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Areas in The Emeralds

Benches, The 7 / 90 / 8 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 98
Flume Face, The 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Gorge, The 0 / 13 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 13
Max Boulder, The 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Oasis, The 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Spaulding Campground 1 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Stress Management Boulders 0 / 0 / 0 / 10 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 10
Elevation: 4,500 ft
GPS: 39.319, -120.657 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 218,056 total · 1,113/month
Shared By: Aron Quiter on Oct 7, 2002
Admins: Aron Quiter, Kyle Bishop, Lurker, Refuge Jared, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
Getting weather forecast...
Access Issue: No overnight camping on PG&E property Details

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.

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.

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 1 thru 6 below in the Photos.

125 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Emeralds

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
 98
Bushmaster
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 81
Price Check
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 42
Cast In Stone
Sport 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 73
Ghost Town
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 85
Closed for lunch
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 82
Rebirth
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 75
If the Shoe Fits
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 115
Push to Open
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 55
420 Club
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 151
Step Into The Light
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 48
Where's The Beef
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 94
Charlee and the Stick Factory
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 68
Super Size Me
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 61
Duppy Conquer
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 30
Steel Monkey
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Bushmaster Benches > Dollar Store
 98
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c Sport
Price Check Benches > Dollar Store
 81
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Cast In Stone Benches > Negativity Cave
 42
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport 2 pitches
Ghost Town Benches > Kudos Cliff > Kudos Right
 73
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Closed for lunch Benches > Dollar Store
 85
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Rebirth Benches > Kudos Cliff > Kudos Right
 82
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
If the Shoe Fits Benches > Kudos Cliff > Kudos Right
 75
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Push to Open Benches > Dollar Store
 115
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
420 Club Benches > Chalkporium
 55
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Step Into The Light Benches > Kudos Cliff > Kudos Left
 151
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Where's The Beef Benches > Fast Food Wall
 48
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Charlee and the Stick Factory Benches > Fortress
 94
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Super Size Me Benches > Fast Food Wall
 68
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Duppy Conquer Benches > Kudos Cliff > Kudos Left
 61
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Steel Monkey Benches > Steel Monkey Wall
 30
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in The Emeralds »

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J F M A M J J A S O N D
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Photos

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 Feb 16, 2013
Alan  
Went to the Emeralds area for the first time over the weekend. One note on the approach - we were trying to follow the hand-drawn maps posted in the photos sections and ended up on a mystery trail that goes up the ridge above the benches area. The primary reason for getting lost was seeing a trail break right into the woods that was Cairn-laden (as well as the map comment that says "trail starts uphill"). Maybe this trail is to help guide people to the top of the cliff for TRing or maybe it's leading to new areas in the gorge on the other side of the benches? In any case, do not follow this first trail if you are looking for the "high trail" to the benches area. You'll be looking for a very large pile of Cairns a bit past that. You'll know you're on the right track if you walk through a campsite in the woods with a makeshift bench made from a few logs and a long piece of steel. Aug 25, 2014
tosh forrence
mcminnville, or
tosh forrence   mcminnville, or
So, if heading to the benches, make sure you take the right turn that has a metal bench about 100 feet down the trail. People have been putting confusing cairns on paths that just lead you into the woods. Look for the metal bench or you're going to be hiking for a long time. Aug 28, 2014
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
Kelley Gilleran   Sacramento, Ca
The parking at the emeralds has been crazy this year. With the popularity of the pools and the climbing area increasing make sure the gate does not get blocked to the pg&e access road. Also think about the best place to park to allow as many cars in the limited space as possible. Aug 28, 2015
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
Kelley Gilleran   Sacramento, Ca
John Robinson
Elk Grove, ca
John Robinson   Elk Grove, ca
The Bowman road is now open so you can drive to the Emeralds but snow blocks the road before you get to Bowman May 10, 2017
Fellow Climbers,
Noticed several tents while walking into the emeralds climbing area this last weekend ( 5/20/17 ). PG&E has posted several signs at the gate and other areas that state camping is NOT allowed. Please respect this so that access does not become an issue!

Thanks in advance,

Colby W May 22, 2017
Erik B  
Rappelled into the Upper Gorge today to check out conditions. The water was below the dam so it is safe to climb below. As far as I could tell the routes there were not affected by the winter storms. The narrow pool at the base is very full so getting over to the south side wall will be interesting Jul 27, 2017
Whitney Christine
Nevada City, CA
Whitney Christine   Nevada City, CA
Fellow climbers,

PLEASE do not camp at the crag, and please obey parking signs and do not block the roadway.

I understand the popularity of the crag has blown up recently, but as a local, these actions greatly increase the chance of access being threatened. Plus, the risk of fire danger is extremely high given the water year, and a camp fire could have a spark that put thousands of lives and homes at risk. There are plenty of free camping opportunities in Tahoe National Forest and on BLM land, but please don't start fires.

Another note, also please don't bring glass to the river or the crag! This weekend there was a bunch of broken glass at the Swimming hole there and on the trail.

Please be a thoughtful environmental steward and leave no trace. Aug 7, 2017
Does anyone know how the condition are there right now? Since there has not been much snowfall this year so far I was hoping it is possible to climb right now. Feb 11, 2018
Lurker
Truckee, CA
Lurker   Truckee, CA  
@Lukas Flenner: conditions are good. A bit of seepage here and there but mostly dry and no snow on the ground. Walls start to come into the sun around noonish. Feb 11, 2018
Michael Dorame
San Francisco, CA
Michael Dorame   San Francisco, CA
Where is a decent place to camp near the Emeralds for 12 people? (tents)
Thanks Jun 21, 2018
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
Kelley Gilleran   Sacramento, Ca
Rucker Lake, Blue Lake, Grouse Ridge Jun 21, 2018

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