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Los Angeles or San Diego?
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Dec 15, 2012
Fellow climbers:

I currently live in the Salt Lake area and will be moving to southern California in the fall of 2013, probably to either Los Angles or San Diego. I've been climbing in and around Utah for the last 10 years and am looking forward to a change of scenery.

The only climbing I have done in Southern California was on a few trips to J-Tree and a crappy small crag around LA (cant remember the name).

I would love any advice on which city would be more conducive to climbing on a consistent basis (say after work) not just weekend trips.

Josh Graham
Joined Jul 9, 2009
0 points
Dec 15, 2012
If the angle is greater than 80 deg., I'd go for it. matt davies
Joined Mar 9, 2007
0 points
Dec 15, 2012
ha oops. Josh Graham
Joined Jul 9, 2009
0 points
Dec 16, 2012
los angeles. 2 hours closer to bishop, yosemite, mammoth and the rest of the sierra. david doucette
Joined Nov 29, 2012
5 points
Dec 16, 2012
LA is closer to the climbing but it has got to be one of the worst cities in North America (certainly in the west). I mean you can stand on a hill and literally not see the skyline because of all the pollution. The first time I flew in there, when we entered the cloud over the city I thought the engine was on fire.

There are nice places, but it reminds me more of a third world capitol city than any place I've ever been. High crime (murder being a big one), public transport is a joke and driving is no fun either. I suppose you could cycle - I can't really comment on how good or bad the city is for cyclists but I'd guess it sucks. It is actually hotter than San Diego. It can be stifling in summer.

San Diego doesn't have location going for it if you're a climber (nor does LA really) but it is a much nicer city. Move there and learn to surf.
Ryan Williams
From London (sort of)
Joined May 10, 2009
1,205 points
Dec 16, 2012
Ryan Williams wrote:
LA is closer to the climbing but it has got to be one of the worst cities in North America (certainly in the west)

completely agree, it totally sucks living here. i have to deal with the beach which is essentially my backyard, i hate ocean breezes and sand. then i have that annoying joshua tree place only two and a half hours east of me, yuck. everytime i go out for a midweek daytrip (of which there has been many the past couple of months), i'm just miserable. having to stay in hidden valley campground is like the slums and it's so slummy there, i'm almost always able to get a campsite midweek. and if that isn't enough, tahquitz (classic granite climbing) is closer than that. then we have mt. san gorgonio which is the tallest peak in socal at 11,500 close by blocking my views of everything. worst hike ever. it's so bad i did it 4 times last spring when i was training for whitney which i did in july (don't even get me started on how much that peak sucks). then we have all those scuba divers around because scuba diving is so convenient here too. and those annoying surfers too. oh, and snowboarders too. then i have to deal with those sierra freaks because that's only 4 or so hours north, like whatever. don't even get me started on those yosemite lovers. these outdoors people really annoy me. LA sucks.
david doucette
Joined Nov 29, 2012
5 points
Dec 17, 2012
Yeah it's really cool to hate on LA, but if you can't find a part of the city you like to live in, you probably just don't like cities. I love LA.

I hope you're not calling Stoney crappy. Because it has a lot to offer and I look on it fondly as the place I really learned to climb. There is also Malibu Creek with everything up to 5.14. Horseflats fairly close. Santa Barbara fairly close. All the granite out East. Bishop. The Sierras. The Needles. Yosemite. Etc. it's a good home base for a climber.
Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
Joined Feb 2, 2009
80 points
Dec 17, 2012
I used to hate on LA...before I lived anywhere near LA.

Saying LA is hotter than SD, so f'ing what? San Diego has the best weather in the US, and LA ain't far behind. It's better than 99% of the rest of the cities in the US. "Stifling" in LA? Please. You're from NC and call LA "stifling"? Now that's funny.

Yes, LA public transit sucks, and yes traffic sucks. So you live close to work. Or, if you work downtown you live close to a rail line, which is actually very good. I've taken light rail from Pasadena and Metrolink from Riverside to downtown many times and it's very convenient.

Complaining about the smog is kinda funny, all that crap blows into the Inland Empire, if you're actually near the coast it isn't any worse than any other city. Certainly better than Atlanta or SLC on an inversion day.

Crime? It is at more or less all-time lows for LA, and is lower than the national average. It is WAY lower than it was in the 90s. The 2010 all-crime index was 301 vs. a US avg of 311, and I know that in 2012 violent crime rates were down something like 8% from 2010 levels. That said, it is even lower in SD.

Anyway, if it were me, I'd choose SD over LA for both better LOCAL climbing (Idyllwild, JT etc aren't "local" for either of the cities)and a smaller town, easier to get around. Sure, it's further to road trip crags like Yos or Bishop, but the local stuff is much better IMO. There is great bouldering (Woodson is the gem, but man the whole SD area is littered with granite egg covered hillsides) and quite a bit of sport climbing near SD...Mission Gorge, etc. In LA you also get some bouldering at Stony but unless you live close by, traffic could be an issue and there's worthy sport at Echo or Malibu Creek. Good training facilities in SD too, most noteworthy being Mesa Rim.

Be aware that SD is, for California anyway, a politically conservative city. Large amounts of military related stuff and all that entails.
Will S
From Joshua Tree
Joined Nov 15, 2006
998 points
Dec 17, 2012
No matter what you're into, LA has it in spades. Tons of great rock, challenging ski mountaineering objectives, mountain biking, surfing, etc. The trick is getting to it all.

