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Auburn Cliffs

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Horsepoo Canyon 
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Quarry Bouldering 
Scale Wall 
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Tilting Vortex Wall 
Twin Towers  
Wreckage Wall 

Auburn Cliffs Rock Climbing 

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Location: 38.912, -121.0352 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 61,092
Administrators: Aron Quiter, John Robinson, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide), Emily Roeben
Submitted By: Rough on Jan 20, 2003
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FREE GUIDE CAN BE Downloaded from URL below:

Within the boundaries of the Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA) is the remains of an old limestone quarry, formerly the Spreckels quarry. The quarry was bequeathed to the Bureau of Reclamation after the Teichert Inc. had determined that the lower quarry had yielded as much material as was financially feasible. The new land was then included in the State Recreation Area for management by the SRA for the Bureau of Reclamation. The SRA allows recreational usages include hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, camping, mountain biking, gold panning, equestrian/horseback riding trails, off-highway motorcycle riding, and whitewater, with Class II, III and IV runs. Ironically enough, climbing was not addressed in the recreational usage plan despite the quarries large rock cliffs being ideally suited for technical rock climbing.


Technical rock climbing has been practiced in the Old Limestone Quarry located in the ASRA since the late 1980’s. The original climbers established approximately seven rock climbing routes, which required some amount of fixed protection; pitons and protection bolts. From all accounts, early climbers were not discouraged or refused recreational opportunities at this time. Early climbers included Dale Christenson, Eric Kohl, Kirk Arens, and the Hatchett Brothers. On November 18th, 1998, Kirk and friends were practicing rope jumping on an elaborate rigging system. Kirk misjudged the length of his rope jump and was killed in the resultant impact. From this point forward 'til 2003, climbers were discouraged from using the Auburn SRA for technical rock climbing, but it was not technically illegal to climb there. In 2004, the ASRA created a memorandum banning technical climbing which was in effect until October 2012, where through the hard work of CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento), the Access Fund, and local climbers the ban was lifted and climbing could legally resume in the Quarry. Climbers in the early 2000’s started re-exploring the area for rock climbing routes and currently there are almost fifty established routes within the Auburn State Recreation Area. These routes cater to climbers of all levels from easy, moderate, and hard levels of climbing.


The remaining rock cliffs left after the conclusion of active quarrying present a perfect opportunity for performance of technical rock climbing. The rock is highly featured limestone along with other sedimentary rock mixed in. The actual quarrying process itself has created large features, which are ideally suited to climbing.
It is not uncommon to see the Placer County Sheriff use the Old Quarry as a practice grounds for their Search and Rescue Team. So don't be surprised if on occasion you see a large group of folks rappel and jugging the Scale Wall. Please respect their right to use the area for this purpose and find a different wall to climb on until they are done!

Getting There 

  • Highway 80 to Auburn.
  • Exit Elm Ave (exit 119c), and stay left at the fork.
  • Turn left on Elm.
  • .2 miles later, left on El Dorado St (also Hwy 49).
  • Turn right to stay on highway 49, head down the hill and cross the bridge towards Cool (there's a sign.)
  • About a 1/4 mile later, park in the street or in the paid lot on the left (it's hard to see, but it's a VERY wide pull in)

From the parking lot (I advise bringing a bike!!!): Walk about 1 1/2 miles down the main trail (which heads more or less East out of the lot) way above the creek. You'll come to a large fort-like structure with a very wide trail heading straight up a steepish hill right of the main trail, which ends up taking you to the right of the fort. Walk another 150 yards to the FIRST fork, and go right. Follow this still wide (though often quite leaf-covered) trail trough another bend to the left, and you'll pop out at the entrance to the climbing area, with Scale Wall right in front of you.

Approach to close walls : 30 minutes (8 minutes by bike)
Approach to furthest bolted walls: 45 minutes

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.6 miles from here

62 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',21],['2 Stars',29],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Auburn Cliffs

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Auburn Cliffs:
M+M   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 70'   Scale Wall
Uncomfortably Dumb   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Horseshoe Canyon
Unknown 5.10a   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Horseshoe Canyon
Hunger Pains   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Wreckage Wall
Unknown   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 60'   Scale Wall
Vacavillain   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Horseshoe Canyon
Howler Monkey   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Wreckage Wall
Let's Roll   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Twin Towers
Bionic Bitch Slap   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Wreckage Wall
Therapy Session   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   The Patio
Roman Holiday   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   Twin Towers
Destructomatic   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Wreckage Wall
Das Rads   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Twin Towers
Release the Lions   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Twin Towers
Human Oddity   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Horseshoe Canyon
Chariots on Fire   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   Twin Towers
Dillinger   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Twin Towers
Triathlon   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Wreckage Wall
Invisible Flying Gargoyles   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Wreckage Wall
Bat Karma   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Horsepoo Canyon
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Auburn Cliffs

Featured Route For Auburn Cliffs
Rock Climbing Photo: The lower tricky crux of Triathlon.

