Cool shady canyon in the forest, popular for easy to moderate top rope climbing, and rappelling on broken volcanic rock. Not the most aesthetic location in the park, but closest to the car.
This is the mouth of the old Silverado Mine where in 1883 Robert Louis Stevenson honeymooned and wrote "Silverado Squatters" in a cabin near the present day trailside monument which honors the site. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silverado_Squatters The overview map here shows this as a quarry, but it was actually used for mining silver, and mercury. If you poke around in the woods nearby you will find some old mine shafts which used to connect.
From the parking area walk up the trail until you come to the monument to Robert Louis Stevenson. Head up steep scree to the obvious cliffs/mine to the west. Top rope anchors can be reached by 4th class scrambling around from the south, or via a trail along the North rim. There are a few bolts but bring slings and gear.
Climb the obvious left-facing corner. The 5.7 crux is moving left around a bulge about a third of the way up. Near the top there are two options: either continue right up the corner to a set of bolts just right of the pinnacle’s summit (1 star), or traverse left across the highest horizontal crack and continue up the slab to a pair of bolts on the ridge just left of the pinnacle’s summit (3 stars). The traverse to the left is exposed but easier than it appears (5.6), and the anchor is much bette...[more]Browse More Classics in CA
Not only is the Silverado Mine the closest climbing area, it is also the coolest during hot weather, with copious shade at the base. At first glance the climbs look unaesthetic and even frightening with broken up rocks, but the holds are mostly solid and clean, featuring comfortable hand and finger cracks and edges in contrast with the sometimes painful solution pockets elsewhere on the mountain. Because most climbs can be safely protected on lead with solid gear placements (there is only one bolt, protecting the crux on the hardest climb), the Silverado Mine is an excellent place for beginning and moderate trad climbing.
To set up a top-rope from the entrance to the mine, scramble up the right rim of the mine, hop across boulders at the upper end of the mine to the left rim of the mine (anchor 6), and then scramble class 4 along the narrow ridge (anchors 4 and 5) to a wider class 3 ridge (anchors 1-3). Here is a description of the top-rope anchors for each climb, from left to right:
Anchor 1: one bolt which can be backed up by a large cam
Beginner's Route 5.4
Fir Tree Crack 5.6
Anchor 2: gear anchor
Fir Tree Overhang 5.7
Anchor 3: two bolts with chains
Bolt Route 5.10b/c
Left Corner 5.9
Anchor 4: two bolts on ridge (avoid old bolts on face)
If you plan to climb in Silverado Mine during the weekend, be aware that REI often teaches a basic rock climbing course. If you see their well marked van in the parking lot, you can assume that several routes will be occupied by the class. However, the instructors are very tolerant of other climbers and willing to share routes.