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The Emeralds

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Benches, The 
Flume Face, The 
Gorge, The 
Max Boulder, The 
Oasis, The 
Stress Management Boulders 

The Emeralds 


Photos: Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 4,500'
Location: 39.31876, -120.65678 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 34,188
Administrators: Aron Quiter, John Robinson, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Aron Quiter on Oct 7, 2002
Forecast:
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue
Clear
71° | 56°
Clear
76° | 60°
Clear
76° | 58°
Clear
75° | 58°
Clear
79° | 60°
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Deep water soloing on a great boulder problem at t...

Getting There 

This page's location shows the usual parking area. Here are driving directions there:

  • From I-80, exit onto Highway 20 and drive four miles toward Nevada City.

  • After 3.5 miles, turn north onto Bowman Lake Road (forest service road 18) and drive for 1.3 miles. Have no fear, this section of the road is all paved.

  • Just before the bridge that crosses the Yuba River, there is a dirt access road. It is now gated and locked, so park across the bridge, then continue on foot.

For an overview map of walking directions to the climbing areas, with GPS coordinates, see the Emeralds Guide page one thru 4 below. Don't use the photo at the top right of this page as it has been updated and the current one appears below (revised 6/2014) I don't know how to get rid of the old one, maybe someone can help me?


Description 

If you are looking for an area where you can climb without crowds and be in a beautiful mountain setting, this is the place. There is even a huge world class swimming hole that is emerald green (expect beautiful people here with little on in the hot days of summer). Most of the climbs in the Benches section are westerly to northerly facing so you can chase shade all day in the hotter months. When the temperature is 110F in Sacramento, head for the gorge where you will need a sweater.

WARNING! (This Warning only applies to the Gorge Section and not the Benches Section). As the sign posted at the parking lot reminds you, this area is subject to sudden and severe flooding, especially in run off times (spring and winter). Most of the climbing routes in the gorge are in the potential flooding areas, as walls of the gorge sit below several LARGE floodgates from Spaulding Lake. These gates may open at any time, and as the sign in the parking area states, there may or may not be warning. Being in the gorge when the gates open would probably mean death, and being in the other climbing areas will mean that your exit is blocked until flood waters reside. Read all posted signs in the parking area, and also beware that these may not be updated.

The Emeralds are on a mix of PG&E (Pacfic Gas and Electric) and Tahoe National Forest land. The exact boundaries aren't easy to see on the ground. Dispersed or primitive camping is permitted in many areas of the national forests, but since specifics change frequently, contact Tahoe NF for more information before setting up camp, and as always, make an effort to leave no trace. Established campgrounds are also available in the national forest along Bowman Lake Road, and just upstream at PG&E's Lake Spaulding campground.


Climbing Season


70 Total Routes


['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',33],['2 Stars',22],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',7],['5.9',5],['5.10',17],['5.11',28],['5.12',13],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Emeralds:
Bushmaster   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Benches : Dollar Store
Life is Bad   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Benches : The Negativity Cave
Sand Wedge   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 50'   The Benches : Pebble Beach
Ghost Town   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13     Sport, 60'   Kudos Cliff : Kudos Right
Price Check   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Benches : Dollar Store
Closed for lunch   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 60'   The Benches : Dollar Store
Little Buddy   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 80'   The Benches : Negativity slabs
Rebirth   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Kudos Cliff : Kudos Right
Where the Green Fern Grows   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 60'   The Benches : Pebble Beach
Push to open   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Benches : Dollar Store
Step into the Light   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Kudos Cliff : Kudos Left
Solar Winds   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 50'   The Benches : The Fortress
Half Full or Half Empty?   5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 50'   The Benches : The Negativity Cave
Charlie and the Stick Factory   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 70'   The Benches : The Fortress
Please Pull Forward   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Benches : Fast Food Wall
Super Size Me   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   The Benches : Fast Food Wall
Shadows on the Earth   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   The Benches : The Fortress
In and out urge   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   The Benches : Fast Food Wall
Duppy Conquer   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Kudos Cliff : Kudos Left
Radio Static   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 70'   The Benches : Steel Monkey Wall
Browse More Classics in The Emeralds