Triathlon 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b  CA : Tahoe Vicinity : ... : Wreckage Wall
Start to the right border of the large overhang on the Wreckage Wall. Start up an easy bolt to a vertical low crux on smooth rock. Hit the middle portion of the climb following larger holds to a techy microcrux as the wall steepens. Once over the bulge, easier climbing to the anchors....[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Auburn Cliffs Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: overlook at the cliffs on a beautiful spring eveni...
overlook at the cliffs on a beautiful spring eveni...
Rock Climbing Photo: Scale Wall routes.
Scale Wall routes.
Rock Climbing Photo: Please don't sack line at the Quarry. This activit...
Please don't sack line at the Quarry. This activit...
Rock Climbing Photo: A view of the cliffs from the mouth. Photo by Trav...
A view of the cliffs from the mouth. Photo by Trav...
Rock Climbing Photo: michelle on uncomfortably dumb
michelle on uncomfortably dumb
Rock Climbing Photo: this sign no longer exists
this sign no longer exists
Rock Climbing Photo: afternoon sun
afternoon sun
Rock Climbing Photo: Upper section of Auburn cliffs.
Upper section of Auburn cliffs.
Rock Climbing Photo: morning sun
morning sun
Rock Climbing Photo: The new sign: Cave Valley Climbing Area.
BETA PHOTO: The new sign: Cave Valley Climbing Area.
Rock Climbing Photo: Upper end of the quarry near Twin Towers.
Upper end of the quarry near Twin Towers.
Rock Climbing Photo: From the ledge overlooking the Wreckage Wall and d...
BETA PHOTO: From the ledge overlooking the Wreckage Wall and d...
Rock Climbing Photo: fun little easy line
fun little easy line
Rock Climbing Photo: A panorama of the left half of the entrance area. ...
BETA PHOTO: A panorama of the left half of the entrance area. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Great local crag for Sac locals. Lets keep it clea...
Great local crag for Sac locals. Lets keep it clea...
Rock Climbing Photo: Great local crag for Sac locals.
Great local crag for Sac locals.
Rock Climbing Photo: Auburn Cliffs
Auburn Cliffs
Rock Climbing Photo: Seriously people! Important to look out for Rattle...
Seriously people! Important to look out for Rattle...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bill Price on, Hunger Pains. 5.10b
Bill Price on, Hunger Pains. 5.10b
Rock Climbing Photo: bill price lacing up for pitch 2, twin towers. aub...
bill price lacing up for pitch 2, twin towers. aub...
Rock Climbing Photo: auburn quarry
auburn quarry
Rock Climbing Photo: Bill Price working his project
Bill Price working his project
Rock Climbing Photo: auburn quarry
auburn quarry
Rock Climbing Photo: Crazy looking slab in the back of the quarry. Any ...
Crazy looking slab in the back of the quarry. Any ...

Show All 30 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Auburn Cliffs Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 7, 2015
By Colonel Mustard
Oct 28, 2015
To echo Brennen, I saw a car in the $10 pay lot had been broken into yesterday. Driver's side window completely shattered. Part of the problem it seems is that the pay lot is largely out of sight from the busy 49, so thieves are relatively protected while they do their dirty little deeds.

Pay to play and get robbed, it seems. I'd park out on the 49, at least there is traffic streaming by so that these thieving cockroaches have to do their scuttling out in the open.
By theschwill
Dec 7, 2015
Was out here for the first time a couple of months ago. It's a nice spot, but was very busy. There was a lot of loose rock and rockfall.

