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South Face 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 350', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Mike Forkash and Gary Anderson, late 1970s
Page Views: 3,035
Submitted By: Jeff Dunbar on Jun 11, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (19)
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Christy topping out the South Face

Description 

The South Face route offers 3 pitches of fun 5.7 liebacking and face climbing in one of Santa Barbara's most wild and scenic locations overlooking Santa Barbara, the Goleta Valley, and the Channel Islands. The route starts at the base of the prominent left-leaning lieback flake approximately 50 ft right/uphill from the huge cave at the base of the crag.

P1: This is the steepest pitch, and probably the technical crux of the route. Follow the lieback flake until it ends, then face climb up a few more feet via face holds out left to a small belay ledge with tattered old slings and build yer own anchor. (5.7, 80 ft, pro: bigger cams to 4")

P2: Trend up and left the whole way, zig-zaging past a series of small right-facing dihedrals to a shady belay in a large cave. You'll get some nice exposure when you move left over/around the last small dihedral. The last 30 feet is runout, but much lower angle. (5.7, 180 ft, pro: cams to 3" plus small nuts and micro stoppers)

P3: Exit the cave on climber's right and head up/right over a bulge via the slingable manzanita to a low-angle chimney with good face holds that leads to the summit. (5.6, 80 ft, pro: small cam, then manzanita, then 4" cam)

From the summit block, scramble off the backside down then right to reach the ridgeline and the trail back to La Cumbre Peak.


Location 

Start 50 ft right/uphill from the huge cave at the base of the crag, scramble up 15 ft of easy slabs to the start of the lieback flake.


Protection 

2 sets of nuts, 1 set of micro stoppers, and 1 set of cams to 4 plus many long slings. If you bring a few large hexes to potect the initial massive flake/crack, you can skip the 3" and 4" cams.



Photos of South Face Slideshow Add Photo
Jeff crawling under the bramble on the approach.
Jeff crawling under the bramble on the approach.
Top half of South Face route, as seen from the side.  Note: the climbing is steeper below.
Top half of South Face route, as seen from the sid...
Natalie Brechtel following me up the steeper 1st pitch.  The huge lieback "flake" takes cams and hexes from 1 to 4 inches.
Natalie Brechtel following me up the steeper 1st p...
A few moves into the first pitch of the South Face. (photo: Tom Hall)
A few moves into the first pitch of the South Face...
The view straight down just after leaving the 1st belay station on the long 2nd pitch.  The occasional foliage only adds to the challenge and sense of adventure!
The view straight down just after leaving the 1st ...
Look for solid gear placements for your belay anchor high on the wall in the back right side of the cave at the top of the 2nd pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Look for solid gear placements for your belay anch...
Steve takes off on the first pitch of the South Face.
Steve takes off on the first pitch of the South Fa...
The final short pitch that finishes both the South Face and the Cave Route follows the ramp past the manzanita and around the corner. A full 60m rope length will get you to this point.
BETA PHOTO: The final short pitch that finishes both the South...
Tom Hall putting a little lieback into it. P1 of South Face.
Tom Hall putting a little lieback into it. P1 of S...
John Learned sporting his custom hand-painted racing stripes at top of the second pitch.
John Learned sporting his custom hand-painted raci...
Approximate topo for 5.7 South Face route.
BETA PHOTO: Approximate topo for 5.7 South Face route.
To bump the grade a bit on this climb follow the start of Dream Weaver after the flake disappears (don't step left onto the ledge & corner). Make the reachy moves and trend right until you're a bit out in space then traverse to the cave----don't worry if you pitch, the flake will catch your 20+ footer easy ;-)
BETA PHOTO: To bump the grade a bit on this climb follow the s...
Comments on South Face Add Comment
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By Jeff Mahoney
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Feb 11, 2008

You can fairly easily run the South Face in two pitches with a 60m (see photo)

By Matthew Geyer
May 28, 2008

A rather committing adventure, it's worth the approach. Good training for Snake Dike.

