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Climbing Questionstop of page

  1. What's the weather like?
  2. Should I bring a helmet?
  3. Guides and Classes?
  4. How strong is Pinnacles rock?
  5. Where can I Top Rope in the Park?

How hot or cold does it get in the park?

According to the Western Regional Climate Center (which has been tracking data since 1948) average temperatures look like this:

Month: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Ave. 
Daily 
Highs:
high 50s
to
low 60s
low 60s mid to
high 60s
high 60s
to
low 70s
mid to
high 70s
mid to
high 80s
Month: Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ave. 
Daily 
Highs:
mid to
high 90s
mid to
high 90s
high 80s
to
low 90s
high 70s
to
low 80s
high 60s
to
low 70s
low 60s

= Very Hot -
Temperatures often in excess of 100°
Too hot to climb, bring extra water
 
= Hot to Very Hot -
Temperatures often in the 90s
Still pretty hot, keep that extra water
 
= Hot -
Pleasant if you like things a little warm, mid 80s
 
= Warm to Hot-
Pleasant, might get a bit hot around noon
 
= Warm -
Still very pleasant, can get cold in the shadows
 
= Cool to Warm -
Still quite climable, but can get pretty chilly in the shadows
 
= Cold -
Frequent temperatures in the 50's

It is not uncommon for the winds to pick up in the afternoon around 2 or 3:00 and please make sure to bring extra water in those hot months.

For today's temperature and this weeks forecast see our Home page.

Should I bring a helmet?

Absolutely! Pinnacles rock is notoriously loose. The belayer is especially at risk on many of the classic routes in The Park.

No kidding. Rockfall is, by far, the number one cause of climbing-related injury at Pinnacles.

Climb Safe and Climb On!

Where can I find a guide or classes for Pinnacles?

There are several Guiding Services and some of the local gyms offer classes, as well as Guided trips to Pinnacles.

See our Guiding Services pages for a complete listing.

How strong is Pinnacles rock? Would a well set bolt fail before the rock?

Pinnacles rock is volcanic in origin - basically a rhyolitic, magma slurry. As the flowing magma from the areas volcanoes cooled it picked up rocks that remain embedded in the resulting formations. These rocks range from pebbles to car-sized boulders. Uplift and erosion created the formations we see today from those magma fields.

So, what does all this mean in terms of rock strength? Sadly, the truth is you can't say. The quality of the rock can vary dramatically over an area of just inches. Some rock can approach the quality of granite while other simply qualifies as hardened mud. This is precisely why you see seasoned Pinnacles climbers tapping the rock - listening for the tell tale hollow sound that belies weaker rock.

The answer to your specific question is understandably complicated by these factors; A perfectly placed bolt in bad rock is still a bad bolt. Never the less, I think it is safe to say that a well placed bolt in "ideal" Pinnacles rock, subject to repeated falls, will require replacement before the rock fails. The trick is determining if the rock is ideal. Of course, we have completely ignored the factors inherent to the bolt itself: length, width, type - all will play a part in the final equation.

Here are some basic tips:

  • Never assume that a bolt is bomber - the unexpected WILL happen
  • Avoid over-relying on bolts - when working a route try to set a top-rope rather than taking repeated falls on any bolt
  • When climbing, always inspect bolts for any visual problems
  • Use the "tapping" method, near and around the bolt to help identify hollow-sounding rock
  • When placing bolts at Pinnacles use the "tapping" method to determine the most solid rock in a given area
  • If you identify a questionable bolt let Friends Of Pinnacles know about it and we will try to get it replaced.

Where can I Top Rope in the Park?

We get a lot of requests for where climbers, new to the park, can go to Top Rope.

The unfortunate answer is that Pinnacles is primarily a lead climbing area. It does not offer a lot of good top roping options and the best of what there is requires a bit of a hike.

Given that, here's the skinny on the TR options:

Please Note: All page numbers are relative to the current Brad Young guide.