There was a group of about 25 people who had completely taken over scale by 9:30am and would not let anyone near it until well into the afternoon. They left anchors and ropes up on the wall when they weren't climbing. It was very clear to others that it was "their wall" and they were not willing to share. As soon as the sun left the wall, they moved to a sunnier spot and did the same thing. They brought a dog and a baby. The dog was off leash until it got into another group's food. The baby had been set up on a blanket dangerously close to the wall. At some point, the mother and baby, for some unknown reason, set up at Memorial Wall, where no one in their group was climbing. They just hung out in the middle of the wall at the base, probably 10 ft from the wall. The group of people just didn't care, nor were the apologetic when we told them that their dog got into someone's food, and that they probably shouldn't have their baby so close to the wall with all of the rockfall. It's unfortunate that there are such rude and ignorant people out there who ultimately are jeopardizing access to the area. The same people that will wonder why an area is closed down a year or two from now.
By Rough
Aug 8, 2012
Brennen, It is great to hear people are being allowed to climb out there already, but I can tell you officially from the ASRA perspective the things you listed are not their "only concerns". A couple of quick reminders about Auburn and things you can do to ensure it stays open:

- Be respectful of other user groups (hikers, mtn bikers, equestrians)
- Avoid Boom Boxes. The canyon echoes like crazy and your loud music will be enjoyed / have to be tolerated by everyone.
- Clean up all trash you see, yours or otherwise. Climbers have a tradition of being the driving force for keeping the Quarry clean. Let's keep it up!
- No camping / leave by dark. This is an official park rule.
- Try to use the porta potties on the way and pack out all human waste in plastic bags. This is one of the ASRAs biggest concerns and hence while CRAGS is required to provide a bathroom if Auburn is to stay open.

So! Let's keep Auburn open by being an example user group that the park sees as self managing. We are in a 2 month "trial" period where the ASRA will re-evaluate things / access after 2 months. It is critical we put on the best face possible during this time!
By Rough
Oct 12, 2012
Any wall facing East will get afternoon shade: Memorial Wall, Extension of Surf Tower, Horseshoe Canyon, and several completely untouched walls. The wall by far with the most potential is the extension or farther right area of the Wreckage Wall.
By Justin Smestad
From: San Jose
Oct 12, 2012
Hello Nor Cal climbers! I just recently moved to the Bay area and I have been trying to look around for some good sport climbing crags. From researching, looks like Auburn Cliffs is a good place to go especially now that it is open to climbers. I was wondering if there are any guide books out there for the area and if so, where can I buy one.

And if anyone needs a partner on a weekend, I have a rope, draws, anchors webbing, ect for climbing. just shoot me an email at or text me at (701)340-1966.
My name is Justin
By Rough
Oct 13, 2012
I just want to say thanks to the Sac/Bay climbing community. How awesome it has been the last few weekends seeing everyone enjoying themselves and climbing routes. These last few weekends have been everything I thought Auburn could be, and now is. For that, I want to say thank you :)
By booster
Oct 29, 2012
I was wondering if there is any kind of bolting protocol in effect now that this place is newly "opened"
If you want to put up routes can you just go for it? or do you guys want to let the access issues simmer for a while?
By Rough
Oct 29, 2012

There are no restrictions on bolting. Myself and a few others are rebolting some climbs that got vandalized over the closure years, and putting new ones in as well.

Most of the routes in the Quarry are mine, and I am certainly open to others jumping in and adding routes. A couple of recommendations from me would be:

- Be prepared to clean...A LOT! This isn't a granite area and each route takes quite a bit of time to clean as much loose rock / debris as possible.
- Be careful! Coming in from the top of any of the cliffs is a lot more tricky than it looks due to loose rock, scree, and cliff length.
- Use 1/2" if you can afford it, but at least 3/8" x 2.75". Preferred stainless.
- Paint any anchors you put in to help minimize visual impact.
- Try to drill on Fridays or Sundays if you can. Saturday is definitely the busiest day in the quarry for sure.
- Have at least one other person in group dedicated to keeping people clear of the area you are working on due to guaranteed rock fall.
- Given the amount of potential for new routes, I would suggest working on new formations / walls, not just adding more routes squeezed in between existing routes.

Hopefully you have previous bolting experience before you start. If you don't, consider getting someone who is experienced to help you with your first one or two routes to get a feel for it. Developing new routes is not rocket science, but it does have quite a bit of necessary knowledge to keep safe and put up good routes.

