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Areas in Donner Summit

Baboon Crag 4 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 5
Bastille (aka Nursery School) Slab 4 / 0 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Black Wall 48 / 8 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 56
Boreal Area 18 / 4 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 21
Freeway Slab 3 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Gemstone Wall 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Goldilocks Wall 4 / 2 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7
Green Phantom Rock 8 / 2 / 11 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 16
Grouse Slab 20 / 11 / 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 30
Hidden Wall 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
North Star Wall 7 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 11
Peanut Gallery Area 8 / 10 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 19
Perch, The 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Road Cut, The 4 / 8 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 11
School Rock 14 / 3 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 18
Snowshed Wall 39 / 12 / 11 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 50
South Star Wall 2 / 16 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 18
Space Wall 3 / 7 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 9
Stealth Wall 3 / 4 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 8
Sun Wall 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Access Issue: Donner/Truckee area Details

Description

Donner Summit is one of the crown jewels of climbing in Tahoe, featuring trad, sport, bouldering, and multi-pitch, all on high-quality granite, perched above Donner Lake and Truckee.  

Donner Summit generally covers crags and boulders situated between Donner Pass Road (i.e., Old Highway 40) and Interstate 80.  Most of the walls are accessed via Donner Pass Road, with a few exceptions accessed from I-80 (Babylon, Bat Wall, PCT Cliff, Freeway Slab).

Summer is the prime time to climb on the Summit, with spring and fall offering excellent conditions as well. The Summit is typically snowed-in in the winter, although a few crags (e.g., southwest face of Grouse Slab) can be climbed year-round.

Although many climbers will flock to popular walls like Snowshed, gems can be found everywhere, and it's not hard to find solitude if you're willing to hike a little further.  A dip in Donner Lake and some beers on the dock can be a great way to finish off a day of sending.

Getting There

Drive on Interstate 80 from outside the Donner area.

From the west, take exit 174 at Soda Springs, and follow Donner Pass Road just past the ski areas where large rocks appear on both sides of the road.

From the east, take exit 184 just past Truckee for Donner Pass Road. Drive past the lake, and up to your destination.

Lots of this area's destinations use the Pacific Crest Trail -the local path of least resistance - as art of their approach, especially on the north side of the road.

Lodging

Camping near the climbing is illegal, but doesn't seem to be too severely enforced. If that troubles you, seasonally there's camping on the opposite side of Donner Lake (see Donner Memorial State Park's website for details), and both cabins and hotels accommodations in from there to Truckee, which is an ample source of nearby food and entertainment.

Granite Flat Campground opens earlier each year than Donner Memorial SP. It is located a few miles south of Truckee on highway 89. It currently costs $22/night for a single vehicle site. It's not the most remote campsite as it is directly adjacent to 89, but has decent toilets and well water.

295 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Donner Summit

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 144
Composure
Trad
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 120
Rated X
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 128
Jellyroll Arch
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 194
One Hand Clapping
Trad 4 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 153
Black September
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 72
Touch and Go
Trad
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 176
Nova Express
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 163
Bottomless Topless
Trad, TR
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 153
Farewell to Arms
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 75
Firecracker
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 115
Molar Concentration
Trad
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 68
Little Feat
Sport, TR
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 120
Aerial
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 108
Peter Principle
Trad, TR
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 70
Monkey Paws
Trad, TR
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Composure Snowshed Wall > N Face
 144
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad
Rated X Black Wall > Black Wall - Right
 120
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Jellyroll Arch Grouse Slab > E Face
 128
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
One Hand Clapping Black Wall > Black Wall - Left
 194
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 4 pitches
Black September Black Wall > Black Wall - Right
 153
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Touch and Go Black Wall > Black Wall - Left
 72
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Nova Express Snowshed Wall > E Face
 176
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad
Bottomless Topless Snowshed Wall > N Face
 163
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, TR
Farewell to Arms Snowshed Wall > E Face
 153
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Firecracker Black Wall > Black Wall - Left
 75
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Molar Concentration Snowshed Wall > N Face
 115
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Little Feat Snowshed Wall > E Face
 68
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport, TR
Aerial Snowshed Wall > N Face
 120
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Peter Principle Snowshed Wall > N Face
 108
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, TR
Monkey Paws Snowshed Wall > N Face
 70
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad, TR
More Classic Climbs in Donner Summit »

