There are some really first-class climbs in this region, and many were put up by well-known historical climbing figures. Much of the development occurred simultaneously with Yosemite, and by many of the same people, but it hasn't been as extensively developed.
If you are looking for a place to climb where you will never hear the highway or would like to climb all day and not see any other climbers or hikers, Sequoia is the perfect place. The one climbing area that you might encounter other climbers is Chimney Rock and your best bet is the weekend. We climbed here on a Friday and a Sunday without seeing another climber.
We also used National Geographic Maps Trails Illustrated Topo Map #205 (Sequoia and Kings Canyon)
We were only able to spend a couple of days in this area, certainly not enough for such a spectacular area, but our time constraints did not allow any longer. We only climbed at Chimney Rocks in the Camp Ridge-Crystal Wall area. Technically, the land is actually in Kings Canyon. We followed the book's directions (p. 197), but the following details may be helpful. (We stayed at Lodgepole Campground, as we were new to the park and staying here seemed to make camping pretty effortless. There are plenty of other places to camp, many of which would be in closer proximity to your climbing area of choice.)
Leaving Lodgepole campground, travel 27 miles on General's Highway towards Kings Canyon. Turn left onto the road to Camp Far Horizons/San Joaquin Organized Camps. Three miles down, the road forks. The right fork is Tower Road, but you want to stay on the left fork. The road will end in a sort of cul-de-sac; park as convenient. When we went (late June) we did not need 4 wheel drive.
We saw some folks come out on Saturday and go around the corner at the end to set up some top ropes. Not sure if one person lead to set them up so call a ranger for more info.
Snake Hole (5.7)
Well, we actually climbed Maxwell Must go Free (5.8) because we could get the pro in that but the pro and the runout still seemed scary and we did not really know if the slings that we ended up at on a little balcony area was actually on the climb. You can rappel from here but it was kind of a scary setup. But we had to rappel or we would still be there today.
Pop a Top (5.7)
It may at first be hard to determine which climb is which, but Pop-A-Top, a 5.7 in the approximate center of the cliff, is fairly well defined by two large side by side pockets (holes) in the rock. This area (and as I understand it, the rest of Sequoia) has climbs that many would consider run out. One climber we met there said it was very similar to Tuolome. However, once you get used to it (or if you already are), the clean granite domes are very enjoyable.
For gear, we used the #1 Camalot, small red Metolius Cam, small blue TCU, and a Camalot Jr.
For Crystal, remember to dog-leg right after you get above the second (and last) bolt; the book says three bolts, but it's been rebolted and now there are only two. It's tempting to continue straight up to get to an area where you can place pro, but by then you'll be above and to the left of the belay bolts, and by then you may think they belong to another climb. The first bolt is approximately a third of the way up, and the second bolt at the two-thirds mark; the climb feels a bit run out, as there's no place for pro.
Unknown (5.7) and a new 5.7
Several additional climbs have been added since the book was published (1993). There is a nice ~5.7 that is between Ask Mr. Lizard (5.10) and Unknown (5.7); it is just left of a dark streak that forms the left side of Ask Mr. Lizard, and has three bolts sort of in the same configuration as the three for Ask Mr. Lizard. Aside from the bolts, it also takes a #1 and #0.5 Camalot, and a #7 Smiley stopper (#7 Black Diamond stopper). For Unknown, we also found a #5 Black Diamond stopper and the #1, #0.75, and #0.5 Camalots useful. We used eight slings/quickdraws.
Mossy and manky.
A climb called Solitude (5.8) shown in the picture to the left was beautiful. The climbing is very delicate.
Walk around the corner!
If you continue around to the end of Crystal Rock, you will see so many wonderful climbs around the corner. It is a whole new world! This is not the way to get to these climbs. The best trail to these climbs begins near the entrance of the parking lot near a cairn (stack of rocks).
Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Southern Sierra Rock Climbing, Volume 1, by Sally Moser, Greg Vernon, And David Hickey. Chockstone Press; Evergreen, Colorado (1993).
We would like to add some updated information on phone numbers mentioned in the book. We called a few of the numbers to try to get more information about climbing in the area. We did not have any luck, but thankfully a ranger at the front entrance was also a climber so we got info from him.
- Bigfoot Mountaineering's phone number is disconnected
- When we called Sierra Sports, we got a resident instead.
- The area code has changed to 611
- Sierra South was also disconnected.
- Alexander's Trailhead is now someone's fax.
- Shoreline still exists, but the guys there have not been to Sequoia. They were very nice, however.
There are many more new climbs that have been put up since the publishing of the book, but we really think it is important to get this book. It was worth its weight in gold.