The second-most-popular climbing area in Pinnacles National Park after Discovery Wall, The Monolith offers dozens of quality sport routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.14. The huge east face presents highly-featured rock typical of Pinnacles climbing and a matrix of bolts and climbing lines. Because of the density of climbs, detailed topos such as those provided in Brad Young's "A Climber's Guide to Pinnacles National Monument" are recommended to select and identify the route you want to climb. Classics include:
The Direct Route (5.7R)
Monolith-Regular Route (5.8)
Post Orgasmic Depression (5.10d)
Feed The Beast (5.11c)
Ranger Bolts - Bolt Ladder (5.6 A1, an early classic aid climb)
The Monolith is located at the end of Bear Gulch, reachable by either the Moses Spring Trail (most direct) or the Rim Trail via the High Peaks Trail. The rock is very near the Bear Gulch Reservoir dam and the Bear Gulch Caves, giving visitors plenty of options for an action-packed day at the crag. Rather than despising the crowds, it is best to prepare for a social day and enjoy the variety of things going on around you.
Rock climbing has a long history in Pinnacles, which has seen first ascents throughout the development of the sport in the United States from the 1930s through modern times. The local climbing community has a strict ground-up bolting policy forbidding bolting on rappel. Resulting sport climbs have a natural flow but do not always offer convenient protection on crux moves. Though the volcanic rock is not as robust as the granite found in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, numerous mineral crystals and other features make for routes that often give climbers many sequencing choices. These crystals are prone to being dislodged, however, so both climbers and belayers in Pinnacles should always wear helmets. Experienced Pinnacles climbers try to avoid using the crystals as often as possible, instead looking for grip in the rock between the knobs.