Bouldering: A Castle Rock Primer
Whether you are a long-time or neophyte climber, you'll find bouldering is free climbing distilled down to its purest form, that is to say, difficult free climbing moves over rock.
For San Francisco Bay Area climbers and boulderers, there is no easier or better area then Castle Rock State Park. In particular, it has more quality bouldering than any other single area in the region. At Castle there are slopers, crimps, overhangs, jugs, mantles and every other kind of 'smedging' in between. Castle is composed of sandstone weathered by wind and water that sometimes form "Tafoni" coral-like features.
Not only is there the tried and true problems of the Magoo Boulders and The Beak, but also underutilized, but just as good, areas like Domino Theory Boulder, The Egg and Indian Cracks area. I'm probably shooting myself in the foot telling you about these, but just getting off the beaten path has produced some wonderful gems. Little is known about the history of these explorations or about bouldering at Castle Rock in general other than to say that the Rock Climbing Section of the Sierra Club has been coming up here for years and that names like Bates, Cosgrove, Barry, Robinson, Yabo and many others have made this a playful stomping ground at one point or another.
One gem in particular is the Klinghoffers. Completely underutilized solely because it's not easy to find and some of the classics are highball or off the deck type problems. The best way to find these areas is to talk to other climbers and have them show you the areas. Failing that check these directions and go explore.
Park at Castle Rock (outside the gate and make sure you get there early during the summer time as parking can be at a premium). Walk East down Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd). Just past the Christmas-tree farm is a dirt road turn off blocked by a large green gate. Walk past the gate out the road, staying left. Just after the rise in the road start looking to your left. There are two hills with a mini valley between them. Start walking toward the mini valley. (There used to be plastic water tank out here as a land mark, but it was missing as of this last season). Look for a sometimes faint climber/use-trail. Follow this up and out to the right until you can see the back side of the Christmas Tree Farm (North and left). Continue on this trail through the clearings until you reach the woods. You'll end up on a blunted ridge in the trees. Drop down the trail to the top of the problems. Viola!!! Your there! Approaching from below near Goat Rock involves bushwhacking. Keep the impact low and approach from above.
So now you have a gem to mine for. Can you dig it? Well if that doesn't work for you try the Magoo Boulders. This rock gets its namesake from the cannonball feature that is shaped in the head of the 50s cartoon buffoon "Mr. Magoo." As you walk up the trail you'll see the Castle Rock formation proper and downhill and to the South West is this large 25' tall boulder with problems on all sides. It has everything from the very basic descent route 5.0 to the no hand problems to desperate test-pieces (V10). Problems to note include "Mr. Magoo face" V0 with the eliminate problems and the "Overhanging Arete" V3 (which doesn't use the easy stuff on the left).
by Robert Behrens