Face Lift, 5.7-10a

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.45466°N / 119.6237°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.7 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.7-10a
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 2
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log


Topo of the route
Start options
Top of the route
Looking up the face

Face Lift is the name of a route on San Ysidro Rock in the San Ysidro Canyon in the Santa Ynez Mountains, an area in the Los Padres National Forest of Southern California.

Face Lift was most likely the first route established on San Ysidro Rock. In the beginning, the rock was pretty much covered with lichen and dirt from thousands of years of weathering. Loose blocks were abundant and the rock was buried under a thick layer of vegetation. Many days of hard work cleaning the rock yielded a route snaking its way up the face; hence, Face Lift was produced. The first ascent of this route was done by my friend and climbing partner, the late Rick Mosher in the mid 1970s. When I first climbed on this rock in the early 1980s, there was still a great deal of lichen covering large parts of the rock. Nowadays, however, the rock is clean and very enjoyable.

Route Description:

Face Lift, a short distance to the right of Applied Magnetics, is arguably the most popular route on San Ysidro Rock. It's the only two-pitch route on the entire formation, and it offers several variations from 5.7 to 10a.

Pitch 1: The standard, original route starts on the right side of a large flake about twenty feet to the left of of the prominent gully that splits San Ysidro Rock in half. Some twenty feet above the base you reach a ledge and a bolt.
Note: There is a 10a/b variation to the original start. You can climb a thin face to the same ledge with one bolt high up. Falling before clipping the bolt will not be a pleasant experience.
From the first bolt, head straight up to another bolt. This bolt is close to a dirty crack to your left. Traverse right across the face to another bolt. Then, head straight up to a large stance/mini alcove with a three-bolt anchor. Belay here.

Pitch 2: There are three variations:
1- 5.7, original variation: Head up and left to easy ledges and the top.
2- 5.9 variation: From the anchor head straight up to a hole and a bolt. Climb past this hole on face moves past another bolt and the top.
3- 10a variation: From the hole above the anchor, climb up and right and head for the highest point on the face past more bolts.


The best way to descend is to rappel from the anchor bolts on top of several routes as the erosion has turned the gully into NOT the best option.

Essential Equipment:

Carry a 60 meter rope and a small rack of nuts and cams to 1 inch and five quick draws.

Getting There

San Ysidro Creek
From Highway 101 take the San Ysidro Exit and head toward the mountains. Drive to Montecito Village where San Ysidro Road intersects East Valley Road. Turn right on East Valley Road and cross a small bridge to Park Lane. Turn left on Park Lane and veer left onto Mountain Drive. A short drive up Mountain Drive will bring you to the trailhead sign. Park off the pavement, please. We’d like to keep the access open and free.

Head up the well marked San Ysidro to Camino Cielo trailhead passed private properties and public and fire roads. There is a locked gate for fire trucks. Go around this gate. In about fifteen ten minutes you will see the main rock formation on your left. About 200 hundred feet before reaching the rock, drop down a short distance and cross the creek on rocks. A short hike up the canyon will bring you to the first climb, Vanishing Flakes. Walk past Vanishing Flakes and Applied Magnetics to a large flake some twenty feet to the left of the prominent gully. Face Lift starts on the right side of the flake.

Important Note:

Lookout for poison oak when crossing the creek. I have seen poison oak even closer to the rock.
For what poison oak looks like see the next chapter.

Poison oak

Poison oakpoison oak, note the three petal grouping

I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, however, a tip from a friend has saved my life many time for the past fifteen years. The tip is that if you rub alcohol where you think you may have come in contact with poison oak the oils will break down before they have time to penetrate the skin. I carry a small bottle of rubbing alcohol with me for that exact purpose. I am extremely allergic to Poison Oak, and I have not had any allergic reactions since I started this practice.

For more discussion on the treatment for poison oak exposure and sensitivity see the following link:

Poison Oak



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.