A Climber’s Guide To Rock Climbing in San Diego

Bobby Dyer

So you want to check out rock climbing and bouldering in San Diego but don’t know where to start? Well grab your ropes and cables, do your climbing stretches and take a journey with us through this guide to rock climbing in San Diego.

Basic Information

So just to give you a little bit of background and information, there are 3 general types of climbing. Lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering climbing.

Lead climbing is when a climber uses a rope climb up a large mountain almost vertically (kinda like The Matrix or Tom Cruise haha), predominantly used in rock climbing.

23Speed climbing is more for competition, for like super athletes. So we don’t need to worry about that so much but just know, if you get bouldering down and you’re feeling spicy then you can jump into speed climbing and see where your skills are at.

Finally we have bouldering. This is what most of you guys will be doing that is the most beginner friendly. Bouldering is a different experience because it is more so using both hands and feet to climb in more of a climbing motion to ascend.

Best Bouldering Locations

Santee’s Boulders!

Santee’s Boulders offer routes for first time beginners and advanced climbers wanting to experience the ultimate bouldering in San Diego. This climb is accompanied by a short 5 minute walk to the starting point, which is the shortest and easiest approach in the city. It offers a lot of varied sizes and slabs which makes it great for all levels.

Jasper Boulders

This location is a lowkey hidden gem in the San Diego area. It has over 50 different boulder problems (rocks) to climb and conquer. Aside from the sheer number of boulders, the privacy and secrecy of the location makes for a great time to get some time with nature and your small party without too many distractions.

El Cajon Mountain Boulders

El Cajon is widely known for its multi-varied climbing options. Despite being known for it’s impressive and challenging rock climbing, there are two awesome bouldering circuits that are well worth checking out.

24One thing to make sure of when you go is that you are taking the correct path to the bouldering. One’s approach is 20 minutes. While the other’s takes 40 minutes to get to. While this may seem like a long time for some people, it is a great combination of walking, hiking, and bouldering all in one sitting!

Essentials and What To Bring!

Now that you have a good understanding of the types of rock climbing and a few dope locations lets take a second to explain the essentials and what to bring.

According to GearJunkie (your climbing experts), the need to have bouldering checklist consists of:

  • Crash Pad
  • Climbing Shoes
  • Approach Shoes
  • Climbing chalk & Bag
  • Brush

Here is a website to check for all of the classic and local climbing locations that will also give you real time updates regarding the wind, weather, and any potential warning signs. Check it out here!

87654After a challenging day of bouldering, we gather for laughs and beers on top of the highest rock as the sun goes down and stars begin to illuminate the sky!

After that make sure you come check us out at ITH Hostels and we’ll take care of you for the night!



Cofounder of ITH Hostels. I love traveling, hosting, gardening, golfing, fishing, and sailing.

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