The Nose of Gibraltar Rock is a prominent overhang on the south west corner of Gibraltar Rock. The most important feature of this overhang is a crack that runs up the entire lenght of it. This crack has always been the object of curiousity and revrence. Many climbers’ hopes and dreams have been lost and realized on this crack.
By all accounts the first ascent of this beautiful crack was accomplished in the mid-sixties by Herbert Rickert. He used direct aid utilizing creative wide pieces such as wooden blocks. By the time I came into the climbing scene in 1969, bongs and wide hexentrics manufactured by Chouinard Equipement were common place. At that time only a handfull of climbers in America could free climb at higher levels of difficulty. Hence, aiding the nose of Gibraltar rock was an accepted method of climbing it. There is no doubt that during that era The Nose saw repeated ascents via direct aid by several local climbers, myself included.
It was not until the early seventies that the first free climbing of The Nose was accomplished by, probably, Steve Gerdson. At the present time you never see anyone climbing The Nose via direct aid. All ascents of The Nose are done free, either on lead or on top rope.
This beautiful climb is located very close to the arete separating the south and the west faces on Gibraltar Rock. Begin your climb under the overhang on the southwest corner. Several layback moves will bring you to the first jams too tight for your hands and too loose for your fingers. If you are under 5’, 6” your feet will be coming off the rock at this point, and you will be hanging the entire way. Creative foot-work will help shorter climbers, as it did for me. Taller climbers can continue using their feet on a semi ramp for a few more moves. The crack will soon become hand size and shortly after, too wide for your fists. By now you are close to the lip of the overhang. Cranck through the lip and stand on great footholds. There is a double bolt anchor marking the end of first pitch.
Climb the obvious and easy crack to a ledge at mid face. In the old times we did the rest of the climb without protection, following the airy shoulder separating the south and west faces. Nowadays there are bolts protecting the upper face to the top and anchor bolts. You will walk away with a smile on your face having done one of the most enjoyable climbs in all of Santa Barbara.
One of the easiest ways to get to the base of The Nose is to Rappel from the top. There are two sets of double bolt anchors on top that can be used. You can also walk and scramble down along the base of the south face to get to the base of The Nose. Most people set up a top rope from the top and walk down to the base.
Essential GearStandard rack up to 4 inches.
CampingUnfortunately, there are no campgrounds close and convenient to Gibraltar Rock.
There is, however, one very large and well developed campground at Cachuma Lake, and a few less developed ones along Paradise Road off Highway 154. There are also a few campgrounds along Highway 101 at El Capitan State Park and Refugio State Park.
El Capitan Beach Camping
Refugio State Beach Camping