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Williamson Rock

Williamson Rock

Williamson Rock

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 34.36000°N / 117.88°W

Object Title: Williamson Rock

Activities: Sport Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 6500 ft / 1981 m


Page By: Steve Larson

Created/Edited: May 21, 2005 / Jan 12, 2007

Object ID: 154090

Hits: 10657 

Page Score: 84.82%  - 19 Votes 

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Williamson Rock Closure

January 11, 2007: Here's the latest from Troy Mayr, guidebook author and founder of Friends of Williamson Rock:

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is preparing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the USFS and FoWR. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a document describing a bilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action, rather than a legal commitment.

Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) will present the USFS a draft scoping letter pursuant to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This letter will describe the proposed action regarding the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the long-term management of Williamson Rock and the potential for reopening access to climbing activities. The following proposed alternatives shall be included:

•Dry Season Only Access (No flowing water in stream) - Preferred alternative includes monitoring and maintenance, enforcement of seasonal closure, signage, human waste management and parking controls.
•Restricted activity under limited conditions
•Permanent closure
•No project alternative - Return to conditions prior to closure (not a viable option)

The no project alternative is included in the document to serve as a baseline for other alternatives and is required of all NEPA documents. In the EA, the potential impacts for each alternative must be analyzed. The no project alternative states what the condition or environmental impacts would be in the event the proposed project is not carried out.

The scoping process will include an internal USFS review followed by a 30-day public scoping period.

As previously stated, the process is required to allow the potential re-opening of Williamson Rock, which has been closed to public access due to designation of critical habitat for the mountain yellow legged frog. Throughout the course of this lengthy NEPA and Endangered Species Act consultation ongoing closure of Williamson Rock should be anticipated and the climbing community should actively discourage its use to maintain current agency/FoWR relations.

FoWR expects this process to result in ongoing dialog with the USFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the general public - resulting in a plan that meets the needs of all concerned within the parameters of NEPA, Forest Service Guidelines and the Federal Endangered Species Act. This will also further the intent of FoWR to move forward with the NEPA process and maintain cooperative relations with the U.S. Forest Service as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

We strongly encourage you to join the FoWR mailing list by visiting williamsonrock.org


Williamson Rock is a sport crag located in the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. Climbs range in difficulty from 5.4 to 5.13. The number of easier routes is limited, however, so Williamson may not be the best place to take a beginner. Many of the routes are quite steep, and require good upper body strength and endurance. The rock is fractured granite that is surprisingly solid for the San Gabriels.

Though some consider Williamson a choss pile, my personal experience has been that the rock is quite good, possibly due to others having already removed the majority of the loose handholds. The rock tends to be quite featured, with big holds on steep ground typical for the area.

The base of the rock is at about 6,300 feet elevation, which makes it a good place to escape the SoCal summer heat, though it can get plenty warm in midsummer. Most of the climbs face either south or east, making it possible to stay in the shade if you so desire. Little Rock Creek flows along the base most of the year. In early season the water may reach the base of the lowest climbs, making for a watery start, or requiring you to traverse in from drier ground.

I strongly encourage those who are interested in visiting the area to check out Troy Mayr and Anthony Sweeny’s guidebook (Southern California Sport Climbing WIlliamson Rock: Pocketguide, Mobius Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-9647462-1-2).

Getting There

The area may be approached from either La Canada Flintridge or Wrightwood via the Angeles Crest Highway (SR2). It’s 40 miles from La Canada (about an hour’s drive), and a little over half that from Wrightwood. The rock is situated down in the canyon below the highway, with only the highest point reaching above eye level as seen from the road. Nevertheless, you can’t miss it.

There are two parking areas more or less to the east of the rock. If approaching from La Canada, the first one is on the left (west) side of the road, and is marked. A steep, loose climbers trail descends north along a ridge into the canyon from the west end of the lot. Descending takes about 15-20 minutes, walking out is dependent on your conditioning and enthusiasm. The second parking lot is a couple hundred yards past the first (if coming from La Canada), and is also in the left-hand side of the road. From here a trail leads west, contouring along the north side of the canyon. This approach is considerably longer (about 40 minutes) though much less demanding, especially on the way out.

Route Overview

As of the publication of Mayr and Sweeney’s guidebook in 1997 there were over 250 established climbs at Williamson. An overview of the major formations is provided below. For detailed route information, buy the book. It’s only $10.95 at Sport Chalet in La Canada.

The table below summarizes some of the main formations in the area, and lists some of the better climbs on each. Route information is provided in more or less detail, depending on the page author's familiarity with the route.

