Peels of Laughter is the name of a route on San Ysidro Rock in the San Ysidro Canyon in the Santa Ynez Mountains, an area in the Los Padres National Forest of Southern California.
I can not think of another route on San Ysidro Rock as awe-inspiring as Peels of Laughter. The route follows the only prominent buttress on the entire formation, and it's sandwiched between two classics routes, Great Race and Many Happy Returns. Looking up this buttress, your eyes lock on an overhang near the top. "I go up that?" you ask yourself. The answer is, yes. Before it was understood that this route was actually easy, Chuck Fitch, a local climbing phenomenon, soloed this route for its first ascent. That was in 1975, before the age of sticky rubber shoes. This route has been the destination of choice for climbing classes as well as thousands of local and visiting climbers.
Peels of Laughter follows the prominent buttress to the right of Great Race and to the left of Many Happy Returns. The route begins on the low angle left corner of the slab that is the start of Many Happy Returns. Avoid getting close to the bolt in the middle of the face; it requires much more difficult climbing. This lower corner/slab is completely unprotected. There is at least one hole in the rock high up on the slab. You can rig up some kind of protection here, if you choose to do so. In the next section, you climb up a crack just to the left of the buttress clipping a bolt or placing your own protection. Climb straight up clipping a second bolt to a low angle ledge. Move a few feet to the right and climb the overhang prominently visible from the ground. After the overhang, super easy but unprotected face climbing leads to the top and a bolt anchor.
The best way to descend is to rappel from the anchor bolts on top as the erosion has turned the gully into NOT the best option.
Carry a 60 meter rope and a small rack of nuts and cams to 1 inche and 2 quick draws, a few slings.
From Highway 101 take the San Ysidro Exit and head toward the mountains. Drive to Montecito Village where San Ysidro Road intersects East Valley Road. Turn right on East Valley Road and cross a small bridge to Park Lane. Turn left on Park Lane and veer left onto Mountain Drive. A short drive up Mountain Drive will bring you to the trailhead sign. Park off the pavement, please. We’d like to keep the access open and free.
Head up the well marked San Ysidro to Camino Cielo trailhead passed private properties and public and fire roads. There are two locked gates for fire trucks. Go around these two gates. In about fifteen minutes you will see the main rock formation on your left. About 200 hundred feet before reaching the rock, drop down a short distance and cross the creek on rocks. A short hike up the canyon will bring you to the first climb, Vanishing Flakes. Walk past a large gully that splits the formation in half. Just past the gully, you will see a low angle slab with a bolt in its middle. Peels of laughter starts on the left corner of this slab.
Lookout for poison oak when crossing the creek. I have seen poison oak even closer to the rock.
For what poison oak looks like see the next chapter.
I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, however, a tip from a friend has saved my life many time for the past fifteen years. The tip is that if you rub alcohol where you think you may have come in contact with poison oak the oils will break down before they have time to penetrate the skin. I carry a small bottle of rubbing alcohol with me for that exact purpose. I am extremely allergic to Poison Oak, and I have not had any allergic reactions since I started this practice.
For more discussion on the treatment for poison oak exposure and sensitivity see the following link: