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Areas in Big Chief

Center Wall 0 / 32 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 33
Gold Wall 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Homeland Security Wall 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Honeycomb Wall 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Light Deprivation Buttress 0 / 9 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 9
North Pillar 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
North Wall 0 / 9 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 9
Pentathlete Wall 1 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 5
South Buttress 0 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
South Cave 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
South Wall 0 / 9 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 9
Elevation: 6,984 ft
GPS: 39.25, -120.191 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 70,528 total · 1,090/month
Shared By: M. Morley on Sep 21, 2012
Admins: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Description

The Big Chief area is best known for a collection of sport bolted volcanic crags, roughly centered around the namesake formation on a ridge above highway 89. Much is developed, and much more awaits. It is on National Forest Land.

Most of the routes on the main walls were developed in the early 1990s, but new lines continue to be put up there and on other scattered crags nearby.

Reasonable public access does not currently exist during winter, when forest road 06 can be closed from first snowfall to early spring (even when the national forest website hasn't been updated accurately compared to conditions on the ground). Past winter access routes are now signed specifically as closed.

Getting There

Exit the central Truckee exit and take a right. Go into the traffic circle, and take your first right, which will wind down to West River Street, where you should take a left. Follow this about 1/2 a mile to Brockway Drive (the sign MAY still say highway 267), where you should go right.

Less than a mile later, turn right on Palisades Drive. Go over the hill, and turn right on Silver Fir, and shortly afterwards turn left on Thelin Street.

Within a block, hang a right onto the dirt road just after a gate, which is set back from the road about 30 feet.

Drive 5.2 miles on the main road, which is numbered as National Forest Road 06.

Parking area GPS coordinates:

N39.24959
W120.19069

The GPS coords above take you to the right turn into the parking area. There is currently a cairn on a large tree stump indicating entrance.

Stay straight on the road past the turnoff to the ranch (which has a sign stating "horseback riding" or something like that), and you will see a large dirt turn around inside the most prevalent right turn, which actually has a full right turn, and also sharper right turn 30 feet later in case you miss this first one.

This leads you about 100 feet into a traffic circle type thing, which is the parking area for the Big Chief area.

78 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Big Chief

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
War Path
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
War Paint
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Times Up
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Route Stealers From Hell
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Festus
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Mohawk
Sport, TR
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Too Light to Wait
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Witch Doctor
Sport
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Sweating Bullets
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Flamethrower
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Pow Wow
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Flying High Again
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Raindance
Sport, TR
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Totally Chawsome
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
All Guns Blazing
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
War Path Center Wall 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Sport
War Paint Center Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Times Up Honeycomb Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Route Stealers From Hell Center Wall 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Festus S Wall 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Mohawk Center Wall 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport, TR
Too Light to Wait Center Wall 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Witch Doctor Center Wall 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Sweating Bullets Honeycomb Wall 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Sport
Flamethrower Center Wall 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Pow Wow Center Wall 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Flying High Again S Cave 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Raindance Center Wall 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport, TR
Totally Chawsome Center Wall 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
All Guns Blazing Center Wall 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
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Photos

phylp
Upland
phylp   Upland
Not listed in this section are the few routes on "The Backside" of Big Chief. These are listed both in the Carville Tahoe guide and Marek Hajek's nice guide. But if you don't have those, here's some info (I don't trust my memory enough to add this as a new area):
The Backside is worth knowing about because, if you are there in the summer, as most people are, the main climbing area starts baking in the sun by early afternoon. You approach the Backside either from the south cave, when you're leaving for the day, going up and around back north to return to the main parking area, or from the main parking area, by vearing left before you go up and over the ridge to the Main Wall. Quite easy to find, it's basically the backside of the Big Chief rock. You may be bothered by yellowjackets here in the summer!
Coming from the main lot and walking to the left and past the base of the cliff, the first large formation of rock on your right is the Lower Backside. Right to left, the routes are
Countdown 11a* 5 bolts There's a crux down low (might want to stick clip) and another up higher. Thin crimping.
Morning Sweater 11c 4 bolts - Hajek scores this as "worthless" but I thought it was OK. You have to scramble up a ways to get to the first bolt. Crux is between 3 & 4.
The Accused 11b* 9 bolts crux between 2 & 3. You also have to go up a ways to get to the first bolt on this one.
There are 2 other fairly long routes on the next large formation as you continue towards the south end of Big Chief, the "Upper Backside", but as I have not climbed these I will not describe them. Oct 31, 2017
Anyone know about free camping near Big Chief? It seems that maybe you can camp legally in the parking lot if you hike in a little ways. If not, know of any free dispersed camping within 20 minutes or so? Aug 30, 2017
Caliza  
Sweet. Thanks for all the updates! Jul 6, 2017
Marek Hajek
Reno, NV
Marek Hajek   Reno, NV
07/01/17: I drove up to the second gate and it is open. Big Chief season is on!

06/27/17: I just called the Forest Service and was told the second gate to Big Chief is still closed.

06/05/17: I just called the Forest Service to check on when the gates on Route 6 to Big Chief will be open this year. The Forest Service employee said that the road is open all the way to the North Star property 3 or 4 miles up, but there still are large snow patches in the shady areas past that, so the second gate is closed. He suggested to check back in at least a couple more weeks and that it may be a few weeks before the road thaws out this year. This means the road to Big Chief is still closed, unless you want to walk for several miles over snow patches. Jun 5, 2017

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