Route Location Photos

Williamson Rock Climbing Formations
Formation Routes Description/Comments
Stream Wall Quickie 5.8
Rock-it 5.7
Butterfingers 5.8
Scream Dream 5.10a
Silvery Scream 5.10b
Whose Line is it Anyway? 5.10d
Created a Monster 5.10a/b
Feast of Friends 5.9
Squeeze the Dream 5.9
Air Raid 5.9
Located just around the corner from London Wall. In early season or wet years the base of the wall may be under water.

Notes on routes:
Whose Line is it Anyway?: This route is not in Mayr's guidebook. Relatively easy (5.9ish) moves down low create an unwarranted sense of security that disappears near the top at the crux overhang (5.10d)
Silvery Scream: Getting to the first bolt is a bit dodgy. Committing, balancy moves rule the day. Sustained.
Created a Monster: Fun, short route. Substantially easier than Silvery Scream
Scream Dream: Gets progressively steeper and thinner as you go up.
Air Raid: A steep headwall high on the route is the crux. What appears to be a "Thank God" hold is something of a disappointment.

London Wall Had This Dream Stopped 5.11c/d
Dream Speed 5.11a
The Final Cut 5.12b/c
Awkward Instant 5.12a
Mythic Man 5.12a
World on Fire 5.12b/c
The Pursuit 5.12b/c
Liquid Night 5.12c/d
Furry Pump 5.12a
Strange as Angels 5.11d
The Labyrinth 5.11c/d
KAOS 5.11b
Peace Pipe 5.10c
Totem Pole 5.10a
London Wall is about 50 yards downstream from where the access trail meets the stream. Depending on the water level, you may have to cross the stream several times, or clamber up and over obstacles on the east side of the stream in order to reach the wall. In early season or wet years the base of the wall may be under water.

Notes on routes:
Peace Pipe: Wierd, committing moves lead past an overhang to the second bolt. Continued fun climbing to the top.
Totem Pole: Slick rock at the start can increase your heart rate. Grab high above the overhang at the second bolt, step high and commit. Moving fast is key. Follow the arete on the right until about half way up, then look for an opportunity to traverse left, climbing the remainder to the left of the line of bolts. Bolts are awkwardly placed, slightly runout for a sport route. Steel carabiners at the top were wearing thin in June 2005.

Voices Wall Busy Signal 5.6
Voices Hotline 5.6
Is There Anybody Out There 5.6
Party Line 5.7
Bouncing Barnaby Bat's Baffled Bat Brigade 5.7
Alone 5.9
Located just above (west) of the Mushroom Boulder. Fun, easy climbs with steel carabiners at the anchors.
Freezer Burn Wall Irreparable Brain Damage 5.11a/b
Impossible Concentration 5.11c/d
Freezer Burn 5.11a
Burnout 5.11c
Faces and Names 5.11a
Transcendental Escape 5.10b
Freeze Frame 5.9
Head up and left from the Voices Wall.

Notes on routes:
Transcendental Escape: The crux not as hard as it looks. Commit to lieback-ish moves, and reach above the bolt for a big pocket before clipping.
Freeze Frame: The steep crux is easier with a long reach. The big hold on left gets better as you stretch left. Big jug above bolt-- grab it before clipping.

Eagles Roost Buttress Confirmed Insanity 5.11a
Wicked Good Chode 5.10a/b
Bumble Bee's and Moose Antlers 5.10c
Being There 5.7
The Scenic Route 5.8
Bryophyte Balcony 5.10c
The Saprophyte 5.10b
Who Are You? 5.11b/c
Written In Stone 5.11a
Dancing in the Storm 5.10b
F.S.T.D. 5.11c
Belly of the Beast 5.11d
H.B.R.W. 5.11c/5.10c
Snap, Crackle, Take 5.11a
Continue up and left from Voices Wall to reach the base, which can be recognized by the huge chimney/gully heading up and right.

Notes on routes:
Wicked Good Chode: Seems like something broke on the starting moves. Felt a lot harder than 10b.
Being There: Absolute Classic. One long pitch, two raps to ground.
Dancing in the Storm: Classic. 60m. Can be done in two pitches.
H.B.R.W.: Two pitches

Mushroom Boulder Toadstool 5.11d
Vicious Spore 5.13b/c
Fungus 5.13b
Trippin' 5.13a (TR)
Shroomin' 5.11b
Mushroom 5.8
Kill the Spore 5.11b/c
Combucha 5.11a
Organic Psychedelic 5.11a
Located just south of where the acces trail meets the stream.

