Day 11; Gear Placement Clinic and Lead Climbing at the Sespe Gorge

Last Saturday, I spent the morning driving 2 hours back to the Sespe Gorge with a few climbing partners – Bruce, Trevor, Tim and Leta- for a Gear Placement Clinic.

Sespe Gorge Location

The Black Wall at Sespe Gorge is one of the best multi-pitch crack climbs in the Tri-County Area. It is located about 20 miles north out of Ojai on HWY 33. Black Wall is easily recognizable from the road and is on the Left. Climbing here ranges from a 5.4 up to 5.10a with the majority of the climbing being trad between 5.5’s and 5.7’s. Ending Crack – 5.7 and Tree Route – 5.5 are considered the most infamous climbs on the entire wall and gets the most traffic.

Across from Black Wall, there are two bolted routes – Glory Days and an Unknown route both 5.11+. On this wall, there are also a few cracks that offered up a few good routes but nothing was noted in the guide book which made me think that it paled in comparison to the routes on Black Wall. There are also some other notable climbs nearby including Potrero John – 1/2 mile up the road and a few bouldering spots just past this.

The gear clinic and our climbs for the day

I have never climbed Trad before and was really looking forward to learning some of the basics so that I could further develop my skills. The clinic went well; However, instead of climbing mult-pitch routes on Black Wall at the Sespe Gorge, A 10 foot river kept us from crossing over to the base of the climb. So, we spent the morning and afternoon at a spot directly across the street from Black Wall called- Glory Days- and practiced building anchors and then doing some lead climbing.

While Bruce and Trevor did some trad climbing, I moved around the wall to a nice slab and attempted to lead it. The route, when fully developed had 4 bolts to anchors. However, two of the bolts were missing, so I was going to try to link the route with another route that was off  to the right. This was not my brightest idea, as this route turned out to be a 5.11b – a fact that I did not learn until the end of the day – and after surmounting the 2nd bolt moving onto where the 3rd bolt should have been, I fell while trying to reposition my feet. Not a bad fall, but it made me reconsider my approach to getting to the bolts on the other route.

Eventually, after attempting it one more time and clipping the third bolt, I admitted defeat and then Trevor followed up the route and set up a top rope anchor off the 4th bolt.

Thank you for visiting!


32 Responses to “Day 11; Gear Placement Clinic and Lead Climbing at the Sespe Gorge”
  1. Awesome photos! I have some friends who are passionate climbers but I think I’m a little too scared of heights to ever do it myself, so thanks for letting me tag along vicariously.

  2. What a cool outdoor sport! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. thor27 says:

    Interesting blog !

  4. Climbing is really a great adventure! Thank you for your sharing!!!

  5. lukeaolson says:

    Another climber/blogger!! Whoohoo!! It looks like you are more abundant in rocks where you are than I am, here in Chicago. Nice pics!! Makes me miss the days when I used to be able to go out to the river valleys in Minnesota and climb the day away! Keep climbing….it does the body good!!!!

    • Hi Luke –

      No, not many walls of rock to climb around us here although you have a wide selection of buildings to scale up. The police don’t appreciate that now, do they!

      There are good climbing areas on the bluffs over the Mississippi, starting around Dubuque north bound through WI and MN. Have a good Wednesday. 🙂

    • SBClimber says:

      Thank you Luke. It is very nice to have such easy access to the mountains and the ocean from here. However, climbing is very much about the “road trip” as well. I hope that you are able to get some climbing in this year. Thank you for your comment!

  6. Karen says:

    Love your pics!

  7. Jen says:

    I’m way too scared of heights to ever comtemplate something like this, but your post is reason 3450 I wish I wasn’t. I feel like I’ve missed out on some great scenery in life by not hot air ballooning or climbing. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    • SBClimber says:

      Hello Jen,

      Thank you for your comment. I was stunned to learn that I was FP’d. As far as missing out on rock climbing and hot air ballooning, I wish you all the best in any of your endeavors you take along these lines. I have a friend who is also an avid sky diver, now that is definitely pushing the limits. If you ever do go climbing, I would love to hear about it! I think that climbing is something that everyone should try at least once, and although it is hard to get into, it is much more difficult to stop doing.

      Best of luck!

  8. Alive aLwaYs says:

    A wonderful adventure. Bravo.

  9. Kit McCarthy says:

    I do some climbing, but never on that scale!

  10. ournote2self says:

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Really cool pictures. Thanks for sharing them!


  12. Awesome photos! I have some friends who are passionate climbers but I think I’m a little too scared of heights to ever do it myself, so thanks for letting me tag along vicariously. 😀

    • SBClimber says:

      I am happy to share some of my adventures. I can definitely understand the heights thing. I still don’t like snakes, spiders, rats, bugs etc. but my wife loves them all. I can never understand why, but recently I allowed myself to be subjected to holding a 6 foot snake and I have to admit, it was a cool experience, but not necessarily something I want to repeat anytime soon.

  13. Wow, great shots! And congrats on being fresh pressed! 🙂

  14. abhishek says:

    rock climbing rocks

  15. A magnificent post keep up the good work hey and congratulation on being Freshly Pressed we are hoping that our blog will be Freshly Pressed someday unfortunate (:) we don’t have any good writer ……………yet but someday we hope to Smile

  16. beckyspringer says:

    This is so cool. I’d love to try climbing… if just once. Heights scare me, but i’d still give it a shot. Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Anya says:

    I have always wondered how the difficulty level is determined. For instance, you write “It turned out to be 5.11b” – but how did you find out? It seems like there’s an entire science behind this…

    Thanks for the post!

  18. CrystalSpins says:

    Man, I wanna go rock climbing. It’s such an expensive pass-time though. All the gear! I guess that’s why I generally stick to hiking. All you need is a good pair of shoes.


  19. Eva McCane says:

    i just scheduled my second round of rock climbing…been once before, but that was to learn the very basics. i’m excited to try it outdoors!

  20. Deeone says:

    Looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for posting. 🙂

  21. Wow–now that’s adventure on speed! Congrats on being FP-ed. It will be one hell of climb!

  22. Makes me nervous just looking at these pix…thank you for sharing. And be careful!


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