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Routes in Black Tower

"Black Arrow" T 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Barrel Roll S 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Corkscrew S 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Screw Cap V2- 5+ PG13
Sky Raider S 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Wingman S 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Elevation: 3,200 ft
GPS: 38.653, -122.623 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: Jerry Dodrill on Jan 20, 2017
Admins: Aron Quiter, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Black Tower is a secluded 130’ spire of featured rhyolite rock that stands high on the slope of Kimball Canyon, deep on the West side of Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. Its first known ascent was in 1995 when Jared Chaney, Kurt Jensen and I (Jerry Dodrill) bushwhacked to the base and made a ground up traditional ascent up the middle of the main South face. The cracks were scary, hollow and dirty so we named the route “Never Again” and didn’t return for a couple decades. At that point Eric Berghorn and I had already realized that the steep faces of Kimball Canyon Crag made for fun sport climbing and decided to give Black Tower another look. We were surprised to find that its highly featured faces offered fun moderate climbing on grippy solid rock. Darren Wiemeyer and I came back for further reconnaissance and established several new bolt-protected routes. Wingman and Sky Raider ascend the tallest part of the face, starting on the right side of the tower and ending on a true summit spire. Corkscrew and Barrel Roll climb the steeper, shorter West face.

Gear: Bring a 60M or 70M rope and 12 draws/slings. A 70M rope will let you rappel back to the base of Wingman, but a 60 will come up short. It is possible to rappel farther to the right and reach the ground, or scramble off the top to the right.

Getting There

Follow detailed directions for the Kimball Canyon approach on overview page. In short: Gain the lower service road and follow it about 1.5 miles to the Kimball Canyon water crossing. Ascend the steep trail up left side of the creek for half a mile until you come to the main Kimball Crag. Go to the LEFT/South side of Kimball Crag. From here a trail cuts up and left, Southwest across slope through the woods for a hundred yards, bringing you to the base of "Wingman."

Total approach time is at least an hour for a good hiker, up to 1.5 hrs. Because of the up/down nature of the approach, the hike out can feel as strenuous as the hike in. Bring plenty of water. This is a remote back-country crag with an alpine vibe. It can be frigid in the winter wind and bake in the summer sun. Black Tower receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Neighboring Kimball Crag's North Face has shade nearly all day.

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FYI - Jim Thornburg updated his Bay Area Rocks guidebook lists these climbs in reverse order. They are listed correctly here.

Also, you can use a 60 meter rope on the two 5.8's, but you better tie a knot in the ends when rapping. I really recommend belaying from above when belaying a follower. If the rope doesn't run through draws, a 60m rope does just reach the ground and you can top rope them, but barely and lowering the last 20 feet is awkward and will abrade the rope. Mar 13, 2017

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