Notes on routes:
Mushroom: A fun, pumpy climb that get harder as you go up. When in doubt, stay left, except at the top.

Sick Wall Asgard 5.12b
Pathetic Fallacy 5.12b
Evil, Twisted, and Sick 5.12c
G.B.H. 5.12c
Sickness 5.13a
Storm In Heaven 5.12a
New Frontier 5.10c
Located high on the southwest portion of the rock. Continue up and left past Eagles Roost Buttress to a notch, climb over a boulder. Exposed slabs lead to Ego Buttress and Sick Wall. The Ego Buttress is on the left, Sick Wall on the right.

Notes on routes:
New Frontier is a trad climb

Ego Buttress Ego Maniac 5.10b
Negative Ions 5.10b/c (TR)
Anxious Mofo 5.10b/c
Freudian Slip 5.11a
Stone Blind 5.11a
Placebo Effect 5.11a
Shock Therapy 5.10d
Key To Eternity 5.10a
Provocative Redemption 5.10c
Auf Wiedersehen 5.10c
Killer Sun 5.10c
Rubber Room 5.10a
Located high on the southwest portion of the rock. Continue up and left past Eagles Roost Buttress to a notch, climb over a boulder. Exposed slabs lead to Ego Buttress and Sick Wall. The Ego Buttress is on the left, Sick Wall on the right.

Notes on routes:
Killer Sun: 10c is on second pitch.
Key To Eternity 5.10a, eh? Balancy moves at the bottom lead to easier climbing.
Auf Wiedersehen Tricky moves turn pumpy. Dirty and a bit loose near the top. Killer Sun Delicate moves to the first bolt, then a pumpy crux. Easier above.
Rubber Room Wierd but fun moves lead to a steep crux. Hint: use your feet wisely. The chimney to the right is off route.

Headwall/Leaning Pillar Wedding March 5.7
One Move 5.7
Skeleton Approach 5.10c
The Threshold 5.11c
You Are Here 5.10c
Finger Bang 5.11c
Where Was I 5.10d
Diamond Approach 5.10c
Thrillseeker 5.12a/b
Skeletons of Society 5.12d
The Overlord 5.12d
The Prime Directive 5.12b
Solid Emptiness 5.11b/c

Notes on routes:

Waterfall Wall The Invisible King 5.12a
The Evil Twin 5.12c
Carpe Diem 5.11d
Wicked Chimney 5.8 (P1), 10c (P2)
Timber 5.10c
Industrial Disease 5.10c
Valdez 5.10d
Guilty Being White 5.11c
Splish Splash 5.12d
Stigmata 5.12b/c
Short, Steep, Stupid 5.11c/d
The Wicked Garden 5.12d
The Secret Garden 5.12a
The obvious waterstained wall just upstream from the trail/stream intersection.

Notes on routes:

Tombstones Hang 'Em High 5.10d
Twisted Cross 5.10c
Ride the Lightening 5.11a
Ice Queen 5.12a

Notes on routes:

Epitaph Zappa Lives 5.8
Rest In Peace 5.10a
She's An Addiction 5.10b

Notes on routes:
Zappa Lives: Fun!

Ramblin' Wall Ramblin' Man 5.10b
Betty Boop 5.7
Child's Play 5.6
Ganactic 5.8
Grey Matter 5.10c
Darkmotherscream 5.12b/c

Notes on routes:
Ganactic There have been reports that the bolts on the top half of this route have been chopped. Exercise caution!

Pyramid Mischief 5.8
A Touch Of Evil 5.11b
Bottled Violence 5.11c
Downcast 5.11d
Fire Walk With Me 5.12a/b
Annuit Coeptus 5.11a
The Third Eye 5.11b
Sundog 5.8
Hopscotch 5.9
Park Avenue 5.8
Novus Ordo Seclorum 5.8
Golden Dawn 5.10b
Take The Ant Track 5.4

Notes on routes:
Park Avenue: Weird moves at the bottom
Novus Ordo Seclorum: Sustained

Blue Velvet Buttress Lumberton 5.7
Joyride 5.7
Don't Look At Me! 5.10a/b
Do It For Van Gogh 5.10b/c
Here's To Ben 5.10c/d
Hit Me 5.10b
Now It's Dark 5.10c

Notes on routes:

Generation Wall Second Generation 5.10b
Generation Gap 5.9
Days Of Future Past 5.9
Our Children's Children 5.11c/d
Meet The Shaman 5.12c/d
The Shaman 5.11a
Don't Squeeze The Shaman 5.12c/d
Trigger Finger 5.12b/c
The Hired Gun 5.10a
Full Circle 5.10d
Electric Sunshine 5.11b
Wild At Heart 5.11c

