2010
Admins: Marc Kajut, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Access Issue: Current San Diego County Advisories Details


As per "San Diego Climbing Guide" by Dave Kennedy with Chris Hubbard...

Plainly visible from I-8 just west of the Hwy. 79 turn-off, Descanso has a multitude of routes, nearly all put up by Martin Veillon and his son Peter.
1/4" bolts placed in ground-up style here may not have hangers (especially the first one or two), and some routes are runout. Take some keyhole hangers, small wired nuts or other such devices to tie off these studs. Many routes require gear. The true classic here is Into the Eye of the Son (11+). Many more routes than those given here have been established on the neighboring formations.

Mainly sport
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Descanso Wall, for the size, packs quite a punch. On the East side of the wall there is a great section for those practicing trad or those brave enough to free solo. Going West from here you have a few sport routes with excellent steepness and overhung at the beginning. These routes are about 110-120 feet but can give you a pump with micro crimpers, slopers/friction and great smearing. Further west is Icarus 5.11a in the dihedral. And, basically, the further West you go, the harder the climb (i.e. the cave section with chain draws?)

If there's one other thing that most all climbers have in common, it's a frosty local brew and some well-earned wholesome food. Therefore, I confidently suggest The Alpine Beer Company.

Getting There

  • From I-8 & the 805, drive about 33 miles East on the I-8 (past Alpine) to Exit 40 CA 79-N/Japatule Valley Rd toward Julian.
    *Take Exit 40/Hwy-79 and turn left (North).
    *Drive 0.8 of a mile to Wildwood Glen Ln.
    *Turn Left (West) on Wildwood Glen Ln and park at the Helo pad/turn around/USFS gate.
    *Don't forget your water and walk past the gate for exactly 700 feet.
    *You will notice a clearing in the brush on the bank to the North. This is the trailhead. The trail (pretty well developed) leads up past the Firefighter Memorial and to the main wall... 15-20 mins.

    (Notice the boulders out to the West. These offer several great problems if you have some extra time to kill.)

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Classic Climbing Routes at Descanso Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Ben May
San Diego, CA
Ben May   San Diego, CA
This is really a small gem. Please give me some time to add to this area as I am currently healing from an LCL tear. Plus, this is my first area to contribute. Nov 22, 2010
Joe Brophy
San Diego
Joe Brophy   San Diego
Looked fun guys. I hiked over there but did not have a pad or shoes. Good work on getting the place cleared but it still needs more work as you know. I will post up next time I get out there ok. Feb 21, 2011
Blake Canaday
San Diego, CA
Blake Canaday   San Diego, CA
My buddy and I just went and explored this area last weekend, and are planning to go again this Saturday. It is a super fun hike, as there are no really defined trails, lots of bushwhacking. I plan on taking my machete with me on the next go to make the trip a little less of a literal thorn in my side. Definitely wear long pants and not shorts for the hike up! We climbed King of Pain and We refused to grow old and/or up, and a 5.8 nearby that I can't recall the name. The climbs here are excellent practice as they offer a variety of route variations that you can try. I will see if I can get some good pictures of the routes that we do over the weekend. There is also a good looking 10c and a 10d that lead to the same anchor on the very left end of the main wall that we look forward to trying. May 3, 2011
Great little area. There are only like 20 climbs, but they are right up next to each other. I was out there with just my party on a blue sky 65 degree day, and no one else was there. Just perfect. The bolting is really good for the most part, and maybe excessive even, with the exception of Free-solo which has odd cemented in bolts. They may be fine but I just have not seen those kind of bolts before. May 31, 2011
Hi, I'm very pleased to see how much everyone has enjoyed what my father and I have been calling FireWall. It's been many years since I've returned to this amazing place. My dad still goes up there every so often. We are humble traditional climbers and used a lot of old school methods. We don't want bragging rights and just want others to enjoy it without littering the rock with bolts 5ft apart and that are next to perfectly good crags.If there are any questions you may have, my father and I would be more than happy to oblige. Peace

