Castle Rock Spire, Regular Route, IV, 5.11 or 5.9 A1

Castle Rock Spire, Regular Route, IV, 5.11 or 5.9 A1

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 36.49930°N / 118.7117°W
Additional Information Route Type: Technical backcountry rock climb
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: IV, 5.8 or 5.9, A1 (or 5.11+)
Sign the Climber's Log


Please note: The following descriptions are from the notes I took in 1988, when Miguel Carmona and I did the 15th ascent of this route. The approach is difficult and in some years, full of Poison Oak. I would recommend bringing two complete sets of clothing. One set: long pants, long socks, long sleeve shirts, hats, ankle high shoes and thin gloves for the approach. Second set to climb in. This just might avoid getting Poison Oak on you.
Follow the trail of Paradise Creek untill you lose it to your right. After some 200 yards, we came upon large, dead tree. Close by we found faint trail going up toward the ridge. We soon lost the trail but followed the hill upward to the crest, with several detours to bypass heavily forested and overgrown areas. Extreme ammounts of Poison Oak everywhere. At the top of the ridge, we traversed toward secod ridge, coming from the left. Soon we found an old faint trail leading toward the rocks. Follow the trail past at least three distinct gullies, until a large cairn is found in the fourth gully. Go back about 150 feet, follow the right hand side of the gully (it forms an indistinct buttress). Follow the gully upward for several hundred feet over very steep and difficult terrain until you reach a huge boulder about 200 yards below the main wall. The boulder is on the RIGHT side of the gully! There are three bivi spots at the base of this boulder, also showel and a wood saw. Fire ring is provided.

Route Description

The approach gully starts at the "Silver Lining" trees and takes about 1.5 hours. In early season, the gully might have a frozen snow in it and might require ice axe and crampons. After scouting the notch behind the spire and founding it horribly loose, we decided the obvious, and next morning, climbed the left side of the buttress for two pitches . This variation completely avoids scrambling up all the way to the notch and provides clean and aesthetic start to the climb. One pitch of 5.8 and one of 5.9+. The second pitch ends at the terminus of the original 4th class traverse. 3rd pitch-Squeze into the chimney (behind flake), drop down to obvious flared corner.4th pitch-A1 up the corner, old bolt half way up, pass roof to the left. There is only one bolt to the left of the roof. Some difficult free moves from your aiders here. The pitch ends in a small stance under overhang.
5th pitch- Start to the right of the roof, follow the right edge of the roof up. The crack is there higher up but the climbing is hard and pro not that great (5.9?). Pitch 6- There is an old bolt a few moves above the belay, but is awkward to get to. The moves above the bolt are 5.9 and the easy chimney (described in Roper's) is 5.8. Pitch 7- A1 crack with 5.9 moves higher up, very aesthetic climbing. Pitch 8- Climb to the notch, then to the summit.

Essential Gear

Rack: complete set of SLCDs (we had Friends), 2 sets of Wires, lot of slings (8-10 for the raps), etriers, knife to cut old slings, hammer to test old pitons and possibly bolt kit to replace the 1950s home made bolts.
Time for average party : approach 1.5 hours, climbing 8-10 hours, raps 4 hours, back to camp 1 hour.
This is one of the best rock climbs I have ever done in my life. I would recommend both the Silver Lining on the Fin and this route as absolute must for backcountry climbers seeking solitude combined with superb climbing. Stay an extra day and climb both of these routes. You will be glad you did. These are two of the most aesthetic, classic backcountry climbs of the Western High Sierra!

Miscellaneous Info

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