East Side Top Roping

  • Top Rope Wall - aka Top Rope Wall (pg. 86):
    This wall is just off of the Rim Trail next to The Camel. It is relatively easy to walk to the top of the rock to set up an array of top rop problems ranging from 5.4 to 5.10.
    The base of the rock is on uneven terrain. Please be aware of erosion potential.
    Be aware of loose rock on top of the formation.
  • The Carousel (pg. 155):
    The routes on the Carousel are shorter, but it's further from the crowds and gets more sun. The base is flat and the scenery is great.
    A 3rd/4th class scramble is required to get to the top. Routes range from 5.6 to 5.10.
  • Tourist Trap (pg. 38):
    If you have 180' rope, it is possible to top rope Tourist Trap, BUT to get to the top you need to hike around behind the formation via the High Peaks Trail. Look for the obvious Climber's Access sign.
    Bring long runners and possibly some supplemental gear to back up anchors.
    Tourist Trap is an Erosion Sensitive area. Please observe restrictions.
  • The Back Door (pg. 83):
    If you have a little more experience and are looking for a challenge, this is a great area. Several of the routes on this wall can be top roped and the anchors are easily accessed via the Rim Trail near the Reservoir.
    Although you can walk to the base via scramble from the Caves Trail, it is best to rappel to the base from the anchors and climb out when you are finished. Use caution regarding knocking down loose rocks.
    Bring long runners for extending setups.
  • Upper Crust (pg. 88):
    With a 180' rope, SOME of the routes on the Upper Crust can be top roped. Bring extra long runners for extending setups.
    Use caution when walking along the cliff edge - watch for loose rock and be aware of erosion problems.

West Side Top Roping

One of the best things about choosing the West Side for top roping is that most of the opportunities are close to the parking area.

  • Passion Play Wall (pg. 258):
    A 3rd class scramble will get you to the anchors above the climbs in this beautiful setting next to the stream. Try not to get wet stepping across to the climbs.
    Routes from 5.5 to 5.9
  • The Bouldering Rock (pg. 270):
    Although short there are a ton of problems on this rock ranging from 5.0 to 5.11. There is one top rope anchor protecting one of the taller faces.
  • The Rookie (pg. 271):
    The Rookie is a large boulder right next to The Bouldering Rock. A 4th class scramble takes you to the top where you can set up the 5.10+, overhanging jug fest on the back.
    Bring long runners for the setup.
  • Even Coyotes (pg. 302):
    The base of this formation is just off of the Balconies Cave Trail, but the top is best approached from the Balconies Trail above.
    You may want to bring long runners to reduce drag since the climb is dome-like and a 180' rope is recommended.
    Use extreme caution during setup and while climbing since this route is near the trail below.

Additional West Side Options

  • Chockstone Dome (pg. 304):
    I hesitate to mention Chockstone because it requires that you lead to the top before setting up a TR and although the Regular Route is only rated 5.3, it is NOT for beginners. This is a serious lead with potential for injury. BUT, if you are comfortable with the lead, the routes on the West face are great routes and the setting is perfect with its large, flat slab for staging.
    Beware of potential poison oak in the immediate area.
  • Smiling Simian (pg. 301):
    Although this formation has a 4th class route to the top, it is a serious endeavor and extreme caution is advised.
    This formation offers lots of options in a small package.
    Be aware that this formation is part of the annual raptor closures area.
  • Osiris (pg. 299):
    Although this formation has a 4th class route to the top, it is a serious endeavor and extreme caution is advised.
    This formation contains 'Escape From Solodad' - a wonderful 5.10 and at least one other TR opportunity.

Top Roping Etiquette:

  • Lead climbers have the right of way
  • NEVER top rope through rappel anchors or bolts. ALWAYS create your own setup following best practices for anchor setup.
  • Avoid attaching your setup to rappel anchors
  • If you can't avoid using the rappel anchor, NEVER clip your setup into the end links of the chains. Clip the bolts or first chain links.
  • Always yell ROPE before throwing down your rope during set up.
  • Watch for loose rock when walking around at the top of any climb - ASSUME that there are people below.