Notes on routes:

Secret Garden Left Secret Garden Variation 5.11c/d
Garden Of Stone 5.10d
Garden of Earthly Delights 5.11b
Magic Garden 5.11b
Gravity's Garden 5.11d
New Creatures 5.12b/c
Pretty Hate Machine 5.12a
Terrible Lie 5.11c/d

Notes on routes:

Secret Garden Right Up Above It 5.9
Down In It 5.10b
Broken 5.10c
Stormin' The Castle 5.10d
Digging Your Own Grave 5.10d

Notes on routes:

Straights of Magellan Captain Furious 5.10a
The Flying Dutchman 5.11a
The Southern Cross 5.11b
Don't Feed The Plants 5.11c
Captain Ned & the Raging Queen 5.8
Miles I've Come to Comfort You 5.9

Notes on routes:

Spring Crag Mount Up 5.11c
Stripped Nut 5.10a
Loose Nut 5.11a
The Bandwagon 5.10b/c

Notes on routes:

Red Tape

Williamson Rock lies in the heart of the Angeles National Forest. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required to park in the ANF. Annual passes are $30, and day passes are $5. Passes can be purchased an Forest Service offices and virtually any sporting goods store in Southern California.

No permits are required for hiking or camping. Mayr and Sweeney mention some possible changes in trail access to Williamson in their 1997 edition. Although it’s not clear that anything actually happened, it’s best for climbers to treat this as a wilderness area in order to ensure continued climber access to the crag. Pack it out!

In dry years the Angeles National Forest is subject to fire closures. These closures may last well into the fall or even early winter, depending on when the first substantial rain occurs. If you’re not sure, check the ANF web site for the latest.

Angeles National Forest
701 North Santa Anita Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91006

(626) 574-1613

When To Climb

March-October is the nominal climbing season, though snow conditions and/or your tolerance for cold may dictate otherwise. Even if you are game for a bit of January suffering, the road may not be open to the parking area if there has been recent snowfall.


There are several campgrounds in the ANF, the nearest one being Buckhorn Flat, which is about three miles west of the parking lot on the Angeles Crest Highway. At the time this page was written, though, Buckhorn was closed due to bear activity. When it’s open, it offers 38 first-come, first-served camp sites. Two car, eight person maximum per site, $10 per night. Check the ANF’s web site for additional camping information, including phone numbers for current conditions and additional information.

Guidelines for Route Pages

I'm just a lowly mountain page maintainer, with no real control over what people do in terms of route pages, but to help keep this set of pages reasonably well organized and easy to use I request that people wanting to add route pages kindly follow these guidelines:

  • Please submit routes for named formations (such as those listed below), and not individual routes.
  • When creating a route page, please include most, if not all, of the routes on the wall. I'm okay with not mentioning poor quality routes, but please include hard routes even if you don't think you'll ever be able to climb them. Someone else might find the information useful.
  • Include at least one overview photo or your own original topo that illustrates where each route goes.

If you have suggestions on a better way to present route information please add a comment to this section.

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-12 of 12    
Steve LarsonUntitled Comment

Steve Larson

Hasn't voted

I've added the warning. When did you discover the missing bolts? Are the anchors also gone?
Posted May 27, 2005 11:26 am
darinchadwickUntitled Comment


Voted 10/10

I think it was around 2002, they might be replaced now. I used the anchors on top of Epitaph wall to descend. My guess is that Ganactic was the first route to the summit of Epitaph, and that the bolts were pulled out after they rap bolted the routes on Epitaph. Should ask Troy Mayr about that sometime.
Posted May 28, 2005 7:48 am
Steve LarsonUntitled Comment

Steve Larson

Hasn't voted

Thanks. Next time I'm up there I'll check it out.
Posted May 31, 2005 7:55 pm
darinchadwickUntitled Comment


Voted 10/10

In your route notes, could you please add that the bolts on the top half of Ganactic have been CHOPPED? You might save a life. It was one of the worst inadvertant free solos of my life. At one point I remember screaming 'I came out here to sport climb not to die!'. I wasn't proud, just scared s***less. Anyway, if you could include a warning for Ganatic on your route page to save other whimpy sport climbers (like myself) the excitement of unexpected free soloing....

