REI Community
El Cajon Mountain

Select Area...
Blue Sky Wall 
El Cajon Mountain Quarry 
El Cajon Mt. Approach Trail Crags 
Fly Dog Buttress 
Left Wall 
Right Wall 
Toe, The 

El Cajon Mountain Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 32.9041, -116.818 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 120,016
Administrators: Marc Kajut, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Marc Kajut on Feb 2, 2006  with updates from Jacob Zehnder
This Afternoon

70° | 55°

70° | 54°

62° | 52°

65° | 50°

66° | 55°

74° | 60°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [4 people like this page.]

Current San Diego County Advisories MORE INFO >>>


El Cajon Wall is located in East San Diego County. It has been the subject of much joy and pain for many local climbers. Nevertheless, recent development of the area has produced a number of phenomenal routes. The area is primarily a sport climbing destination, but hiking out with a few cams won't disappoint the discerning trad climber.

Getting There 

From highway 67 - take Mapleview Street, to El Monte Road. Continue on El Monte Road approximately 5.5 miles passing the El Monte County Park along the way. Park along the river side of the road near the gate to the El Capitan Reservoir. Follow the trail from the North side of the river basin to the Wall's base.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.4 miles from here

60 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',24],['2 Stars',16],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in El Cajon Mountain

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for El Cajon Mountain:
Bat Hooks Gone Wild   C2+     Aid, 1 pitch, 100'   El Cajon Mountain Quarry
Bright Eyes   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 220'   Blue Sky Wall
Buffalo Brothers   5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c     Sport, 2 pitches, 180'   Blue Sky Wall
Meteor   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 4 pitches, 400'   Left Wall
Leonids   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 3 pitches, 350'   Left Wall
The Swiftness   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Center/Headwall
Urge to Merge   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Left Wall
Mañana   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 2 pitches, 365'   Left Wall
Cause for Pause   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 5 pitches, 450'   Left Wall
Spitfire   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 150'   Center/Headwall
Crackamite   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Right Wall
Black Castle   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Center/Headwall
Triton Tower   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 3 pitches, 360'   Left Wall
Line of Fire   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Right Wall
Tears of Envy   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 100'   Center/Headwall
Swiftness Direct   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   Center/Headwall
Diamond of San Diego   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 5 pitches, 450'   Center/Headwall
Halcyon   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Center/Headwall
The Commander   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 5 pitches, 450'   Center/Headwall
Pockets of Resistance   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 110'   Center/Headwall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in El Cajon Mountain

Featured Route For El Cajon Mountain
Rock Climbing Photo: Swiftness Direct CH photo

Swiftness Direct 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c  California : San Diego County : ... : Center/Headwall
From where the Swiftness crack jogs left, 4 or 5 bolts lead straight up into the body size hueco above. Swifts inhabit the crack, hence the name(s)....[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of El Cajon Mountain Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: El Cajon Mountain Under Mist
El Cajon Mountain Under Mist
Rock Climbing Photo: John on Triton tower Arête!
John on Triton tower Arête!
Rock Climbing Photo: Beautiful spring day comes to a close
Beautiful spring day comes to a close
Rock Climbing Photo: At the belay station atop the Meteor traverse. Set...
At the belay station atop the Meteor traverse. Set...
Rock Climbing Photo: Another morning shot of the main wall
Another morning shot of the main wall
Rock Climbing Photo: Jess Downer sending in style!
Jess Downer sending in style!
Rock Climbing Photo: Jonathan Reinig, Triton Tower roof, circa 2002!
Jonathan Reinig, Triton Tower roof, circa 2002!
Rock Climbing Photo: Hanging my bag on the flake beneath Leonids
BETA PHOTO: Hanging my bag on the flake beneath Leonids
Rock Climbing Photo: Pano of Fly Dog, The Wedge and El Cap Reservoir!
Pano of Fly Dog, The Wedge and El Cap Reservoir!
Rock Climbing Photo: Morning light on Mountaineers Wall with lifting cl...
Morning light on Mountaineers Wall with lifting cl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rappelling; Triton tower below
Rappelling; Triton tower below
Rock Climbing Photo: Beautiful spring time approach to the Mega Proj!!!...
Beautiful spring time approach to the Mega Proj!!!...
Rock Climbing Photo: High up on The Hill!!!
High up on The Hill!!!
Rock Climbing Photo: El cajon.
El cajon.
Rock Climbing Photo: Center Block!!!
Center Block!!!
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the road. El Cajon is the peak in the ba...
View from the road. El Cajon is the peak in the ba...
Rock Climbing Photo: ECM  The Wedge
ECM The Wedge
Rock Climbing Photo: El Capitan reservoir from the top of ECM
El Capitan reservoir from the top of ECM
Rock Climbing Photo: beautiful and exposed cruising on diamonds of san ...
beautiful and exposed cruising on diamonds of san ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Early morning sunshine illuminating El Cajon
Early morning sunshine illuminating El Cajon
Rock Climbing Photo: SKY 10a***** Mountaineers Wall!!! Photo by Andy Se...
SKY 10a***** Mountaineers Wall!!! Photo by Andy Se...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mountaineers Wall!!!
Mountaineers Wall!!!
Rock Climbing Photo: Who knew this was in San Diego.
Who knew this was in San Diego.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jonathan on The Fat Lip!!!
Jonathan on The Fat Lip!!!