Weather Averages

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Photos

Nikolai Daiss-Fechner
Boulder, CO
Nikolai Daiss-Fechner   Boulder, CO
If climbing near the top of Donner (Goldilocks, Schoolhouse, Hiking PCT etc), please do not park in the paved part of the Sugar Bowl Academy lot (formerly ASI). There is a service road that runs out the back of the lot. Parking on any of the dirt in this area is permitted. Just stay off the pavement.
Bathrooms are rather scarce on Donner, and burying it is tough since most of the ground is solid rock. There is an outhouse at Snowshed wall (can't miss it), as well as bathrooms at the Cafe in Norden (West towards where you get onto 80). Donner Ski Ranch is also sometimes an option. SBA (right on the pass) CANNOT allow general public to use their restrooms legally. Also, down on 40 along Donner lake there are a few small cafes and stores that may or may not have bathrooms. There is a beach on Donner lake at the west end that has restrooms, but there is an access fee depending on the time of year.
The easily accessible docks on Donner Lake are for public use, on a kind of first come first serve basis. Look down at the shore as you drive along the lake to find them. Excellent place to have an evening beer after climbing or spend a rest day lounging and swimming. (On a side note, do not fish here without a license because Rangers DO come by to check). The swimming is first class...water temps are chilly but very nice as far as snow runoff fed lakes go.
I would be more than happy to provide any additional info. Feel Free to contact me. I however, have a terrible memory and rout beta is not my strong point. I did live here (at SBA) for 2 years though and know the area itself very well Feb 11, 2008
couple of questions about Donners Pass:

Is all the snow melted by the end of May? Is everything climbable at this time?

Are crowds ever a problem here? Is it very often that you have to wait in line for a popular climb? Would memorial day weekend be a bad time to go?

Thanks for any info you have. May 3, 2009
Rick D
Reno, NV
Rick D   Reno, NV
Response to Slab Guy:

The snow will still be around but you can get to all the walls as of right now. Snowshed is still pretty wet though. Snowshed is usually packed on the weekends, Truckee will be a zoo on memorial, everyone from the bay comes up. May 4, 2009
Paul Rezucha
Alameda
Paul Rezucha   Alameda
Could anyone tell me if there is any good place to camp this time of year around Donner? Most campgrounds are open May through October. Forest Land is ok to "dispense" camp but where/how does one find a good area that's not private and that is accessible. You do need a fire permit (free) from the park service/visitor center if you plan to cook or have a fire. Thanks! Nov 2, 2009
Earl Arin
Las Vegas, NV
Earl Arin   Las Vegas, NV
Does anyone know what camp site is closest and if there are any camp sites paid or BLM with trails leading to the climbing areas? I'm fine with long trails, even up to 10-12 miles. Oct 21, 2011
Can anyone recommend a guidebook for Donner and/or all of North Tahoe? I searched online and all I could find was the Falcon guide from 1999 and a Maximus Press book for Big Chief. Jul 10, 2012
J. Albers
Colorado
J. Albers   Colorado
Rams,

See the link pasted below (it has a list of all of the books that are available):

mountainproject.com/v/norca… Jul 11, 2012
Rams;

If you want the comprehensive guidebook for the North Tahoe region:

The new LOCALS GUIDE to North Tahoe has all 1,300 of the known routes in the North Tahoe-Donner-Reno region with full color overlays of almost every route. Included are seven hundred routes not documented in the other guidebooks listed, as well as a detailed history of climbing in the region.

More info here: (note - now a dead link) h ttp://camp4press.com Jul 13, 2012
slk
Reno, NV
slk   Reno, NV
^^^^^^

This guide is awesome for the area. For a .7-.8 climber it's helped to point me to some fun stuff. Going to go hit some .6 and .7 up above snowshed today and help clean it out!!!!

Thanks J. Jackson, see you at happy hour. Aug 5, 2012
Laine Christman
Reno, NV
Laine Christman   Reno, NV
March 2015 - In collaboration with the Access Fund, the Truckee Donner Land Trust has entered into an agreement to purchase the 10-acre property that includes Black Wall and surrounding crags. Thanks to all who donated. If you haven't, you still can by going to this link Jul 17, 2015

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