Elevation: 3,500 ft
GPS: 38.653, -122.614 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Eric Berghorn on Feb 8, 2014
Admins: Aron Quiter, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Access Issue: Mt. St. Helena Crags - Fire Damage from Fall 2017 Details


Those who brave the approach will be rewarded with seclusion, long routes, and amazing views. This area has fewer visitors than Bubble, Bear, and Far Side areas. This is starting to change thanks to Jim Thornburg's recent edition of "Bay Area Rock". Hailstone Rock has a long history of ascents dating back to obscurity. Ken Stanton and others were active here in the 1980's establishing 1st ascents of a few gear protected routes. The most classic of these is Hailstone Crack (5.9, 75 feet) Mark Howe revisited this area in the mid 1990's, exploring, cleaning and top-roping many lines, including Hailstone Arete (5.9, 80 feet). The recently bolted climbs are highly featured, yet this remains a fragile area. Please tread lightly and avoid increased erosion around routes, trails and belay ledges.

Expect to encounter some "average" quality rock, loose holds, flexing holds, etc. Much time was taken to prepare these routes and make them safer. No amount of cleaning will improve rock quality or remove 100% of those hazards. Wear a helmet. Be prepared for adventurous climbing on less than perfect stone. This is not Tuolumne Meadows granite. Hailstone Rock is a resistant plug of weathered Rhyolite protruding from a huge loose talus field. Proceed with Caution !

Getting There

The easiest approach for Hailstone Rock is to first hike directly to Bubble Rock via the Fire Road. Climb around and up the left side to gain the summit area of The Bubble. From the summit of Bubble access the approach trail which weaves up and behind the Bubble for 3/4 mile of steep switchbacks. As the trail approaches "The Fin" and the base of routes there, veer off above and left, following the continuing trail directly towards Hailstone and "Hole in the Wall" rock (250 yds.) A steep rocky section of trail is traversed w/ the assistance of a fixed climbing rope (4th class, not dog friendly) This approach trail has been described by some as the "crux" (just getting to the base of the climbing.) A 1+ hour approach from the parking turnout is a far better option than bushwhacking up the brushy, loose rock gullies (out towards the far side) described in some of the MP maps posted on the main MSH page.

The easiest approach to the summit plateau of Hailstone is via the 5th class North arete, which requires 5th class climbing to gain the flat plateau area. At the highest access point, up against the mountain side. The short but exposed arête can be protected with a rope belay and a few medium sized cams. Once on top there is a flat plateau from which several top anchors (chains) can be accessed. Most of the routes are on the western facing side of Hailstone Rock (opposite the approach trail) and described from Left to Right.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Hailstone Rock

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Russell Cohen
Redwood City, California
Russell Cohen   Redwood City, California
A new approach trail has been cut! But it is in two disconnected segments. Here is the most current, least bushwacky beta to get to Hailstone:

Step 1:
Get to the Fin. From the Bubble, follow switchbacks up the hill. From the Bear, follow the trail to the left, past a number of smaller formations, aiming straight uphill at times. When you get to a formation impassable to the left, climb up around it to the right. Hole-in-one will come into view in the distance and the fin in the foreground.

Step 2:
Follow a nice trail up and left from the Fin until it suddenly ends in some rocks. From here do not go up!

Out to the left about 100 yards is a gray rocky outcropping. This is your next target. Go down into the gully, eventually dropping into a steep narrow path into the woods. Follow this path to the rocky outcrop.

Once at the rocky outcrop, continue up the hill, climbing onto another larger rock. From here, you're back on another new, nice trail you can follow all the way to the base of hailstone. Hailstone arete will be the first climb you come to. Jan 17, 2017
Oakland, CA
Lorenzo   Oakland, CA
The 2017 fires have completely scorched the talus field between the Fin and Hailstone. The fixed rope that is mentioned in the original 2014 approach beta is still present, but burned and unuseable. The best way to get to Hailstone is to generally follow Russell's trail in the comment above, but you will be able to easily eyeball your own path. The bolted side of Hailstone seems unaffected by the fires. We climbed Rocket Ride, Coroner, and Hailstone Arete - all placements felt solid.

The approach is still very much a scrambling challenge! Feb 3, 2018
Eric Berghorn
Eric Berghorn   Calistoga,CA
The previously burned fixed line was replaced with a new section of Black fixed static line 2/7/18. This static line provides some protection when climbing through a 20’ 3rd class stem-chimney feature. The trail to this area was engulfed in the Oct. 2017 fire and suffered substantial erosion related fire damage as a result. As was previously mentioned, please tread carefully as the landscape has changed and vegetation supporting sections of the previous trail has diminished significantly. New trail cairns were placed 2/7/18 in an effort to provide the visiting climber clues to surpass the 3rd class traverse. It is possible to go around the rock formations (below or above) the traverse and not use the fixed line if desired. Feb 8, 2018