The west face of Gibraltar Rock is about 140 feet, and it contains some of the most popular and difficult climbs in the area. It features the steepest and highest of all the faces on Gibraltar Rock. However, due to the featureless and fragile sandstone nature of the rock, the lower half lacks in quality climbs. Looking up from the base, the left hand face_ wich is adjacent to the west face_ has the most number of cracks and features making it desirable for down climbing, or easy beginner top roping.
Mid Section of the west face
The lower half of T-Crack
The most important feature of the west face is a prominent crack system in the middle of the face. This is T-Crack, a hand crack rated at 10a. The climb begins with a dynamic lay back and high step move leading to a good hand jam. Continue up the crack to a T-shape crack, hence the name. Move right for several feet, then go straight up to a good ledge. Move left and up to a wild mantle to another crack in a small ceiling. Overcome a layback move to your right to a finger crack and the top. There are at least two different variations to top out on T-Crack. The most popular of these is as follows: after getting to the “T” continue traversing right to an alcove and ascend an easy chimney to the top.
Van, no leg loops!
Yours Truly, early 90s
Self Reflection, 11 b
This very thin bolted climb is located on the upper portion of the west face. It starts from the obvious ledge roughly two thirds up the west face. There is a three bolt anchor and the climb goes up a steep and thin bolted face.
Mirror in the Bathroom 10+, C2 This is not a very popular climb and it involves some aid climbing.
Locate an overhanging face to the right of start of T-Crack. Using bolts and cracks aid up the over hang, then climb a thin face using more bolts and a bit more aid to get to the top.
Assorted cams, nuts, quick draws and slings.
For top roping T-Crack you don't need a 60 meter rope. However, if you are planning to lead the climb from the bottom to the top in one pitch, a sixty meter rope will come in handy.
Snowy day at the crag
How to get to Gibraltar Rock
Before I could free climb T-Crack, 1970
From Highway 101 take the Las Positas off ramp. For those coming from the south turn right; for those coming from the north turn left. In either case, drive toward the mountains to the north of Santa Barbara. Continue up Las Positas for .85 miles to State Street, where the name of Las Positas changes to San Roque. Continue driving straight toward the mountains until you come to HWY 192 (Foothill Road) in another .5 mile. Turn right at the intersection and continue up Foothill Road for 1.9 miles to its intersection with Mountain Drive. Turn left onto Mountain Drive and drive for .5 mile to its intersection with Gibraltar Road. Gibralatr Rock is about five miles from this point. You will recognize Gibraltar Rock located to the west of the road when you begin to see a large sandstone formation immediately to your right (east side of the road). This formation is “The Bolt Ladder.” Gibraltar Rock is a little further up the road and to your left. There are ample turnouts for parking between here and the next two turns in the road.
How to get to The West Face
There are at least two different ways to approach the west face.
1- Via the Peanut Gallery: Walk and scramble on the north side of the main formation to reach a short steep gully. Down climb this gully to the Peanut Gallery which is roughly half way down the east face. There are two bolts on the ledge for rappelling to the base or belaying and top roping.
2- Via the base of the main formation: The obvious path that takes you down to the base of Gibraltar Rock can be followed around to the base of the west face.
Unfortunately, there are no campgrounds close and convenient to Gibraltar Rock.
However, there is one very large and well developed campground at Cachuma Lake, and a few less developed ones along Paradise Road off Highway 154. There are also a few campgrounds along Highway 101 at El Capitan State Park and Refugio State Park.
There are no permits required to climb on Gibraltar Rock or any of the subsidiary formations. However, the forest service requires a permit for entering the "High Impact Areas." Gibraltar Road is not considered as High Impact Area, however, you may need one for camping or parking in the areas designated as such. For more information on such areas, please contact the Santa Barbara Ranger District, 805-967-3481.
Mountain Air Sports 14 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA. 93101 805-962-0049
Big 5 Sporting Goods 3935 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA. 93105 805-964-4749
Santa Barbara Ranger District 3505 Paradise Rd, Santa Barbara, CA. 93105 805-967-3481
There is an excellent guide book by Steve Tucker and Kevin Steele called Climbing in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo.