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Castle Rocks

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Castle Rock Spire 
Fin, The 
Fortress, The 

Castle Rocks Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 8,000'
Location: 36.5027, -118.7141 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 4,541
Administrators: M.Morley, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Adam Stackhouse, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: limpingcrab on Jul 22, 2013
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The top of the fin and spire on the left with some...

Always check road conditions and peregrine closures MORE INFO >>>

Description 

The Castle Rocks Massif, perched on a ridge above the Kaweah River, is one of the most pristine, high quality and impressive granite climbing areas in the state. It's climbing history is sparse and only includes a few short climbs on the back towers in the 1940s, the first ascent of Castle Rock Spire in 1950, a few climbs on the Fin in the 1980s and sporadic attempts and first ascents in recent decades.

There are about half a dozen major formations along the ridge as well as several outliers and smaller cliff bands. They offer everything from cracks to grade V walls and some of the best face climbing in the Sierra. The back towers lie along the ridge above the spire and boast steep cliffs to the west and easier scrambles from the east. From south to north they consist of Amphitheater Dome, The Ax, South Guard, The Little Spire, and The Keep. Just to their north, and most famous, are the Broken Towers, Castle Rock Spire and The Fin . There is also The Fortress on the ridge to the east and four smaller domes dotting the high point of Castle Peak.

Despite all of this, the legendary approach has kept all but a few adventurous climbers away. There are two options, neither is easy, and each has it's own set of challenges. Depending on your choice you may get to enjoy poison oak, no water, large elevation gains, bush whacking, difficult route finding, heat, ticks, and a whole lotta' fun!

Getting There 

The crux of the area and the reason it sees so few visitors. You have two choices and the favorite depends on your destination and who you talk to.

Buckeye Flat aka lower approach: Most popular route to access the Fin and Castle Rock Spire. Expect heat, poison oak, little water, 4000 ft elevation gain, bush whacking, ticks and occasional rattle snakes. People familiar with this route have done the approach in only a few hours, others never made it.
-Take the Paradise Creek trail from Buckeye Flat campground.
-After a mile or two the trail leaves the creek and makes a distinct turn up a side canyon. Shortly after this turn look for a cairn and the barely visible abandoned castle rocks trail.
-"Follow" the abandoned trail for about five miles up, near the ridge, over a saddle and into the gullies that drain down from castle rocks.
-The main gully below the spire and the small one just before it have the only water and it is seasonal.
-Take the main gully, or low ridge just to the right, up to the fin and spire.


Atwell Mill aka upper approach: Preferred route to access the back towers and The Fortress. Some people prefer this for the spire and fin as well. Expect heat, little water, scrambling, off trail travel, 2,000 feet of elevation gain and 1,000 feet of elevation loss.
-From Atwell Mill campground on the Mineral King road, take the Paradise Ridge trail for about 3 miles up to the ridge.
-Follow the abandoned paradise peak trail west along the ridge until you feel like traversing towards Castle Peak.
-Head towards Castle Peak and pass it on the left (west).
-This will put you behind the back towers.
-To get to the fin and spire go down the gully and traverse ledges and vegetation north to the fin.
-In a small gully before the fin there are two seeps that are dammed and can be alternately pumped for water. (Bring a pump, in late summer and fall they are too shallow to scoop for things like steri-pens.)
-To reach the spire from the fin, either A: rappel down the Silver Lining rap route with two ropes or B: rappel down from the notch at the south end of the fin via three bolted anchors and a bunch of trees with one 70m rope. See beta photo. Climb a route or hike the gully to get back out.

Climbing Season

For the Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP area.

Weather station 6.8 miles from here

4 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',0],['5.9',1],['5.10',3],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Castle Rocks

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Castle Rocks:
The Regular Route (Castle Rock Spire)   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a A2     Trad, Aid, Alpine, 8 pitches, 1000'   Castle Rock Spire
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Castle Rocks

Featured Route For Castle Rocks
Rock Climbing Photo: The siege follows the prominent crack system  in t...

The Siege 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0 PG13  CA : Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP : ... : The Fortress
Pitch 0- scramble towards the obvious crack as high as possible. Climbing could range from 3rd class to about 5.5 here. We soloed this section (about 200ft)Pitch 1- Climb up a hand crack towards a pod and up to some face moves (5.9) above your gear. Step right into a well protected crack. Belay at the ledge bellow the stacked blacks (110 ft).Pitch 2- Be careful climbing up the huge detached block, continue up, step right (5.8) and continue climbing towards ledges above (90ft). PGPitch 3- Move up...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Castle Rocks Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Castle Rocks
Castle Rocks
Rock Climbing Photo: Rap route to get to the spire from the fin.  One 7...
BETA PHOTO: Rap route to get to the spire from the fin. One 7...
Rock Climbing Photo: Approximate route back to the top of the fin.
BETA PHOTO: Approximate route back to the top of the fin.
Rock Climbing Photo: Approximate Atwell Mill approach.
BETA PHOTO: Approximate Atwell Mill approach.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Fin and Castle Rock Spire
The Fin and Castle Rock Spire
Rock Climbing Photo: A view of the Buckeye Flat approach.  The large sh...
BETA PHOTO: A view of the Buckeye Flat approach. The large sh...
Rock Climbing Photo: The short, east faces of the back towers.  They pl...
The short, east faces of the back towers. They pl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Castle Rocks area from Castle Peak
Castle Rocks area from Castle Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: The back towers from near Milk Ranch Peak
The back towers from near Milk Ranch Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: The lower formations (Fin and Spire) from Moro Roc...
The lower formations (Fin and Spire) from Moro Roc...

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