Although the routes at Arbor Wall are short ones, the wall is worth a visit for a few reasons:
- There are some good moderates, including one of the best (and most unique) 5.8s in the park.
- It is an uncrowded alternative to highly popular walls like Dead Cats and Prototype, likely because the routes are shorter and the approach is longer. On a recent day when Dead Cats was packed with what appeared to be at least 30 people, most of them part of a large guided group, my climbing partner and I finished up at Serpent's Wall and then hiked past Dead Cats to Arbor, where there were no other climbers.
- Some of the routes are fairly new. This, combined with the lighter traffic, means you get sharp, sticky rock. Your hands might take a beating and you might even donate some blood, but I think it beats the polish you often find on routes at the more popular walls.
Central Texas Mountaineers
does a nice job maintaining routes out here, but their hard work has also spoiled climbers somewhat. Many routes in the area have sport clips at the anchors, and thus a lot of climbers do not know how to make and clean anchors on bolts, rings, and chains. If you climb at Arbor Wall, be aware that most, if not all, routes have just chains at the anchors. Local ethics dictate that you lower and TR off your own gear and that the last climber cleans the anchors and raps down. If you don't have the gear and the know-how to do these things, stick with places like Dead Cats that have the sport clips.
Austin Climbing: Sport Routes & Deep Water Solos by John Hogge, who has been heavily involved in route development in the Austin area, is the best source of climbing information for this area, but there is a mistake in one of the route diagrams, resulting in some routes being mislabeled. In one case, this tells the reader that an 11c is a 5.8. See the Routes section for details and corrections.
Arbor Wall-- The Smoking Lounge
Reimers Ranch is located off Hamilton Pool Road about 6 miles west of its intersection with Ranch Road 12. It is about 45 minutes west from downtown Austin.
Once through the entrance station, drive about 1.8 mi and turn left into a large parking area signed for a pavilion and for climbing access.
Now you have two options to get to Arbor Wall. For your first visit, I recommend using the first option for the approach and the second to return, as it is a little easier to find and follow the second option from the crag.
Option 1: Park as close to the left end of the lot as possible. A sign points the way to "Climbers Canyon." Hike the trail and then drop into the top of the "canyon" where a spring creates a stream that soon empties into the Pedernales River. This stream includes a waterfall and some deep pools that are great places to cool off after climbing on a hot day. Hike by or through the stream until a trail becomes apparent. The trail through Sex Canyon (very slick in some spots) splits a number of times. Stay on the main path, not crossing the stream, until you reach a spot where a large fallen tree crosses the trail. Step over that tree and continue. After a short uphill stretch, you will see a spur leading to Serpent's Wall. Keep going; soon you approach Dead Cats. Look for the trail branching left and then bypassing Dead Cats below it. Follow this trail (can be a bit muddy and brushy) about 5 more minutes to Arbor Wall. It's easily recognizable by the huge hueco that is on the 8 It Grand (5.8) route.
Option 2: This is the shortest approach; some use it as a shortcut to Dead Cats. Park at the right end of the lot. Take trails that head toward a large chimney structure. Before you reach a bend where the wall parallels the clifftop and the Pedernales River, there is a sign with climbing regulations, and a trail that takes you into a small drainage. Cross the drainage before things cliff out and then scramble down to the trail below. Make a narrow traverse under an overhang (watch your head if you're tall) and then intersect the main access trail close to 8 It Grand.
There actually is a third option: from the right end of the lot, you can hike roughly parallel to the river until the trail goes down to Hand Beyond Wall, the northernmost wall at Reimers. Then you head south for a few minutes to reach Arbor Wall. This approach is roughly the same length as Option 1 but is much less scenic.
Arbor Wall-- Left End
From left to right as you face the wall, these are the bolted lines (some have harder TR or lead variations):
- The Finest and the Flyest (5.11b PG)
- Ferntasm Twice Removed (5.11b)
- Left of Ferntasm (5.11a)
- Ferntasm (5.10b R)
- George of the Jungle (5.10b R)
- Deferred Adjudication (5.11b)
- Arboricidal Tendencies (5.11b)
- Cliptomania (5.11a)
- Mrs. Johnson (5.10b)
- Serpentine Crack (5.7)-- Often wet. Feels stiff for a Reimers 5.7, but everything's there.
- Hack in the Fast Lane (5.9)-- Crux is the slabby start but is not as hard as it looks.
- Arbortary (5.8-5.9)-- 5.8 if you go left from the 3rd bolt, 5.9 if you go straight up. Do it both ways.
- Burning Bush (5.11c)
- Chainsaw (5.10d)
- Juniper (5.11a)
- 8 It Grand (5.8)-- Unique route and among the best 5.8 routes at Reimers.
- Kindling (5.10-5.11)
Arbor Wall-- Cliptomania (5.11a)
Arbor Wall-- Serpentine Crack (5.7)
Arbor Wall-- Hack in the Fast Lane (5.9)
Arbor Wall-- Arbortary (5.8/5.9)
Arbor Wall-- Burning Bush (5.11c) and Chainsaw (5.10d)
Arbor Wall-- 8 It Grand (5.8)
Comments and Corrections
The guidebook has a picture that mistakenly labels some of the routes. 5.9 Hack in the Fast Lane is marked as 5.7 Serpentine Crack, 5.8-5.9 Arbortary is called Hack in the Fast Lane, 5.11c Burning Bush is named as Arbortary, and 5.10d Chainsaw is denoted as Burning Bush. Please use the pictures above, and their captions, to identify the routes.
The daily entry fee is currently $10. Annual passes are $100 and well worth it if you climb here a lot. I bought an annual pass in August and by October had come out more than 10 times. Plus, the annual pass is good for all Travis County parks. Unfortunately, the pass is a windshield decal, not a card. If you want a duplicate pass for a second vehicle, you get to pay $50 for it. Nice racket they have going there.
Opening and closing times vary by the season. Check the park website
When to Climb
All year. Most of the walls face west.
In the very hot summer, climb here in the early morning or the late afternoon.
None inside the park.
About 7 miles east on Hamilton Pool Road is Rock Dog
, owned and operated by local climbers. I've never been there but have heard the owners are awesome climbers and awesome people. I also hear that the rich neighbors hate the place, so if you don't live locally, stay there and do your part to give the middle finger to the snobs.