Lover's Leap and Vicinity, CA

May 21 - June 12, 2004

East WallMain & West WallsMain & West WallsLower Buttress & the HogwildLower Buttress & the HogwildLarge photo with classic routes shown

Lover's Leap is a great place! It has everything the typical crag-rat likes: great climbing on amazing rock, short approach, easy walk-offs, and free camping. What more could you ask for?

The climbing is mostly easy to moderate with tons of great multi-pitch climbs in the 5.7 to 5.9 range. There are several more-or-less distinct climbing areas: The main cliff is somewhat arbitrarily divided into four sections (from left to right): the East, Central, Main and West Walls. The Lower Buttress is a distinct, smaller cliff below the right hand side of the West Wall. Just above and to the right of it, along the approach trail to the West Wall is a much smaller cliff with a selection of single-pitch cracks: Dear John Buttress. Finally, another, much more rounded formation lies on the other side of the canyon (below the feet of the photographer in the picture above). The north end of that dome is called the Hogsback and has a selection of easier, low angle routes. A group of climbs (mostly single pitch) at the southwest end of the same formation is referred to as the Hogwild. All are within 5 to 20 minutes approach from the campground. Finally, The Box, an area of much steeper and harder climbs (5.11 to 5.12) sits high and to the right of the main cliff.

Note: the Central Wall is usually closed for peregrine nesting from sometime around Memorial Day and through a large part of the summer; check the notices at the campground and trailheads or call the forest service for details. We did not expect this, and the very day we went up to climb Eagle Buttress on that wall, we found closure signs on the trails...

Nearby climbing areas:

Aside from The Leap, there are several worthwhile climbing areas nearby and around Lake Tahoe, including Sugarloaf, Phantom Spires, Eagle Lake and Calaveras Dome. We spent a few days exploring some of these areas as well.

The heat was really getting to us that day, so we went to the reservoir to take a swim! What a treat! We're not very aquatic people, and haven't been in the water for a long time, but this felt great! Lucie even ended up joining me after whining about the cold water.

We then drove the curvy mountain roads through beautiful rolling hills with huge forests then more open pastures closer to Placerville. Cute old town, although it is - as usual in the US - converted into a Disneyland-style open-air antique mall… There's a great little coffee shop in an amazing old building with a 150ft mine shaft in the back! That mine shaft was reportedly used to store ice blocks back in the days... The coffee shop now has a few tables in there! So cool. They give yoga classes and the like as well.

We then walked around the dome to check out other climbs - not too impressed with anything really. "Bolee Gold" looks good - but is not really a natural line: it just follows the rounded south arete of the formation. Probably not worth another trip. "Pony Express" looks OK but not extraordinary. The rest did not look too good to us.

On the way down, we also checked out Sugarbum, a much smaller dome closer to the road. To be honest, we found it rather pathetic, although the 5.10b finger crack ("Fingerlock") looks pretty cool.

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Views of Lake Tahoe from near Echo Summit.
 
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Our camping spot on National Forest land (along "42-Track Road", just west of Strawberry).
 
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Climbers socializing on the huge belay ledge at the end of the first pitch of "East Wall".
 
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The Strawberry lodge, with Lover's Leap in the background..
 
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Pretty spring flowers at the Leap.
 
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Beer time at the Strawberry Lodge.
 
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The NW face of the Hogsback, seen from the top.
 
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Strange-looking mushrooms at our camping spot (this one is about 8" across).
 
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Watch your step on these trails! (Rattlesnake).
 
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Corrugation Corner, one of the best 5.7's anywhere.
 
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Website overdose! Lucie after a 12-hour website update marathon, on a rainy day at the Leap.
 
CALAVERAS
 
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Calaveras Dome, a remote and lesser-known granite dome about 40 miles SW of the Leap.
 
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Chilling off at Salt Springs Reservoir, by Calaveras Dome.
 
EAGLE CLIFF
 
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Eric leading "Cracula" (10a), one of many good crack climbs at Eagle Lake Cliff.
 
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Eagle Lake as seen from the approach. Eagle Lake Cliff is obvious at the center of the picture.
 
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Eric on "Master of Disaster" (10b), Eagle Lake Cliff.
 
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Eagle Lake, as seen from the top of the crag.
 
SUGARLOAF
 
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Lucie following "Farley", a great 5.9 at Sugarloaf.
 
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Eric at the belay on the second pitch of "Blue Velvet" (5.10c), also at Sugarloaf.
(high res. images are about 300KB)