A Picture-Perfect Climb at Malibu Creek State Park
Ask any rock climber in the Malibu area, and they’ll tell you that the sport’s California roots began in one of two places.
There’s the breathtaking Yosemite National Park, an outdoor lover’s paradise that spans a patchwork of giant sequoia groves and granite cliffs from the waist of the state eastward to the Nevada border. Then, further south, sprawls the mesmerizing and beloved climber’s haven of Malibu Creek State Park. Otherwise known as the “Yosemite of Southern California,” the park is an accessible alternative for climbers located just a 10-minute drive from Malibu Beach Inn.
Those visiting the ‘Bu who are interested in exploring the sport should meet Roger Ramires and Milena Pedriali, the husband and wife team who own Rock N Rope Adventures — an outdoor rock climbing company that’s been operating in Malibu for the last five years.
“We started climbing for fun a long time ago, and then began guiding our friends,” Pedriali explains. “Then we got all the licenses, certifications, and insurance — everything we needed to transform that hobby into a business.”
When guests arrive at a climbing location to meet Rock N Rope Adventures, Ramires and Pedriali already have everything ready to go. After fitting a group with the right climbing shoes and gear, the couple takes them into the surrounding wilderness for a full- or half-day adventure in stunning natural playgrounds like Joshua Tree National Park, Alabama Hills, Point Dume, and Malibu Creek State Park.
To reach the latter, groups wind eastward up Malibu Canyon, where a natural spectacle unfurls amid volcanic rock gorges flecked with scenic pools and hemmed in sweeping meadow vistas. Reaching the routes in the park is an adventure of its own, requiring climbers to cross Malibu Creek, skirt the region’s celebrated Rock Pool, and clamber over a series of boulders before arriving at the first wall of waiting ascent.
“One wall near the Rock Pool, which we call the Ape’s Wall, is the easiest,” says Ramires. “There is an easy and a difficult side, so sometimes we go around the wall for those who are interested in a little harder climb.”
With over 300 climbing routes and counting, Malibu Creek State Park provides ample opportunities for beginners and adrenaline-seekers alike. But given the park’s popularity, especially on weekends in the summertime, the Rock N Rope owners are happy to have access to a secluded part of the region. Nestled on Mount Crags, and owned by the Salvation Army, is a piece of private property where the company has been granted ongoing permission to lead guided climbs and develop eight of their own unique routes — each one thoughtfully designed to remain in the shade during hot California days.
Likely due to the isolated nature of the peaceful property, Ramires and Pedriali regularly lead climbs for a number of celebrities, including actor Jared Leto. As a fabled filming location for many iconic movies and shows, the area affords glimpses of past and current sets — like the teaser for the recent adaptation of Tomb Raider.
According to Ramires, the park now offers a slightly different experience from seasons’ past after the Woolsey Fire swept through last fall, leaving a trail of ash and soot in its wake. After a winter stint of rain and wind, the spectacular landscape has rebounded in a resplendent wave of verdant green.
“Some of the routes were affected, so anchors have to be changed, but there are people working around the scene already,” he says, also recommending that beginners and gym-climbers inexperienced with outdoor ascents seek knowledge from a mentor or guide before trying an approach on their own.
“The area is so accessible that people think they will just buy rope and go over there, and sometimes you see really sketchy stuff,” says Ramires. He encourages newcomers to learn how to build their own anchors and will happily provide a 10-minute lesson to teach them the basics.
While part of Malibu Creek State Park’s inherent beauty is that it remains open to explore year-round, Ramires and Pedriali prefer climbing and guiding in the summer when all routes are accessible. Because summertime temperatures in the canyon can peak around 100 degrees during the day, they like to plan excursions for early mornings and evenings.
“It’s kind of like a rock-climbing gym, but it’s outdoors and it’s so accessible compared to Yosemite,” says Pedriali.
“There’s no ‘this is my favorite spot,’” adds Ramires. “Everything is really nice, especially if you go in the afternoon when you get all the red around with the sunset. It’s an amazing place to be climbing.”
*All photos courtesy of Rock N Rope Adventures.
Malibu Beach Inn would like to remind our guests that there are risks associated with rock climbing. In this light, please keep in mind that we are not advocating your participation, but rather spreading knowledge of activities available in the area. Therefore, Malibu Beach Inn takes zero liability should you decide to venture out.