Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Lat/Lon: 37.60562°N / 119.02082°W
County: Mono
Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope
Elevation: 8900 ft / 2713 m


Left formation, left and middle section

Horseshoe Slabs are two neighboring rock formations in the Mammoth Lakes area of the Eastern Sierras in California.

Left slableft slab

As indicated by their name, these two formations are low angle and joined by a rocky gully. These two granite slabs are between sixty and eighty feet in height and several hundred feet long. The approach trail takes you past Horseshoe Lake, with one of its shores completely void of living plants.Volcanic fumes seeping up into the lake itself and the surrounding areas have created a toxic wasteland. Regardless of this geologic phenomenon, there is a very popular trail just beyond the devastated area that gets heavily used by runners, hikers, climbers and sled dogs in training. I have gone through the area a number of times and have never sensed any odors from volcanic chemicals. But the landscape alone speaks volumes as to the hidden forces at play here.
right slabright slab

The combination of a ten minute approach and two low angle formations are enough to make Horseshoe Slabs a very popular spot for families. You often see young, and not so young, parents teaching their kids the ABCs of rock climbing on these two rocks. Horseshoe Slabs are more like a picnic area than a rock climbing one. If the kids aren’t struggling up the rock, they may be building structures using dead tree branches. Generally speaking, Horseshoe Slabs area is a fun place to spend a few hours.

Routes of Horseshoe Slabs

Routes of the left slabLeft Slab

For many years Horseshoe Slabs have been an area where you bring your family or friends to top rope climbs. During the past several years, however, several of the routes were bolts into sport routes, and some even have names. The days of designating only numbers to the routes are slowly disappearing. I have also noticed that a number of climbs on the left formation have bolted anchors. I feel that this new development has made Horseshoe Slabs a safer rock to play on. The old trees that were used for anchors were either dead or about to die. To set up anchors on the left formation, which is the steeper and more difficult of the two, you need to take several long slings to help get close to the edge to use the bolt anchors. Put yourself on belay and be safe.

Routes of the right slabRight Slab

The right formation is much lower angle than the left one thus contains easier climbs. The left crack on the right slab is called “Rodeo Rider” rated at 5.6, and it’s a great beginner route. This climb can be done on lead with a standard rack and even has its own bolted anchor.

It is possible that, in time, all the routes on the two Horseshoe Slabs will get their own three point bolted anchors; however, at the present time most climbers use the trees on top as anchors. The approach to the top is done via the right side.

Climbs of Horseshoe Slabs
ATop Rope, 5.8
BTop rope, 5.7, follow the left wide black streak
CWrangler, 5.8, bolts and gear, standard Rack. Follow the right black streak.
DHorseman, 10a, bolts to a good anchor
ESlab, 5.9, top rope to a good anchor. Many possible variations.
FTop rope a slab, 5.7
GCow Puncher, 5.6, left prominent crack, standard rack
Htop rope a slab, 5.7
IRodeo Rider, 5.6, right prominent crack, standard rack
JTop Rope, 5.9, slab
KBlacksmith, 5.8, bolt and gear, standard rack

The left formation, far left
Left formation, left and middle section
The left formation, right side
left formation, right of center
The left formation, right side


There are many campgrounds in the town of Mammoth Lakes. During the summer months, these campgrounds always seem to be full to the brim. I personally prefer to look for camping possiblities ouside of the town boundries. There are many other campgrounds on the way to Mammoth Lakes that can be used. There is another option; during the summer months motel rates drop dramatically making them a desirable way to spend a few nights in luxury. Needless to mention, amenities abound.

The folowing link should help finding accomodations.

you ask about Lake George campground and Lake Mary campground,

you may want to try the following links for camping outside of the town of Mammoth Lakes:

Horton Creek Campground

Rock Creek Canyon

Inyo National Forest

Bishop Creek and vicinity camping

How to get there

Bad Beach...
Dead forest...
From the town of Bishop on Highway 395 drive about forty miles to its intersection with Highway 203, Mammoth Lakes. Drive into the town of Mammoth Lakes and pass its intersection with Minaret Road at a traffic signal. Go straight at this point. The name changes to Lake Mary Road. Continue up Lake Mary Road for five miles to Horseshoe Lake. This is where you will see the devastation caused by volcanic fumes seeping up leaving the lake and the immediate areas near the lake void of plant life. Park here and follow an obvious trail skirting the lake. After five to seven minutes and crossing a few bridges look to your right for Horseshoe Slabs behind the trees.

External Links