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El Cariso

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El Cariso - Misc Problems 
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El Cariso Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 3,000'
Location: 33.64681, -117.44352 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 23,186
Administrators: jt512, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Ronnie St. Jean on Aug 23, 2012
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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jeff light painting

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This is the most secluded climbing i have come across in orange county. I have heard it is written about in an old school climbing guide and it appears in the "Southern California Bouldering Guide" written by Craig Fry. El Cariso seems to be almost forgotten about. When my friend Jeff Mumaugh and I first started climbing there it was completely covered in chaparral growth. Slowly but surely the climbs started to appear and now it is my favorite bouldering spot in the O.C. The Climbing sits on top of three main hills. Numerous Granite boulders make for seemingly endless bouldering. The first two hills have a lot of previous burn so access is easy. The third hill has the largest boulders but a lot of bushes stand in the way of some classic climbs. There are a few really fun sport climbs which I'm guessing Craig Fry put up. Also There is the Aid Boulder which is covered with old pitons and a bolt ladder for aid climbing. The surrounding hills to the west have even more bouldering and potential for sport, top rope, and maybe trad but, be quiet as you go that way because you will be going right next to private property. NOTE: you cannot enter through the neighborhood. The first hill on that side is worth it but it's not really worth going to the far hill yet…
Lets keep this place clean and accessible; please be respectful, pick up trash, follow all general climbing rules, and Don't play loud music! this area echoes and we don't want to piss anyone off! lets all do our part - thank you

Getting There 

If driving from O.C. you pass the Ortega waterfall and make your first left on forest route 3S04. drive past mystic oaks and park at the top of the hill. The parking spot is right before your next left turn that goes to the fire station (vehicles must display forest pass). the approach is a 30 min walk from car to the aid boulder. The first bouldering area is less than a 5 min. walk toward the fire station and head up the dirt road hill that goes to some electrical boxes. pass them and stay on the trail to the boulders on the left.

Climbing Season

Weather station 5.1 miles from here

57 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',12],['2 Stars',29],['1 Star',10],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in El Cariso

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for El Cariso:
Elysia    V1 5     Boulder   El Cariso - Misc Problems
Pizza Face   V1+ 5     Boulder   El Cariso - Misc Problems
Goomba   V2-3 5+     Boulder, 10'   El Cariso - Misc Problems
Grumpy Man (aka old man)   V2-3 5+     Boulder   Grumpy Man
The Shocker    V2-3 5+     Boulder, 12'   The Shocker
The Brain   V3 6A     Boulder   Grumpy Man
Pipe Around   V3-4 6A+     Boulder   El Cariso - Misc Problems
El Chorizo   V4 6B     Boulder, 8'   El Cariso - Misc Problems
unknown slab   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 30'   El Cariso - Misc Problems
Slim Jim   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 25'   El Cariso - Misc Problems
slabby face   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, TR   El Cariso - Misc Problems
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in El Cariso

Featured Route For El Cariso
Rock Climbing Photo: at the crux

Heelnasium V4-5 6B+  California : Los Angeles Basin : ... : Steve's Suggestion
Start with matched hands on either side of where the roof pinches the other large boulder. walk feet up and move up and out across the roof, use a heel hook and mantle up. then its friction to the top. I should add this is a classic for the area, as most of the ratings go for el cariso... they are all rated relative to the area ...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of El Cariso Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The Ortegas got dumped on!
The Ortegas got dumped on!
Rock Climbing Photo: coolest rattler I've seen out here, I have never s...
coolest rattler I've seen out here, I have never s...
Rock Climbing Photo: El Cariso Bouldering from the Craig Fry Southern C...
BETA PHOTO: El Cariso Bouldering from the Craig Fry Southern C...
Rock Climbing Photo: plein air cariso; the weather can change fast
plein air cariso; the weather can change fast
Rock Climbing Photo: looking at the aid hill from the next hill over SW...
BETA PHOTO: looking at the aid hill from the next hill over SW...
Rock Climbing Photo: late night bouldering, just learning photoshop
late night bouldering, just learning photoshop
Rock Climbing Photo: to be climbed...
to be climbed...
Rock Climbing Photo: El Cariso can get snow, this is a view of the firs...
El Cariso can get snow, this is a view of the firs...
Rock Climbing Photo: monkey wrench stopper... i would clip
monkey wrench stopper... i would clip
Rock Climbing Photo: grumpy man to aid hill
BETA PHOTO: grumpy man to aid hill
Rock Climbing Photo: moby dick to grumpy man
BETA PHOTO: moby dick to grumpy man
Rock Climbing Photo: area map
BETA PHOTO: area map
Rock Climbing Photo: parking and first hill beta
BETA PHOTO: parking and first hill beta

