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Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Bee Line T 
Boss Man, The T 
Chips Block T 
Edge of Night T 
Ending Crack T 
Glory Days S 
Half Ascent T 
Pipe Cleaner T 
Roadside Cracks T 
Tree Root T 
Wasp/The Sting, The T 
White Spider, The T 

Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)  

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 3,600'
Location: 34.5776, -119.2579 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 33,747
Administrators: andy patterson, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: M.Morley on Feb 13, 2006
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BETA PHOTO: Right side of Sespe - Black Wall. Lots of fun clim...


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

12 Total Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',5],['2 Stars',6],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Sespe Gorge (Black Wall):
Tree Root   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   
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, 200'   
Bee Line   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 300'   
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 Classics in Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)

Featured Route For Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)
Edge of Night (5.7 R) follows the red line up the arete.  2- single rope raps will get you back to terra firma. <br /> <br />Bee Line (5.7) is the crack that can be seen on the left

Edge of Night 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b CA : Central Coast : ... : Sespe Gorge (Black Wall)
A prominent and striking line up the arete at the far right end of the main wall. A classic gear protected runout face climb. Easy but largely unprotected climbing up the arete with gear opportunities mostly in horizontal cracks. Better yet, place two for some added security. Cast off again on the exposed arete, with occasional 20 foot runouts between gear. Starting at the base of the wall, climb the arete directly up to a belay slightly off-route at the tree, or belay off gear near or above t...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Sespe Gorge (Black Wall) Slideshow Add Photo
Aquatic, Two-Stripe Garter Snake.  <br /> <br />Photographed in the shallows of Sespe Creek at the base of the Black Wall.
Aquatic, Two-Stripe Garter Snake. Photographed i...
Two bolts recently appeared on the overhang near the top of the Chouinard route McTavish, at Sespe Gorge. <br /> <br />The Tucker/Steele guide refers to two different variations for surmounting the overhang and makes no reference to bolts.  If these bolts were added recently, they need to go. <br /> <br />Does anybody know anything about this situation?
Two bolts recently appeared on the overhang near t...
The Black Wall at Sespe Gorge. Ending Crack is the vertical crack system just left of center. Tree Route follows the left-trending crack system marked by several trees. Pipe Cleaner is on the far left and follows the lighter colored rock up to the treed gully.
BETA PHOTO: The Black Wall at Sespe Gorge. Ending Crack is the...
Unknown Climbers.
BETA PHOTO: Unknown Climbers.
Brooke (left) and Drew are lost in a sea of sandstone at Sespe Gorge.
Brooke (left) and Drew are lost in a sea of sandst...
Erica nears the top of the first pitch of Half Ascent on a cool February day at Sespe Gorge.
Erica nears the top of the first pitch of Half Asc...
The right side of the Black Wall at Sespe gets the most traffic. When you get to the wall, climb Tree Root (5.5) then Ending Crack (5.6/5.7). Both have good protection on solid rock. One of my favorites is Pipe Cleaner (5.6). It's a shorter pitch but offers larger fist/hand jams and even a few knee jams (dare we say "off-width"?) on clean rock. With 2 ropes you can top rope most of (not so clean) White Spider (5.7) and a good chunk of nearby real estate. Pine to Pine (5.6R) on the right side offers a less clean alternative if Tree Root and Ending Crack are taken.
BETA PHOTO: The right side of the Black Wall at Sespe gets the...
A party from Goleta starts up Ending Crack, during another picture-perfect day at Sespe Gorge.
A party from Goleta starts up Ending Crack, during...
The Boyz (Jeff, Matt, Chris, John) after a good day climbing.
The Boyz (Jeff, Matt, Chris, John) after a good da...
Just another perfect day at the Gorge.
Just another perfect day at the Gorge.
Just Hangin' out at the Ending Crack/Wadka belay.
Just Hangin' out at the Ending Crack/Wadka belay.
Route topo for "McTavish" (5.6), by Yvon Chouinard & Bob McTavish.
BETA PHOTO: Route topo for "McTavish" (5.6), by Yvon...
The Left Side of the Black Wall at Sespe offers plenty of moderate climbing in the 5.3 to 5.10 range. Loose rock, tricky pro, and old bolts make for a bit more adventure than you'll find on the right side. Be sure to check out Half Ascent (5.6) and the Sespe Classic, the Sting (5.10+).
BETA PHOTO: The Left Side of the Black Wall at Sespe offers pl...
Bryson Fienup (age 6) enjoys a stellar Fall day at Sespe Gorge.
Bryson Fienup (age 6) enjoys a stellar Fall day at...

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By Matthew Fienup
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
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
From: Ventura, CA
Dec 20, 2007
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

I have finally finished the first of my downloadable e-Guides. Iíve 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 140í 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.


John (john@centralcoastclimbing.com)
By Robert Arthur Bustamante
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).