GPS: 39.33, -120.643 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 6,339 total · 32/month
Shared By: Alan Nelson on Oct 16, 2002
Admins: Aron Quiter, Kyle Bishop, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Access Issue: Flood Danger Details
Access Issue: No overnight camping on PG&E property Details

Description

(UPDATED 4/2013) MUCH OF THE INFORMATION BELOW THIS PARAGRAPH IS NO LONGER ACCURATE AS ADDITIONAL FLOODING HAS CHANGED MUCH OF THE LANDSCAPE. THERE IS NO LONGER A WISHING WELL AND WHERE THE WISHING WELL WAS IS NOW LARGE BOULDERS. THIS ENTIRE AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER DEVELOPMENT BY MIKE CARVILLE, JOSH HORNIAK AND OTHERS. THERE WILL BE A GUIDE PUBLISHED IN THE NEAR FUTURE WHICH WILL PROVIDE COMPLETE INFORMATION ON THE AREA. THE WARNING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE DESCRIPTION CONTINUES TO BE VALID. HOWEVER, ONCE THE WATER LEVEL IN SPAULDING LAKE IS BELOW THE BOTTOM OF THE OUTLET GATES, THIS WARNING NO LONGER APPLIES.

This is located in the highest section of the gorge, and is quite a long and strenuous hike to get into from below. From the base of these routes, you will be about 100 feet below the large floodgates from Spaulding Lake.

One of the few places in the gorge where the routes and bolts seem to have survived the many rushes of water "unscathed". I say this only because I didn't see the rock proir to all the damage that scoured the wishing well routes. Most of the routes are on the south wall of the gorge.

You will find sport routes with bolts of extremely questionable durability here. The holds you will swear came straight out of a gym, and make the climbing quite unlike most ofther outdoor experiences. This section of the gorge is approximately 30 feet high.

WARNING! As the sign posted at the parking lot reminds you, this area is subject to sudden and severe flooding, especially in run off times (late spring and late fall). The walls of the upper wall 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, if the gates opened while you were in the area of the upper wall and actually in the gorge, you would probably have about 10 seconds of reaction time to move, and there is no really fast exit out of this area, and no higher ground without climbing a route or going up to the floodgates themselves. Read all posted signs in the parking area, and also beware that these may not be updated.

Getting There

The paragraph below is no longer valid (10/14) as a gate has been installed and you can no longer cross the dam.

(4/2013) THE ACCESS INFORMATION BELOW THIS PARAGRAPH IS OUTDATED.THE EASIEST WAY TO ACCESS THIS AREA IS TO PARK IN THE SPAULDING LAKE BOAT LAUNCH PARKING AND WALK OVER THE DAM TO THE FIRST SET OF FLOOD GATES (APPROX 1/4 MILE PAST THE DAM). JUST BEFORE THE FLOOD GATES GO TO THE OUTLET SIDE OF THE FLOOD GATES AND CROSS THE DRAINAGE. CONTINUE ON THE RIM OF THE DRAINAGE FOR APPROX 300 FEET UNTIL YOU COME TO SOME METOLIUS RAP ANCHORS LOCATED ABOUT SHOULDER HIGH. (THERE ARE OTHER ANCHORS LOCATED AT YOUR FEET OR OVER THE EDGE BEFORE YOU GET HERE BUT DON'T RAP ON THESE) RAP OFF THESE ANCHORS USING A 70M ROPE AND YOU CAN CLIMB BACK OUT THE SAME WAY YOU RAPPELLED ON A 10C CLIMB.