Comments on El Cariso Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 23, 2017
By Kevin.Riley
From: Laguna Niguel, CA
Jan 15, 2013
Little video showing some new problems...

By Matthew McMillan
From: Orange, CA
Jan 16, 2014
A buddy and I went here a few months ago and felt a little lost. Would anyone who knows the spot well be willing to make a trip here on a weekend sometime? We have plenty of sport climbing gear and boulder pads. Please just post here or message me. Thanks!
By Dean Goolsby
Jan 21, 2014
Hi Matthew. I am one of the original developers of the area. We did most of the developing in the early 90's. Be glad to give you a tour of the place. I also sent you an e/mail. Let me know.
By Matthew McMillan
From: Orange, CA
Feb 3, 2014
Hey Dean, I got your email and finally responded. Me and a buddy are headed to Cariso this weekend and would really appreciate a tour. If you or anyone else (especially someone who knows the area) would like to join us that'd be great.
By Ricky McFerrin
From: San Diego, California
Oct 30, 2014
How is the snake/poison oak situation here? Also, is there anyone available to show me and my friends around? We have plenty of crashpads and psych!
By Ronnie St. Jean
From: Orange County, CA
Dec 30, 2014
Sorry i have not logged on in a while but to answer your question Rick, the poison oak really isn't that bad, however make sure you are familiar with what all stages of the plant look like because it is there. The first and second hill don't really have any poison oak at all from what i've seen. but its around in the wooded areas like the aid hill, and the sport climbs. There is so little of it though, that it can easily be avoided. Steve's Suggestion area has more poison oak but its still easily avoidable. As far as snakes ~ there's not many, i see more at the ortega waterfall, but like most places in so cal, you have a good chance of seeing one on hot days. I usually see them just before sunset as they are trying to catch the last of the days warmth by sitting in the middle of the trail. Remember dog owners - don't let them wander too far because they will be curious if they hear/see a rattler.
also I'm down to show you guys around i will email you when i go this week or next.
I heard the bushes filled the trail in a little bit so it would be helpful if you had a pair of garden sheers or loppers just incase.
By Seabass
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Oct 1, 2015
there is a gate that blocks the path to the fire station is that new? or does the trail start before the closure?
By Jeremy Tremblay
Oct 20, 2015
I just went here for the first time on Saturday. The gate was open on Saturday but closed today when I went in the morning. On the north side of the gate the fence stops so you can just walk across a small path around the fence and get directly onto the trail.
By Angela Han
Nov 4, 2015
Wanted to camp around here and check it out Nov. 14-15. I saw the el cariso campground was first come, first serve and they allow dogs. Do you know if there are any restrictions or permits you need? Is the adventure pass acceptable for parking? Better yet, anyone going that weekend willing to let me tag along? :)
By Ryan U.
Oct 1, 2016
Can we have areas added to this page? Probably something along the lines of "First Hill" "Second Hill" and "Third Hill."
By Robbie N
Apr 23, 2017
Posted this on "El Cariso - Misc Problems" as well but think that everyone should be aware of this.

I was here this afternoon (4/23/17) and also caught the attention of a cop and some firefighters who told us not to enter this area via the gate. They were really cool about it and told us to use an alternate path about 100' down the road since they would be liable if we got hurt entering via their property.

GPS coordinates for the alternate path are 33.646703,-117.443247

Me and a couple friends spent the morning here trying out a few of the easier routes and had a blast. There are shrubs pretty much everywhere so wear long pants or be prepared to leave with more than a few scratches. I got the GPS coordinates for a handful of routes and will be adding them to the individual pages.

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