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Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Bee Line T 
Black Wall Traverse 
Boss Man, The T 
Chips Block T 
Edge of Night T 
Ending Crack T 
Floyd T 
Glory Days S 
Half Ascent T 
Lost in the Sespe T 
Mrs. Murphy's Rusty Old Packard T 
Pipe Cleaner T 
Roadside Cracks T 
Tree Root T 
Wadka T 
Wasp/The Sting, The T 
White Spider, The T 

Sespe Gorge (Black Wall) Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 3,600'
Location: 34.5776, -119.2579 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 23,420
Administrators: andy patterson, M.Morley, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Adam Stackhouse, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: M.Morley on Feb 13, 2006
Forecast:
Today

58° | 29°
Wednesday

53° | 32°
Thursday

61° | 40°
Friday

62° | 39°
Saturday

61° | 38°
Sunday

61° | 34°
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Sespe Gorge, photo by Alex Bury

Description 

The Sespe Gorge/Black Wall offers the Central Coast's only true multi-pitch climbing within a 4-hr drive. There are around 2 dozen documented routes, all on fairly low-angle terrain and varying in quality from excellent to downright horrible. Ending Crack (5.7) and Tree Root (5.5) account for about 98% of climber traffic on any given day. Expect to encounter some loose rock and vegetation on the less popular routes.

In the summer months, the wall is in the sun most of the day.

6 bolts on the Ending Crack rappel route were replaced 9/99 by Reese Martin. 2 ropes are needed to descend most routes.

Getting There 

From Ojai, head north on 33 for about 20 miles. There is a small pullout for the Black Wall on the left side of the road.

If coming from Santa Maria or San Luis Obispo, it's faster to take the 166 east out of Santa Maria towards New Cuyama (passing Silly Rocks en route), turning right (south) onto 33 up and over Pine Mountain pass. Done this way, the Black Wall and Potrero John are about 100 miles (1.5+ hrs) from Santa Maria.

Climbing Season



Weather station 4.9 miles from here

17 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',7],['2 Stars',8],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',5],['5.7',7],['5.8',0],['5.9',1],['5.10',2],['5.11',1],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',1],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Sespe Gorge (Black Wall):
Black Wall Traverse   V2 5+     Boulder, 480'   
Tree Root   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad, 2 pitches, 300'   
Pipe Cleaner   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 160'   
Ending Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 300'   
Edge of Night   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   
Bee Line   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 300'   
The White Spider   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, 1 pitch, 150'   
Roadside Cracks   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 30'   
The Wasp/The Sting   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   
Glory Days   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)

Featured Route For Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)
Rock Climbing Photo: Tree Root (right) & Ending Crack (left).

Ending Crack 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13  CA : Central Coast : ... : Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)
P1: Follow the striking crack straight up the face to a 2-bolt belay.P2: Continue up the crack until it peters out, then follow face holds up and right to a shallow face crack to newish 3-bolt anchors.Walk off to wide gully on the left or rap off anchors via two-rope rappel....[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Sespe Gorge (Black Wall) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Aquatic, Two-Stripe Garter Snake.   Photographed i...
Aquatic, Two-Stripe Garter Snake. Photographed i...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bryson Fienup (age 6) enjoys a stellar Fall day at...
Bryson Fienup (age 6) enjoys a stellar Fall day at...
Rock Climbing Photo: Brooke (left) and Drew are lost in a sea of sandst...
Brooke (left) and Drew are lost in a sea of sandst...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ending Crack and Tree Route
BETA PHOTO: Ending Crack and Tree Route
Rock Climbing Photo: Right side of Sespe - Black Wall. Lots of fun clim...
BETA PHOTO: Right side of Sespe - Black Wall. Lots of fun clim...
Rock Climbing Photo: Just another perfect day at the Gorge.
Just another perfect day at the Gorge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Wet Day on the Black Wall
Wet Day on the Black Wall
Rock Climbing Photo: Ending Crack
Ending Crack
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown Climbers.
BETA PHOTO: Unknown Climbers.
Rock Climbing Photo: Leighton Bubak climbs Half Ascent, on the left-han...
Leighton Bubak climbs Half Ascent, on the left-han...
Rock Climbing Photo: Erica nears the top of the first pitch of Half Asc...
Erica nears the top of the first pitch of Half Asc...
Rock Climbing Photo: The right side of the Black Wall at Sespe gets the...
BETA PHOTO: The right side of the Black Wall at Sespe gets the...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Black Wall at Sespe Gorge. Ending Crack is the...
BETA PHOTO: The Black Wall at Sespe Gorge. Ending Crack is the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Route topo for "McTavish" (5.6), by Yvon...
BETA PHOTO: Route topo for "McTavish" (5.6), by Yvon...
Rock Climbing Photo: Black Wall (South East)
Black Wall (South East)
Rock Climbing Photo: The Boyz (Jeff, Matt, Chris, John) after a good da...
The Boyz (Jeff, Matt, Chris, John) after a good da...
Rock Climbing Photo: A party from Goleta starts up Ending Crack, during...
A party from Goleta starts up Ending Crack, during...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Left Side of the Black Wall at Sespe offers pl...
BETA PHOTO: The Left Side of the Black Wall at Sespe offers pl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Just Hangin' out at the Ending Crack/Wadka belay.
Just Hangin' out at the Ending Crack/Wadka belay.
Rock Climbing Photo: Black Wall
Black Wall
Rock Climbing Photo: Two bolts recently appeared on the overhang near t...
Two bolts recently appeared on the overhang near t...

