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The cliff belonging to the appropriately named, Cliff Lake, is a south-facing quartzite cliff band approximately 90 feet tall at its highest point, and about 100 yards wide. The talus slope below prevents trees from growing, so there is not much of a wind break. It is sunny, but that warms the rock for morning climbing. Cliff Lake isn't a particularly busy lake, even on Free Fishing day. There aren't many good campsites in the area, and the campsites that do exist aren't close to the climbing. The fishing is decent, and worms seemed like the best way to ensure a tasty dinner. It looked like there was a trail on the east side of the cliff that would provide top-rope access. The routes here are mostly sport, but there are a few traditional oferings. They range in difficulty from 5.5-5.10c. The rock was surprisingly clean and solid. Brian Cabe seemed to be the most active FA in this area, and there appears to be potential for more route development on the western flank of the cliff.
Drive on the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway (Highway 150) and turn onto the Trial Lake/Crystal Lake Trailhead turnoff. The signage here is fantastic. You will drive past the Trial Lake Dam, and switch back towards the Washington Lake Campground. The road turns to dirt just before the parking lot at the Crystal Lake Trailhead. There are pit toilets here and parking for approximately 60 vehicles. There are several trails that start from this point. Choose the Smith Morehouse Trail (AKA Lake Country). Follow this trail for several hundred yards (heading west) to the first trail that branches off to the right (north). There is a rusty sign that says "Cliff Lake" here. This trail passes on the west side of Lily Lakes and heads up a steep ridge just before Cliff Lake. The cliff is on the west side of the lake, just above the outlet stream. Expect a 20-30 minute approach.
9 Total Routes
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Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cliff Lake:
Vulgaria 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 70'
Lake Effect 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a Trad, Sport, 50'
Gobslutch 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a Trad, 1 pitch, 50'
Squanto 5.10 6b 20 VII- E2 5b Sport, 1 pitch, 60'
No Woman, No Cry 5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b Sport, 1 pitch, 75'
Chilly Dogs 5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b Sport, 75'
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