Along Hwy 38, either headed to or from Big Bear Lake, you will plainly see this pyramid-shaped rock formation on a western sloping face standing watch over all who travel through the Onyx Pass, reportedly the highest highway pass in SoCal. Onyx Summit Crag sits at approximately 8550’ and boasts beautifully clean white granite walls. It is snuggled in a mass of pines with a splendid view of the San Bernardino National Forest and the open mountain highway below (Hwy 38). To the east, the Onyx Peak radio towers can be seen from atop Onyx Summit Crag, as well as many other 9000’ peaks along the PCT which meanders in and about the area.
Although there are only a few established routes, mainly bolted face climbs FA’d by Chris Miller and Brad Singer, overall quality and accessibility are hard to beat. Among the eight established routes, most of which were FA’d in 2001, there are two crack routes (5.8 amd 5.9) that requires thin to 2" gear. The other face climbing routes range from 5.10b to 5.12c and are generally all bolted, although some routes may require gear to avoid a run-out situation. Two sharp arêtes mark the main activity wall. For the mostpart, access to the backside of the crag is mainly class 3 with some optional low-end Class 5, depending on your desired level of scrambling. The summit of the crag is supplied with a few different anchor/rappelling points (cold shuts) and there is a random bolt atop that doesn’t make much sense….test piece?
Since the main wall is south facing, it makes for an excellent year-round climbing destination, barring any heavy snow or rainfall. Because the number of routes are few and location is remote, I can’t imagine anyone other than a Riverside or San Bernardino County resident making the trek. So for all you local yokels….come on down and spend a half day on this gorgeous rock.
Directions[img:281846:alignleft:small:Hwy 38 Onyx Summit][img:340750:alignright:small:Quick and easy access as well as great view of your vehicle.]
From Big Bear Lake, drive southeast on Hwy 38 for about 10 miles and park at pullout on the eastern side of the highway, just before Onyx Summit Pass. You will be parking directly across from the crag.
From Redlands, drive approximately 40 miles east on Hwy 38 to Onyx Summit Pass. Barely a quarter mile past the summit sign, take the second pullout on the right, which is directly across the highway from the crag. Minimal parking is available.
Skip across the highway without getting flattened by a Winnebago, and follow a steep defined trail, which follows next to a fence line, eventually leading one to the crag. This should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes....unless you are wounded.