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Routes in Rattlesnake Canyon Crags (including Upper and Lower Alchemist)

Cupcakes & Champagne S 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Fun in the Sun S 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
King Snake Crack T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Labrador Ate the Cupcakes, The S 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Tender Flakes of Mercy T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Ugly Duckling S 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Written Exam T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13
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Located on the opposite side of the canyon from Renaissance Crag, the greater Rattlesnake Canyon Crags (including Upper and Lower Alchemist) offer varied climbing, great views, and adventure. The style of climbing ranges from 5.7 slab-fests, to 5.12+ test-pieces, with a growing selection of 5.9 and 5.10 moderates. The whole Rattlesnake Canyon area 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 Rattlesnake Canyon Crags (including Upper and Lower Alchemist)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Santa Barbara, CA
NKunstek   Santa Barbara, CA
Hit this area up yesterday. Had a great time. Just wanted to give it a comment bump. Thanks Andy for putting in a lot of hard work in this region. Really enjoyed the climbs and deserves more attention by the SB climbing community. Sure it is a bit dirty when compared to San Ysidro, but not when compared to the amount of traffic one receives vs. the other. The approach isn't bad and with some more people climbing here the rock and creek region will continue to get cleaned out. The routes are super well bolted on the lower wall which is 1 minute from the main trail. Has a good mix of moderate routes and harder lines as well. Honestly a nice area for those looking to diversifying their SB climbing scene. I'll be taking gloves and an axe next time to help with the brush clearing in the creek bed! Honestly people need to hit this place and Panic Town up more often and the routes will get cleaner! Thanks again Andy and Co. for opening (or re-opening) these areas up to the SB climbing community.

Questions: What are the two routes to the right of Cupcakes and Champagne? Did them and thought they were fun as well.

Is there an easier way to get up to the fun in the sun wall then staying close to the cliff? Oct 20, 2014
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
Getting to the Fun in the Sun cliff requires a small amount of climbing or steep hiking—no matter what option you choose. If you veer right, up a steep climber's trail right before you get to "Labradors", you will eventually arrive at The Lower Alchemist crag. From there, you just follow the cliff to the base of Fun in the Sun (and along the way you encounter some easy 5th class scrambling).

Cheers, and have fun!

Andy Oct 20, 2014
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
The easiest way to get to the Fun in the Sun Wall is to climb Labrador Cupcakes. Instead of belaying from the two bolts atop that route, lead up to the oak tree. From the tree, there is a climber's trail that leads left toward Fun in the Sun (passing below the Lower Alchemist en route). There is one short scramble past a boulder as you near Fun in the Sun, but otherwise it's just walking.

I am aware of one route and one project to the right of Cupcakes & Champagne. There is a 7 or 8 bolt 5.9 called Pilot's Paradise. This route starts in a small, low angle dihedral before climbing up past a series of bulges. To the right of Pilot's Paradise, there are a few bolts that protect a headwall above a very steep starting section. I TR'd the steep start at 5.11+/12- but did not equip and lead it. Lots of holds broke and so did my excitement for the project. Oct 21, 2014
Jeff Mahoney
Santa Barbara, CA
Jeff Mahoney   Santa Barbara, CA
So what's the line left of "Tender Flakes"? (Rebolt?) Lots of crumbly rock down low, and unfortunately the movement wasn't up to the bar set by the other routes. Worth doing if you're there, though. (Also, your project ropes are starting to get pretty crispy, guys...) Aug 9, 2015
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  

I am entirely remiss in not retrieving those lines. I made the HUGE tactical error of starting some projects up there right before Oliver was born, and I had to leave some unfinished projects. I do get up Rattlesnake nowadays, but my timeframes up there are few and far between, and of a shorter duration. I'm hoping to get all the nasty "project hardware" outta there soon.

Thanks for the patience! Aug 9, 2015
Jeff Mahoney
Santa Barbara, CA
Jeff Mahoney   Santa Barbara, CA
Haha, the best laid plans... I didn't know it was your stuff. I was more emphasizing that if people are up there, best not to try using the soft goods. (We honored the "refrain" notice of the red quickdraw, fyi.) But great work! Aug 10, 2015
Ben Curtin
Santa Barbara, CA
Ben Curtin   Santa Barbara, CA
Is there any beta for the route to the right of Fun In The Sun? We were there last weekend and saw a well bolted line that was pretty fun, although parts were a bit sandy.

Thanks for reviving this area - definitely some good rock up there and great views of the area! Dec 2, 2015
Jeff Mahoney
Santa Barbara, CA
Jeff Mahoney   Santa Barbara, CA
Ah, so bolts have appeared now, eh? How far up does the route go? We were there a few weeks ago and the work rope was hanging down from the ledge, but they hadn't equipped yet. I'm sure "someone" will fill in the blanks for us soon... Dec 2, 2015
Ben Curtin
Santa Barbara, CA
Ben Curtin   Santa Barbara, CA
The one I'm referring to is the farthest right on the Fun in the Sun wall, and was right of the hanging rope. It was bolted all the way up and ended at some bolts with a chain on one bolt at the top of the ridge. There were also some 'X's marked on the wall with chalk where we assumed bolts would go :) Dec 3, 2015
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
That would be "Ugly Duckling," a cool moderate slab route. Here is a full description Dec 3, 2015
Dominic DePalma
Dominic DePalma   Ventura
We went hiking up here yesterday. Looks like a great spot.

There was a hanging rope up there that looks like someone might be doing work off of. There are two new looking chains and some new looking bolts. Who is doing this work as I would love to come up and help in any way.

What are the first bolted routes you come to just below the hanging rope?

Is the Fun in the Sun route past this rope?

Couldn't quite figure out what routes are what.

Thanks for any info. I am looking forward to climbing some of this stuff Dec 19, 2016

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