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P-Wall Direct

5.8 R, Trad, 150 ft,  Avg: 2.1 from 9 votes
FA: See guidebook
California > Central Coast > San Luis Obispo > Bishop Peak > P-Wall


This route is between Hanging Teeth and Slime and Dine. The upper portion merges with the Cave to "P" route. It is at the center of the P Wall face so an ascent of it captures the essence of the wall. The first 40 feet(approx) has no useable protection that I could find so be prepared to be run out at 5.4. The start is directly below the first bolt (approx 50 feet up). There is a moderatly angled apron with a hairline fracture in it and leading to the right of a rt-facing dihedral. Above that the grade steepens on good holds and 10 feet below the bolt are some shallow but bomber cracks for tri-cams, or other, to protect the rest of the way to the bolt. From the bolt traverse right to a splendid crack(the crux but well protected). The crack is just right of a brown water chute. From here continue straight up to find 2 more bolts and a new belay/rappel station(not sure why these are here) on the left side of the large hanging flake. I prefer to continue up the left-facing dihedral and belay in a small alcove not far from the summit. Close by are anchors at the top of Letterman. The varied terrain and airy environs make for a great climb.


4 bolts, tri-cams, stoppers, CU, to 2 inches. Protection useable for shallow placements and 3-pt contact is always prefered at Bishop's.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Revised photo of P Wall.  Note the added bolts and unused anchors below Jump For Joy and atop the flake (this was once a natural belay). Also note that the toprope anchors high on P Wall Direct/Hanging Teeth have been removed.<br>
I have also corrected Route Canal and Hanging Teeth.<br>
1 - Stage Fright (5.10a), 2 - Indecent Exposure (5.7), 3 - Out of Hangers (5.10a(R)), 4 - Impacted Stool Crack (5.9(R)), 5 - P-Crack (5.8), 6 & 6a - Letterman (5.6), 7 - Black Streak (5.10a(R)), 8 - Jump for Joy (5.9(R)), 9 - Route Canal (5.10b), 10 - Hanging Teeth (5.8(R)), 11 - P-Wall Direct (5.8(R)).
[Hide Photo] Revised photo of P Wall. Note the added bolts and unused anchors below Jump For Joy and atop the flake (this was once a natural belay). Also note that the toprope anchors high on P Wall Direct/Han…
Updated topo of P-Wall Direct. Still runout & a bit spooky (cuz of lichen), but a really, really great route. The pro is there if you search for it.
[Hide Photo] Updated topo of P-Wall Direct. Still runout & a bit spooky (cuz of lichen), but a really, really great route. The pro is there if you search for it.
P-Wall Direct from straight on.  Note the 35' +/- runout to 1st bolt.
[Hide Photo] P-Wall Direct from straight on. Note the 35' +/- runout to 1st bolt.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Jon Hanlon
  5.8 R
[Hide Comment] JK is right...better have your head together for this one. It takes lots of gear, but most of it is just "ok" and pretty far between. Pro gets better after the first bolt.

I was able to make it all the way to the Letterman anchors with a 60M rope.

In my opinion something has been taken away from this climb with the installation of toprope anchors 30M up. If you are motivated enough to scamble to the top and make 2 raps down P-Wall to set up a toprope, you are probably motivated enough to lead it. Feb 9, 2005
Tom Myers
[Hide Comment] I agree with Jon Hanlon's comment (2-9-05) that the chain anchors about 30 meters up detract from the climb. The section above this anchor is as asthetic as any section on the rock and I just don't see why they would get used. There is also a hugh crack system useable for anyone on lead within feet of the anchor. I know who put them there and applaud that person's work in making the area safer and more useable, but this anchor should be removed and used elsewhere. Mar 25, 2005
David McAlister
Long Beach, CA
[Hide Comment] I climbed this with a friend of mine, Crystal, did this route on a foggy day (not the weather) in 1999. The idea was born from a drunken night of bad ideas. At the time, the route had very bad bolts and a lot of moss, and not anchor to speak of. I believe I just kind of wedged my body in a crack near the top to belay.

