Type: Trad, Aid, Alpine, 500 ft, 5 pitches, Grade III
FA: Tom Ruddy and Daniel Jeffcoach, July 2013. FFA Vitaliy Musiyenko and Max Baryakov, May 2015
Page Views: 2,061 total · 30/month
Shared By: limpingcrab on Jul 23, 2013
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

3 Opinions

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Access Issue: Always check SEKI road conditions and peregrine closures Details


The route is a very steep, direct and continuous line following a crack system from the base to the summit. It offers almost exclusively crack climbing with everything from a thin seam to chimneying. The 5.10 C1 rating is from the first ascent where some french free was used but has since been free climbed via a variation to p2 at 5.11+ by Vitaliy Musiyenko and Max Belyakov. Neither path is an aid climb but it can easily be aided or cruxes can be passed by pulling on gear.

The east face of castle rock spire was the first route attempted on the formation back in 1949. John Salathé and Jim Wilson turned back after creating a short bolt ladder next to pitch two and placing a couple pitons when a large block broke loose. The following year the regular route was climbed and the spire saw its first ascent.

P1: Start at bottom left edge of the "dark tower" and climb the first bit of the regular route. After the 5.8+ mantle thing traverse the finger crack left. Same start as the regular route but you go left instead of behind the tower.

P2: Climb past a single bolt to gain the obvious clean splitter above and follow it to the large blocky ledge. This has not been freed, but it is doable, although very difficult.

P2 Free: Left of the original P2 there is a crack system, follow it to the large ledge (it's the alternate crack in the topo). You can also do a 4th class traverse from the notch into this pitch, bypassing P1.

P3: Climb the overhanging crack through the orange lichen and follow it to the two bolt belay below the chimney.

P4: Climb the chimney and roof to another two bolt belay below the summit.

P5: Follow the short ramp/corner up.

Descend by rappelling the route from the two bolt anchor on the summit. One 70m rope BARELY makes it.


The east face of the spire. The start is the same as the regular route.


A set of nuts, double cams from tiny to 4", one 5" and one 6" piece. A single 70m rope for the rappel.
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
Brian Prince   morro bay, ca
Fantastic crack climbing. If climbing the spire wasn't enough, this route should push it over the top. People who have done both this and the regular route (there are actually a couple) agree this is the better line. Guesses on the grades:

P1: 5.9
P2 original: 12+
P2 variation: I think it's 10+. It looks really good
P3: 11
P4: 11+
P5: easy

Oh and I think I only had 1 #3 and #4 and was ok with that (in addition to other rack listed).

Approach from the top (atwell mill) is simple, over half on a trail, and takes ~4 hours total to camp. Water is pretty reliable in camp (at least through most of the summer even in dry years, creek was raging on memorial day this year). ~1 hour from camp to the top of the fin. Nice rap route into the gully from the top of the fin. And then easy climb out the gully back to the top of the fin after climbing the spire (yeah you could also descend the gully but the rap route is nice, clean, and quick). Worth it.

Note: next person to go up there (not likely... but maybe in a couple of years :) ) should take a wrench and some extra bail biners and/or quicklins. all the anchors have 1 biner on each bolt and they left all the hangers cockeyed to accommodate this. not a big deal but would be cool to fix Jun 9, 2018