Elevation: 1,363 ft
GPS: 38.776, -120.748 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 8,955 total · 75/month
Shared By: bob branscomb on Feb 9, 2009
Admins: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin ., Vicki Schwantes
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Right on the S Fork of the American River, under the Mosquito Bridge. Solid, extremely smooth water polished granite. 30-40 feet high, mostly overhanging, difficult cracks of all sizes. Many newer anchors on the top of the cliff, sometimes a little hairy to get to. A lot of superb bouldering along the base of the cliff: landings are hard so a pad is nearly a must. In summer, best to climb in early am or in evening: days are very hot. Fall, winter, spring: daytime best, after the sun gets down in there to dry off the dew. Winter can be very cold and icy, spring run off can make it impossible to climb: water level has been seen to the top of the cliff.
Note that climbers are not to use the bridge for any anchoring. this can result in a hefty fine.
See Will Cottrell's Rock Climbs of Placerville, CA for full details.

Getting There

Driving east on Highway 50, exit on the Broadway off-ramp in Placerville. Go right, then right again back under the freeway overpass. Just before get on the westbound on-ramp, turn left onto Mosquito Road. Follow Mosquito Road to the top of the ridge, where it turns left off Union Ridge Road. This narrow, windy road descends all the way to the bridge. 20 mins - 30 mins from Placerville. Parking is the main problem. It is best to park in the last turnout before reaching the bridge. This is a wide spot with a retaining wall on the outside and a creek on the uphill. Turn around in this wide area and park facing uphill. There is a lot of traffic on this road, it is very narrow, and the locals are very grumpy about being delayed. You would be too if you had to commute up and down this road every day. Walk down to the bridge. You can drop down under the bridge and hop boulders across up river when the water is low. Otherwise, go to the north side and either rappel off anchors along the cliff top or walk around the top of the bridge abutment and follow a poison oak strewn game trail to the east that descends to a gravel bar.
Alternative parking would be to park in the large outside turnoff before the last hairpin left curve that drops to the bridge. A ten minute walk down the road from here to the bridge. The advantage to this is avoidance of the narrowest part of the road to the bridge.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Mosquito Coast

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Twist and Shout
5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Ant Line
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Twist and Shout
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Ant Line
5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad
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bob branscomb
Lander, WY
bob branscomb   Lander, WY
This is on Supertopo from a year or so back. The Mosquito Bridge is a sort of spiritual home for us Placerville climbers from times past. Maybe gives the feeling we have for the place.

I drive downhill around the last hairpin curve, the last steep narrow drop to the American River. The Doug Firs and Black Oaks are thick down here in the shadowed river coolness. The sunlight flashing on the windshield through the bright green canopy of oak leaves, briefly blinding me driving from dimness to dimness, hoping there isn’t some late to work redneck speeding out of Swansboro on my side of the road.

Bought a place out there because they wanted to get away from it all but still have to work in town an hour or more away on this tight windy narrow road. Have to replace the brakes once a year. They drive fast and they’re real cranky because they bought into it but they aren’t rich enough to relax even one day a week. They have to stay at it all the time and they’re all hemmed in in their wide open ten acres of brush and snakes and they flip you off if you get an inch over the center line or you aren’t fast enough or you’re just distracted by the speckling sun on your windshield: they have no time for speckles.

At the last wide spot above the bridge where you have to wait to let cars go across the one lane suspension bridge, I turn around and park facing uphill next to the creek under a California Bay, so sweet and wafting its perfume like a welcome to the shadowed canyon, cool and wet green moss. It will be here long after the silly intense humans are gone.

People stare at me from cars. What are you up to? Start a fire? Steal my stuff? Rape my wife? What’s your trip walking down a country road? I scoot under the bridge abutment and hop boulders across the river to the cliff. Yeah. The Mosquito Coast of late; the Mosquito Bridge to the original participants. Obscure, steep and difficult. We didn’t think we could climb that hard in those days. Now almost everything has been pegged a grade higher. Pretty crazy. Does something good for your spirits to know you were better than you thought.

Now I come mainly to boulder along the base. Hard enough for my meager talents. Touch this water smoothed foundation of my favorite range: the most beautiful, I think, the most forgiving, like a mother who loves her wayward child just because he wanders, but hers only and forwever. The granite is so polished that it looks like glass, a mirror even. I can touch it and see, there on the other side, a young and wild haired me, an old friend always with me inside. I feel him take my hand as I remember that younger me: faster and bolder, maybe better, certainly much crazier: my old friend. Pity those who have never been crazy: they have never lived. Bukowski, I believe.

I almost bought it here free soloing, at the top of Reluctant Elevation, thirty feet or so off the hard stone deck.

Funny little guy panic running around mad as a hatter in there pulling the fire alarms while I’m there on the stage. Like they say, even if the sound cuts out on you, you have to carry on the show because you just fail if you don’t but if you fail carrying on, well, at least you get applause.

You can’t just stand there and cry because this is not the venue for your special little gifts, which it never is. You are always lacking in some way and you just gotta carry on. You just liked being there and now look where all that spiritual and aesthetic bullshit has put you: right up the big creek. So you better just put it in low gear and grind it out, Bobby boy. You don’t want them to find you lying in your own brains and blood down on that granite patio, quietly running down to the sea.

I had to do something before I burned off so when I finally got tired of the nauseating vista of the bulges over on Octopus’ Gardens to my left, it was like something Bukowski said: nature gets to be an endless bore, and more than anything I was getting bored standing there waiting for something to happen so I decided that if I demonstrated an unusual amount of technique and power I could latch what appeared to be a finger lock at the top of the corner and hoping to rely on adrenaline, haul my ass over the top. This worked to remarkable effect and I was able to wimper my way to behind the road support pillar above, where I cowered for a good fifteen minutes trying to calm myslef.

I’m glad I don’t have to wear those shoes anymore.

So here I am, all these years later. Some people would say it was a waste of time. I should have thought more about making money and a career and all that. I’m looking up at the road at, what I assume, are many examples of that thinking, racing back and forth, worried and angry. Yeah, you’re a big success all right, probably Republican to boot.

Ah, that’s neither here nor there, is it, Bobby? Get back to what you know. These movements the memory of long practice, the polished smears to be pressured just so, the smooth jams and bridges. You just let it happen and before you know it you’re on your ass on your pad, sometimes actually planning it that way. More often than not, you have to try it several times before the memory kicks in as to how hard you have to crank to succeed here, how precise your technique must be on this river polished stone. It comes together after a bit and you’re just a passing shadow across the stone.

Maybe that’s all we are, really, shadows passing across this, a small stone third from the sun. Our days are but pretence, our nights the wish of Ophelia, hoping to dream.

The day is dimming. The traffic is lessening, the time between cars longer and longer, allowing the silence to ease up from down stream, the darker green and granite grays, cool between the sound of cars creaking across the old bridge. The gleam of water washing stone in the twilight. Moments of thought impressed on the breathing quiet, as if they were not your own but some air you feel passing through you. You rise and touch stone again. In the twilight the folds and edges stand alive and you move again in the silence flowing around you, moving across stone.

Why we go
Why we are
The magic of where we go
And how we go there… Dec 6, 2013
Lake Tahoe, Ca
sulli   Lake Tahoe, Ca
... Im curious about the wicked steep boulder down and to the right of the bridge... It looks like a dicey solo but there's def a line going up the left super-steep side. I cant imagine it remains unsent... Does anyone have any info on this line? Jan 30, 2014
If its what i think it's 40 feet tall and does not go. It has holds that don't make it to the top. Perhaps one day but it would be very hard Dec 29, 2017