Ending Crack is the name of a route on Black Wall
, also known as “Sespe Wall, in the mountains north of the town of Ojai, California.
Ending Crack, formerly known as “straight Up Crack,” is the most prominent feature on Black Wall. This beautiful two pitch route is about two hundred feet long and splits the wall into two halves. Ending Crack is probably the most popular route on the entire face, but not the oldest. The credit for the original route on the face should go to its neighbor “Tree Root,” formerly known as “Tree Route.”
A Personal Note: The first time I climbed on Ending Crack in the the early 1970s, only the first half of the crack was clear of lichen. At that time doing the second pitch was like playing Russian Roullet with your life. I guess I was too young, or too stupid to know better when I thought that somehow I could find a way up the lichen-covered upper face when the crack ended. All I remember from that experience now is that it was cold and windy, my eyes were full of dirt, and I was clawing at the rock forty feet above the belay with zero protection in place. How I lived through that late afternoon remains a mistery to me to this day.
The second pitch of Ending Crack is now a clean and beautiful face/crack climb that can be protected and like the first pitch goes as 5.7. Local climbers have moved the end of the first pitch much higher than the original and placed beefy bolts to anchor several climbers. The days of a single 1/4 bolt half way up the face for your anchor are long gone. There are also bolt anchors near the top for belaying the second pitch and rapelling the route. No need to climb to the very top and descend a very unpleasant broken south shoulder.
The base of the climb is right next to a running creek. On a warm summer day you can look for a swimming hole up and down this creek. The holes aren’t big enough to swim in, but you can cool down nicely and have lunch in the shade of many trees nearby.
Descent: Two separate two-rope rappels should get you to the base.
Directions to Black Wall of Sespe Gorge cannot be simpler. From Highway 101 and the city of Ventura, California, take Highway 33 north for 13.2 miles to its junction with Maricopa Road in the town Ojai. Turn left here onto Maricopa and drive another twenty miles. You will see Black Wall to your left across the creek.
Unlike in the mountains of Santa Barbara, there are a number of campgrounds along Highway 33 on your way to Black Wall. Wheeler Gorge Campground is one. If you want to camp closer to town, there are many State Beach campgrounds along the beaches of Ventura County.
The following links should help you find a suitable spot for camping.
Ventura Beach Camping
Wheeler Gorge Campground/Ventura, Ojai camping
Emma Wood State Beach
Essential GearStandard rack of nuts and cams up to two inches.