Shelf Road / Cactus Cliff

Cactus Cliff

We’re treated to another day of gorgeous sun, with just a little bite in the wind this time. We figure out the hike from the Bank campground to Cactus Cliff, a worthwhile outing in itself. There are more climbers on the rock today, but we still find things to climb. I try an onsight of an unoccupied route and it luckily turns out to be within my ability. Ann leads Kalahari Sidewinder, described by another climber as “a devious 5.8”. Some friendly climbers let me use their toprope on Dihedrus, 5.10b, a very fun stemmy dihedral.

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3 responses to “Shelf Road / Cactus Cliff”

  1. one: the first time i saw pics / read the article about Shelf Road, I was very intrigued. i know there has been some access issues.. used to be easier to get to. i think you could drive up to the routes or something.

    anyway, plz compare and contrast it to the Owens River Gorge when you have time to.

    rock quality
    # of routes

  2. The place reminded me of Owen’s River Gorge in many ways. The camping is not free, but is cheap ($4) and nestled in piñons. And it’s COLD at night!

    The cliff we were climbing on was recently purchased by the Access Fund, which reopened the road and the climbing. Access is easy now. Many of the other cliffs were never closed, but this one is the sweet spot in the winter, it seems.

    The limestone is a much different texture and hardness than the tuff at the gorge, but it’s similar in formation shape and steepness. It GRIPS amazingly, and is often sharp and grating.

    There were a few hundred routes in our 1999 book, and we saw many bolts not in the book. I’m not sure if there’s a newer book, but I think so. The bolts are EVERYWHERE, on cracks too. Part of the reason is that the rock can be unreliable with natural pro due to “case hardening” that puts a hard shell over softer rock. It’s a sport crag for sure.

    It’s a pretty spot, and more hiker-friendly than the gorge. Even though we could have driven to the crag our second day, I preferred to lug the gear over some of the terrain, and snagged a couple of nice pics while I was at it.

  3. your pics are nice.
    the climbing mag pics really make this place look sweet.

    yeah, the outer layer of limestone can be hard, but sometimes it’s only a couple of inches thick.

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