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Areas in The Gorge

Upper Gorge, Upper Wall 0 / 12 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 12
Wishing Well, The 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1

Description

WARNING (this only applies to the Gorge Section and not the Benches section)! As the sign posted at the parking lot reminds you, this area is subject to sudden and severe flooding, especially in run off times (spring and winter). Most of the climbing routes in the gorge are in the potential flooding areas, as walls of the gorge sit below several LARGE floodgates from lake Spaulding. 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, and being in the other climbing areas will mean that your exit is blocked until flood waters reside. Read all posted signs in the parking area, and also beware that these may not be updated.

Mike Carville's 1999 Guide to "The Gorge" was the last published information, but many of the routes changed due to flooding in 1997. In 2010 to 2012 Carville and friends restored many of the original lines and added many more but in the winter of 2013 another flood made much of the gorge deeper, so the first bolts on many of the climbs were very high. That problem was fixed in the summer of 2013 and the area is again ready for some great climbing. Very little specific route info is available on Mountain Project but Josh Horniak is getting a new guide out that will rectify that problem in the spring of 2014.

The Gorge and the Wishing Well are located below the outlet gates of Spaulding Reservoir and in the spring and winter can be subject to flooding if the gates are opened or if water is going over the gates. Once the lake level is below the bottom of the gates, which usually occurs in the spring, there is no possibility of flooding. It is easy to determine the level of the lake by hiking to the gates and looking. This potential flooding only refers to the Gorge and the Wishing Well.

This page is being recycled from Aron Quiter's original main page describing the Emeralds.
Flood Danger Details
No overnight camping on PG&E property Details

Getting There

See the Emeralds Getting There section for driving directions.

For an overview map of walking directions with GPS coordinates, go to "The Emeralds" Main page and see John Robinson's photo: Guide to the Emeralds, page 1

From the dirt parking lots at the South Yuba River bridge, follow the road upstream on the south (right-hand) bank of the river. You will come to a cairn on the right of the road follow this trail and it will go uphill to the Benches areas. When you get to Kudos continue up the same main approach trail. When you get just below Fast Food Wall (1 min past Kudos) turn left and go uphill to the top of the ridge. After about 10 min you will come to a fork, go left on the trail cut thru the Manzanita. Continue on this "trail" with cairns until you start going steep downhill. Scramble down some scree and you're dead smack in the middle of the gorge. Lower gorge is to your left and upper gorge is to your right toward the dam. (It should take you about 40 min to go from the trailhead to the Gorge) The "wishing well" doesn't really exist any more because the boulders that formed the pools have been swept downstream during the release of flood waters.

Note: There are sandy slopes above the gorge and when it's windy or after a rain large rocks have been known to pinball down into the gorge. It seems the large boulder in the middle of the upper gorge is ground zero. We also found a rattlesnake by this boulder last year.

Directions contributed by Aron Quiter and Kelley Gilleran.

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Photos

Erik B  
Rappelled into the Upper Gorge today to check out conditions. The water was below the dam so it is safe to climb below. As far as I could tell the routes there were not affected by the winter storms. The narrow pool at the base is very full so getting over to the south side wall will be interesting...
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Update: Took a friend out there and noticed the rappel anchors 100ft down as listed in the North Tahoe Guide are destroyed (could have been like this for a few seasons as this is the first season I have been down there). So you need a long rope to reach the bottom, and at that point you will need your swim trunks. Jul 27, 2017
Justin Johnsen
Nor Cal
Justin Johnsen   Nor Cal  
Cool, thanks Kelley. I'll roll that into the Gorge page here. I climbed the Emeralds for my first time on Sunday, but didn't make it past Fast Food. We spotted the cairns and trail leading to the Gorge past there. May 28, 2014
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
Kelley Gilleran   Sacramento, Ca
The easiest way to get into the gorge is to hike 10 minutes past Kudos down the same main approach trail. You will get to a well maintained trail that cuts left (downhill) and dumps you out at the middle gorge. Scramble down some scree and you're dead smack in the middle of the gorge. Lower gorge is to your left and upper gorge is to your right toward the dam. The "wishing well" doesn't really exist any more because the boulders that formed the pools have been swept downstream during the release of flood waters.

Note: There are sandy slopes above the gorge and when it's windy or after a rain large rocks have been known to pinball down into the gorge. It seems the large boulder in the middle of the upper gorge is ground zero. We also found a rattlesnake by this boulder last year. May 27, 2014

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