Crag Profile: Stoney Point Park (LA)Los Angeles gets criticism for its sprawl and smog and movie stars, but one thing that’s important to remember if you aren’t from the area is that LA embodies the West. If you look past the smog, you’ll see a 10,000 foot mountain off in the distance. The nearby ocean, canyons, mountains, chaparral, and forests are as grand as anything the Golden State has to offer; it’s pure California.
If you climb in LA, chances are you’ve been to the secluded island of rock northeast of the city proper called Stoney Point. Any weekend of the year, you will see climbers, hikers, tall can drinkers, graffiti-ers, and sometimes even litter picker-uppers winding their way through the massive boulders. On the weekends it’s wise to arrive early and always remove valuables from view in your vehicle.
The City of Los Angeles purchased Stoney Point’s initial 22 acres from a private owner for $250,000 in 1981. There was a relatively significant political skirmish leading up to this in which the Sierra Club and other activists encouraged City Council to overturn then-Mayor Tom Bradley’s veto of the purchase. That year it became a Los Angeles City park, and more than a decade later another 54 acres were added to the property.
One reason for the success of this venture was Stoney Point’s classification in 1974 as a Los Angeles Historic and Cultural Monument, in part because of the history of climbing in the area. Dating back to the 1930s, Stoney Point has been a haven for outdoor adventurers, starting with the Sierra Club mountaineers. Later in the 1950s, it was the home crag for Bob Kamps, Royal Robbins, and Yvon Chouinard, to name a few, who practiced climbing and protection techniques prior to tackling more ambitious exploits in Taquitz and Yosemite.
For those looking to explore the area for the first time, keep in mind that the rock at Stoney Point is sandstone (formed in the Pacific Ocean during the Cretaceous period), which, in a nutshell, means that it’s soft rock, especially after a rainstorm. Bouldering and toproping are the main attractions here for this reason and climbers should be cautious when grabbing for flakes.
And while you’re climbing, keep an eye out for pin scars and pitons and think back to the original diehards who made the sport what it is today.
By Brian Gruters
Brian writes about science, conservation, and ways that people interact with nature for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com. He is an aspiring surfer, member of the Southern California Mountaineers Association, and likes to explore mountains and canyons.
Quote of the week:
Yvon Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing
"I've always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession that doesn't appeal to me."