Elevation: 7,000 ft
GPS: 36.607, -118.699 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 8,798 total · 113/month
Shared By: Brad Brandewie on Sep 1, 2012
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Access Issue: Always check SEKI road conditions and peregrine closures Details


The Watchtower is one of the larger and more easily approached objectives in the front country of Sequoia National Park’s west side. A mere 1.7 miles on the gentle Tokopah Valley Trail and a moderate slab/talus scramble will put you at the base of a wall that’s nearly 1,000 feet tall.

First climbed in 1970 by Galen Rowell, this formation didn’t see another ascent for 10 years. Even today, only 4 routes have been recorded. That being said, there have likely been a few others over the years. Or maybe not…...

The climbing here has an alpine feel and loose rock and vegetated pitches are not uncommon. Only one of the four known routes goes free, the others all receiving an A3 rating.

The free option is the Timex Route (5.9) which wanders around and finds some good bits of climbing mixed in with bushes and lichen.

Late summer is the best time to rock climb here. Be aware that you need to be able to cross the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River to access this formation. If the water is still raging, a different objective may be in order. On the other hand, if you want it badly enough you could bushwhack up the other side of the river for two miles to the base. Keep an eye out for bears in this area and don’t leave food in your vehicle.

Parking for all climbs in Tokopah Valley is in the large lot behind the Lodgepole Visitor Center and Market. From here, walk across the bridge at the east end of the parking lot and take an immediate right on the Tokopah Valley Trail. Follow the trail until you are within a couple hundred feet of the bottom of Tokopah Falls. Start looking for a place to cross the river.

The easiest descent is via the Pear Lake Trail which takes you to the Wolverton area and then on to Lodgepole in an easy three miles.

Getting There

The Lodgepole parking area is located in Sequoia National park just north of Giant Forest.

From the south (Visalia) follow HW 198 into the park. Form the north (Fresno) follow HW 180 into the park.

4 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Watchtower

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Hoppy's Favorite
Ice, Alpine 3 pitches
WI4 M4-5 Easy Snow
Moonage Daydream
Trad, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 5 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Timex Route
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Hoppy's Favorite
WI4 Ice, Alpine 3 pitches
Moonage Daydream
WI4 M4-5 Easy Snow Trad, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 5 pitches
Timex Route
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
More Classic Climbs in The Watchtower »

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Visalia, CA
limpingcrab   Visalia, CA
Additional topos and stuff here sekiclimbing.com/tokopah-va… Aug 14, 2015
Guy Keesee
Moorpark, CA
Guy Keesee   Moorpark, CA
The Climb "All Along The Watchtower" was climbed in 1976 by John Long and crew.

It follows the prominent Right Hand Book to almost the end of the book before traversing off to the right via rivet and bad bolt ladder, a pendulum gets you to the prominent crack and that crack gets you above the big roof system. John and crew escaped to the left at this point and joined Galen's route .... to the summit.

In 1975 I made three attempts to climb this with good experienced wall climbers.

Do not try and climb from the bottom of the book... look around, one can 3rd class to a good ledge just left of the book and haul from here.

The book is solid A4.

IMHO the real climb has not been completed. A crack system descends from the summit to a point about 80 feet from the point where Largo and team went LEFT.

This was my hi point, I didn't want to drill a bolt ladder up to the crack. I showed John some photos and he was up there in a New York Minute. Feb 3, 2016
John Long
Venice, CA
John Long   Venice, CA
Richard Harrison and I took the route from Guy's highpoint a few pitches higher on what felt like A5 at the time, but that was before beaks etc. I took a 50-foot aid fall trying to push it and after that, reached my highpoint and swung left into something we could freeclimb. There is a direct finish to this line that I would have loved to have tried but we didn't have the bolting gear nor a full loads of RURPS, thin copperheads and all the other gadgets you'd need to finish the last laser cut blade crack that fires right up the blankest, steepest section of the wall. This finish would be a kind of Super Prow or mini Shield and is there for the taking for any ambitious aid climber. With modern gear and techniques, this would be high adventure, but none of it's easy, and nobody is free climbing that upper wall. That's for sure. 1 day ago