Show All 28 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on El Cajon Mountain Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 24, 2017
By 4fun
Dec 6, 2006
Just a warning, some one "don't want to mention any names" has been chopping bolts and anchors all over the place at El Cajone Mountain. Be aware of this and inspect a route before you start to climb. If the bolts looks disfigured, it is a good bet that the bolt has been smashed and rendered useless.

I have heard of one report (not confirmed) of someone starting up a route only to find the second half of the route was chopped. This person was forced to run it out in order to get to another set of anchors.

This is extremely disappointing to see one of San Diego Counties best climbing areas being destroyed but it is so be careful.
By Andrew May
From: Westminster, CO
Dec 8, 2006
Thats too bad. I'm heading out to visit in a couple weeks and really wanted to climb at El Cajon. I read about it in Rock and Ice and few months ago and it looks great. Anyone know how many routes are affected by the bolt chopping?
By Isaac T.
From: Yokosuka, Japan
Jan 12, 2007
Why are they chopping bolts do they want to keep it traditional? Can you place trad gear in place of the bolts? Or is someone doing this to prevent climbers from climbing here?
By Ryan Huetter
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jan 17, 2007
I have been searching for a while now for current route conditions.

If you want the full on bolt chopping history, go to Read the first posted link, it lays it out there pretty well in a couple of letters from involved parties. Be prepared. This dude is psychotic.

If anyone has any current info on mutilated routes, it would be appreciated. We have been hearing stories of routes chopped after the 5th or 6th bolts, so it may not always be clear from the ground whether or not your route has been defiled. Very scary stuff indeed.
By Romain Wacziarg
Jan 22, 2007
The latest issue of Rock and Ice has an article on the bolt chopper. This is a very worrisome and very dangerous development. Aside from that, I'm sure this person could be held legally liable if someone gets hurt - there is a such a thing as tort law in this country. The dispute apparently also involves the theft of a drill and of bolting equipment, the trashing of other peoples' bolting equipment and of a trail, as well as the destruction of some holds. Some of these involve eyewitnesses. Theft and vandalism are illegal and could serve as the basis for legal action.
By mschlocker
From: San Diego, CA
Mar 6, 2008
Another guide exists. Check out CH's site at for topos around San Diego. His ECM guide tends to be more accurate for the center routes than the other PDF guide.
By mschlocker
From: San Diego, CA
Nov 3, 2009
Now a new guide option is available. The Allied Climbers of San Diego have created a guide for El Cajon Mtn, Eagle Peak, and Corte Madera. It's quite good. I recommend you check it out at a local REI or better yet come to a member meeting. .
By Hubbard
Jun 17, 2010
Hey CD the trail head is 100 yards east of the mile 5.5 parking. There is no P.O. on the trail. It seems you missed the trail. The rest of the riverbed is full of poison oak. Once you cross the river there isn't any and none at the crags.
By Chris DeWitt
From: Sacramento, CA
Aug 23, 2010
Oh dang! Thanks Hubbard. Next time I'm down in the area I'll have to check it out.
By Kellen Holt
Mar 4, 2012
Made it out to this crag for the first time in 6 years after climbing here a handful of times back in 2005/2006.