Featured Route For The Emeralds
Matt Sumner on In n Out Urge .11c/d

In and out urge 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c  CA : Tahoe Vicinity : ... : Fast Food Wall
This route is the furthest route left on the Upper Fast Food Wall. Refer to the guide on the main Emeralds page (Photos)...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of The Emeralds Slideshow Add Photo
Josh heading up Whirl Pool .12a. Need a 70 meter rope. Emeralds, Upper Gorge.
Josh heading up Whirl Pool .12a. Need a 70 meter r...
The mega classic Resurrection .11c. Emeralds, Upper Gorge.
The mega classic Resurrection .11c. Emeralds, Uppe...
 5 Minute Hero .12- Emeralds, Upper Gorge.
5 Minute Hero .12- Emeralds, Upper Gorge.
Emeralds Guide Page 1
BETA PHOTO: Emeralds Guide Page 1
I believe this route is called Atlantis and is in the 5.11 range, photo circa 1992
I believe this route is called Atlantis and is in ...
Hansi sending 3 Minute Hero .12a. Emeralds Upper Gorge.
Hansi sending 3 Minute Hero .12a. Emeralds Upper G...
Guide to the Emeralds. Page 2
BETA PHOTO: Guide to the Emeralds. Page 2
I believe this route is called Atlantis and is in the 5.11 range, photo circa 1992
I believe this route is called Atlantis and is in ...
Guide to the Emeralds. Page 3
BETA PHOTO: Guide to the Emeralds. Page 3
Super Alpine Route Direct .11a. Emeralds, CA.
Super Alpine Route Direct .11a. Emeralds, CA.
The Emeralds trailhead warning sign.
BETA PHOTO: The Emeralds trailhead warning sign.
Hansi - third ascent of Drama Queen .12a. Emeralds. Upper Gorge.
Hansi - third ascent of Drama Queen .12a. Emeralds...
Dylan on Separation Anxiety .11d. Wishing Well. Emeralds, Upper Gorge.
Dylan on Separation Anxiety .11d. Wishing Well. Em...
Emeralds Guide Page 4
BETA PHOTO: Emeralds Guide Page 4
Peter Mayfield on an early ascent of the steep and blocky Fight Club .11d at the Bear's Lair. Emeralds, CA.
Peter Mayfield on an early ascent of the steep and...
Negativity Cave, Emeralds. CA.
Negativity Cave, Emeralds. CA.
Comments on The Emeralds Add Comment
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By Cave Man McElroy
From: auburn
Jun 25, 2012

(Before accepting the following comments regarding the flooding potential of the Emeralds, please read the Emeralds "Description")


There are several climbing locations in and around the emeralds area. The (sort of sketchy/often flooded area (upper gorge etc)) is more easily approached via lake spalding (i.e. park on HWY20 and ride bike down and over the lake spalding dam...better for end of the summer/when it's been dry for a long time.

Some other (more safe/non-flooded) climbing is more easily appraoched via bowman lake road. This area includes a climb called "Steel Monkey" '12a' epic 4/5 star sport climb on a slightly overhanging wall.

By mike carville
Feb 16, 2013

Great new climbs by Brad Johnson and John Robinson at the Kudos/Fast Food cliff. Walk another 15 minutes northeast and you'll find the old Emeralds' Gorge. A new Tahoe Guide book from Josh Horniak will have all the routes in the Emeralds/Bowman Area (fall 2013).

There are now 27 newly bolted lines in the Gorge ranging from .10-.13. The greatest concentration of routes is in the .11 range. Some of these routes require a 70 meter rope. Dam Release/high water in spring is a very dangerous issue here. Other than that the Gorge climbing is great and the Wishing Well remains cool even in July/August when the rest of the Emeralds is hot.

Cheers, Mike

By mike carville
Mar 30, 2013

Emeralds is bone dry and in season as of 3/30/13!