Tree Root, 5.5

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Trad Climbing
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Less than two hours
Rock Difficulty:
5.5 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Tree Root, 5.5
Created On: Feb 8, 2010
Last Edited On: Feb 8, 2010


Topo of Tree Root
on pitch 1

Tree Root is the name of a route on Black Wall/Sespe Wall in the mountains north of the town of Ojai, California.

It is reasonable to assume that Tree Root, formerly known as “Tree Route,” is the oldest technical route climbed on Black Wall. According to Steve Tucker’s guide book to this area, Santa Barbara’s own Herb Rickert played a role in the first ascent of Tree Root, or at least doing the first pitch, in the later part of the 1950s. By the early 1960s the entire route was cleaned and done on lead. By the time I arrived at the scene in 1969, the route was clean and the rock was pretty much free of lichen.

The route Tree Root takes the path of least resistance up the middle of the face for nearly three hundred feet. This is an enjoyable climb that can be done in two pitches, but it’s best done in three. To the right of a straight up crack known as Ending Crack, you will see another crack system with five trees growing out of it. The first tree is the largest and it has been there for at least fifty years. The crack system that leads from tree to tree is your route.

On pitch 1
Starting pitch 2

Pitch 1, 5.5: Start near a pine tree on face moves up and left to gain a crack leading to the first tree. Climb the crack to the first tree. A bolt anchor has been put here so you can avoid using the tree. If you see old slings around the tree, cut them.

Pitch 2, 5.5: If you have a long rope you can climb all the way to the top; otherwise do the next section in two pitches. The crack heads up and left following a series of smaller trees growing out of the crack. There is another bolt anchor just before topping out, and reaching the end of your climb.

To descend: Rapel down Ending Crack using the two main anchor points on that route. Rapelling your route is a bit problematic since the rope can get tangled up in the trees.

Essential Gear: Standard rack, pro up to three inches.

How to get there

Views of the surrounding areas
Nearing Pitch 1 anchor

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.


Views of the surrounding areas

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/Ojai weather

Ventura Beach Camping

Wheeler Gorge Campground/Ventura, Ojai camping

Emma Wood State Beach


Black Wall/Sespe Wall

Ending Crack

Ventura/Ojai weather

Ventura Beach Camping

Wheeler Gorge Campground/Ventura, Ojai camping

Emma Wood State Beach