If you can get a job in an area close to the climbing (and hence be able to live close to climbing and work), then it would be a great place to live. When I was there, I didn't get this right. I was in living in Torrance and working by LAX. I had to drive all the way across town to get to any of the climbing, and with traffic even the "local" climbing spots sometimes had a prohibitively long drive. Also, my 10 mile commute to work took me between 30 and 60 (usually closer to the latter) minutes each way, every day. After work climbing was limited to the gym, or maybe Stoney if I got lucky with the traffic.

If you can either live and work in "the valley" (close to Stoney Point, Echo Cliffs, Malibu Creek, and one foot out the door to Sierras) or on the eastern end of the county (close to Riverside Quarry, Joshua Tree, Tahquitz) you'll be set, since all the climbing is either north or east. Unless you really like spending time in your car, as a climber I'd stay away from the southwest corner of town (Torrance).
Cory Harelson
From Boise, ID
Joined Mar 25, 2008
2,330 points
Dec 17, 2012
I used to live/work in/near Glendale, between LA and Pasadena. The local climbing is fairly limited (Stoney Point, Horse Flats, Echo Cliffs, Malibu, Riverside Quarry, etc), but I did a lot of trips to the E Sierra, Red Rocks, and Tahquitz mostly. The hills above Pasadena offer good trail running, mountain biking (ton of legal singletrack), and road riding. The neighborhoods are highly varied in the LA metro area, so blanket statements around things like crime are bogus.

I'm not sure what you do for work, but if you can live on the eastern end (e.g. Los Feliz, Silverlake, Glendale, Pasadena) it will save you a lot of time for climbing trips. For example, for the E Sierra you can bypass almost all of the Friday afternoon I-5 traffic by taking the 210W.
From leeds, ut
Joined Apr 30, 2006
12,086 points
Dec 17, 2012
Ryan says LA sucks.... to each his own.

I love LA, I would be nice to live in Bishop, but I need to work.

Fossana says it all, stay up around the San Fernando Valley, check out the neighborhoods- is very good advise.

Stay away from Torrance, or places "in the Basin" they may be close to the south bay but getting out of the city from there is a pain on a friday afternoon.

Guy Keesee
From Moorpark, CA
Joined Mar 1, 2008
105 points
Dec 17, 2012
I've not spent a lot of time in either place, but if I had to make a choice, I'd take San Diego. It's further from every major destination (Bishop, Jtree, Sierras) than LA, but is more conducive to after-work bouldering sessions. I also got the vibe that it was a more pleasant place to live, with a tighter climbing community, but that was just based on climbing there for a couple days. camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Joined Jun 27, 2006
1,190 points
Dec 31, 2012
Appreciate the feedback, looks like both areas have their pros and cons. Josh Graham
Joined Jul 9, 2009
0 points
Dec 31, 2012
Having lived in both cities for over 5 years each, it's kinda hard to say!

Mobility in San Diego is much better than LA, so you'd have more variety of living areas down in SD due to being able to "get across town" relatively quickly. I had just started climbing when I moved away from SD, so my weekday experience was limited to Mission Gorge, which has a lot to choose from.

LA, on the other hand, it at least 1.5 hrs closer to your weekend destinations (Valley/Tuol, Sierras, Bishop, Red Rock, etc.), so while you might have to sacrifice ease of outdoor weekday climbing (depending on where you live in LA), you'll be that much closer to good weekends. That being said, weekday climbing in LA is pretty limited, basically Echo Cliffs, Malibu Creek or Stoney Pt. as long as you live in the valley, which might not be too appealing...

Josh and Suicide/Tahquitz are roughly equidistant from LA or SD depending on where you live in either (2ish hrs for both from either destination), so that really shouldn't factor too much.

Either option offers lots of upsides, so don't sweat the decision too much!

Best of luck.
Joined Jun 29, 2011
0 points
Dec 31, 2012
If you enjoy the ocean, maybe split the difference and consider one of the coastal communities located between LA/SD, e.g., San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, or North San Diego county. Souljah
From Northern NM
Joined Jan 25, 2010
325 points
Dec 31, 2012
I grew up in San Diego and miss it SO much. Utah's outdoor fun is keeping me here for now, but someday I will be back. There is PLENTY of good climbing all over the place. Just not quite as close as you have in SLC. Just be willing to drive a little bit and get into trad and you can have limitless possibilities.

San Diego 100%
Christian "crisco" Burrell
From PG, Utah
Joined May 18, 2007
1,530 points
Dec 31, 2012
If you like sport climbing LA I believe has more options than SD, its definitely not world class like maple canyon or american fork but its fun and challenging. However personally I find the City of LA to be a dump with constant traffic high rent and plus it costs money to park your car anywhere in downtown (then again I am not a city person).

Perhaps that question would be better answered if you could say more specifically where you would live. LA/OC and SD are very large and your options are going to change depending on where you plan to live vs how much traffic you are willing to put up with to go climbing.
Andrew williams
Joined Sep 4, 2010
10 points
Dec 31, 2012
I'd go for Dana Point or San Clemente, depending on the commute factor. And definitely get a surfboard. ryan albery
From van world
Joined Mar 20, 2009
230 points
Dec 31, 2012
ryan albery wrote:
I'd go for Dana Point or San Clemente, depending on the commute factor. And definitely get a surfboard.

I spent a wonderful decade in San Clemente when the population was around 25,000. The drive to Tahquitz or Josh was a bit shorter from So. Orange county than it was from my previous abode in the Pasadena area. Woodson was about an hour-fifteen away. Other than that "the beach" in Corona Del Mar was a 20min drive north, some local bouldering up the Ortega Highway, and we had established some glue-on circuits under the bridge on the walk-in to Trestles.

On more than one occasion I bagged a few pitches at Suicide and made it back in time to catch the evening sets at my local beach break.

California, oh California comin' home!
From Northern NM
Joined Jan 25, 2010
325 points

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