Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Natural Rate of Unemployment

5.10c, Sport, 115 ft (35 m),  Avg: 3 from 28 votes
FA: Erik and Crystal Anderson
California > Central Coast > Hwy 33/Ojai > Fortress > Right Side Gully
Warning Access Issue: Hwy 33 Road Closure DetailsDrop down


The Natural Rate of Unemployment follows a series of flakes and edges up the steep face on the left hand flatiron of the Fortress. The crux involves awkward stemming and thin face moves through the middle section of the route. This is followed by easier climbing to a set of rap rings next to the prominent pine tree near the top of the formation. A single rappel or lower with a 70 meter rope from the rings by the pine tree will get you back to the base. If you’re climbing with a 60 meter rope, continue 6 meters (easy 5th class) past the tree rings to the anchors at the top of the formation and rappel Capitalism & Freedom (two rappels with a 60 M).


13 bolts lead to a set of rap rings. The bolts are mostly 4"x3/8" Rawls with a few 3-1/2"x3/8" SS Fixe thrown in. The rap rings were placed with 3-1/2"x1/2" Rawls.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Natural Rate of Unemployment (5.10+), the Fortress.
[Hide Photo] Natural Rate of Unemployment (5.10+), the Fortress.
Erik Wolfe on Natural Rate
[Hide Photo] Erik Wolfe on Natural Rate
Line of "Natural Rate of Unemployment"
[Hide Photo] Line of "Natural Rate of Unemployment"

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Erik Anderson
Ventura, CA
[Hide Comment] Until this route gets some ascents, or I forget how hot it can get up there and go back and do some cleaning, expect lichen, moss, and loose rock. If you aren’t into this sort of thing, don’t climb it for a year or so. Jun 1, 2007
Romain Wacziarg
[Hide Comment] Erik, good to know you went and finished your route. Can't wait to try it out... And thanks for keeping up with the Friedman theme! Jun 2, 2007
Mike Graham
[Hide Comment] went up to scope the Fortress to see if it had been developed. to my excitement it had. Ive alway thought it could have potential so when I saw the line of bolts up the face I had to do it then and there. It has a awesome setting with the route straight up the middle of the prominent spire to the left of the gully. I really liked the climb but with night approaching I knew I had to do it now or wait. I couldn't wait so I went for it, a little bit loose. the flakes are nice edges but exfoliation is occurring I fell after the 7th bolt or so when my bomber foothold sheered off surprising my belayer since I gave him no warning. so any way, I gathered my wits started over, then finished nicely fun moves stoked and pumped. It felt 5 10a/b and it may get harder as it exfoliates

Ian Graham climbed on summer solstice 2007 Jul 16, 2007
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
[Hide Comment] I just climbed Natural Rate of Unemployment and I must say it was quite an adventure. My partner and I didn't know what it was rated, but the line of bolts looked so tempting that I jumped on lead and onsighted the pitch. It was, however, a little nerve-wracking at times due to the loose rock and prolific amounts of lichen. I second Erik Anderson's comment that if you aren't into "this sort of thing" then perhaps you should move to a different crag. If, however, adventure climbing (per the lichen and loose rock) makes your spine tingle with excitement, then do this route. You won't be disappointed. Oct 28, 2007
Romain Wacziarg
[Hide Comment] TRd with Robert Zeithammer on 12/07/07. This will be a great route once it cleans up some more. We broke two holds on our climb, including one important foothold, so it is probable the route will get harder as it gets climbed. Also, it is possible to climb past the belay anchors, to the anchors of Capitalism and Freedom, and rap down that route for the descent. Dec 19, 2007
[Hide Comment] From the top of this route to the anchors of Capitalism & Freedom is not easy 5th class as described in the description. the last 15' of Capitalism & Freedom is at least 5.9 climbing up a fairly steep slabby face. do this approach roped! May 14, 2009
[Hide Comment] I must say that this route has cleaned up to become in my opinion the best climb at the fortress, very good face climbing on good rock. If you thought that this area was chossy it is. But the formation is breathtaking. this climb is over a hundred feet of the most beautiful center of the face, sequenced, artful, direct, fun,non contrived engaging climbing. there is no other line on the face. At the end you end up at lovely pine loving life and the view. I love to take my friends here just to share this climb. Dont listen to the naysayers. People dont realize we dont have much rock left around here and this is a gem. please enjoy the art of Erik and crystal Anderson, a climb they started in the 90s only to abandon the lead and rappel bolt it in 2007. ethics have changed and it was wise to leave it for rappel. Otherwise it wold never have existed and for the history of rap bolting portrero wall and the tunnels its the next logical step in our development. Please post your experience on this climb. Apr 5, 2010
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
[Hide Comment] Things are still flexing up there, but the lichen doesn't cascade in to your eyes every time you reach above your head. Still a good route, and only getting cleaner. Aug 20, 2010
Garth Sundem
Louisville, CO
[Hide Comment] Super fun route! Even more fun once I stopped testing holds and admitted that (A) everything's hollow, (B) everything's likely to pull off, (C) it's still a super fun route. I was rope soloing and happily surprised to find that after hiking to the top of the formation, a 60m rope reaches all the way from the tippy-top anchor, down past the route anchor (jump the gap) and EXACTLY to the bottom of the route. Same beta for Capitalism and Freedom.

And what's that little route up behind PIH and C&F, from the formation top anchor? Am I being blind or is it unlisted here? Who knows? It was fun, too, maybe 10a-ish. Jan 22, 2011
Matthew Fienup
Santa Rosa Valley, CA
[Hide Comment] You are likely referring to Adaptive Expectations… Sep 11, 2012
Maidy Vasquez
Bishop, CA
[Hide Comment] Beautiful route. Long and technical with some really interesting moves.
I second Garth's "A)/B)/C)"'s above but this route is destined to be a classic once the exfoliation settles in to it's final configuration.

This route has obviously lost a few more features since some of the last comments/ratings. I definitely would rate it a solid 10c. It is more difficult and sustained than the two climbs to it's right. There are fresh rock scars but it seemed reasonably clean. A helpful flake at one of the cruxes is flexing and unlikely to last (without epoxy) so I imagine this climb may end up even a little harder in the end, but it's still totally worthy and a must-do for the area. Jun 24, 2013
Alex Bury
Ojai, CA
[Hide Comment] Great route! Be careful of the belayer slayer flake at the sixth bolt...its movin' in the wind. Sep 23, 2013
Kenneth La Roux
Kings Beach, CA
[Hide Comment] Still a bit dirty with lichen and loose flakes but definitely worth doing. 10c feels accurate for the grade, maybe slightly easier for a taller person and slightly harder for a shorter person. Nov 24, 2021
[Hide Comment] I have an opinion being a 10c so I upgraded to a 10d, also willingly to call it an 11a. We had consensus that it was in this range with both onsight leads, call it what you will I can never remember anyone's beta. The moves were all there, very fun and delicate, with feet and smears made more difficult with the lichen ever present. Having my friend climb and place the draws made it easier, a great climb for the area. Oct 24, 2022