petertheentertainer@yahoo.com Dec 14, 2011
Ben May
San Diego, CA
Ben May   San Diego, CA
Peter, that's great to hear. I know that there's been some controversy about some of the bolting but that's anywhere in San Diego. I also want to keep bolting to a necessary minimal. Thanks for your work! Dec 28, 2011
Jonathan Tsay
La Jolla, CA
Jonathan Tsay   La Jolla, CA
There is some real potential in this area bouldering-wise. Rock quality is solid once loose rock is removed and a little bit of trail work is done. Thanks Ben for taking us out there today and I look forward to possibly helping out on the development! Jan 15, 2012
Dave Daly
Kernville, CA
Dave Daly   Kernville, CA
Peter.....can you tell me what happened to the route just left of Space Ramp (bolt studs hammered in, bolt studs removed). Not sure if this was a route you and your Dad put up. There is, however, a chained anchor directly above the line that is situated mid way up 'Space Ramp'. On that note, we did a route directly over that chained anchor (5.10) which leads to chains on top. Had to runout the last 35' due to a smashed bolt stud. What gives out there?? Mar 5, 2012
Martin Veillon
El Cajon, Calif.
Martin Veillon   El Cajon, Calif.
I am Martin Veillon and am back out of semi-retirement.
I along with others have 137 established climbs here, both top-rope and lead. Once again someone has come back here and added numerous bolts to my 1st ascents, some right next to protectable cracks-those responsible for any and all bolts added to my climbs need to remove them or else once again I will. I don't add bolts nor remove bolts next to other peoples 1st ascents out of respect for the 1st ascent as has always been the Stone Master rule. I put up many routes here and elsewhere without any or with less bolts on the 1st ascent and then returned to add others to make more safe. There's no retrobolting at Suicide and Tahquitz, J.T., Yosemite and this must be respected everywhere-most especially in an area where every climb can be top roped for those who don't feel they're safe enough for their level of climbing and risk taking. And no, I don't own the rock but neither do those who continue to disrespect the 1st ascent rule. This needs to stop now as I'm still here, as is my son and 4 grandsons and we will continue to have respect for others and expect likewise. To discuss you can try me at my work # 619-825-8166 or my cell # 619-318-9462 but as I will only be taking calls during work hours I may have to call you back from my land line at work because if you call me on my cell # if I'm not answering my land line then I'm making my site rounds and will get back to you asap. May 2, 2012
Martin Veillon
El Cajon, Calif.
Martin Veillon   El Cajon, Calif.
Later on this week I will be posting to this site and another one called super topos or something like that photos of my topo's of Descanso Crag, Stonewall Pk. and Lawson Pk.
I will be doing this in an attempt to once again make known what I've put up along with others that existing when I first visited these wonderfull sites.
Of most importance is that people need to stop adding bolts to other peoples 1st ascents, especially if they can be top-roped should you feel them to be unsafe or runnout.
And to put in bolts next to cracks and/or areas that will accept good "clean" pro is also not acceptable-a bolt is the last choice not the first.
Have fun, but we must all respect the rock, and the 1st ascent as this is the golden rule.
Thanks, Martin Veillon May 6, 2012

Thanks for your input and hard work on first ascents. There is a local "access fund" type of climbing organization that was formed here in San Diego (www.alliedclimbers.org). I am sure they would love to hear what you have to say. The meetings are the last Tuesday evening of every month (see website for specifics). Allied Climbers of San Diego have worked very hard on access issues throughout Southern California. This monthly meeting would be the perfect place for you to discuss your concerns. Just for a little background - The local climbing community is still reeling from a bolt chopper who left a lot of damage in his wake. However, the good news is that it left the climbing community unified as never before. So it is a pretty diverse group. Please bring you son and meet everyone :)
Regards, Randy Leavitt May 7, 2012
Martin Veillon
El Cajon, Calif.
Martin Veillon   El Cajon, Calif.
Randy Leavitt,
Thanks for the invitation for the last Tues. 5-29-2012.
I may find the time to attend and please contact me with info and such on the location and time so that I can schedule for in and mapquest.
My cell # is 619-318-9462 and work # 619-825-8166 May 10, 2012
Kemper Brightman   Tucson
A bit more approach beta for those wishing to avoid the bush-whack:

Once you hop the fence at the west end of the parking area, continue past a telephone pole then white marker post on your right. A short ways after the marker, look right to find a small, low angle slab with the brush above marked with white tape (not my doing, but helpful no less) this is your trail. Feb 9, 2015
UPDATE: Someone within the last couple of months has removed ALL of the hangers and chains at the top of the Main Wall. So, routes like Rusty Diamonds, Roll Over Beethoven, Space Ramp, and Trying to go Straight (These routes are in the old San Diego County Climbing Guide) are no longer able to be TR routes. You may be able to rig something up with the large boulders up on top; but you will need a lot of static rope or cord for it.

Does anyone know what happened? And why? Jun 28, 2015

There are new hangers on top of the main wall. No chains because you can hike back down. Aug 2, 2015
Carl M  
The first bolt of "Into the Eye of the Son" has ripped off and needs to be replaced. It would be much appreciated for people who haven't learned trad as of yet. Mar 13, 2017
Hi all, Sorry for the necro-post. Just climbed here yesterday with a small group and we fell in love. Especially as it is close to us, travel-wise. Is there any info on the area and routes other than the provided pictures and MP's beta? We would love to contribute to helping this area develop so please feel free to hit me up. #206-371-4781 Dec 3, 2017
Ben May
San Diego, CA
Ben May   San Diego, CA
Hey David. It is a really nice local crag... happy to see people out there cranking. Martin's drawings are about as thorough as the beta gets. Getting these routes up on MP would be fantastic. Let me know if you're ever looking for a belay! Dec 3, 2017
Ivan V
San Diego
Ivan V   San Diego
Found a DMM stopper with white tape on it at the parking area on Saturday, January 27th. Jan 29, 2018
Martin Veillon
El Cajon, Calif.
Martin Veillon   El Cajon, Calif.
I met with Lindsey, of the Alpine Forest Service, who is working with others to make improvements to the trail system there, and they also plan to open up more parking for this area as it's starting to get more and more popular.

She also made copies of my topos as I put them all together on their large table, which brought the whole area into better perspective.

Perhaps I'll get with her to see if they want me to make several copies of my reduced size set that I had laminated and use to leave in a coffee can up in the tree at "Space Ramp", leave a copy up there again, and at the Ranger Station in Alpine along with the full size set.

With any luck, I'll be able to hike up there again this year, rather than just walk down the road, but hey, I'm still walking!!!

If you have any questions you can e-mail me at veillonmartin@gmail.com and for those putting up new climbs, let's add them to my topos and update them every year or so.

Same with Lawson Pk. and Stonewall Pk. Feb 28, 2018