Added 10/14:
A GOOD WAY TO ACCESS THIS AREA AND TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THE GORGE IS TO START WHERE THE BOWMAN LAKE ROAD CROSSES THE YUBA RIVER AND FOLLOW THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN "PHOTO'S OF THE EMERALDS" (ON THE EMERALDS MAIN PAGE) A 3 PAGE GUIDE TO THE BENCHES AREAS. YOU WILL SEE A NOTE STATING "TRAIL TO GORGE, WISHING WELL ETC" THIS POINT ON THE GUIDE IS JUST PAST KUDOS (100 METERS OR SO) YOU WILL TURN LEFT AT A CAIRN (IF YOU TURN RIGHT HERE YOU WILL GO TO FAST FOOD WALL) FOLLOW THIS TRAIL AND CAIRNS TO A POINT ABOVE THE GORGE WHERE YOU WILL GO DOWN STEEP TALUS TO THE BOTTOM OF THE GORGE CLIMBING.

The following approaches are also possible (Approach #2 I see no reason to go all the way to the flood gates. Just come into the lower gorge as described above).

Approach #1:

Approach time: 35 - 75 minutes.

From the parking lot head accross the bridge and up the gated entry road. Stay on the road for .6 miles until it ends un a gravel / logging area.

From here, stay in the valley and travel up the boulder outwash for quite a while (tough to judge distances due to the nature of the terrain) until you can see the large gorge on the right.

Go up to the mouth of the gorge, and instead of going inside, head up through the trees and rocks to the right following (sometimes!) a narrow deer trail.

This will continue to parallel the gorge, until you get up to the flood gates. The top anchors of the climbs are right on the edge 75 feet from the mouth of the gorge, and you can either rappell in, or continue up to the gates and walk back down to the routes.

Approach #2: Approach time: unknown, though if you've got a boat it will be faster and less strenuous than approach #1.

It also seems possible to approach this and other areas in the gorge from above, by taking a boat off of Spaulding Lake and heading over to the floodgates on the west end of the lake. I personally have not treid this approach, but from what I saw at the floodgate, it certainly seems possible.

To get to the Spaulding lanuch area from I-80, exit on the 20 headed towards Nevada City. About 1/2 a mile later, take a right on Lake Spaulding road towards Camp Spaulding. There is a boat launch 1/4 mile after the Camp.

Take your boat accross the lake to the west end, where you will find the flood gates. Exit your boat on the shore near the floodgate, and find your way to the other side of the gate. The climbing is located 150 feet downhill from the gates in the gorge itself.

12 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Upper Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
 3
Wander the West
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 3
Light the Fuse
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 5
Sub Zero
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Wander the West
 3
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Sport
Light the Fuse
 3
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Sub Zero
 5
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
More Classic Climbs in Upper Wall »

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J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Need to update this section. 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 .9-.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 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
31 newly bolted lines from 5.10-5.13. Several routes require a 70m rope.

Approach: from above steel monkey traverse right up slab to top. Head (left) east through forest past Kudos/Fast Food Cliff then another 15 minutes along slabs to Gorge - follow trail/karins. Enter Middle Gorge or hike up hill to Spaulding Lake then descend spill way to rap station into Wishing Well/Upper Gorge. About 35 minutes from parking area. Mar 30, 2013
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
Kelley Gilleran   Sacramento, Ca
Since the big rockfall near Game of Thrones I'm nervous about hanging out in the gorge. Ain't nowhere to run down there. Jan 12, 2018
Kyle Bishop
Nevada City, CA
Kyle Bishop   Nevada City, CA  
Hey @Justin, I was made admin for The Emeralds area a while back since I've started bolting new routes. I'm happy to clean this area up a bit if you had specific concerns. At the same time, I'd almost rather leave it in a mostly unedited state since:

1. It has become somewhat of a dangerous area because of rock fall (an entire section of the gorge collapsed) and the ever-present flooding risk
2. It is rarely visited now that the dam access is closed, making it the farthest approach of all areas in the emeralds.

I'm hard-pressed to put much energy into the gorge area, but I'm more than happy to watch/approve/validate edits and additions that others, perhaps more stoked on the area, put in. That said, I'll eventually go through what's up here now to make sure it still exists! Jan 18, 2018