Comments on Sespe Gorge (Black Wall) Add Comment
Show which comments
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Feb 24, 2006
It is possible to climb at Sespe Gorge year round; however, hot summer days can be unpleasant and winter is hit or miss. Warm, winter days can actually be fantastic as this is the only time of year when you are likely to have the wall to yourself. Just keep in mind that you will climb in the shade for most of the day. Also know that Hwy 33 is subject to occasional closure due to snow, and even on warm days, high water can make the wall completely inaccessible.

The rappel-situation at Sespe is esoteric, to say the least. The two trade routes (Tree Route and Ending Crack) funnel parties to one top anchor and down one multi-pitch rappel line. On busy weekends, the rappel line can become congested. Fortunately, the rappel line shares little ground with the climbing route of Ending Crack.

Parties descending the usual rappel line are required to share a fixed anchor with any party that is climbing Ending Crack. Climbing parties and rappel parties share the P1 fixed anchor ALL THE TIME. So, do not be surprised when that party behind you starts firing up the first pitch well before you've begun your rappel. Please be friendly and accommodating whether you are the ones climbing or rapping.

None of the alternate descents from Ending Crack and Tree Route is appealing.
By Jon Hanlon
From: SLO
Feb 26, 2006
For almost half a century, climbers on Ending Crack have belayed from the crack (it IS a crack, eh). Granted, it is not as convenient, but it's one way to avoid a CF at the fixed anchor.
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Aug 22, 2006
The Black Wall has sprouted 2 new sets of bolts--one that is 80 feet below the P1 bolts of ending crack (an intermediate rap station?) and one part way up the first pitch of Wadka.

If you have information about these (who, what, when, etc.) please post it here.
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Dec 20, 2007
John,
First off, THANKS for enriching the Sespe page with all of your recent contributions.

In regard to the bolts alongside Ending Crack, the Steve Edwards book refers to the 3-bolt rap-station that is approximately 140 feet up. These were placed by Reese Martin in '99. The additional bolts lower down (which have since been removed) are the ones that we were questioning the origin of.
By John Knight
Dec 17, 2010
Climbers,

I have finally finished the first of my downloadable e-Guides. I’ve decided to start with Sespe Gorge.

You can download the e-Guide by going to my website: centralcoastclimbing.com/topos... and clicking the link below the picture. Or, just send me an e-mail (john@centralcoastclimbing.com) with the title "Sespe e-Guide Wanted" and I'll send it your way.

The e-Guide currently includes the 23 trad climbs on the Black Wall in Sespe Gorge just outside of Ojai. The climbs range in grade from 5.5 to 5.10c and include many multi-pitch climbs. In fact, the 3 pitch Ending Crack (5.7) is widely believed to be the best multi-pitch crack climb on the Central Coast. Other classics include the 2 pitch Tree Root (5.6) and the 140’ high Pipe Cleaner (5.6). Sespe is a great place to take beginners and beginning leaders. There are several 5.5 and 5.6 climbs that are well protected for emerging leaders to practice their trad and multi-pitch skills. The short approach (3 minutes) and mountain setting make it very accessible and quite enjoyable.

Please tell your friends the e-Guide is available and let me know if you have questions or edits.

Thanks,

John (john@centralcoastclimbing.com)
By Robert Arthur Bustamante
From: San Pedro, CA
Feb 23, 2014
Jon Hanlon, (or anyone else) what Pro do you suggest for a belay point or repel off the crack as opposed to the bolts?
By Jon Hanlon
From: SLO
Feb 28, 2014
Belay off cams and nuts. Climb to the top and descend by walking down the gully (or rap from the top anchors of you have two ropes).
By Sean
From: Oak Park, CA
Jul 15, 2016
in summer (like today in July), the entire east-facing wall stays in the sun til 3 pm. the low-angled wall allows the overhead and just-past-overhead sun to keep shining on it. then finally into shade for rest of late afternoon

in winter (like today in Nov), the sun crosses the sky in a very low arc above the horizon, so that the wall stays in shade in early morning and doesn't get sun til 9 am, and does for only 2-3 hrs, before the sun gets past the top of the wall to cast the wall's shadow over its face for rest of day