|Tollhouse Rock, CA|
By Patrick Paul, Southern Sierra Climbers, Association
In recent months, a new landowner has put up a gate at the intersection of Tollhouse road and the unpaved access road which has been the traditional way to the top of Tollhouse Rock for climbers. Tollhouse features dozens of one to four pitch free climbs and has been a popular winter climbing area for locals from Fresno, Bakersfield and the greater Southern California area for decades and sits on public land.
Prior to installing the gate, the landowner had verbally accosted some climbers, threatened to have people arrested, or tried to intimidate climbers in other ways. The access road has been used for years by climbers, four-wheelers, hang-gliders, hunters, and youthful revelers from the nearby communities of Prather and Tollhouse. The landowner has complained that his guests' cars have been vandalized, people have been firing shotguns and rifles near his home, and that a great deal of trash has been strewn in the area.
Tollhouse Rock is on Forest Service land and the F.S. claims that only a small portion of the road is privately owned. However, at this time it is unclear whether the landowner has a legal right to block the road or whether the Forest Service can legally compel him to keep it open. At least two gates have been erected and then torn out by persons unknown. Climbers are advised to use the longer power line road that lies directly west of the private road until either legalities can be ascertained, or the landowner can be reasoned with and an agreement met.