Have fun and feel free to email me any new info / routes you put up! I have a topo I am in the process of updating and will be releasing shortly.
By Salamanizer
From: Vacaville Ca.
Oct 29, 2012
Hopefully you have previous bolting experience before you start. If you don't, consider getting someone who is experienced to help you with your first one or two routes to get a feel for it. Developing new routes is not rocket science, but it does have quite a bit of necessary knowledge to keep safe and put up good routes.

I have to second this comment. I watched recently as several people who obviously had no idea what they were doing were in the beginning stages of putting up a new route out there. Topropeing an obviously dangerous and loose section of crap (assume they picked that spot because it had a convenient place to anchor to on top) and trundling blocks while the belayer was in the danger zone for falling rocks. They then began marking where bolts might go before any proper cleaning was done with several of those marks on loose blocks and in ridiculous and poorly chosen spots that left the leader in danger of taking big falls onto ledges. It was a total junk show.

I've also witnessed the destruction, poor bolt locations and ugliness left behind by someone who doesn't really know what they're doing out at Pine Canyon as well. Poorly placed bolts in bad locations, second guessing bolt placements and moving them leaving the old bolts studs sticking out and a mess of glue oozing out from everywhere.

It's an obvious example of some of the things that can occur when you're new to the game. If you don't really know what your doing, ask someone who does to give you a hand for the first few. I've placed hundreds of bolts and still manage to screw something up from time to time.

Just ask, chances are there are several people with experience willing to help out with not only knowledge, but tools, drills, ropes and all sorts of stuff.

The last thing the climbing world needs is another ugly botch job or squeeze job.
By Imatzu
Nov 12, 2012
We are coming from Idaho to visit family and would love to try out the Auburn Cliffs- we will be there Nov 19-23... does the area get enough sun to be warm enough?
By Rough
Nov 12, 2012
As long as it hasn't rained in two days, you should easily be able to chase the sun throughout the day and stay cozy! I would suggest layering to make sure you stay warm.
By Rough
Feb 13, 2013
I have linked the free topo in the description as well as here:
By mike carville
Feb 16, 2013
Hello Aaron,
Ran into John Robinson at the Auburn Quarry yesterday. We climb there a few weeks ago for the first time and had fun. On the way out we looked at Wreckage Wall and big cliff to right - wow! Also checked out the Well area. John said you are the guy to talk to about new routes. Wanted to let you know that we started a couple lines on the big wall. Release the Lions .11c goes to old anchors center of wall. Just to the left of that is Chariots on Fire .11bish. Both lines are about 100 ft.

To the left of those lines, we fixed a 200 ft line. We have TR the moves, done some cleaning and drilled a couple bolts. Should come in at mid 5.11. As the local guide book author we wanted to introduce ourselves (Mike Carville/Josh Horniak) and let you know what we've been up to there. Should be a great winter cliff. We may be out there Sunday. If you're around come up and jump on the new lines. Cheers, Mike
Rock Climbing Photo: Release the Lions .11c. Twin Towers, Auburn Quarry...
Release the Lions .11c. Twin Towers, Auburn Quarry, CA.
By Rough
Feb 18, 2013
Looks awesome Mike! Thanks for the heads up, I'll update the topo and welcome to Auburn!
By Brennen T
From: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Mar 12, 2013
If anyone ever needs a partner for here, im free every Sunday and most Saturdays, i climb here often and am very familiar with the area. just looking for people to climb with since i lost my partner!
By Mathew G
Mar 20, 2013
I've seen significant climber-induced rockfall every time I've been here. Belayers use lots of caution!
By Grumpy Gym Climber
Mar 23, 2013
Just went out today for the first time. A great area, but a couple of comments/cautions. The online guide (link in the description above) is very helpful but not always up to date. There were several climbs that were missing bolts and several others that are in the process of having bolts replaced (Thank You!). We found one loose bolt, as we were cleaning a 5.9 on Scale Wall. Speaking of cleaning, be ready to deal with dirty climbs (mud appears to run off of the top of Scale Wall). We also cleared a loose cobble sized rock and numerous other smallish rocks and dirt.
By Sam Prentice
Mar 31, 2013
A buddy and I back in 2001-ish used to come here and clip bolts on the DL. Western slope so desperately needed a sport place.

