Esalen in Trouble due to Excessive Rain

A week ago our dear friend Cheryl Fraenzl, Program Director at Esalen, Big Sur, California shared news and photos via her facebook page.

“Esalen is experiencing an unprecedented situation. We are land locked for an unknown length of time. Routes north, south and over the mountains are all closed and compromised due to the substantial rains and land slides. The bridge north is sliding, which is our only way out in that direction. We are closed for an unknown amount of time. Please keep us in your thoughts. This could be tremendously impactful.”

We have been following the situation ever since and sadly it’s getting worse. Due to continued poor weather and deteriorating road conditions, including structural damage to Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge north of Esalen, Big Sur Highway 1 has been closed indefinitely.

The cliff on the beautiful Esalen property is fragile from the downpour. Since the beginning of California’s rainy season, Big Sur has had 60.25in of rain, “making it historically the wettest season to date”, said Duane Dykema, National Weather Service meteorologist. Records date back 102 years.

The pioneering retreat center and educational institute, dedicated to the exploration of human potential, remains closed to workshops, however, continues to endure this challenging situation as it has done before through unpredictable weather conditions during it’s more than fifty year history.

The latest information is posted on the Esalen website and will provide updates as they become available. “Non-critical staff on property in Big Sur are being asked to prepare to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. Esalen leadership is coordinating on how to escort staff and work study students from the area. Business functions that can be deferred or conducted elsewhere will be done in other locations. Some staff will remain to care for the property.”

Initially 120 students and staff chose to stay behind, but a little over half of those are now planning to leave. When the rains stop, about 70 students and staff will be evacuated via helicopter. Cheryl explained, “This is now a fairly serious situation with potentially a very long closure displacing a lot of people”. On her behalf, we’re reaching out to all centers in the network asking for your support.

If anyone is looking for basic skilled staff, short term employees, and/or volunteers, please contact the Esalen HR department at

The Guardian reports, “When rocks stop falling, state workers can begin cleanup of the coastal highway – but authorities said many miles of this major highway could be closed for up to a year while the damaged bridge is restored or replaced.”

Please share this post as widely as possible as we reach out to the full extent of the network in these critical times for us all.
Source: Esalen reaching out to the Centers Network


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