After about two hours of commuting through the smoggy urban sprawl that is the Los Angeles metropolitan area we started our ascent into the San Bernardino Mountains . The drive up until this point is mind numbing with repetitive strip malls, In & Outs, condemned looking buildings, warehouses and what appear to be dumps. Los Angeles can sometimes seem to be a paradise that has been abused for way too long.
Once we get close enough the mountains start to appear through the haze. Next thing you know we're at over 7,000 feet elevation and what appears to be 100s of miles from LA. The Holcomb Valley Pinnacles are hidden in the San Bernardino Mountains outside of Big Bear Lake. The free camping, remote location and amazing climbing make for an excellent escape from the local sweltering crags and bustling city. Although still quite hot during the day in the sun, you can still find plenty of shade and sticky granite to cling to.
To get to the crag you end up driving for about 30-45 minutes down a 4x4 trail that seems to be made only for dirt bikes or horses. But, once you arrive, you are parked within 10 meters of the nearest climbs and can set up camp wherever you please. As my friend Hong likes to put it: You could literally roll out of your tent and grab the first hold on the route.
The climbing is excellent with ratings ranging from 5.fun to 5.12c(ish). Although mostly bolted, there are also many opportunities to whip out the gear and make your way up cracks or chimneys. The routes offer slab, flakes, roofs, mantles, jugs and just about anything else you could imagine. And, not only is the area aesthetic, but the routes often feel exposed (well, exposed for single pitch routes) yet are well protected. Most of the routes are 5.10, but there are plenty harder ones to keep you busy for a weekend.
Justin rapping in fine form. SoCal Ladies: If you're impressed with this stud call 281-300-8392 for rapp lessons.
After two days of hand numbing cranking we begrudgingly made our descent back down under the cloud of haze and eight lane highways leading to five days of commuting to work before getting back out to do it all over again. Who knows, maybe I'll finally get up to Yosemite this weekend…if it's not too hot.