So sweet to see the ravine finally get green-lighted for climbing! Thanks much to all who put in the effort with Auburn SRA bureaucrats.
By Morgan Nutting
From: Bishop, CA
Apr 6, 2013
Spent a good amount of time here when I first started climbing 10 years ago. Not a bad place to learn some good sport techniques, but once you venture out to Tahoe, Yosemite, Sonora and other classic areas you'll never come back to Auburn. I'm glad they opened it though, it beats sneaking around fo sho.
By Brennen T
From: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
May 25, 2013
Does anyone know about the anchors right below the tunnel/cave that about chest height? for people that have been climbing here for years are these the anchors for the well that you used to have to Rap into in order to climb?
By Rough
May 25, 2013

Yeah those would either be the old anchors to Blasting Chamber 5.12d, Bonk 5.13, or Well Deserved 5.10b. Those routes used to be full sport pitches till they bulldozed the earth in. I should probably go in there to at least get my hardware back now that the lines are ruined :(
By Brennen T
From: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
May 26, 2013
wow such a bummer i wish i could have seen those lines!!! thats alot of earth they have moved in there!! i hope it stops soon, there is some beautiful lines up in there! yeah those hangers are right at chest height could grab them with ease!
By Rough
May 26, 2013
Hey Brennen, If you don;t mind grabbing them, please do! I'll PM you to hook up and get them from you at some time. This way that hardware will be used to support more routes at Auburn!
By Brennen T
From: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
May 26, 2013
sure next time i get out there, hopefully monday, ill pull em off
By Rennie Putnam
From: Davis, CA
May 28, 2013
Was out at the Quarry today climbing at Wreckage wall and had a chance to look at the 6 or 7 new routes which have gone up to the right (this is called Twin Towers area, I believe?) They appear to be real gems.

Many thanks to those taking time (and money) to safely develop this humble crag. You are appreciated.
By Steve Montesanto
Jan 22, 2014
What's the word on when the quarry will start being open to climbing 7 days a week?
By Matt Franklin
Apr 7, 2014
Open for climbing 7 days a week as of this past Saturday:
By Coco Bell
Apr 17, 2014
Now that it's open 7 days a week who wants to go after work? looking for a partner M-Th around 5 who is motivated to get in a couple quick routes before dark!
By Bradley Wade
May 7, 2014
quick question.

My wife and I are in the area for a couple weeks and were thinking of climbing auburn cliffs tomorrow or the next day. We have a 9 month old and this is the first time we have been climbing with her so have a few simple questions about the area. We are thinking we will only top rope and maybe a few sport routes if things are going smoothly. It looks like scale wall will be our best location and wondering if anyone knows about morning or evening being best to dodge the sun. We are planning to carry out a pack-n-play type thing to put her in while we climb.
Any and all advice is welcome.
ps sorry if this is posted in the wrong area.
By Rough
May 8, 2014
Brad: Auburn is perfect for climbing with kids. There is a great flat base between the Scale Wall and Memorial Wall. Sun will be on the Memorial Wall early, then about Noon transition to sun on the Scale Wall and the Memorial Wall will go into the shade. You should be able to transition between those two walls and be in or out of the sun as you prefer. Keep the little one away from the base of the cliffs as this was a quarry so there is loose rock that on occasion will be dislodged. You don't want your little one anywhere near where it may fall or bounce to. Have fun!
By matt keyes
Jul 22, 2014
I think those are my shoes! Size 10 stinky evolve shoes. Let me know if those are what you found. Thanks!
By BrennenAuburn
From: Granite Bay, California
Aug 4, 2015
Is there Anyone interested in re-improving trail conditions from lower quarry to wreckage wall and from wreckage to Kilimanjaro Slab and Patio? i would like to get up there and work on some stuff after seeing someone fall for the 2nd time, if so let me know as i would like to get something set up
By Tony DiBiase
Oct 26, 2015

There was a medical emergency at the Quarry yesterday, and I was forced to abandon some gear in my rush to provide first aid assistance to a hiker that fell off a cliff into the quarry. I had to leave a top rope anchor and two draws on Uncomfortably Dumb. If anybody happens to live nearby or plans on checking that climb out, and sees my gear still up there, I'd love it if you could contact me and we could pick it up. My email is Please let me know, I'll owe you a six pack!
By Rough
Dec 7, 2015
theschwill: Sorry to hear that. I have found that a smile and a friendly greeting will quickly pay dividends with a parting of the sea of ropes for your route of choice. Ask them if they pull their rope, you will rerig the TR for them when you are done. Most likely it will give you a chance to ask them for some draws instead of having it run straight through the quicklinks/anchors thus saving the hardware from further wear.

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