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Routes in The Bubble

"Left Edge" S,TR 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R
Boba S 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Bubble Boy S 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Catchy S 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Chimney T,TR 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Face T,TR 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Face, The Bubble Mt. St. Helena S,TR 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Ladder, The S,TR 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Little Buddy S 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Old Ladder Route S,TR 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
Solar Power S 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
West Face, The S 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R
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Type: Sport, TR, 60 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 8,161 total · 42/month
Shared By: Tony B on Aug 17, 2002
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


The "Face" route is the left-most bolted route at the bubble and is marked as "#1" on the topo attached. The route goes up the slabby-to-vertical face on pockets beside bolts the entire way, and tops out to a bolted anchor, just left of an obvious left-facing dihedral with a chimney in the back of it.

The climb is mostly moderate with protection at the crux. Shorter people may find this somewhat hard at the grade, but not harder than 5.10a/b. The crux is a reach spot 2/3 of the way to the top.

The anchors are placed back from the top such that long slings or webbing is necessary to set a TR or to lower off. This seems akward, but perhaps it was done to save wear from the people who would otherwise TR off of chains or shuts directly.


It is bolted, although not very closely. A 5.9 climber should be fine, but if you are a 5.7 climber and want to dog it, please consider a TR.


Brian Quiter
Oakland, CA
Brian Quiter   Oakland, CA
Guide books covering the area have it rated at 5.7, but Tony and had a discussion and decided that that's a pretty misleading, as we have friends who can usually climb 5.9 have trouble on it. Aug 27, 2002
Aron Quiter
Oakland, CA
Aron Quiter   Oakland, CA  
After climbing it, I think it's 5.7 if you are about 8, and have really really littlehands. Tall people will find this route harder than short poeple.There are tons ofhands and feet on this route, it's just that none of them are big. Oct 21, 2002
Brian Quiter
Oakland, CA
Brian Quiter   Oakland, CA
One more reason this climb seems harder than the guidebooks claim is that it is absolutely impossible to see the wonderful holds above you. The face is too featured with little pockets. I watched people struggle for a while on a move until they finally stubled upon an enormous hold, then they could pull themselves up with ease. May 19, 2003
My first sport lead (I currently lead 5.6/5.7 trad). Not strenuous, but some insecure moves. Moves aren't obvious, I had some trouble comitting (I don't know if the audience of hikers on the fire road was helping matters). Fun, though! Nov 6, 2005
Colonel Mustard
Sacramento, CA
Colonel Mustard   Sacramento, CA
I'd agree with 5.9 as a rating. The bulge around 2nd bolt is definitely more strenuous than other 5.8s and the top is pretty balancey/technical. Fun climb. Jun 19, 2006
Floyd Hayes
Floyd Hayes  
I think it's solid 5.9. The first few times I led it straight over the second bolt, but later found it easier to grab a solid left hand hold above and well left of the bolt, stepping high up and reaching high to a solid right hand hold. Oct 27, 2008
marc g
San Francisco, CA
marc g   San Francisco, CA
This is a pretty good match for a 5.9. It has tiny, sharp pockets and the occasional jug. The 2nd and 3rd bolts are a bit awkward, and the first is a pretty high start. Mildly fun. Aug 31, 2010
Floyd Hayes
Floyd Hayes  
After leading this climb 9 times, I think it's a bit harder than several 5.9s that I've led at Mt. St. Helena, including Kola (2 times), Shute-Mills (5 times), pitch 1 of Mark's Moderate (2 times) and Theodore Roosevelt (1 time). I can't understand how it ever got a 5.7 rating. It always feels like 5.10a to me between the second and third bolts. Oct 4, 2010
Kyle Townsend
Oakland, CA
Kyle Townsend   Oakland, CA
This route is suprisingly enjoyable! It look bland and boring from the ground, but the movement is actually quite aesthetic. Regarding grade, this is unquestionably a 5.9. I think it requires pocket pulling experience and the ability to visualize good holds over shallow useless ones, otherwise I could see how someone might feel i deserves a 10a. Well-bolted, good warmup. Jul 1, 2012
I lead 5.8 and I thought I was hopping on a 5.7. I got a bit freaked but pulled it off. There is a lot to be said for expectations. After another look at the guide book I realized that there is a 5.7 on this wall it is TR only and its quite a bi
t to the right of the bolts. 5.9 seems appropriate to me. Jul 8, 2012
James Watson  
Current Potlicker Press book, "Bay Area Rock" has this climb rated 5.9. The climb is also called "The Slab" instead of "The Face". Nov 24, 2014
FourT6and2 ...
San Francisco, CA
FourT6and2 ...   San Francisco, CA
Climbed this route today and I thought it was really fun. I agree that from the ground it doesn't look like much, but when you get on the wall it goes really well and is quite fun. Feb 29, 2016
Nick Andrew
Nick Andrew  
This route now has a fifth bolt making it much safer and more fun in my opinion. Also, new anchors have been added at the top of the face so you no longer have to top out and scramble to the anchor.. The old anchors are still up there though, so you can still safely set up a TR with longish slings if you want to. Fun/ short route with some long reaches to small but deep pockets. Thank you to whoever placed that new bolt!! May 20, 2018

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