A few notes I wanted to add:

- This wall is almost directly south facing, and on warm days it gets flat out HOT up there. There is also little to no options for shade at the base or on the wall. Bring cool clothing (even if it's cold at the parking area, you're probably going to want to be in t-shirt and shorts), and LOTS of water. We got stuck here on an exceptionally warm day (for march) and ended up bailing after only 1 pitch of climbing as the sun was unrelenting.

- The approach is an hour for fit parties that don't take any breaks, more like 1.5 hours if you stop at the few shady spots on the way up. The trail also goes pretty much straight up (i.e little to no switchbacks, other than the final apron to the wall) so it's a workout both going up and down.

Great crag, but very weather dependent due to the aspect.
By Mary Moser
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Dec 10, 2012
Does anyone know the latest about the condition of bolts at El Cajon Mtn? Has the hideous chopping fiasco come to an end?
By Mike Taylor
Jan 1, 2013
I have been climbing at ECM for quite a while now. Recently it seems the squirrels at the base have figured out that packs left at the base while we climb often contain tasty snacks. This has lead to two of my packs being chewed completely through by the bastards. On one occasion I watched from two pitches up as one gnawed through my new climbing pack, and could do nothing about it at the time. To remedy this I packed in a large, green Rubbermaid storage tote. I brought this up so that other climbers like myself can climb without worry of losing our snack, and packs. I left the tote near the base of Leonids. Please use it with respect (i.e., don't leave garbage or food to spoil in it) and also...don't feed the squirrels. Climb on!

-Mike T.
By lifeblack
Jan 7, 2013
Mike, I admire your being proactive about _doing_ something about the squirrel problem at ECM.. The last time I went up leonids last year, there was this fat squirrel that just was certain I had food in my bag, and I couldn't chase it off... it would scamper away by about 10 feet and then wait until I gave up. Unless I was willing to do something permanent to it, I knew it was going to get into my bag, and sure enough, my bag had a hole, my apple had a bite out of it, and my buddy's bag was torn up (maybe it was tastier?). After my experience with this squirrel (among others), I asked around and was pointed to a company that makes a product called an ursack that's advertised as being bearproof (though I don't believe it's approved for yosemite). I carry all of my food in it now when I'm out climbing and car camping, and nothing's gotten into it yet.

Also, if we can keep the squirrels away from the base of the cliff, hopefully this will also imply that rattlesnakes will likewise follow them elsewhere, and not congregate at the base.....
By Steve WP
Feb 16, 2013
My vehicle was vandalized yesterday while I was climbing at El Cajon Mountain. I was parked at the trailhead near the reservoir. The passenger window was smashed when I returned. Just a friendly warning to climbers/hikers.
By Sdm1568
From: Ca
Apr 3, 2013
Unfortunately the squirrel problem still exists - Trango Splitter pack torn up... Wish I would have read this post sooner haha.
By Chris Regan
Apr 7, 2013
I was just there on 4/5/13 and could not find that storage bin. Either it was moved, removed, or just hidden well, but we looked around Leonids and couldn't find it.
By gabemcg
From: Phoenix, AZ
Jun 25, 2013
To reach the wall, you have to take a trail that branches off the trail near the transmission lines. There are several--take the one that goes past an interpretive sign about raptors. The one shortly after that goes to the "mountaineer's wall."
By Christian Gerth
Jan 4, 2014
Because there is only a hand-drawn map of the trail to the base of wall available, I added both the wall itself and the access trail to the Openstreetmap database. I have not climbed on this wall yet, therefore I just used the Bing satellite images and the hand-drawn map to insert the trail to the OSM database. However, I could not finish the trail near the wall because the resolution of the Bing images are not high enough. I will fix this in April, using a GPS device or somebody else who is familiar with OSM, can do this in the meanwhile.
By jalbo
Jan 4, 2014
Would love to get an update about bolt vandalism at El Cajon. Looks like the drama went down back in '06 - but I can't seem to find any information that would indicate if the damaged bolts have been replaced. Anyone out there know anything?
By bspiewak
Jan 6, 2014
Rock Climbing Photo: ....

