OverviewAs close as Santa Barbara gets to "alpine" climbing, this 2 or 3 pitch (depending on your penchant for running it out) is worth doing simply for local bragging rights. All trad ghosting is the ethic (no bolts---as if they'd hold anyway) liebacking up a detached sandstone flake with a few awkward transitions, lots of gaps between placements and amazing exposure up high.
Getting ThereThe shortest approach is to drop 1200 feet (in less than a mile) from La Cumbre Peak over boulders and varied sections of trail and drainage, and then climb 500 feet up the back of the peak. Head left down a slight trail and around to the front base of the face just to the right of the large cave.
(See main page for scrambling up from Tunnel Trail/Mission Canyon)
Route DescriptionThis is for doing the route in two long pitches (with a 60m rope):
Start the route above and right of the large cave at the base of the peak.
Toward the end of the rope on the first pitch, look out left for a thin ledge that will lead to a cave. You're going to be about 20-25' above your last piece so tread carefully. Once inside sling the big boulder (a double is plenty) and the smaller one behind it for the belay. Leading back out of the cave on the second pitch you've got about 15 feet of friction 5.7 before it eases to the big open area (halfway). No good placements coming out of the cave so don't bother trying to find something; you'll be on class 2 stuff before you know it. To minimize rope drag, you can set your first pieces in the cracks at the base of the right diagonal crack. Sling the manzanita above that and you're free to run to the top. (Sling the big boulder on the summit and there's also a perfect nut slot down on the north side near where the register box is for the belay.)
This is the best route on the rock and is as "alpine" as you can get in the area. The first pitch has some thin moves and a few awkward transitions from face to lieback. Make sure you tap those flakes when you're slotting cams, because some sections will definitely blow if you fall and could seriously dislodge some big chunks.
Also be prepared to hike out in the dark if you're moving slow or doing more than one route.