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Jailhouse Rock

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Burrito Supreme S 
Cell Block S 
Chain Gang S 
Common Thug S 
Conjugal Visit S 
Cuckoo's Nest S 
Early Release S 
Electric Chair S 
Felon S 
Fugitive S 
Insecurity S 
Iron Junkie S 
Jailbait S 
Le Mens Sauce S 
Line Up S 
Lobotomy (aka McDevitt Route) S 
Minimum Security75 S 
Pulp Friction S 
Rhumb Line S 
Slammer S 
Soap on a Rope S 
Straight Jacket S 
Strange Ways S 
Supreme Being S 
Violated S 
Whipping Boy S 

Jailhouse Rock Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 1,000'
Location: 37.907, -120.5582 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 39,036
Administrators: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Tom Addison on Feb 1, 2011
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]
Mich Kemeter on The Fugitive 13a.

Private property with a public access easement and conservation easement allowing climbing held by the Access Fund. Critical to see current requirements and restrictions. MORE INFO >>>


The first routes at Jailhouse were established ground-up by Dave Schultz, then of Yosemite. Dave had the vision to look past the chossy nature of the overhanging blocky crag, and see its great potential for steep sport climbing. Others, particularly Tom Herbert, Todd Graham, John Scott, Troy Corliss, Justen Sjong, and Brad Johnson, have also been primary developers.

The owners of the property were initially alarmed by the climbing, and closed the cliff in 1992. The Access Fund got the cliff re-opened, but with a number of conditions from the owners, including the longstanding 'no publicitiy' policy. In late 2010, the current owners graciously have signed an access easement allowing climbing on their property with certain conditions, as discussed in the access box above.

Jailhouse offers steep, blocky, volcanic sport climbing on basalt. Routes are in the shade in the morning, and in the sun in the afternoon. The low elevation crag is best in the winter (although many routes seep given California's winter rains) or early spring/late fall. It's much too hot in the summer unless you are a reptile. The quality climbing here starts at 12d and currently goes to 14+, although there are some limited easier routes. The two easiest routes at the cliff are frequently closed for nesting raptors. The easiest route is 11d, but there are only 3 routes easier than 12b. Many routes, particularly the many extensions, require a 70m rope. Most will find kneepads and well-developed stamina helpful

Getting There 

Jailhouse is in western Tuolumne County above the Stanislaus River between Lake Tulloch and New Melones Reservoirs. As of November 13, 2011, the climbers' traditional access up a steep hill immediately northeast of the east end of the O'Byrnes Ferry Bridge is CLOSED and not to be used. Instead, the only legal approach to the cliff is through a locked gate off O'Byrnes Ferry Road west of the prison, but before the road drops and winds south into the hairpin turn down to the lake. Do not try to enter the gate marked Shotgun Creek Estates; this is not the correct gate and is private property. The correct gate is west of this gate, and is best found by following the detailed directions on the Access Fund website mentioned below. TO CLIMB AT JAILHOUSE, YOU NEED THE GATE CODE. The code for the lock is at:

Before you go here, check with the Access Fund ( for current conditions or restrictions. Please read the Acess Fund information. If climbers violate the terms of the easement (for example, by leaving a gate open, or bringing dogs onto the property), that jeopardizes our ability to climb here.

Climbing Season

Weather station 3.3 miles from here

26 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',12],['2 Stars',7],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Jailhouse Rock

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Jailhouse Rock:
Lobotomy (aka McDevitt Route)   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   
Cuckoo's Nest   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   
Chain Gang   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 60'   
Straight Jacket   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 60'   
Whipping Boy   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 65'   
Pulp Friction   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 50'   
Common Thug   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 70'   
Line Up   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 50'   
Iron Junkie   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 90'   
Supreme Being   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport   
Burrito Supreme   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 50'   
Soap on a Rope   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   
Electric Chair   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   
Fugitive   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Cell Block   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   
Jailbait   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 95'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Jailhouse Rock

Featured Route For Jailhouse Rock
Rock Climbing Photo: Jailbait

Jailbait 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a  California : Sonora Pass Highway (108) : Jailhouse Rock
This is a full value endurance 13c which isn't over until you ring the anchor bells. Start on the right of 2 parallel pillars and dial up for ever-steepening technical and powerful moves utilizing a few helpful kneebars along the way. A break on jugs and kneebars at two-thirds heighth gives way to another powerful 30 feet of business with little chance to catch your breath until the anchors. A final stand-up vertical lunge into a blocky undercling usually yields multiple obligatory redpoint whip...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Jailhouse Rock Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Epic battle at Jailhouse
Epic battle at Jailhouse
Rock Climbing Photo: Joe Maier on The Fugitive, 13a. Joe's first 5.13! ...
Joe Maier on The Fugitive, 13a. Joe's first 5.13! ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Joe Maier on The Lineup 12b. His first 5.12 on spo...
Joe Maier on The Lineup 12b. His first 5.12 on spo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Arechiga on,Chain Gang.5.12a
Mike Arechiga on,Chain Gang.5.12a
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Arechiga on,Fugitive.5.13a
Mike Arechiga on,Fugitive.5.13a
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Arechiga on, Line Up.5.12b
Mike Arechiga on, Line Up.5.12b
Rock Climbing Photo: Left side of Jailhouse
Left side of Jailhouse
Rock Climbing Photo: Lowering off one of those super steep routes
Lowering off one of those super steep routes
Rock Climbing Photo: Nice hike to the cliff
Nice hike to the cliff
Rock Climbing Photo: Jailhouse from the left side
Jailhouse from the left side
Rock Climbing Photo: Jailhouse from the right side.
Jailhouse from the right side.
Rock Climbing Photo: Aerial photo by D. Cowden circa 2000. Easement bou...
BETA PHOTO: Aerial photo by D. Cowden circa 2000. Easement bou...
Rock Climbing Photo: Map of 75-acre Conservation Easement area with bou...
BETA PHOTO: Map of 75-acre Conservation Easement area with bou...
Rock Climbing Photo: Unlock Jailhouse: Help the Access Fund keep Jailho...
BETA PHOTO: Unlock Jailhouse: Help the Access Fund keep Jailho...
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo of Jailhouse Rock cliffline from O'Byrnes Fe...
BETA PHOTO: Photo of Jailhouse Rock cliffline from O'Byrnes Fe...

Comments on Jailhouse Rock Add Comment
Show which comments
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Feb 2, 2011
Hey Tom,
So I guess your posting up Jailhouse means that information no longer needs to be kept "word of mouth", eh?

Thanks for all the hard work that you put into getting Jailhouse officially opened.
By Tom Addison
Feb 3, 2011
Hi Jon
The new easement does not require that the cliff not be publicized, and we want to make sure that climbers know about the easement conditions (for example, dogs are no longer allowed). On the other hand, the owner wants to discourage non-climber traffic on her private property, so they do not want articles or stories about the climbing in non-climbing media, such as the local Sonora papers. We all get to climb out there because of the kindness and generosity of the owners, and we really want climbers to make sure that our current good relationship with them continues to be a good one. We're trying to strike a balance!
By Jan Tarculas
From: Riverside, Ca
Jun 19, 2011
can I ask how long the approach is?
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Jun 19, 2011
The approach is 20-30 min.
By Tom Addison
Oct 3, 2011
On November 12th, the Access Fund is sponsoring a work party at Jailhouse to close the current trail approach to the cliff (from the bridge) and install gates, fencing, and parking via the new approach (from a gate higher on O'Byrnes Ferry Road). Please come help us; we have a lot to do in one day. Also, from that point on, the old approach will be closed, and we will drive through the gate and park at a new parking area. The gate will be locked, so you will need the code to get in! The code will be available on the website.

Dogs are not allowed per the conditions of the easement.
By Daniel Scott Brown
Aug 26, 2012
Just Climbed here today,the gates were left open. Regardless we parked near the bridge and hiked to the rock- APPROACH 50min-1.5hr depending on if you can find the trail or not. This is not an extremely popular climbing sight due to the difficulty of the climbing but it is a must see if you are capable- never seen a ledge like it- one of the most vertical climbing spots in California.. Pictures cannot do it justice. And it is indeed hot as ---- in the summer time.
By Luke Stefurak
From: Seattle, WA
Jan 25, 2013
As Tom Mentioned above. DO NOT park at the bridge and use the old approach. This crosses private land that was sold to a new owner. There is a specific climber parking lot that is approached via gate on closer to the 120/108 on O'Byrnes Ferry Road. More details at the Access Fund site.

Rock Climbing Photo: Jailhouse Approach Map
Jailhouse Approach Map
By Todd Graham
From: Sierra Eastside, CA
Jan 4, 2016
First went to Jailhouse in 92 or so after hearing about it from Schultz. Blown away on Soap. Best steep climbing I have ever seen in Cali. Kudos to Addison for his tremendous work. Miss so much the experience of such an amazing place. Also miss the characters back then ... Chen, Kennedy, McClanahan, Herbert, Belizzi, Corliss, Knapp, Carkeet, Addison, and Scott.
By Nick Gooding
Mar 3, 2017
Hi all,
This is a long shot, but I left an orange grigri 2 (with an autolocker) at Jailhouse on Tuesday (2/28). I'm heading back up tomorrow, but if anyone has been up there since Tuesday and picked it up, I'd be really psyched to be reunited with it. (You can message me via mountainproject.)

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