Pinnacles News Archive 2001 - 2004

11/14/04 Rappel chains placed and bolts replaced by Erik Bratton and Dennis Erik Strom on the Balconies, on Lava Falls and Hook and Drill.

10/24/04 The entire Bear Gulch Cave will be open to hikers from October 24-31. Starting November 1, the lower part of Bear Gulch Cave will be continuously open to hikers, except from mid-May to mid-July, and in periods of high water. A new gate has been installed partway into the cave, so that people can hike up to the gate to explore the lower cave, and then travel back down the same trail. Work has begun to create a new trail to exit from the cave near the gate; this should be completed this winter.

10/7/04 On Thursday, October 28, three more California condors will be released into the wild at Pinnacles National Monument, 80 miles south of San Jose. schedule of release day, for press

Six juvenile condors -- five female and one male -- will be set free in Pinnacles National Monument this fall, joining the park's five wild resident condors. Three birds will be released on October 28, and the other three will remain in captivity for another one to two weeks to help ensure that the free-flying birds remain nearby for biologists to monitor. The six juvenile condors are 16-18 months old and were hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. They have been acclimating to their new home in a 20 foot by 40 foot flight pen at Pinnacles since their arrival at the site in spring, 2004. Sometime this winter, six more juvenile condors are expected to arrive at the Pinnacles. Those birds likely will be released in 2005.

9/13/04 West Nile virus found in a dead bird (female kestrel) at Pinnacles, near the West Side entrance. The NPS advises people to not touch dead birds.

Peregrine falcons were last observed nesting in Pinnacles National Monument in 1957 and just outside the monument in 1962. Except for an occasional migrating pair, peregrine falcons were not observed at Pinnacles from the 1960s to the 1990s. From 1989 to 1991, a program of placing peregrine eggs and chicks into prairie falcon nest, called cross-fostering, was instituted at Pinnacles. The goad of this program was to increase peregrine populations and hopefully reintroduce them to Pinnacles.

This year's peregrine falcon pair was first observed on March 3rd, with observations becoming more regular throughout the breeding season. The pair aggressively defended a territory in the Hawkins peak area by diving (stooping) upon a prairie falcon pair (which were using an adjacent territory), turkey vultures, and even California condors. Although the pair did attempt to mate [at] times and inspected potential nest sites, they did not nest this year.

6/30/04 Bird nesting closures will be lifted on June 30th. From the Press Release:

Rock formations subject to advisory closures to rock climbing and off-trail hiking for protecting nesting falcons and eagles will reopen June 30, 2004. A total of 33 Prairie Falcons fledged this year from nine nests, a successful year for the falcons. Additionally, American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and Cooper's Hawks produced young this year. There was at least one successful Golden Eagle nest this year.

Pinnacles' rock climbing advisories are lifted a few weeks after the nests have fledged young. Park visitors did an excellent job of following advisories. Pinnacles National Monument can only successfully protect raptors with everyone's help.

We thank the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect our spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," stated Park Superintendent, Cicely Muldoon.

5/21/04 There will be a moonlight hike on Friday 5/28/04, from 8:30pm - 10:30pm. This is a 2 mile hike on the East Side. For reservations and program information, call (831) 389-4485, extension 235 from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Participants will bring a small flashlight with red material to cover the lens, for viewing a few things which are not illuminated by the moon.

5/5/04 In conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day, there will be ranger-guided bird watching hikes on 5/8 and 5/9 at 9am on both the East and West sides. Plus a second hike on Sunday afternoon (5/9). NPS Events page

4/14/04 Bird nesting closures revised. Raptors have been observed nesting in the Frog/Hand area and in the Teapot Dome area. So these areas are newly added to the areas previously closed. Also, no nesting has been observed at Long's Folly, North/South Fingers, Condor Crags, Gargoyle and Generation Gap, so those areas have been reopened for climbing.

4/14/04 Pinnacles East Side now open 24 hours! No more racing out to beat the gate closure on the East Side! Thanks to the Pinnacles folks for restoring the unrestricted access, making it possible to enjoy the great sunsets at Pinnacles again! (N.B. remember to pack your headlamp). The West Side still has gated hours - the gate closes at 8pm currently.

4/9/04 New route: Gorillas in the Moss 5.12d, 8x, on the west face of the Monolith, by Karl Aguilar.

3/31/04 Climbing accident on Discovery Wall (far left end). A climber was leading in the "Fern Grotto" (possibly on Nailbox Crack). He believed he was on Portent, then fell while downclimbing and sustained many injuries in a 30 foot ground fall. Details from NPS Morning Report of 4/8/04.

