REI Community
The Bubble

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
"Left Edge" S,TR 
Bubble Boy S 
Catchy S 
Chimney T,TR 
Face T,TR 
Face, The Bubble Mt. St. Helena S,TR 
Ladder, The S,TR 
Old Ladder Route T,TR 
Solar Power S 
West Face, The S 

The Bubble Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 2,956'
Location: 38.65093, -122.61322 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 19,820
Administrators: Aron Quiter, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Aron Quiter on Jun 17, 2002
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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BETA PHOTO: The Bubble - left side. Shaded until ~11am, shown ...


The Bubble has some really large hueco-like surfaces, some overhanging, some vertical, and some easier slab climbs on the left side. All the climbs on the rock are bolted for sport climbing, though some could certainly be lead trad. The rock is rather rough on the hands, though frictiony jugs and lips lead to some rather interesting climbing.

Routes from left to right are:

1) Face
2) Solar Power (not shown)
3) Left Edge
4) The Ladder (the old toprope 5.9 is just right of this climb)
5) Bubble Boy (5.10c var)
6) Bubble Boy
7) On the Road (toprope)
8) Catchy
9) Right Climb

Getting There 

Head uphill on the fire road, traveling up to the 180 degree bend. You can't miss it. If you did, let us know, we'd like to laugh at you. Approach time: from the parking lot 15 - 30 minutes. From the monument, about 10 minutes.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.3 miles from here

10 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',6],['2 Stars',3],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Bubble

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Bubble:
Face, The Bubble Mt. St. Helena   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 60'   
Old Ladder Route   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 70'   
The Ladder   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 70'   
Solar Power   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 40'   
The West Face   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
Bubble Boy   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Bubble

Featured Route For The Bubble
Rock Climbing Photo: Jim Thornburg on The Ladder

The Ladder 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b  California : San Francisco Bay Area : ... : The Bubble
The Ladder is the left-most climb facing the fire road on the bubble. Its pretty easy to recognize with the large pockets on the slighty overhanging face. Older guide books tend to draw the route just right of the actual bolts - which aren't mentioned. This is the 5.9 version of The Ladder. The climb is neat and mostly straight-forward; big jugs, spaced widely enough to make you work for them. The crux comes between the 4th and 5th bolt where the jugs end and you have to travers...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of The Bubble Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The Bubble. Great little crag.
The Bubble. Great little crag.
Rock Climbing Photo: Overview of the Bubble.   Routes on the picture ar...
BETA PHOTO: Overview of the Bubble. Routes on the picture ar...

Comments on The Bubble Add Comment
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By Jerry Dodrill
From: Bodega, CA
May 7, 2007
A word on the Bubble, if I may... This is the original climbing area on the mountain and was traditionally a top rope cliff. I know of people climbing here as early as the early '70s, but am sure it was climbed even earlier.

A point of interest is that in 1979, a student was quietly enrolled in a beginning rock climbing class at Pacific Union College, just down the valley in Angwin. Jim Hanson, the instructor (RIP), told me this guy had an uncanny ability with knots and knowledge of gear in the classroom. Half way through the semester they went on a field trip to the Bubble and this kid just hiked all the climbs on the cliff. Jim pulled him aside and said "You've climbed before, haven't you?" The hilarious part is that young Tony Yaniro had just freed The Grand Illusion, .13c at Sugarloaf. At the time it was the hardest route in the world! Go figure. He needed elective PE credits and was enrolled at PUC from '79-'81, or so.

In the '80s, somebody bolted the prominent arete to the left of the Bubble Ladder. Being a historical top rope crag, some local chopped the bolts and the crag remained a popular top rope area until around 2000 when local climber Jordy Morgan stepped up to the plate and went off with his Hilti, establishing a bunch of "new" routes, but not really "FA's" The guide books are still pretty confused about some of the new lines and grades. So be wary and have fun. Chris Summit's "Wine Country Rocks" is likely the most accurate printed topo.

Marc Jensen, in his "Bouldering Buildering and Climbing in the San Francisco Bay Region" (3rd edition, 1988) said: "The a volcanic conglomerate with a hard surface layer that allows climbing. If this outer layer is missing, the rock is as strong as cottage cheese." Either he was just wrong, the cheese has hardened, or he was trying to keep the crowds away. In reality, the rock isn't that bad, but it isn't Yosemite either.

Elevation: 2956', GPS: N38.39.055 W122.36.797 (You won't need it though..)
By scalparm
From: Vienna, Austria
Apr 29, 2008
Due to the nature of the volcanic rock, temperature can really affect the friction. Basically if it's cooler then it's really fun, if not then it's really slippery.
Nov 14, 2010
Went here today, and did The Ladder before heading off to the far side. Noticed that ALOT of the hardware here is pretty hammered. alot of spinners, some loose nuts(could unthread by fingers), and all around scary anchors. Noticed most of the Far Side had shiny new ASCA hardware. Any ideas if the bubble will be receiving the same treatment? Or who can i contact about helping out with this?
By Jerry Dodrill
From: Bodega, CA
Dec 19, 2010
Thanks for the notice B Rad. The Bubble is on the maintenance list. I've got the ASCA hardware and will check it out over the winter. Any other recommendations are appreciated. There is still some work to do over at the Far Side as well. We have a discussion about MSH bolt replacement on the forum at You need to set up an acct and log in to see it.


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