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Climbing at Panther Beach

 

Despite living just an hour from the Pacific, Mary and I seldom make it to the beach. We decided to use the long 4th of July weekend as an excuse to head to the shore and soak up some sun. But sun wasn’t the main focus of the day, and Panther Beach isn’t just an ordinary beach.

This was our third or fourth time to Panther Beach. Located just north of Santa Cruz on California’s scenic Highway 1, it’s a small stretch of coastline outlined by sandstone walls. It’s on those walls that we play!

Most of the climbing Mary and I do is with ropes on tall walls made of granite or other hard rock. Bouldering on sandstone is very different. It’s gritty, brittle, and often moist. It’s scary to put lots of weight on a hold because they have a tendency to break off when you need them most. Despite this, Mary still went for some high beta (strategy) and committing heel hooks.

This time around, we were joined by our usual climbing friends, Daniel and Courtney.

There’s no set routes on Panther Beach because the rock is always changing with tides and erosion. This typically leads us to choose our own routes and our own difficulties.

Also of note: you won’t see us wearing any climbing shoes on these walls. The locals tend to frown on shoes because they leave ugly scuff marks behind.

Most of the photos I shot were from a single connected traversal. It’s probably somewhere between a V3 and V6 depending on how far you climb and what path you take.

After a strong climbing session and an abridged nap on our beach blanket, we packed up and headed towards home.

For those who find themselves in this little corner of California, we recommend a stop at Panther Beach. While there, be sure to swing by the Swanton Berry Farm for some excellent cheesecake. In the meantime, have a happy 4th!

 
Brent Traut