Alex and I spent Valentine’s Day morning at Ortega Falls, just off of Ortega Highway where Riverside and Orange Counties meet.
We packed the car the night before, so all we had to do was wake up early and brew some tea before heading out to go climbing. We haven’t been to Ortega Falls before, but we heard it’s a great place to visit after it rains and that it is a good place to go climbing if you’re looking for something close enough to Orange County to make a quick trip.
I was a little nervous that I wasn’t going to be arm enough as we drove into very dense fog a few blocks from home but it lifted as we drove south. Once we got to the crag, I was wishing for the cooler temperatures because we could already tell it would be a hot day. We promised each other that we wouldn’t climb for long if we got too hot and that our goal was to practice identifying the routes, finding the bolts at the top of the routes, and building anchors. We weren’t too concerned with getting a ton of climbing in because it did not take us long to get there so we knew we would be back soon.
Alex did all the research for this microadventure using Mountain Project. He read through the description of the area and saved info in case we lost reception while out there. We ended up on Dihedral (5.7), which we know will be our go-to route for warming up and if we bring friends who want to climb outdoors with us next time. Because this area is an actual waterfall, the rock is very slick close to the falls and where the water pools at the bottom of the routes. If you’re a shorty like me, don’t hesitate to move the medium sized rock (that should be nearby) to the base of the route to help give you a little boost. Otherwise, wear your stickiest shoes because the rock is slick and you need to move fast to get to better footholds!
While the area was pretty dry when we visited on Sunday, there was a little bit of water coming down the falls. Don’t expect to be the only ones out at Ortega Falls on the weekend, especially if the weather is good. There were a handful of hikers who came to see the waterfall and they stuck around to watch us and another couple climb…I bet they wanted to make their effort worth it since the waterfall wasn’t exactly running the way you’d expect and the pool was totally dry. If you make the quick trip, bring a trash bag to pack out some of the trash left behind, but be careful of the glass that litters the area. I do not recommend walking around without shoes on!
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