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Routes in San Ysidro (Upper)

Dinky Pinkies T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b PG13
Gnome Fingers T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
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Type: Trad, 70 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 2,697 total · 20/month
Shared By: andy patterson on Sep 1, 2007
Admins: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Begin in a left facing corner and climb to a roof. Exit right out the roof and get situated at the bottom of a long (by Santa Barbara standards) and very splitter finger crack. Crank through a series of amazing finger locks to a flared hand/fist crack. 15 feet of easy and fun 5.8 face climbing leads to a comfortable belay ledge. The belay takes 1/2-2" pieces.


This route climbs the far left end of the crag.


Bring doubles in the tips to finger size, and singles up to a #3 Camalot. Also, a full set of nuts goes a long ways. Again, the anchor takes fingers to hand size cams
Jon Hanlon   SLO
I agree that Upper SY probably only sees one ascent per year, and a natural anchor has been adequate for over 30 years. I am curious as to why you think it is necessary to add a bolted anchor? Sep 5, 2007
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
To clarify: I'm considering putting in a discreet rappell anchor to facilitate a safe and convenient descent after climbing the route. The last time I climbed the route (which was last week), I couldn't discern a logical way to descend. What's more, there were tons of loose rock and a couple of sketchy trees that could concievably lure climbers into an unsafe rappell. I think Gnome Fingers is a fabulous route and worth some extra traffic, therefore I propose making it a bit more approachable. Again, I intend to place the rappell anchors as discreetly as possible.

That being said, I am a local climber and I'd like to preserve relationships with local climbers; I don't want to place a bolt at the expense of climber rapport and consensus. If you have information regarding a more agreeable descent to Gnome Fingers, or any other opinions, remarks, or concerns, PLEASE let me know. I want to do the right thing.

I will be up at upper San Ysidro tomorrow afternoon (Friday the 7th) to clean up the approach a little bit, as well as scrub some of the lichen off of the route. I will refrain from proceeding with my plan to place the anchor pending a response from you.

Thanks for your concern. Sep 6, 2007
Jon Hanlon   SLO
Thanks for the clarification on the anchor situation. However, I disagree with your desire to "fix" this route, and "make the area more approachable." Not everyone appreciates the emasculation of our more adventurous feeling routes. Many climbers enjoy the adventure of finding routes, negotiating lichen, and figuring out the best descent. On this particular climb, folks have been doing this for 30 years. (Just to extinguish the upcoming flames, I am a 32-year SB local now living in SLO. I have done a lot of climbing in SB, and consider it my local area.)

Secondly, scrubbing a route to remove lichen is absolutely not acceptable. scrubbing is no different than chipping or gluing holds. It is defacing our resource and reducing the climb to your level so that you can climb it. If it is really that great, enough people will climb it so the lichen wont be an issue for you.

Thirdly, you implied that you plan to improve the access trail. I will reiterate that you are suggesting cutting a trail for a relatively obscure route that people have enjoyed for 30 years without your help. I will also point out that San Ysidro sees tons of hiker traffic. Consider how a new trail affect the viewshed and experience of non-climbers. Remember, too, that cutting branches and making trails is illegal in the area you are proposing. Image what it would look like if every user group modified the area to suit their needs. (BTW, we have lost access to one of our areas here in SLO, due in part to these behaviors).

Please, give your plan some serious thought before you proceed. There is a lot of depth to these issues that take some time to digest and appreciate. I realize that on this website I come off as a complaining old kermudgeon, but I feel it is important to present the other side. Those who are taking action (retrobolting, scrubbing, pruning, etc) should be the most cautious about their actions, and need to realize that not everyone appreciates their behavior.

Go out, climb some rocks, have a great time, and leave it the way you found it so others can enjoy the same adventure that you had. Sep 7, 2007
C Miller   CA  
This sounds like a variation of the Tonnere Tower discussion (scroll down about 1/3 down) in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. Sorry to say it Jon, but you do sound like a "complaining old kermudgeon (sic)".

It's a stretch to equate removing some lichen with chipping and gluing, and what's the difference in a bit of scrubbing if more traffic will have the same effect over time? A cleaner route will likely see more traffic, and is that such a bad thing?

Kudos to Andy for his thoughful post and willingness to accomodate the wishes of the climbing community. Sep 7, 2007
Jon Hanlon   SLO
A relevant thread with a positive vibe is taking place at Summit Post.… Sep 25, 2007
Jon Hanlon   SLO
"Dude. Put in the damn anchor. NOBODY climbs it."