A very bold route indeed. Apr 7, 2005
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
[Hide Comment] Solid lichen the whole way up. Also, the bolts that are there, are right next to decent cracks. Jan 28, 2012
John Knight
  5.8+ R
[Hide Comment] Bolts next to cracks? The bolts on "P-Wall Direct" ARE immediately adjacent to cracks that can be protected with modern cams. If someone placed those bolts today, they would likely be ridiculed and a team of people would quickly be mobilized to go out and strip the bolts. So how did these bolts come to be?

First a bit of background & history.
There are a total of 3 bolts on this route. The upper 2 bolts were placed around 1970 when Rusty Garing connected the "Rusty's Cave" route to the top of P-Wall. This second pitch of "Rusty's Cave" became known as "Cave to P" and was put by Garing, Joe Zimmerman, and Bob Garing (Rusty's Dad and frequent climbing/belay partner). Shortly after that (or perhaps before), the "Hanging Teeth" route came in from the left and connected to this upper portion of "Cave to P". It shared the same 2 upper bolts. The FA for "Hanging Teeth" is again credited to Garing and was done with Gregg Cassabarth sometime in 1971. Not too long thereafter, a bold climber named Ed Sampson came along and decided a route could be done straight up from the ground that would connect to the top of the "Cave to P" route. Around 1977, Sampson and Mike Cirone put up the direct start variation of this climb and named it "P-Wall Direct". This direct start variation soon became the popular line for those looking for a bold but moderate climb to lead. The third bolt on this route is much lower than the other two and was likely placed in 1977 by the Sampson/Cirone team.

So why are there bolts next to cracks? At the time these routes were put up, modern camming devices were not available. Cams didn't become commercially available till 1978. Go here for a bit of history on cams. The only protection available to our local climbers were bolts, pitons, and nuts. The cracks were too big for pitons and way too big for nuts. Also, pitons were quickly falling out of favor (in free climbing areas) because of the damage they do to the rock. So, the only realistic protection available to climbers at the time was a 1/4" bolt. Many of these would have been placed on lead and hand drilled from stance (both hands are needed to hand drill a bolt). If you stop and look where the bolts are located on this climb, you'll notice that they are in spots where a climber can get a good stance to hand drill a bolt.

Conundrum: I think the bigger question is whether or not the bolts should be removed. They are immediately adjacent to protectable cracks (at least protectable today). They were most likely placed by the Fist Ascent party when they did these routes in the 1970s. This is supported by Dwight Kroll's 1978 climbing Guide, "San Luis Obispo Happy Climbs" , which shows all 3 bolts. The bolts at least existed in 1978. On the one side, removing them would be inconsistent with the way the route was established by the First Ascent Party. On the other side, leaving them is inconsistent with modern standards that strongly discourage bolts being placed next to cracks. So, what do you do? I think most people just clip the bolts and are simply glad that they have a bit of solid protection on this runout route.

Mar 1, 2012
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
[Hide Comment] Hey, thanks for the history John. Yeah, I wasn't trying to throw any kind of fit over the bolt thing. I understand, and some bolts next to a crack really doesn't bother me all that much in the first place. Just thought it was odd that it's such a poorly protected climb and the few bolts happen to be next to cracks. I didn't notice the no hands rests. Oh well. It's still a super dirty climb which would be better if it cleaned up (which hasn't, and wont, the way it is). Apr 18, 2012
[Hide Comment] Climbed P-wall Direct yesterday. The climb still has loads of lichen, which makes for a "heady" lead. I started too far left and then couldn't lower to the ground with a 60m rope. It seems like it could be a real rope stretcher to get to the ground on a 60m rope even starting further to the right. Would be a much more enjoyable climb if it saw more traffic to get rid of the lichen. Jul 30, 2014