For most Sequoia visitors, the draw of solitude and the unique blend of conifers makes the mountain experience every bit its worth. For climbers, it's a chance to "mine" for hidden gems within the Sequoia National Forest boundries. Of those hidden gems that lay await for the taking, Buck Rock is a "diamond in the rough" and worthy of a climbers touch. You'll find that most visitors to Buck Rock come for the view on top of its summit, allowing vistas of Kings Canyon to the northeast and the Roaring River drainage to the southeast. Also sharing the summit is an old relic of the past....a fire lookout tower. Like that of The Needles, the tower upon Buck Rock's summit is still in operation today. But that's not all that Buck Rock provides. On its northwestern side are a host of wild and exciting climbs. The climbs featured there range from overhanging jugfests to thin, steep crimpy pump-a-thons. Almost all the routes are single pitch sport climbs ranging from 5.10a to 5.11c and no longer than 85' in length. Try your hand at the classic jug pull "Mowing The Yawn" (.10a). This gem is not only ideal to get your "swoll" on but makes for that perfect "hero" photo you've always wanted to show off to friends and family! Or the pumpy sloper romp "Song Of The Sirens" (.10c)....never a dull moment for you Sinbad types, especially the puzzling technical finish to the anchors! See for yourself the luster that Buck Rock radiates and experience the assorted other treasures Sequoia NF has hidden within its hills.
Take Hwy 180 East (Kings Canyon Rd) out of Fresno. Once at the Kings Canyon entrance, drive past the entrance station an additional .7 miles. Turn right onto the 'General Highway' and travel 7 miles toward the Sequoia National Forest boundry. Locate Forest Road 14S11(on the left side) and drive to Buck Rock Campground. At Buck Rock Campground, make a left onto Forest Road 13S04 until it deadends at Buck Rock Lookout. Park at the spaces provided
When To Climb
Ideally, the best time to climb at Buck Rock is the summer time. With an elevation of 8500', the dress code is shorts and a t-shirt! The views into the King Canyon watershed are breahttaking and photo ops are mandatory!
There are a couple of options for camping and the normal flow of summer tourist is moderate in population. so acquiring a campsite is not a real issue. The National Forest has a campground host hired to maintain sites at Big Meadows and Buck Rock Campground (both have pit toilets, water spickets and picnic tables). The normal site reservation system, though the National Forest Service, is the way to go if your looking to extend more than a few days. Otherwise, there are "ways" of skirting the camping issue. Primarily, this is the national forest.....you can camp about anywhere there is not a sign posted "No Camping".
The Forest Service still maintains the lookout on top of Buck Rock. Please be respectful of their employees and the building itself (built around 1912). The majority of climbing at Buck Rock is protected bolts; both lead and top roped routes. 'Helen's Face' (the face just to the left of the staircase to the lookout) is composed of juggy overhanding routes; one of which is a mega classic throughout the western Sierra......'Mowing The Yawn' (.10a). This route overhangs 10 feet in less than 40 vertical feet!). Many other routes are made up in the same character as MTY.
You are allowed to camp most anywhere in Sequoia National Forest, but if you want to have a campfire or charcoal barbeque, you do need a campfire permit. They can be picked up at the Hume Lake Ranger Station or the Grant Grove Visitor Center. Also, in mid- to late- summer some years campfire restrictions do go into place and you may not be able to have a campfire at all.
In 1914 a telephone was installed at the Buck Rock lookout. At this time the lookout was nothing more than an open platform on top of the rock which was reached by climbing up a tree with steps nailed into it. In 1923 the lookout building was constructed. It is a 4-A style cab which measures 14 feet by 14 feet with windows on all sides and a steep roof. The Buck Rock Lookout was one of the last 4-A cabs built in the U.S. and is one of only 3 still standing. At this time a series of long ladders placed along the sheer granite walls had to be climbed in order to reach the lookout tower. In 1941 the ladders were replaced with a series of stairways built by the CCC and these are still in use today.
Thanks Sequoia. I'll be sure to add it to the page.
Posted Nov 30, 2006 11:01 pm
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