Winter Wall is the only area of Diablo Canyon I have climbed (2006) to date. It is a 300’ tall and broad basalt wall on the right side of Diablo Canyon (north). This seems to be the most popular wall as it becomes warm enough to climb most all year round. Most routes have undergone extensive cleaning. Winter Wall has at least 17 sport and trad routes up to 3 pitches in length ranging from 5.8 to 5.12d on the “Cave”.
Winter Wall (obviously) offers the best winter climbing. Its southern exposure makes it much more tolerable during the winter months than Early Wall and Grotto. It features the 3-pitch Sun Devil route (5.11b/c-1999-Bradshaw-Smith-Wehner) which has become a local classic.
The approach is simple, the only cairned trail on the right (north) takes you to the base of Winter Wall. The trail meets the wall at Post Moderate. You can orientate yourself from there.
Here is a listing of the established routes when I visited Winter Wall (left to right):
Crux is pulling the roof. 13 bolts to anchor.
Crux is face climbing. 14 bolts to anchor.
Some quick draws are fixed. 10 bolts to anchor.
Clovis Hunter- 5.12a/
Overhang. 9 bolts to anchor.
Sun Devil Wall
Sun Devil Crack- 2 Pitches- 5.10+/
Ken Sims-1980/ The opening scene in the movie “All the Pretty Horses” supposedly pans up to Sun Devil Wall.
Sun Devil- 3 Pitches- 5.11b-c/
Bradshaw-Smith-Wehner-1999/ This is the classic route and tallest cliff at Diablo Canyon. The roof on pitch 2 is the crux.
Kaboom- 3 Pitches- 5.9/
Jamming and Stemming on pitch 2 is the crux. Walk off route.
Basalt Therapy- 5.10c/
Trad-Sport combo. Bolts provided for the thin sections. Two rope rappel.
Grape Ape- 5.10c/
Technical roof serves as the crux, but is followed up by a thin headwall as well. Two ropes for rap.
Highly Caffeinated- 5.10-/
Post Moderate- 5.9/
The best moderate route at Diablo. Good place to get centered on Winter Wall. Start is easy to locate at an old fence post. 17 bolts to anchor. Two ropes to rap.
Highway to Hell- 5.9/ Trad Route to chains (seems more like 5.8 or 5.7 to me). Two ropes to rap.
Original Face Route- 5.8/
Trad route with bolts over thin section. Again, seems 5.7. The whole area might be rated a little high.
Blind Faith- 5.11a/
Good moves and daunting exposure on increasingly difficult and sustained rock. Use long draws for the bolts under the roofs to minimize the rope drag. The climb is 10+ until the last few moves. Two rope rappel.
Roid Boys- 5.10a/
A series of roofs. 7 bolts to anchor.
Old Sling- 5.8/
Crack trad route right of Roid, same anchor.
Trad route that uses a hand crack through a roof.
Protein Supplement- 5.10/
Trad/Sport, 6 bolts to anchor.
7 bolts to anchor, nothing special.
Essential GearYou definitely want double ropes for this wall.
Due to the daily freeze-thaw cycles, Winter Wall is known for its loose rock, some large pieces too. I definitely advise a helmet.
Just need tennis shoes or sandals for the approach. Bring your full on trad gear, the routes are quite mixed. There is better sport climbing in Grotto across the way if you are not into trad.