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Owens River Gorge

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Owens River Gorge Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 5,000'
Location: 37.44577, -118.57168 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 345,019
Administrators: Aron Quiter, Euan Cameron, AWinters, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Justin Johnsen, Salamanizer suchoski, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Tom Helvie on Jul 21, 2006


73° | 45°

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My Mom Can Crank (5.12a), Owens River Gorge


The Owens River Gorge is California's most concentrated sport-climbing area. It is really a year-round crag, although summers can be a bit hot. There are many moderate sport climbs in the sub 5.10 range, but the best gorge climbs seem to be in the 5.10-5.11 range. The climbing is on volcanic tuff and features edges, pockets and cracks. Most of the climbing is close to vertical but there are some steep lines as well, namely at the Eldorado Roof and the Dilithium Crystal. Most climbs, whether face, crack, corner, even off-width and chimney, are fully sport bolted. There are some good trad lines, but sport climbing is why you're here. The gorge is often crowded but if you hike a little further you can usually find some solitude. The Warm Up Wall, the Pub, the Social Platform, the China Wall and the Dilithium Crystal are the most popular areas. Please buy Marty Lewis' "Owens River Gorge Climbs" if you are going to climb here. It's a great guide to the hundreds of climbs and you'll feel good supporting the guy who put up a huge percentage of the climbs and did a large amount of work (trails, research, bridges, talking with the LADWP that owns the gorge). It's a small price to pay for a great climbing area.

Getting There 

From Bishop go North on 395 to the Paradise Swall Meadows exit and turn right. Go approximately 1/2 mile and at the T intersection turn left (Gorge Rd). There are 3 parking areas to choose depending on where in the Gorge you wish to climb. The first parking area is 3.3 miles from the intersection of Gorge road and 395. Adjacent to the parking area you will go through a gate and follow the paved central gorge power station road for 1 mile down to the Central gorge power station. The second parking area also accesses the central gorge and ends just uphill from the central gorge power station. You will find a trail adjacent to the parking area that goes down a steep 2nd/3rd class loose gully. Be careful not to dislodge anything because there are climbs below the gully. This parking area is 4.8 miles up the Gorge road from the intersection of Gorge Road and 395. The last parking area is for the upper gorge. This parking area is 6.4 miles up Gorge Road from the intersection of Gorge Road and 395. You will park off the pavement and walk through a gate down the paved upper power plant road approximately 1/2 mile then drop into a 3rd class gully. There is a trail along the entire length of the bottom of the gorge so you can use any of the access points to access all climbs at Owens. There is an alternate way to get to the Gorge Road from the North. Approximately 1 mile south of Tom's Place there is a dirt road that goes East. This road starts at a sign on 395 that says Sherwin Pass 7000 feet.
Rock Climbing Photo: One of the coolest things I have ever climbed!
One of the coolest things I have ever climbed!

Climbing Season

Weather station 13.5 miles from here

532 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',49],['3 Stars',245],['2 Stars',200],['1 Star',36],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Owens River Gorge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Owens River Gorge:
Babushka   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Central Gorge : Warm Up Wall
Child of Light   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Central Gorge : Great Wall of China
Heart of the Sun   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Central Gorge : Great Wall of China
Director's Cut   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Lower Gorge : Big Tower
Dr. Evil   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 130'   Upper Gorge : Gotham City
Show Us Your Tits   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Central Gorge : Emergency Room
Sendero Luminoso   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R     Sport, 1 pitch, 115'   Central Gorge : Solarium
Gorgeous   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Upper Gorge : Gorgeous Towers
Hardly Wallbanger   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Central Gorge : Pub Wall
Superfly   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 180'   Upper Gorge : Gotham City
Yellow Peril   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 105'   Central Gorge : Great Wall of China
O.R.G.asam   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Upper Gorge : Dihedrals
Pick Pocket   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Upper Gorge : Holy Trinity
Grindrite   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Upper Gorge : Gotham City
Towering Inferno   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 5 pitches, 480'   Inner Gorge : Eldorado Roof
Expressway   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Central Gorge : Social Platform
From Chocolate to Morphine   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 110'   Central Gorge : Faulty Tower
Darshan (aka Ripoff)   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Central Gorge : Social Platform
Looney Binge   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 150'   Inner Gorge : Eldorado Roof
Holey Wars   5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Inner Gorge : Mothership Cliff
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Owens River Gorge

Featured Route For Owens River Gorge
Rock Climbing Photo: Derik Olson rests at a bucket.

