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Areas in Phantom Spires

Armadillo 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Blocks, The 0 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Clam Rock 0 / 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Flathead 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Goblet Wall, The 2 / 2 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Gorilla Rock 4 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Holiday Rock 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Lizard Head 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Lost John 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Lower Spire 4 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7
Middle Spire 18 / 5 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 22
Phantom Wall 2 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Shark's Tooth 0 / 2 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
True Grit 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Twin Owls 0 / 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Uncle Max 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Upper Spire 18 / 3 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 22

Description

High above to the North, hidden from Highway 50, sits the lonely Phantom Spires, and many surrounding rocks.

Amongst a barren rock field you will find many traditional routes, along with some more difficult sport and mixed routes in an excellent, yet unsheltered setting that's almost eerie at times. Watching other parties climb is easy, since there are absolutely no trees surrounding the spires.

Wind can be unbearble, but because they face south, you can climb here from late fall to early summer before it gets too hot.

The black and white granite of The Phantom Spires will remind you of Yosemite, but like most Tahoe granite, isn't as glasslike.

Camping: around the the lot, just past the parking area.

Bring a 4X4 to access if it's been raining, or cross your fingers and drive REALLY carefully with your lower (not low!) clearance vehicles to get in on the 1+ mile long access road. If the access road is snowed in, or if you can't get in with your vehicle, you can always walk in, which is a very pretty and awe inspiring view of the surrounding valley and the Phantom Spires.
Dirt road winter closures Details

Getting There

From the West:

Take Highway 50 to Kyburz, which is 31 miles East of Placerville. From Kyburz, continue East 4.9 miles to the marked Wrights Lake Road, which is a left turn.

Continue using the directions below.

From the East:

Head approximately 20 miles West on Highway 50, 4.1 miles past the small town of Strawberry (and Lover's Leap), to Wright's Lake Road, which is a right turn. Continue using the directions below.

Once on Wright's Lake Road:

This will wander up a around for a while, getting narrower as it climbs. After 2.3 miles, the Phantom Spires will leap into view. As soon as you can see the spires, take the next left onto an unmarked gravel logging road that's REALLY easy to miss. This road heads downhill from the road and moves more in line with the gradient around the valley, and can be seen from the paved road below the spires if missed. Follow the gravel road (slowly in 2wd vehicles!) until the road ends in a parking lot about 2 miles in. There is a pullout about 1/2 way in on the road if you feel that your vehicle can't take the road, and this will shorten the longer approach.

The mapquest map below will get you to Kyburz.

Access

CRAGS and the Access Fund are beginning new projects to help improve access to Phantom Spires.

81 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Phantom Spires

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
North Ridge
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Ginger Bread
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Over Easy
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Regular Route
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Lean And Mean
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Hard Up
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Jugs Revisited
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Corn Flakes
Trad
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Fear of Flying
Trad 2 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
3-bolt Arete
Sport, TR
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
The Prow
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Candyland
Trad
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Candyass
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Steppin' Stone
Trad 2 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Lesbian Love
Sport
North Ridge Upper Spire 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 2 pitches
Ginger Bread Upper Spire 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Over Easy Middle Spire 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Regular Route Middle Spire 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
Lean And Mean Middle Spire 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Hard Up Middle Spire 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Jugs Revisited Upper Spire 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Corn Flakes Middle Spire 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Fear of Flying Upper Spire 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad 2 pitches
3-bolt Arete Shark's Tooth 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport, TR
The Prow Middle Spire 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Candyland Middle Spire 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Candyass Middle Spire 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Steppin' Stone Upper Spire 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad 2 pitches
Lesbian Love Upper Spire 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Phantom Spires »

Weather Averages

High
 
Low
 
Precip
 
Days w Precip
 
Prime Climbing Season
Empty
J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Blitzo  
I remember when there were trees. It was kind of a horrendous hike up there! Jul 29, 2010
Sarah Thompson
San Francisco, CA
Sarah Thompson   San Francisco, CA
Beware! My car was broken into while parked on Wrights Lake Road. We left it up there on the shoulder only for a few hours, from about 1-4pm on Sunday. Very disappointing. They smashed the passenger rear windows and the window frame to take an empty (school-type) REI backpack. We left my Jetta there due to low clearance and drove in to the parking lot with the car that can handle the deep ruts in the access road. Sep 6, 2016
Justin Johnsen
Nor Cal
Justin Johnsen   Nor Cal  
Cool, thanks JA! Mar 13, 2013
J. Albers
Colorado
J. Albers   Colorado
Justin,

The seasonal closer of all dirt roads went into effect a couple of years ago (prior to that it was just select roads). They open the roads as conditions permit to minimize damage. The best thing to do is just call the forest service to find out what is open because they don't always keep their website up to date. Mar 12, 2013
Justin Johnsen
Nor Cal
Justin Johnsen   Nor Cal  
[edit/update: all dirt roads in Eldorado National Forest are open for business as of April 1, 2013.]

This is my first winter in Nor Cal, so I don't know if this is a yearly thing, or new for 2012-13.

Eldorado National Forest dirt roads are all closed the end of November until "at least April."

fs.usda.gov/alerts/eldorado…

"Dirt Road Seasonal Closure in Effect Nov. 29
Date(s): Nov 26, 2012
Contact(s): Frank Mosbacher
The seasonal closure of native surface roads, also referred to as dirt roads, in the Eldorado National Forest is in effect as of November 29, 2012. They will remain closed until at least April 1."

I saw a forum post that mentioned someone was ticketed for parking on the dirt road at the Spires, despite the warm dry weather.

So park on the pullout along paved Wrights Lake Road, and hike it in.

From WLR to the dirt parking lot/trailhead it's less than a mile, with a couple hundred feet of elevation each way. No problem!

Some people leave their low clearance cars there year round anyway, or when the dirt road gets too flooded or muddy. Mar 12, 2013

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