3/22/04 Condors have been observed approaching some climbers on Machete Ridge. The official work from the park naturalist is: "if a condor approaches you, try to ignore it." It is risky for the condors to believe that contact with humans is normal. So any contact should be minimized (do not approach them if possible, and obviously do not feed them).

3/12/04 Comments are sought on the Pinnacles Transportation Plan, until March 31st. (It concerns East Side parking lots and the seasonal shuttle van system). The plan and email addresses for sending comments can be found on the NPS web page.

3/10/04 The Bear Gulch cave is be open to visitors from March 10-31. For the latest status, see the Bear Gulch Cave page (NPS).

3/3/04 The weekend (East Side) shuttle bus will start running on March 6th. (Every weekend day except March 13th). Hours of operation in March are 10am - 5:30pm. It will also be running in April and May, possibly with extended hours.

2/17/04 The Bear Gulch cave will be open to visitors for at least the last week in March, and possibly sooner (if the bats are ready). For the latest status, see the Bear Gulch Cave page (NPS).

2/17/04 The released California Condors have been spotted by many visitors in the High Peaks and Condor Gulch areas! Also, a new batch of birds will be arriving soon to the pen area. For the latest condor news (updated once or twice a week), see the condor page (NPS).

2/17/04 Starting on March 8, the Park closing hour should change to 7pm. The tentative upcoming hours schedule for 2004 is: 4/8 (open to 8pm), and 5/3 (open to 9pm).

2/2/04 Broken holds are reported on The Druid, possibly due to attempting the route when the holds were too fragile from recent rains. Please give the rock 3 days to dry out after a rainstorm, on faces which do not get lots of direct sun!
Also, broken holds and scrubbing are reported on Karl Aguilar's project on the Monolith west face, in spite of a "red tag". This is possibly due to confusion about which route is the open project on that wall. Here is a current topo showing all the routes.
Update: 4/9/04 - Karl completed his new route - see news item above.

1/15/04 Bird nesting closures are now in effect. The same areas will be closed as 2003.

1/5/04 Four condors left the pen. Now, all but one of the juvenile birds are living outside the pen. See the condor release page.

12/20/03 Two condors left the pen! See the condor release page.

12/19/03 Condor release attempted (Friday, 11am). The public was invited. The door to their pen was opened, but they did not leave the pen! San Jose Mercury News 12/20/03. See the condor release page (NPS) for more info.

12/8/03 Frosted Flake 5.6, 3x, in the High Peaks (near Corn Flake), by Bruce Hildenbrand and Frost Saufley.

10/24-31/03 Bear Gulch Cave open to public for one week, during regular park hours.

9/03 Condors arrived. See the condor page (NPS) for more info.

7/26/03 The "Old Pinnacles" trail reopens. Construction was finished a week earlier than expected.

7/14/03 Condors are coming! Probably in September.

7/14-7/25/03 The "Old Pinnacles" trail (from Chalone Creek westward towards the Balconies trails) is closed. 1500' of the old roadbed where the trail was located is being removed/restored and a footbridge is being upgraded. See the NPS web page for more info (the "Middle Road phase").

6/30/03 Bird nesting closures have been lifted.

4/23/03 Revised bird nesting closures. The Gargoyle, Outcast, Knuckle Ridge, Goat Rock, Resurrection Wall, Generation Gap area, Long's Folly, North and South Finger, Condor Crags, Chaos Crag, and The Egg were opened again for climbing on Friday April 18. Beak Peak, Hawkins Peak/Tuff Dome, the Balconies, the Yaks, and other areas remain closed, with active prairie falcon nests observed.

4/6/03 Angle Iron, 5.10+, 5x, on West face of the Flatiron, by Jon Cochran and Bob Walton.

3/30/03 Romper Room, 5.10+, 7x, right of Drizzly Drain completed, by Jon Cochran and Bob Walton.

3/22/03 East Side shuttle bus service resumes. This is the start of the peak visitation season. Usually the upper parking lots on the East Side will fill by about 10am, so if you arrive after this, you may have to park in one of the lower lots and ride the shuttle bus or hike up.

3/19/03 Bear Gulch cave (under the Monolith) will be reopened from March 19-31. After this it will be closed again, probably at least until the fall. They are working to find a way to construct a gate which will keep people away from the area of the cave where bats nest, so that most of the cave can be visited on a regular basis. It has been closed for the past 5 years.

2/03 Bolts replaced by Friends of Pinnacles in the High Peaks, on The Shaft, Pot Pinnacle, Peyote Pillar, Proclamation Pinnacle, Arch Pinnacle, Teapot Dome, Dwarf Pinnacle, The Cone, and The Rook.

1/17/03 Bird nesting closues began on January 17. The areas are about the same as in past years. There is one clarification in the Scout Peak area.

