REI Community
Potrero John

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Beginnings T 
Cleaning Lady S 
Color Blind (aka Rubber Man) S 
Menage a Trois S 
Miccis S 
Migrating Coconuts (aka Zyzzxx) S 
Potrero Traverse 
Should I Go (aka El Potrero) S 
Should I Stay S 
Unknown Route On The Right TR 
Wild Rose T 

Potrero John Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 3,600'
Location: 34.5806, -119.2606 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 8,989
Administrators: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: M. Morley on Feb 13, 2006

77° | 40°

68° | 34°

69° | 35°

73° | 41°

79° | 43°

83° | 45°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]


A quarter mile further up the road from Sespe Gorge (Black Wall) lies this 80' cliff sporting a handful of quality sport routes. Bring traditional gear if planning on climbing the solitary trad line, Beginnings (5.5). Also, some supplementary gear (nuts, TCUs) is recommended if leading Menage a Trois (5.10b). A single rope is sufficient to get off all routes.

Historical Background 

Information care of the late Reese Martin: "In 1995 Potero John Wall was retro-bolted with fat 3/8" bolts and additional anchors were added. This turned what had been a collection of runout 1/4" spinner horror-shows, into a friendly and fun place for the moderate climber. All five bolted routes are worthwhile. When you climb the insecure, tricky seam in the middle of the face, Menage a Trois, 5.10b, remember the route was first climbed in EBs and protected only by wired stoppers in 1976 by "Hot" Henry Barber and Yvon Chouinard. The bolts appeared recently. After your day of climbing be sure to check out the numerous swimming holes nearby. There is a great barefoot boulder traverse over the big pool 200 yards upstream. Fall off and you're wet."

Getting There 

1/4 mile up the road from Sespe's main "Black Wall". Park in a dirt turnout and walk down the hillside, across Sespe Creek. Approach time: 5 minutes.


From (c)Reese Martin 1997

Climbing Season

Weather station 5.1 miles from here

11 Total Climbing Routes

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

Classic Climbing Routes in Potrero John

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Potrero John:
Beginnings   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad   
Wild Rose   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 40'   
Miccis   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport   
Migrating Coconuts (aka Zyzzxx)   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   
Cleaning Lady   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Should I Go (aka El Potrero)   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   
Color Blind (aka Rubber Man)   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Potrero John

Featured Route For Potrero John
Rock Climbing Photo: A view up the undulating crack of "Beginnings...

Beginnings 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a  California : Central Coast : ... : Potrero John
Like "the Ladder" at Gibraltar, this is not the most flattering name. Yet, it's an outstanding route--steep and sustained, absolutely wild considering the modest grade.Walk off left down the class 4 gully or right down a trail and easy slabs....[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Potrero John Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Erica crosses Sespe creek during the high waters o...
Erica crosses Sespe creek during the high waters o...
Rock Climbing Photo: David practices lowering out, on a fixed line at P...
David practices lowering out, on a fixed line at P...
Rock Climbing Photo: Potrero John topo 2
BETA PHOTO: Potrero John topo 2
Rock Climbing Photo: Potrero John topo 1
BETA PHOTO: Potrero John topo 1

Comments on Potrero John Add Comment
Show which comments
By Matthew Fienup
From: Ventura, CA
Mar 16, 2006
This area would see a ton of traffic except that it's a bit too far from town and it's simply overshadowed by its big brother down stream.

Generally, these are very good routes in an idyllic setting. Potrero John is a perfect escape from the Black Wall on busy weekends.
By Michelle Lynn
From: Moab, UT
Jul 22, 2012
We had a little trouble finding this crag. The large pullout on the left (coming from Black Wall) is closest to the Fortress, not Potrero John. If you park here, walk on the road back toward Black Wall a few hundred yards until you're directly under Potrero John, then cross the river. The cliff is shady after 2 pm in the summer.
By Jared Krause
Mar 23, 2016
You can't see it in any of the photos but there are 2 bolts about 20ft above the wall. It's fairly easy to climb around the back and set up a top rope either through the bolts (with rings) on the top, or use those to protect yourself as you navigate the fairly exposed 4th class rock above the wall.
By Derek Field
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Dec 14, 2016
Trad daddies rejoice! The "solitary trad line" has a companion. Wild Rose (5.8) climbs the big arcing flake on the far left side of the wall.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About