By Brett Brotherton
From: Arvada, CO
Jun 29, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Great route a lot of fun definitely not a lot of pro on the second pitch but it was easy climbing, 3rd pitch I wouldn't really call that a chimney definitely seemed like an offwidth to me but doesn't make a difference since you use the face holds anyways. Make sure to bring lots of water (we didn't bring enough). And pay better attention on the approach so you don't end up bushwhacking through chaparral on the way back when you get off trail. All in all a great adventure climb and excellent workout! Also be careful with gear placements on the first pitch as some of the sandstone behind the flake sounds hollow and may not hold a fall if gear is placed there. But there is still plenty of good pro on the first pitch.

By Brett Brotherton
From: Arvada, CO
Nov 9, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Confirm two pitches, I did a 190 ft first pitch and belayed off of a small tree/bush 15 feet below the cave. Try hiking in from tunnel trail for a real workout.

By Brian F
Oct 11, 2010

P1: >80ft
P2: ~120ft
P3: >60ft

Classic climbing; combining gross approach, liebacks, bushy ledges, dirty trees and amazing views of Santa Barbara. The low angle and easy climbing make bringing the SLR a no-brainer.

Maybe because of the location (SB isn't known for long trad routes) this climb has several 'fixed' pieces on it. When we climbed it on 10/9/10, someone must have rapped off the tricam (P1), leaving a brand new locking biner. I didn't booty it. There was also a jammed nut with biner on P2. We left that one too.

By Travis Madsen
From: Denver, CO
Feb 7, 2011

With the fire and all the traffic, this route is cleaning up! Now there's dirty cracks, bushy ledges, weak flakes, plus some ash. I didn't need a toilet brush, though. As the summit register says, "best views in Santa Barbara." Hard to argue with that.

By Joseph Stover
From: Batesville, AR
Apr 25, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

The hike was brutal, but the tree tunnel wasn't as bad as I had feared. The rock is not too good, lots of hollow flakes and gardens (gives it character). But assuming that this thing doesn't get alot of traffic, it is really not all that dirty for what I might have expected. The actual climbing was fun (but not great), just that the sketchy rock took away from it (but that is also part of the experience). I thought the face move to gain the P1 belay was the crux and is probably extremely height dependent. It felt solid 5.8 to me (but I wasn't about to fall on that gear!). Other than that, it was mostly lower 5-grade climbing with the occasional set of 5.6/7 moves.

Did it in 3 pitches, a set of BD stoppers, single set of cams TCU-#00 to BDC4-#5, 12 trad draws and a cordelette was a perfect amount of gear. Could have done without the #4 and #5, but I placed them.

This adventure is really worth doing, at least once.

By Nick Sullens
From: Yosemite/ Bend
Apr 25, 2011

Cordelette*

By Amos Clifford
Mar 18, 2012

I think Joe Roland and I did the FA of the top two pitches. Not certain about that. I've camped in the cave, nice spot. This rock is not primarily about great climbing; it's more about a day of adventure, enjoying the chaparral and the hike, and having a fun time with companions.

By Alex Bury
From: Ojai, CA
Jul 29, 2013

Right on Amos, I ran into Mike a couple days ago but didn't know at the time I'd be getting on this thing today or I would have picked his brain about some of the history.
This route was great, here are some notes from our climb of it yesterday:
-There is now a black sling with a ring marking the top of the first pitch, threading a natural feature at the belay stance. The tattered slings mentioned in the description are gone
-Bringing an extra hydration res' and stashing it at the summit paid off big time
-Trying to link pitches, as some describe above, might rob you of the opportunity to belay from the cave high on the wall. Untying in the upper cave, sitting in the shade, surveying the expanse....trip highlight)
-Unless you are confident placing hex's with one hand, either bring a number four camalot or be prepared to run it out on steep 5.7 /5.8 terrain
-The trail from La Cumbre Peak has recently been worked on and is wide open. Still a steep approach of course but brush is not an issue