1/5/03 Pickpocket 5.11b route just left of the Tourist Trap completed, by Chris Kurrle and Karl Aguilar.

12/02 Bolts replaced by Friends of Pinnacles on Salathe's Sliver, Nelson's Needles, Pipsqueak Pinnacle, Snout, Monument, Tombstone, and the Egg.

11/14/02 Update on California Condors. The proposed pen site on North Chalone Peak had an unexpected problem with road access. Other sites within the park are being investigated now. San Jose Mercury News article 11/25/02

11/13/02 The Chalone Creek Picnic Area has been closed. As per the development plans, this area is being converted to residential housing. Few climbers use this parking area in any case.

On 11/11/02, the park closing hour changed to 6pm.

10/13/02 Nipples and Nobs (route 289.2) is missing the hanger and nut on its second bolt. So it would be wise to bring a wired stopper or replacement nut/hanger to clip there. Nuts on other bolts are loose as well. (reported by Bob Zambetti)

9/22/02 Conduit to the Cosmos completed (to the top of the Balconies), by James McConachie, John Barbella, and others, 20 years after it was first started.

[9/23/02] On 10/7/02, the park closing hour will change to 7pm. Probably in late October, the closing hour will change to 6pm.

9/3/02 Six California Condors may be penned at Pinnacles in a few weeks. San Jose Mercury News, 9/3/02. They may be released into the wild from their proposed pen area on South Chalone Peak by the end of 2002.
Environmental Assessment on Pinnacles NPS page

[8/9/02] On 9/3/02, the park hours will change to 7:30am - 8pm.

7/3/02 All nesting areas have been reopened to climbing.

5/3/02 topo for Machete Ridge descent (from Old Original).

4/23/02 The East Side shuttle bus system plan is under revision. Parking will be allowed in the Bear Gulch parking lots until they fill, as in previous years.

4/15/02 bird nesting updates.
The raptor advisories have been updated, and take effect asap. The advisory page for the park lists the changes. Here are the basics:

3/31/02 Mountain Lion Encounter on Old Pinnacles trail.

3/30/02 Bandits in Bondage - Second pitch 5.11 route on Machete Ridge completed, by James McConachie and Dennis Erik Strom.

3/9/02 Bolts replacement completed on Son of Dawn Wall, by Clint Cummins.

2/19/02 New East Side shuttle bus system planned for weekends from March 9 to June 9. No parking will be allowed in the usual East Side parking lots on these weekends, unless the (new) shuttle parking area fills. The new shuttle parking area is outside the east entrance to the monument.

2/17/02 Pinnacles NPS web pages back online. Nearly all NPS web pages had been offline since 12/5/01, due to a pending lawsuit after a web page had been hacked.

1/22/02 The hangers on the Hatchet (south of the reservoir) have been reported as being missing. This has been confirmed. Mark Fletcher has since been observed replacing them (for the second time).

1/18/02 Raptor nesting closures have begun. The same areas that were closed in 2001 will be closed in 2002. They will be reassessed for nesting activity in the spring and most likely some areas will be reopened at that time.

12/01 White Punks on Rope 5.11a route on Yaks Wall completed, by James McConachie and Dennis Erik Strom.

12/01 Grand Delusion 5.11a led free by Dennis Erik Strom.
photos 1-3 photos 4-5 photos 6-8 (photos by Robert Behrens)

12/01 30-mile hog-proof fence under construction - San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1/01 local version

11/10/01 Bolts replaced on Squareblock Rock Crack by Mark Fletcher, and on Flatiron Regular Route by Mark Fletcher, Sid Hill, and Florence Scholl.

11/2/01 Grand Delusion 5.11c toprope (aka Delusion Overhang) was freed by Adam Long and Steve Dalleske.

6/30/01 All climbing areas have reopened from nesting closures. 24 prairie falcon chicks and one golden eagle chick were fledged this year! Nesting closures for 2002 will start on 1/18/02.

4/29/01 Love Line 5.10c R completed on The Hand, by Steve Dalleske, Kelly Rich, and Lou Renner. story / trip report topo photo (photo by Steve Dalleske)

4/20/01 Many climbing areas reopened from nesting closures:

See the NPS web page, which has an updated list: .

3/14/01 Bolts replaced on The Verdict, Cantaloupe Death, Feed the Beast, and Monolith Regular Route, by Greg Barnes, Dave Buchanan, and John Steinmetz.

3/13/01 California condors may be released at Pinnacles. According to the 3/13/01 San Jose Mercury News, there is some chance that 24 California condors may be released at Pinnacles, over 2002-2004. A decision is expected from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the end of 2001.

1/22/01 The seasonal closures for raptor nesting are in effect. Full details (lists of areas and maps) are on the NPS web page: .

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