Rubble With A Cause 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a  California : Sierra Eastside : ... : Attila the Hun Wall
Tricky move above 5th bolt. crux is going to the 10th bolt. you need a 70m rope to do this route. lower off hook anchors....[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Owens River Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: John Bachar defying gravity on Enterprise (5.12b),...
John Bachar defying gravity on Enterprise (5.12b),...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lauren McGeoch floating 'Crash Landing' .11a
Lauren McGeoch floating 'Crash Landing' .11a
Rock Climbing Photo: Red-pointing in the Owens River Gorge at Solarium....
Red-pointing in the Owens River Gorge at Solarium....
Rock Climbing Photo: Rainbow.
Rock Climbing Photo: The late John Bachar in the Gorge. Rest in peace.
The late John Bachar in the Gorge. Rest in peace.
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown free-soloist in the Gorge, 10/17/08
Unknown free-soloist in the Gorge, 10/17/08
Rock Climbing Photo: Rainbow over the Eastern Sierra, as viewed from th...
Rainbow over the Eastern Sierra, as viewed from th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Defeated
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the rim, Owens River Gorge
The view from the rim, Owens River Gorge
Rock Climbing Photo: Making a way for all to play
Making a way for all to play
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo of Narrows East
BETA PHOTO: Topo of Narrows East
Rock Climbing Photo: Upper Gorge Parking May 8, 2015
Upper Gorge Parking May 8, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Tom.
Mt. Tom.
Rock Climbing Photo: Amy Wilkins at the Hot Cold Tub/ Hilltop.
Amy Wilkins at the Hot Cold Tub/ Hilltop.
Rock Climbing Photo: Two new fun routes on the All You Can Eat Wall.
BETA PHOTO: Two new fun routes on the All You Can Eat Wall.
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Arechiga on, One Gun Salute, 5.9
Mike Arechiga on, One Gun Salute, 5.9
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking north at The Gorge from Little Egypt
Looking north at The Gorge from Little Egypt
Rock Climbing Photo: ...and Sunday morning.  Great scenery, no scene.
...and Sunday morning. Great scenery, no scene.
Rock Climbing Photo: some folks having an evening session
some folks having an evening session
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo to Health Club
Topo to Health Club
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Arechiga on the water pipe at the Central Gor...
Mike Arechiga on the water pipe at the Central Gor...
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo to new routes at the Banana Belt Wall
Topo to new routes at the Banana Belt Wall
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo to a new route at the Fautly Tower.
Topo to a new route at the Fautly Tower.
Rock Climbing Photo: Power Plant Ruins Lower Gorge.
Power Plant Ruins Lower Gorge.

Show All 58 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Owens River Gorge Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 20, 2016
By Phildlm
2 days ago
Update from Eastside sports is that the flooding wasn't too bad this winter. Most of the bridges have been repaired and climbing is pretty much wide open as of March 27, 2017. Good to go!
By david goldstein
Jul 29, 2006
This is probably my favorite sport-climbing area. The characteristic climbs feature endurance vertical edge pulling (with a lot of pockets) -- gym fitness really pays off here. There are enough decent trad climbs to keep you honest.

One note of caution is that walking by the river exposes one to some extremely potent stingy nettles, the buzz from which can last many hours; learn to identify and avoid these or wear long pants and socks.

The locals have put a lot of time, money and effort into really setting this place up with trails, bridges, belay platforms and drop in anchors. Please repay their generosity by taking care of what they've created. In particular, DON'T TOPROPE DIRECTLY THROUGH THE ANCHORS. Despite the fact that heavy-duty steel anchors are used, many are worn almost all the way through (some all the way). This dangerous state of affairs is primarily caused by toproping directly through the anchors which is completely avoidable -- whoever sets up the rope should clip a quickdraw through each anchor and run the rope through the draws; the last person up then puts the rope directly through the anchors, cleans the draws and lowers, or even better, rappels.
By alpinglow
From: city, state
Mar 14, 2007
I just took my first trip here. I wanted to praise Marty Lewis for releasing a superb guide (imho). I found it very clear, concise, and ontop of the area.

I consider myself a climbing geek, and fairly well-travelled. This guide was probably one of the better organised guides I have ever used, and well worth the money.

Nice job sir.
By 426
Mar 26, 2007
Many routes are LONG; if you bring a 60 or less, plz tie a knott. I've witnessed several deckings over the years from 'short' ropes. Best bet is a 70m or longer.
By brthomas6
Dec 6, 2008
Here is a list of links on climbing & other recreation in Owens River Gorge and nearby.

