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New Directions

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Asylum, The 
Globule, The 
Heart Rock 
Little Rock 
Middle Cliff 
Morgue, The 
New Directions Cliff 
Nowhere Man 
One Minute Walk Rock  
Parking Lot Rock 
Rusty Nail Area 

New Directions Rock Climbing 

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Location: 35.8212, -118.4575 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 4,972
Administrators: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Ryan Nevius on Dec 22, 2011  with updates from C Brooks


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Best climbs for YOU in this area
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New Directions consists of seven, and counting, relatively compact climbing areas: Parking Lot Rock, The Globule, Middle Cliff, Heart Rock, Rusty Nail, Nowhere Man, The Asylum, and The Morgue. All areas can be seen from the road as you approach.The areas are located about a half mile north of Kernville Rock (Kern Slabs). For great pictures, history, route beta and etc, get the local guide here:
The climbing is substantially steep slab, with old school ratings. Clean rock, good sun exposure for late fall, winter and early spring. Can be HOT in summer. Kern River is 3 minute hike from the parking area.

Getting There 

~5 miles from Kernville on the Mountain Hwy 99 you will pass Camp 3. Approximately 1/2 mile past Camp 3 sign you will see a small sign on your right "Chico Flats". Park here. The main trail leaves the pullout just before here, up and parallel to the road, well marked with cairns.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.9 miles from here

15 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',7],['2 Stars',8],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in New Directions

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for New Directions:
Rusty Nail   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 140'   New Directions Cliff
Crank Start Crack   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 30'   One Minute Walk Rock
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in New Directions

Featured Route For New Directions
Rock Climbing Photo: Crank Start Crack in the shade as seen from across...

Crank Start Crack 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c  California : Southern Sierra : ... : One Minute Walk Rock
Crank Start Crack (aka Kern Crank Start) is a good, but short crack that is right off the road. The crux is right off the ground. Its location makes it a good quick stop when heading up river....[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Comments on New Directions Add Comment
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By Christopher D. Walsh
From: Index, WA
May 29, 2014
Does anyone have good beta for the rest of the routes here? I climbed a couple of them recent and would be happy to put them up for the area, but I feel like I'm far from the most qualified.
By Chris Joy
Apr 25, 2015
Christopher D. Walsh. I just added the Garden Party route. Feel free to add more route/info.
By Randy in Ridgecrest
From: Inyokern, CA
Dec 2, 2015
Garden party is actually central to the area.

Regarding route information. Many Kern Valley, Ridgecrest, and Bako climbers have been coming to New Directions for decades. Aside from the old Vernon Needles guide, and whatever is derived from it, there isn't a guide. Why this is I don't know. I know someone was writing a KV guide about 10 years ago but nothing came of it. I would say I'm as knowledgeable about the routes as anyone except a few active KV climbers like Kerbs and Herb Laeger. I'll check around and see why nobody is posting up any routes.

The best routes here are hard, but very good. The hard parts are pretty well protected but slippery 5.8 or 5.9 higher on the routes might be scary. Someone has retro-bolted the starts of the Nowhere Man and Somewhere Man, I don't think that was necessary. I say just put in some days and work the aera out - be ready to crank! Feel free to ask me about names and ratings.

Briefly, here is some info about a couple choice spots. Bring a second rope as many routes are longer than 115'.

Heart Rock. The big kind of heart shaped face with the brown/gold streak, well up and right of the parking. The gold streak is "Fall Colors" 5.11c, the area classic. There is a retro-bolted 5.9 to the right of that, used to be really scary. Other harder climbs on the Fall Colors face. Up and left is a ledge with three 5.11ab climbs, easy to knock out in a visit. All of these are not exactly sport climbs, and you might have to equip bare bolts to get off. There is an 11c on the detached block left of Heart Rock.

Nowhere Man. Even the locals aren't too sure about the naming! Anyway, from Heart Rock work as far right as you easily can to get to a cozy ledge under a steep slabby face with bolted lines. You will pass by several routes on the way, including Garden Party and the intimidating "Stiff Upper Lip". Nowhere Man is the 5.9 bolted face that has a large flake at the bottom, and goes into a slabby dihedral at the top. Stiff for the grade, leave off the first two bolts for the original version that got climbed maybe a thousand times. Right of that is "Somewhere Man" 10b. Goes to the Nowhere Man anchor, leave off the first bolt for the original version. Left of Nowhere Man is the bold (thanks Herb!) Man-O-Man 5.10c, also to the same anchor, wish there were more bolts! There is an excellent second pitch 5.11a from this anchor. Finally, from the bottom you can see one last line to the right kind of going up a pillar like formation. Start on Somewhere Man and go to the belay in the crack system. Head up the pillar with bolts, hair raising 11d crux up there.

To the left of Garden Party is a glistening little slab. This is "Mostly Harmless" 5.11b. I put this route up about 10 years ago. Trying to drill the first bolt by hand I got nowhere and eventually had to fall back to the ground. I bought a Bosch and came back and got her up.

To the right of Nowhere Man area is the polished Morpheus/Safety Razor buttress. The start of these climbs are a little more difficult to access. From the Nowhere Man ledge either go down or traverse right depending on the climb. These are hard climbs mostly 11+ 12-. Right of this are a few more climbs but the going is pretty tough through the live oak, it's probably better to go up from the highway.
By Guy Keesee
From: Moorpark, CA
Jan 26, 2016
Randy... you have all of that pretty much correct.
So you say the 5.9 to the right of Fall Colors has been retrobolted?? How about the crack system to the right of that? forget the name, some 5.9 with no bolts at the bottom.
get Scott Looms, last known location, Ridgecrest CA... he knows or Herb...he climbs.
By Herb Laeger
Jun 16, 2016
There is a new guidebook just out (June 2016) for Kern Slabs (Kernville Rock) and New Directions Cliffs. It includes approximately 100 routes. It is available for purchase at
By C Brooks
From: Fresno, CA
Dec 19, 2016
Herb's guide is excellent. Very fun area with tons of climbs, many of them very well protected. Highly recommend a visit to this serene quiet climbing area.

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