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Cali bound college student


Original Post
Peyton Ritter · · Lexington, VA · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

I'm a high school senior, and I'm taking a gap year next year to climb and travel and whatnot. After that year though, I'm going to college, and I would love your two cents on the climbing around these campuses: Occidental, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis. Any info/experience from students or locals would be awesome!

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 621

Hi Peyton,

The answers to your question will depend somewhat on whether you are mostly interested in bouldering, sport climbing or gear routes; whether you will have a car your first year; whether you mean good gyms you can get to on a daily basis or outside areas near campus; whether you want to climb during the week after classes for a few hours, or want to get to good places on the weekends.  Maybe it's all of those things!  If so, there are some past threads which have a lot of info.  

But all of those schools have good gyms not too far.  And all of them have good climbing within reach of weekend travel.  Very different campus experiences though!  

Chase Leoncini · · San Diego, California · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 135

Trad = Tahquitz / Suicide Rock

Boulder = Joshua Tree

Sport = Anywhere

Within driving range = Yosemite / Sierras / Sequoia National

plantmandan · · Brighton, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 40

There is plenty of climbing throughout California, so this should not be your primary consideration when choosing a university. That being said, I went to UCSD and lived in the area for a decade. It has been a while, but here you go:

  • There is a tiny climbing gym on campus, good for a pump but mostly geared towards newbies. It's probably much more popular today that it was 20 years ago when I was there. You can probably meet some fellow student climbers there. There are some decent local gyms 20-30 min from campus as well if that's your thing. 
  • There is a lot of nice climbing in SD County. It's easy to get out for day trips or weekend trips. None of it is near UCSD though (the closest good crag, Mission Gorge is ~ 30 min away), so a car is a must. There are many more options 1-2 hr from campus. Climbing and camping in the deserts in East County (Valley of the Moon, McCain Valley, etc.) is a particularly fun. There is a decent amount of bouldering, sport, and trad, and a little multi-pitch as well.
  • J-Tree is about 3hr away, Idyllwild about 2.5hr. Both are world class, mostly trad climbing. 
  • One year I was able to stack my classes on Tuesday and Thursdays and had Monday and/or Fridays off. With some planning you can probably pull that off as well. Minimal Friday classes will help your climbing significantly. 

Other general notes about UCSD:

  • Location is amazing. Easy access to beaches, nice weather year round. Many other outdoor activities are also available. 
  • Students often complain about the lack of a social life there. Don't listen to them. There are plenty of opportunities if you put in a little effort to meet people.       

Happy travels, enjoy that gap year!




B Owens · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 60

Chase Leoncini wrote:

Trad = Tahquitz / Suicide Rock

Boulder = Joshua Tree

Sport = Anywhere

Within driving range = Yosemite / Sierras / Sequoia National

Also, Mission Gorge (while not world class) is within 30 minutes of UCSD, which can mean afternoon trips to the crag. 


Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

In So Cal - Oxy, UCLA, UCSD, there are plenty of options, but all of them require a car.  Luckily, there are enough climbers in the area that you may be able to get lifts to where you want to go on weekends.

Closer to UCLA (northwest) is Malibu Creek and Echo Rock, but they are a still a drive.  Oxy is a bit further from those, but a bit closer to destination areas such as Tahquitz, Suicide, and Joshua Tree, as well as Holcomb Valley and the other crags around Big Bear.  It is also a tad closer to the only skiing I consider worthwhile in So Cal - Mt. Baldy - but you can only go in big snow years.  If you are a boarder or are willing to settle, Oxy is also closer to the other So Cal resorts such a Big Bear and Writewood.  There are a bunch of gyms in the greater LA area, so if you like pulling plastic, there are otptions there as well, but you are going to need a ride or a car unless the campus has a wall.  

San Diego puts Malibu in the "not worth the drive category" (in my opinion) but it is about as close to Josh and Tahquitz as the LA area, and there is climbing in the San Diego Area - Mt. Woodson, Mission Gorge, Santee - as well as good gyms.

Have you also considered UCI?  You can bike from there to Pirate's Cove for bouldering (which also means you can just bike to the beach in general), Sender One for gym climbing is close by, and you have the other So Cal spots within easy reach.  I know there are a bunch of climbers at UCI.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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