Posted May 27, 2005 9:09 am
Steve LarsonUntitled Comment

Steve Larson

Hasn't voted

I've added the warning. When did you discover the missing bolts? Are the anchors also gone?
Posted May 27, 2005 11:26 am
darinchadwickUntitled Comment


Voted 10/10

I think it was around 2002, they might be replaced now. I used the anchors on top of Epitaph wall to descend. My guess is that Ganactic was the first route to the summit of Epitaph, and that the bolts were pulled out after they rap bolted the routes on Epitaph. Should ask Troy Mayr about that sometime.
Posted May 28, 2005 7:48 am
Steve LarsonUntitled Comment

Steve Larson

Hasn't voted

Thanks. Next time I'm up there I'll check it out.
Posted May 31, 2005 7:55 pm
MtnHiiiAccess Limited...


Hasn't voted

The Angeles National Forest has closed the road prior to Williamson Rocks in an effort to keep climbers out of the area because they want to protect these endangered frogs that are apparently hanging out there.

The area is not officially closed YET, but it may close soon. You can park up the road, its about a 1/2 mile to 1 mile walk along it to the trailheads mentioned in the descriptions here. A bike makes the trip fairly simple, and you can just chain it up somewhere at the top of the hill.
Posted Mar 14, 2006 11:46 pm
Steve LarsonRe: Access Limited...

Steve Larson

Hasn't voted

Ouch!!! I hadn't heard that. Does the FS have something on the web I can check out for details?
Posted Mar 15, 2006 6:47 am
MtnHiiiRe: Access Limited...


Hasn't voted

Sorry I havent responded for a while. Darren at Newcombs Ranch informed me that Cal-Trans controls the gate, not the Forest Service. They are, more or less, keeping it closed as a 'favor' to the forest service. If you contact them, they will tell you its closed.

Cal-Trans apparently 'accidentally' keeps it open for long periods of times, particularly during the week. My advice would be to call Newcombs Ranch, ask for Darren, and see if he knows if its open. He is a freaking geyser of information. www.newcombsranch.com
Posted May 10, 2006 1:16 am
Steve LarsonRe: Access Limited...

Steve Larson

Hasn't voted

Sure, it's possible to get past the gate, but doing so would be an act of bad faith on the part of the climbing community, and might well have a negative impact on long-term access to the area.
Posted May 10, 2006 12:41 pm
MtnHiiiRe: Access Limited...


Hasn't voted

Heres the press release; interpret it as you will. Ultimately, though, contacting Newcombs Ranch has always provided a realistic opinion to the area I plan on visiting. If they REALLY dont care if you go there, Newcombs will let you know.

ARCADIA, CA: December 23, 2005

In order to protect critical habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog, the U.S. Forest Service will temporarily limit access to approximately 1,000 acres in the area north of the Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) in the vicinity of Cooper Canyon beginning Tuesday, December 27, 2005. This includes Williamson Rock, an area frequented by rock climbers.

At the request of the Angeles National Forest, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will lock the gate at Cedar Springs (near milepost 62 on SR 2), east of the turn-off to Buckhorn Campground and west of the tunnels. Access to Eagles Roost Picnic Area will be walk-in only.

This effort allows the U.S. Forest Service to follow the guidelines for protecting the habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog, an endangered species. Specifically, a Biological Assessment will be undertaken to analyze the effects of human activities (including recreation) within the area which is proposed to be designated as critical habitat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service per the Endangered Species Act.

The Angeles Crest Highway, which is administered by Caltrans, has been closed to through traffic (connecting Wrightwood) since the fall of 2004, due to storm damage. By assisting the Forest Service with restricting use of the highway, an additional mile and a half of the road will be added to the normal seasonal closure.

A portion of the Pacific Crest Trail lies within the impacted area. Hikers can take a detour around the area by departing the trail (northbound) at Eagles Roost and taking the highway to Cloudburst Summit, a distance of 4.5 miles. The U.S. Forest Service has also been meeting with members of the rock climbing community to work on a proposal that may allow climbing to eventually continue at Williamson Rock.

“We look forward to working with these groups,” said Angeles National Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron. “Hopefully, we can arrive at a solution that can allow the recreational activities to continue while conserving the frog habitat. Both are part of our mission.” The Angeles National Forest is located northeast of Los Angeles. It is approximately 655,000 acres in size and includes the San Gabriel Mountains.
Posted May 10, 2006 5:49 pm

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Williamson Rock from the...Williamson Rock from the...Williamson Rock from the...A First LeadView of Epitaph and Ramblin\'...Brian Decker puzzling over...View of the Eagles Roost...
Brian Decker doing the limbo...Williamson Rock from the...Brian Decker meditating on...Williamson RockThere\'s a reason why they...Anonymous climber on...Nice long and easy 5.8 route...
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