Big Chief Area Rock Climbing
|GPS:||39.25, -120.191 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Lurker - on Sep 21, 2012 · Updates|
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The best way to determine whether the gate is open or not (aside from driving out there) is to call the Truckee Ranger District (530-587-3558) and inquire about the status of the 06 road. While being at Big Chief when the gate is closed is not itself illegal, accessing it by (1) driving around the gate, or (2) hiking up from Highway 89 is. Unless you have permission from one of the local homeowners, hiking from Highway 89 involves trespassing across one of a number of private bridges and subsequently trespassing through private property. The legal access to Big Chief when the upper gate is closed is to park and hike from the gate.
Big Chief is primarily a summer-fall destination, although summer can be quite warm due to the southwest-facing aspect of most of the walls. If it's over 70 degrees in Truckee, consider climbing elsewhere or accept the potentially sweltering conditions. There is a US Forest Service gate that often prohibits access until early summer, typically June or July, depending on the snow year. Winter can offer prime conditions, but unfortunately, the road is closed due to snow.
Most of the routes here were developed in the early 1990s, but new lines continue to be put up sporadically. All of the climbing is on public lands administered by the US Forest Service.
Big Chief Conditions forum.
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 Bridge Street, where you should go right. Bridge Street becomes Brockway Drive.
From Brockway Drive, turn right on Palisades Drive, turn right on Silver Fir, and turn left on Thelin Street. Shortly after turning on to Thelin, take a right on a paved road with a gate, which quickly turns to dirt/gravel. This is National Forest Road 06 - follow it for 5.2 miles to the parking area on your right. The parking area is a large dirt circle with a number of pullouts for vehicles. GPS coordinates for parking: N39.24959, W120.19069.
The approach to the main Big Chief areas takes 15 - 30 minutes, depending on which wall you're heading to.
From the parking lot, head down the obvious trail to the west, which is an old/closed Forest Service road. After about 1/2 mile (and shortly after crossing the new Sawtooth trail), you'll reach the old parking lot, which is basically just a flat area before the trail continues up the steep hillside.
For the majority of Big Chief's walls, head up and slightly right from the old parking on a trail for about 5 minutes to an obvious notch/saddle (the "North Pass"), then go briefly downhill. Taking a left here will access (left-to-right if facing the wall): Three Towers, Main Cave, Center Wall, Mini Buttress, Honeycomb Wall, South Wall, and South Cave. Taking a right here will access (right-to-left if facing the wall): North Pass Pillar, The Oven, North Wall, and some other obscure crags.
There's another trail that forks left from the old parking lot - this trail offers alternate access to South Wall, South Cave, and South Buttress. Follow this trail across slope for a few minutes, then up a steep hill. Similar to the main approach, this trail crosses the ridge (the "South Pass")and drops down the opposite side. Head right after dropping down for the South Wall and South Cave, and left for the South Buttress.
The Light Deprivation Buttress and Sawtooth Ridge are separate from the rest of Big Chief - see below for specific approach directions.
Light Deprivation Buttress and Sawtooth Ridge
Park as for the main Big Chief area. About halfway along the primary approach trail, a trail forks left in a small clearing. Follow this for about 10 minutes to the wall.
Sawtooth Ridge is entirely separate from the rest of Big Chief, including parking and approach. Just before the main Big Chief parking lot, look left for an obvious, long buttress of rock - this is Sawtooth Ridge. Park in a large open area on the left and head for the middle of the buttress. The trail from the parking is hard to find, just hike downhill and cross a dry creek. Once across the creek, look for cairns marking a trail through the brush up to the wall.
Classic Climbing Routes at Big Chief Area
Days w Precip