Act responsibly and climb on!

General Park Questionstop of page

  1. Dogs at the park?
  2. Camping on the West side?
  3. What's the weather like?
  4. Which is better, East or West side?
  5. How do I get to the park?

Can I bring my dog to the Park?

Yes and no. You can bring your dog and keep him/her on a leash in the parking and picnic areas. Dogs are not allowed on the trails - even with a leash.

The following is from the National Park Service Web site:

"If you plan on hiking, it is probably best to leave your dog at home. Pinnacles is an important place for wildlife, and dogs can leave behind scents that disrupt the natural patterns of local animals. "

Why is camping no longer permitted on the West side?

Unfortunately, the official word on the west side campground is that it will not be replaced.

The old campground was right in the flood plain, and it had been rebuilt a few times. When it was wiped out again by the '98 floods, it was decided to leave it as a day-use area.

There are "rumors" about trying to find a spot for a new campground closer to the west park boundary, or trying to encourage a private landowner to build a campground just outside the boundary. Either of these options would probably take years.

Camping on the West side was the best, but for the time being we'll have to go without.

How hot or cold does it get at the park?

According to the Western Regional Climate Center (which has been tracking data since 1948) average temperatures look like this:

Month: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Ave. 
Daily 
Highs:
high 50s
to
low 60s
low 60s mid to
high 60s
high 60s
to
low 70s
mid to
high 70s
mid to
high 80s
Month: Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ave. 
Daily 
Highs:
mid to
high 90s
mid to
high 90s
high 80s
to
low 90s
high 70s
to
low 80s
high 60s
to
low 70s
low 60s

= Very Hot -
Temperatures often in excess of 100°
Too hot to climb, bring extra water
 
= Hot to Very Hot -
Temperatures often in the 90s
Still pretty hot, keep that extra water
 
= Hot -
Pleasant if you like things a little warm, mid 80s
 
= Warm to Hot-
Pleasant, might get a bit hot around noon
 
= Warm -
Still very pleasant, can get cold in the shadows
 
= Cool to Warm -
Still quite climable, but can get pretty chilly in the shadows
 
= Cold -
Frequent temperatures in the 50's

It is not uncommon for the winds to pick up in the afternoon around 2 or 3:00 and please make sure to bring extra water in those hot months.

For today's temperature and this weeks forecast see our Home page.

Should I go to the East or the West side of the park?

The East Side is the most popular. It has the larger visitor center, picnic tables under the trees close to the parking areas and the reservoir. You can see a lot without hiking very far, but most of the hiking is up hill from the parking area.

The West Side visitor center is relatively new (2012) and has received LEED Platinum certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The center includes a small gift shop and several wonderful exhibits. On the West Side you can see huge formations thrusting up from the ground. You will have to hike a little further to get to the formations, but the hiking is almost completely flat.

Also, most of the caves on the East Side are closed for bat protection. The caves on the West Side are open (bring your flash light).

Which ever side you choose, have a great time.

How do I get to the park?

Take a look at our directions information and printable map.

FOP Questionstop of page

  1. How is FOP associated with the park?

What is Friends Of Pinnacles' relationship to the park?

Friends Of Pinnacles was established in 1990 as a climber group focusing on the Pinnacles. As things have progressed FOP has become more sensitive to any issues that might affect climbers. As we have expanded our focus we have also grown more sensitive to general issues the Park Service itself faces.

We are proud to say that our relationship with the park has only improved over time and that we manage to stay in frequent contact. We are interested in the Park's issues and they are interested in ours.

The short answer is: we are not "officially" associated with Pinnacles National Park, but unofficially our relationship is very good and continues to improve.

FOP will continue to operate as a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to facilitate communication between the Park and the climbing community, but we will always welcome other park users and assist where we can.

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