jalbo, and anyone else who enjoys climbing established routes with fixed protection on El Cajon Mountain;

Considerable effort has been made over the past few years to repair the vandalism to the trail and the bolts that occured there in the past. And although there has been no assurance that the vandalism will not occur again, we can only hope that will not be the case. When the vandalism first occured relatively few climbers knew what was being lost, and little was done to put a stop to it. Eight years later, legal precedents have been established elsewhere in the country regarding similar situations since then, and San Diego's climbing community has grown tremendously in size and effectiveness in dealing with issues that have threatened access to the places we love to climb.

My main motivation for contributing El Cajon information here on this great website (Thank You, Mountain Project!) has been to share the climbs with as many of you as possible in hopes that you also find them worth fighting for.

Although there are several routes that are in need of having the vandalism dealt with (smashed bolt hangers, holes patched, etc.) there aren't many routes that still need to be rebolted. And whereas my energy and expenses are compelled else where these days, I'll continue to find ways to contribute to the hill.

Have you done anything recently to contribute to the places you love to climb?

Happy Trails, and a Happy New Year!
By rockcarl
From: Durango, CO
Apr 21, 2014
There are now a few tiny trees (only a few inches tall) planted around the base of the center wall and the Leonids area, with little signs explaining that they will grow up into shade trees for future climbers, and asking for your water at the end of the day.

I talked to the guy that had planted them, and he told me that there used to be a few trees around the base of El Cajon mountain but they were burned down when a fire moved through the area a few years ago. So be nice and give the trees your water, and maybe in 10 years we'll have shade again!
By BJ Cook
From: San Diego, California
Apr 6, 2015
Just did a full day this past Saturday and I love this place. One of the best climbing spots we have in SD. What types of things can be done or are needed for this area to help out? Noticed the little trees are basically dead or gone too. Most of the shade is due to overgrown willows and vegetation. Maybe a permanent beach umbrella bolted to a boulder on the ground :) Thanks to all who continue to work on this area.
By flyingmonkey
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Apr 23, 2015
for anyone new. info for getting to the wall.

park where you see the sign "road ends 1000 ft"
cross the brdige, walk past the electrical tower (veering left), turn right where you see the sign for the trail. that should line you up with the wall for leonids
By Kylie Anne
Apr 27, 2015
Great spot with some great climbs! However, today we had a really negative interaction with two men up at the crag. Whoever these people were, they spent a good amount of time yelling up at us as we approached the second pitch of Meteor. They were saying some incredibly uncomfortable and offensive things, including a comment about how we would be raped had we not brought a dog with us (wasn't even our dog). Anyhow, there is safety in numbers and had my partner and i not been with a big group it would have been an uncomfortable hike back to the car. Be safe climbers!
By GoBoy
Apr 27, 2015
Kylie, were they climbers?
By Kylie Anne
Jun 17, 2015
I believe so.
By Safty Third
From: San Diego, CA
Jul 3, 2016
Hey, I am looking for any possible beta for the bluffs west of the quarry. Anything from route development to access issues would be awesome. Thanks!
By pcass
Feb 26, 2017
I found a mesh bag with climbing shoes and a chalk bag in it at the base of the second tier on the mountaineers wall. let me know if its yours.
By tom donnelly
From: san diego
Apr 24, 2017
Poodle Dog Bush - very nice flowers but do not touch it.
There is some growing along the old quarry road.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About