Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Castle Crags - Cosmic Wall

Castle Crags is a little known wilderness area with granite rock climbing right off off I-5 in Northern California. Its pretty hard to find beta on the climbing there, but there are some bolts and rap anchors on the more popular routes. It's a 2.7 mile hike with 2,200ft of elevation gain to reach the end of the trail at the base of Castle Dome. The rest of the rock spires and domes lie west, further along the ridge. Bushwhacking through manzanita is necessary to reach most of the climbs. There is a lot of potential but most of the walls are pretty far back and would require an overnight stay to properly explore. It's also hard to find water and shade which doesn't help.
Castle Dome with Shasta behind it.
I had visited the Crags as a kid and heard about some of the good climbing latterly so I stopped on my way back from the Trinity Alps. The main route I had recommended to me was Cosmic Wall (5.6, 800ft), which ascends the east face of Mt. Hubris (aka The Ogre). It would have been nice to explore more but I was pretty tired from 6 days of backcountry skiing and wanted to try Shasta the next day so I limited myself to this climb and a scramble up Castle Dome.
Shasta and a view of the crags from Mt. Hubris.

Castle Dome from the summit of Mt. Hubris

Both routes were pretty easy, honestly the bushwhacking to Mt. Hubris was the hardest part. I was able to skip the crux on Cosmic because it is a traverse over to a belay ledge. Since I was soloing I could just go straight up. Protection looked potentially finicky but I didn't really consider it much. The holds were large jugs and sculpted granite fins and there were a ton of them. It was nice to climb on such solid rock as supposed to Smith Tuff. On the last pitch I did the arete variation which offers some nice exposure to the summit. Two raps brought me to a snow lump melting in the shade of the north col. From here some easy scrambling down the manzanita got me back to Castle Dome. After tagging the top of CD I headed back to the car and drove to Mt. Shasta.
On the summit of the Ogre.
Mt. Hubris aka the Ogre. Cosmic Wall starts at the bottom left and traverses up and right to the summit.

Mt. Hubris on the left, and the rest of the Crags from Castle Dome.

Some of the Crags west of Hubris... lots of stuff to climb.

Self-photo on top of Castle Dome, Shasta in the background.

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