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Mt. St. Helena Crags - Fire Damage Updates


Original Post
splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 6

As most know, we have had many large fires in the North Bay.  

Many crags on Mt. St. Helena have been affected by the fire.  It looks like the majority of the crags on Mt. St. Helena proper have been affected.  I'm not sure about Table Rock or Table Scraps at this time.

Folks from the Rock Ice & Mountain Club and Bay Area Climber's Coalition are in contact with State Parks and hope to go in and assess the damage in the coming weeks.

Right now the road is still closed and there is no access to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park from Highway 29.

I can update this thread when there is new information to share with the climbing community.


Seth Dilles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 0

Thank you for keeping the climbing community updated on this!

Nick Lozica · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Was the multi pitch effected?

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 6

If you mean the multi pitch on table rock, I think that the south side of Highway 29 was spared but I will confirm

Daniel Howe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I don’t recognize the area from the photo.  Is that the north side of Mt St Helena, or the palisades?

Ed Henicle · · Santa Rosa, CA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 1,310

I think I got the labels right. 


plantmandan · · Brighton, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 50

Thanks for the photo. Ed, your labels are correct. That does not look good. I grew up in Lake County just north of there. There have been half a dozen catastrophic wildfires in that general area in the last two years. It's just heartbreaking.   

One reason to be hopeful is that the mountain is mostly shrub at that elevation on the south side, so the fires may not have reached that high on the rock. I'm sure it will be closed for a long time regardless. Mount St. Helena is such a beautiful area with views that extend from San Francisco to the Sierra. The climbing there is so much fun with really good rock. I can't recommend this area enough.   

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 6

Highway 29 is open but access to the park is officially closed so fire and state park crews can assess damage, mop up and do erosion controls.

There have been some lookie lous - here is a pic someone posted on the Mt. St. Helena page showing the bear cliff

We have heard that bear cliff got hit hard with exfoliating and burnt rock and compromised hardware.  

Locals who have scoped the various crags from Calistoga have said that it looks like the bear, far side, hailstone and the satellites areas burned severely, but that the bubble faired well and that there is still tree canopy at Kimball Crag/Black Tower.

Not totally confirmed - but Table rock and Table scraps did not burn.

We hope to get in there for a detailed assessment in a week or so.

Daniel Howe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Wow.  Thanks for the photos.  I haven’t been up yet.  Family was evacuated but didn’t know the extent it had burned to the north..

plantmandan · · Brighton, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 50

Dang. I wonder how long before that is climbable again and if the routes will be totally different.   

Daniel Howe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0
plantmandan wrote:

Dang. I wonder how long before that is climbable again and if the routes will be totally different.   

I imagine some of the lichen will be gone and some of the features broken off due to heat induced stress, but the rocks remain and beg to be climbed.

Daniel Howe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0
Daniel Howe wrote:

I imagine some of the lichen will be gone and some of the features broken off due to heat induced stress, but the rocks remain and beg to be climbed.

I just remembered that with all the trees and brush gone how the foot traffic will likely impact the ground.  It will likely be unwise to go to bear or far side.  With the brush gone there will be little holding up the climber trail also, and erosion will be a serious issue 

Evan Borders · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Took a look at the area....it's completely torched.

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 6

thanks for the pics Evan.  How did the rock and hardware look at far side?

Evan Borders · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0
splitclimber wrote:

thanks for the pics Evan.  How did the rock and hardware look at far side?

It looked fine....the fire seemed to stay low over there and didn't burn hot up high. The bolts didn't look deformed or anything.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 420

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/106333899/burned-out-bolts

Ever wonder what happens to bolts after a forest fire? San Diego is known for fast and hot fires. The fire to end all fires occurred in 2003 and was devistating. One crag (Poway Crag) got hit hard and due to habitat restoration climbing went silent. Now we are faced with a crag coming back onto the scene but many of the bolts were severely burned. The fire was hot enough to affect the rock quality in areas. I ran into melted glass near my house in a burned zone.

I took a sample from the cliff from the first lead bolt on a climb plenty charred and with burned out logs at its base. Then it was time for some tension testing. The bolt is a Rawl 5 piece carbon steel 3/8" (so the bolt is actually 5/16"). I threw in a comparable new stainless unit for fun. I also tested the hanger.... continues

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 6

Thanks Evan.

and thanks for that link Kevin.  

I just got a great update on many of the crags.  I can post more details soon, but right now the bear cliff looks to be the most affected and a couple routes on far side and at ben gunn in the satellites. 

Most of far side is ok, as well as bubble, hailstone, quarry and Kimball crags.

We plan to get some bolt/hardware experts up there with experience in fire affected hardware.  We think many of the bear cliff routes will need a complete rebolting effort.

Park still has formal closure notices.  We hope that at least the south side (table rock/scraps) will open soon as that area was not affected and to our knowledge no dozers went into that area.

Trails are reported to be in good shape and we will monitor after this round of rain to see where we can work on stabilization.


Arnaud All├ęzy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Hi guys, was planning a trip to Table Rock or Table Scraps this Sunday. Any idea what the damage is there?

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 6

there is no damage from fires at table rock or table scraps, but there is still a formal closure notice on that side of the highway as of Wednesday.  That may change by the weekend.  

Forecast doesn't look ideal, if you haven't checked it yet.

edit: just heard status of state parks on the radio (KRSO).  They said Robert Louis Stevenson SP is closed indefinitely.



Michael Dreyfus-Pai · · Oakland, CA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 0

Just signed up for notifications from this thread. Please let us know about any restoration efforts (scouting, trail work, whatever) that we can participate in or support.

Colonel Mustard · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Sep 2005 · Points: 1,186
  1. Bummer! The Bear is probably the best crag in that area? Looks like devastation. What an inferno, and obviously larger tragedy.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern California
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