• Owens River Conservation & Recreation Directory. (1=whitewater, 2=rafting, 3=conservation, 4=fishing, 5=climbing-camping-hiking, 6=local-info)
By Crimp Nasty
From: Chosstown, USA
Sep 14, 2009
Is ORG climbable Nov-Feb?
By Euan Cameron
From: Mammoth Lakes
Sep 16, 2009
ORG is climbable year round. On the colder winter months watch out for ice on the steep central descent. You can find spots in the sun on really cold days.
By Jan Tarculas
From: Riverside, Ca
May 6, 2010
How is climbing here during summer months of June, July, and August? Are there north/east facing walls? Walls with shade in the morning and change to different wall with shade in evening? Thanks...
By Shannon Moore
May 25, 2010
I spent a good part of July and August in the Gorge for two summers in a row when I first got into climbing- you can definitely climb there, but you for sure want to stay in the shade because it will be brutally hot in the sun. The Gorge runs roughly North-South, and there are some walls that face Northish (Gorgeous Towers for one), so you can typically find shade on one side or the other throughout the day.
By trying hard
From: Sierra East Side
Sep 9, 2010
Amazing training area to get stronger. There are so many variations of climbing here. Some of the best climbing is even through the winter. Bachars stomping grounds!
By Thomas Bukowski
Dec 21, 2010
I've never been to ORG before. Thinking of heading there this weekend, temperatures in Bishop are in the mid-50s. Is it worth going given the cold temps? Any beta on which walls tend to see sun?
By Tom Helvie
From: Bishop, CA
Dec 21, 2010
@Thomas Bukowski
Temps in the 50's will be fine in the sun. Warm Up wall and Banana Belt in the morning, China wall, Dilithium or Warning Signs in the afternoon. Days are really short down there right now and it'll probably be real messy after all the rain/snow we had this week.
By Jonathan Howland
Mar 21, 2012
By Jonathan Howland
Mar 22, 2012
Anyone have info. about the new route just right of Funky Cole Patina at Penstock?
By derik olson
Mar 30, 2012
About that new route on the Penstock Wall... Kelly and I put that in last year. Very fun! Pretty easy 10a. Can be done w/70m, but better as two pitches. !st: short, 5.8 crack, 3 bolts. 2nd: steep face w/ mondo buckets after the crux, 12 bolts. Upper holds are really good!
Derik (
By mike arechiga
Mar 27, 2013
@ derik olson, the 2 pitch route on Penstock Rock you said you and kelly did is super fun, i must be a sandbegger, i thought it was 5.8 the whole climb, good job guy's really like it happy climbing mike a.
By Jeff Scheuerell
Mar 2, 2014
Anyone know of a recent accident? I saw a carryout earlier in the year but I heard of a more recent one. I wonder how often someone is hurt in the Gorge???
By Xtine
From: Las Vegas and Sierra Eastside
May 20, 2014
Jeff, you might be thinking of this accident where the leader had a ground fall at the China Wall. He's lucky to be alive and well, it seems from the forum link:

I was originally posting to warn folks headed to the Central Gorge (in the warmer/hot months) to be aware of the rattlesnakes that live underneath the "steps" and crevices while heading down the gully from the lot. You don't always hear their rattles, especially if they are surprised. I don't think it's too frequent but watch your step. Ran into one this past weekend and it was a very close call.
By mike arechiga
Sep 3, 2014
i would like to give a super big thanks to kelly corder for putting up a bunch of new routes this year!!!, for a guy that they said in the 9th edition of the owens river gorge guide book " low on talent and experience" lol :-) on putting up routes in the gorge, he had done an awesome job in all these years in my opinion, it takes a lot of sweat, hard work, and money to do so, and thanks for posting info on his new routes here on m.p. next month it will be 9 years since a new ownes river gorge guide book has been put out, it's super helpful to have these up grades, and once again thanks for all the fun and new stuff in the gorge, happy climbing mike a.
By amarius
Jan 27, 2015
Marker for Upper/Central/Lower Gorge turnoff from 395
37.445812, -118.571733
Obvious, but my navigator missed it ;)

If you don't feel like scrambling down for Central Gorge access, park for Lower, drop into valley, hike up. Longer approach, but easier.
By Adam Block
Oct 26, 2015
Was recently here and encountered almost every single party there toproping multiple laps through the mussies! There seems to be a dangerous standard practice here. Always prepare to rap here, the anchors can be very heavily worn down because of these careless parties.
By Todd Graham
From: Crowley Lake, CA
Dec 12, 2016
I first climbed in the Gorge in 1988. It was a quiet, almost eerie place without the people and the water. We climbed Gorgeous and were blown away at the quality of the rock and movement on this classic arete. In the early 90s water was restored to the Gorge, bringing life to the parched arid landscape. We actually got to watch as the new water made its way down the riverbed. Plant life and animals returned, making the Gorge a far more hospitable place. Climbs went up in a frenzy with locals Gary Slate, Joe Rousek, Kevin Leary, and Tom Herbert leading the way. Soon the Gorge was established as one of the best sport climbing areas in the U.S. Today routes are still going in though the pace has slowed. After nearly 30 years of climbing here it still remains one of my favorites given the high quality of the climbs and the fact that you can climb here almost year-round.

Please keep it clean by packing out your trash and using the restrooms. When lowering or TRing a route it is ok to use the mussie hooks but be mindful of the wear this causes. It is best practice to carry a couple extra mussies in your pack to replace those that are too worn to be safe. They are cheap and easy to buy. Lastly, please be respectful to all LADWP personnel and property.
By Andrew Child
Dec 20, 2016
Don't let the fact that this is the same rock type as Smith fool you. The rock is much smoother and has tenancy to form horizontal edges. Tons of fun.

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