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Rock Climbing in Paradise

Gibraltar Rock, Santa Barbara, CA

June 20, 2008


"Rock climbing in paradise"

It had been too long since I had seen my nephew, Joel, so I called him up and asked if I could come visit. He is a Cordon Bleu trained Chef and now lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Joel is the oldest son of my oldest brother, Mark so Joel and I are only 5 years apart in age, which makes the uncle/nephew thing pretty fun!

I flew into Los Angeles International Airport, rented a car, and drove up "the" 405 to highway 101 where I headed west to Santa Barbara. I was very glad to be leaving the smog in L.A.

Joel had recently gotten into rock climbing, so I picked up the climbing guidebook, "Rock Climbing Santa Barbara and Ventura" and was amazed at the number of routes and boulder problems in the area. The author writes, "Welcome to the best rock climbing in America. Or maybe rock climbing in the best place in America." It's hard to argue, considering that Santa Barbara is considered the Riviera of America. It's got great year round weather, nice beaches, world class wineries, wonderful restaurants and night life on State Street, not to mention it's laid back, casual atmosphere.

We picked up four bottles of sports drink, packed the sun screen and made the 15 minute drive up into the Santa Ynez Mountains just north of town. The road climbed steeply with sharp hairpins (think Pyrenees in the Tour de France) up to a pull off across the road from Gibraltar Rock. There is a classic 5.11a crack here called the Nose, but we were setting our sites on climbing the 5-Fun routes on this gritty sandstone.

The sun was setting as we packed up our gear and made our way back to the car. As we were hiking back some young guys who were climbing next to us, got their rope stuck so we gave them our rope to use to rappel down to retrieve theirs. What a fun day climbing!

The rest of the weekend was spent playing ukulele and guitar, cooking and eating great food, watching the Euro Cup quarter finals and taking in the Solstice Parade with Joel's friend Liz. Thanks Joel for a great weekend!