Well, it's certainly hard to argue with that logic. Brilliant. Jan 10, 2008
Brian Paden
Goleta CA
Brian Paden   Goleta CA
I tried to find this route a few months ago to no success. Could anyone give a more detailed description of how to approach it? Also, what is currently the best way to descend? Dec 17, 2010
Richard Shore
Richard Shore  
Great finger crack! for SB that is, and the sweetness is only about 30' long. Still, it is one-of-a-kind in this sandstone country. I found my ascent to be very dirty; my feet were paddling around on the lichen covered gritty face, but it seemed to get better for my two followers. Should get better with more ascents. Poor, smeared feet through the crux. Rack - doubles from #0 tcu to 0.5 camalot, small-med nuts. You wont place any bigger gear. Bolted anchor is VERY discreet... so discreet you dont think it is there while leading. A much better and safer rappel option than the "tree" with bail slings on it around the arete to the left - Thanks Andy! Jan 17, 2011
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
Glad you liked the route, Richard. Also, I'm elated that you found the anchors to be discreet. That was my goal. Jan 18, 2011
Richard Shore
Richard Shore  
update as of 4/10/11 - Poison oak everywhere at the base. It is nearly impossible to avoid. You have to climb through PO at the start of the route, and you will certainly get your rope covered in PO when you pull it. You have been warned. Apr 11, 2011
Joseph Stover
Batesville, AR
Joseph Stover   Batesville, AR
I haven't developed any rashes yet (going on 36 hrs), so if you have a decent tolerance and/or are EXTREMELY careful, much (not all) of the poison oak can be avoided (at least that which is currently green). There are a few plants on the lower portion of the route (before the first pro) which you pretty much can't avoid touching with your legs. And when you pull your rope, it is pretty much going to hit the mothership. I can only imagine it will get thicker growth over the next few months. Which is probably better, so that you can actually identify the plant by the greens and not have to guess about stems!

That being said... I'd add that this route is definitely worth a small rash (assuming that's all you get). I never thought I would enjoy a finger crack... I can't wait to get on a longer one!

It helps to go down there with someone who's been there before. The route is only about 40 feet from the main trail, but its a bit of a slog through brush to get there. Apr 11, 2011
Brad Young
Brad Young  
Gnome Fingers is one of the better routes I've done in the Santa Barbara area (I stop and climb a bit most times I'm passing through and have managed to lead most of the three star, sub 11b routes here - but I still haven't led T Crack in good style!!).

This one is well worth the approach, which is about two miles from the car on dirt roads and trails.

In response to Brian above, we found the approach directions in the Tucker/Steele guidebook most helpful, especially if one also reads the route description for a boulder problem that is passed while doing the hike (that boulder description mentions trail switchbacks that are finished in concrete - for some reason the main text left off the helpful bit about concreted switchbacks, but it's in the description of the boulder problem).

Here's how I would combine the two most helpful parts of that book:

This crag is about one and a half miles up canyon from the Lower San Ysidro crag. From that crag, continue up the dirt road until it turns left to cross the creek. Don't cross at that point, instead stay on a trail that remains on the same (east) side of the canyon. Eventually this trail ascends a set of switchbacks that are surfaced in concrete. Beyond these switchbacks are sets of pipe railings on the side of the trail. Cliffs come into view across the creek shortly after the handrails. The "back," southeast parts of the cliffs can be seen first - the main faces aren't visible until one has walked a little beyond, up the canyon. Gnome Fingers is on the largest of four similar cliffs, the one farthest up the canyon (the "third" cliff is small, and some might call it part of the "fourth" cliff, it's a close call). A few hundred feet beyond the correct cliff the trail crosses a significant tributary/creek which comes down from the right (that is, this creek is too far).

Although the cliff on which the route is located can be seen from the trail, it appears to be mostly bushy and dirty; but only the top 1/3 of Gnome Fingers can be seen from the trail, and even that appears to be cleaner than the rest of the cliff (the bottom 2/3 of the climb is even nicer).

Getting from the trail to the base of the climb is not as bad as it looks. A slight use-trail leads about 100 feet down to the creek (aim for a point above the large pool). This descent is relatively steep, but has only a little poison oak, and that is easy to avoid. From the creek it is about 50 more feet to the base of this route (other routes are farther uphill).

Although the base of the cliff also has some poison oak, Gnome Fingers starts low enough (at the bottom - left - edge of the cliff) that it's easy to avoid until pulling the ropes after the rappel; then your rope will hit it. Sep 24, 2013
Alex Bury
Ojai, CA
Alex Bury   Ojai, CA
A fantastic finger crack in a beautiful setting.
This crag has that special magic that some of our remote and historic cliffs have, but with relatively easy access.

Gnome Fingers is about 10 feet shy of being an all-star area classic. Tucker/Steele certainly gave it full stars. Climbers looking for an extra challenge might consider including Dinky Pinkies (10+ PG).

FA credit here is murky. Clifford/Roland are credited with the Gnome Fingers FA but Amos tells me he doesn't recall the ascent. Amos Clifford saw the cliff's potential decades ago and got the ball rolling, bringing in other climbers and beginning a string of new routes that continued through the 1980's. Apr 30, 2016

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