Elevation: 2,000 ft
GPS: 34.471, -119.69 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 7,030 total · 80/month
Shared By: andy patterson on Dec 28, 2011
Admins: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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The Rattlesnake Canyon Crags offer varied climbing, great views, and adventure. Between all the crags (including Upper and Lower Alchemist, and Renaissance Crag), you can find some of the longer lines in town (not lying), and some of the hardest as well. The style of climbing ranges from 5.7 slab-fests, to 5.13 crimp test-pieces, with a growing selection of 5.9 and 5.10 moderates. Rattlesnake Canyon is a bit of a maze, and the rock outcroppings seem to come out of nowhere, creating hidden crags and cliff-bands. As you come up the canyon, Renaissance Crag is on the right hand side, and The Alchemist and Upper Alchemist are on the left. NOTE: Renaissance Crag is its own area, but I included general descriptions of all areas in the vicinity—just to get climbers oriented.

Here's a quick primer:

— Renaissance Crag is the first established spot you come to, and has some area classics like Sword in the Stone (5.10a) and Trebuchet (5.13a). Expect shade, a handful of quality routes, hard (and sometimes sharp) rock, and zero crowds.

— On the opposite side of the canyon from Renaissance Crag, you can enjoy a hidden yet massive jumble of rock faces and blocks. A group of us call the lower section of the jumble The Lower Alchemist, and the upper headwall (home to Fun in the Sun, 5.7) The Upper Alchemist. I really don't know what folks called these cliffs in the past, and all my asking around came up dry. Whether you call the area "Rattlesnake Crags" or "The Alchemist" doesn't matter to me. Anyhoo, this area greets the climber with some fantastic introductory sport routes, harder clip-ups like Goldline (5.12a), multi-pitch odysseys, and a growing number of sport and crack lines, one of which is the superb finger-to-hand crack, The Prestige (5.9).

NOTE: I'm not the first person to try developing this area. I've found old anchors, rusty bolts, and sundry evidence of past climbing shenanigans. I'm just another enthusiast picking up where someone else left off. If I named and graded a route that you know someone else did first, I apologize.

Getting There

FOR RENAISSANCE CRAG: park at Rattlesnake Canyon Trailhead, hike up the trail about 25-30 minutes. After the second big stream crossing, walk about fifty feet and look up the hill to your right. The steep overhang with a couple of fixed draws? That's Renaissance Crag.

FOR THE ALCHEMIST AND UPPER ALCHEMIST: same as for Renaissance Crag, but fifty feet before you get to the stream, look up to your left. There should be a rock cairn marking a dry stream drainage. Follow a climber's trail up the first sport routes.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Renaissance Crag

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Sword In The Stone
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
Bring Out Your Dead
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Sword In The Stone
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport
Bring Out Your Dead
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
More Classic Climbs in Renaissance Crag »

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Beautiful Andy. Great to see this area on the map! Keep up the good work out there, I look forward to jumping on some of these problems soon. Dec 29, 2011
Great little spot, definitely for stronger climbers. The climbing and belay areas are all shaded all day. There is some poison oak around, so be careful. All of the bolts look basically new, and there are some trad nuts and quickdraws left (assuming for people's projects?). The hike was a little longer than 30min, and is uphill most of the way. We thought we had missed a turnoff, but kept hiking until we did eventually come across a second creek crossing. As long as you keep heading uphill, you'll hit it, and if not, you can end up at Gibraltar.

Really great spot with some solid, really hard, well protected, overhangs. Jul 14, 2013
youtu.be/j8QLsNiNJVM Jul 16, 2013
Guy Keesee
Moorpark, CA
Guy Keesee   Moorpark, CA
I do not live in SB...Moorpark. I only roll in and enjoy the local rocks when its to hot or to cold at other places... So where is this "Rattlesnake Canyon".... if its below Gibralter... I think I know how to locate it.

One of the benefits of the fire?

Looks like a fun place, thanks. Oct 24, 2013
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
Here's how you find the trailhead:

santabarbarahikes.com/hikes… Oct 24, 2013
Chris Morissette
Santa Barbara
Chris Morissette   Santa Barbara
Hey Andy,
I hiked up Rattlesnake Canyon yesterday and saw some development on the Fun in the Sun Wall. Are you the one developing that? If so, I would like to A. help and B. donate some hangers and bolts. It looks like a pretty cool spot with room for some new slab route up and left. Feb 12, 2014