Elevation: 5,606 ft
GPS: 39.881, -120.188 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 11,804 total · 435/month
Shared By: Brandon Wiltzius on Sep 9, 2019
Admins: Aron Quiter, Lurker -, Muscrat, Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Vicki Schwantes, Justin Johnsen
Access Issue: Area Closed Details


"Last Chance Canyon" on the way to the lake, and the lake itself are home to some surprisingly impressive rock formations. If the rock quality was better here, I have no doubt that this would be a very popular spot. As it stands, its still a great place for a day out, and you will not see others climbing out here. Beware of loose rock, check out bolts carefully before trusting your life to them, and have fun!

Most of the areas here are in the early stages of development. These are mostly top rope-able/trad routes right now. Some of the areas have bolts at the top of the routes, and some do not. I was very impressed with the quality of the bolts at the top of the routes I did. They looked very new and seemed super solid.

Approaches are short, loose, and rocky, but manageable. Some minor trail-building would do a world of good.

We ran into major Mosquitos here in the late summer, so throw the bug spray in the car for this one. Hopefully we just got unlucky with our timing, and they usually aren't as bad.

Note: Almost all of the information for this area will have originated from Paul Bernard's stellar book "Locals guide to rock climbs of Northeast California". The book isn't readily available online, but there are still hundreds of copies available, and sales of this book will encourage future books. Even so, I think that starting a MP page for this area will help get it some traffic and attention that it very much needs. I will only add routes/areas that I have personal experience with, and there are TONS more in the book. Get it if you have a chance. I have heard that granite chief in Truckee has copies (that's where i got mine)

Getting There

Frenchman's lake is less than an hour from Reno. Get to the small town of Chilcoot on hwy 70 one way or the other and turn up Frenchmans lake road (284). 5.5 miles up the road you will cross a bridge and start seeking rock formations along the canyon walls.

The very first semi impressive rock on the right is "Entrance rock" and shortly beyond that you will see another rock pile just across the creek with several promising looking faces. This is "Sunspot" crag. These first two areas have some of the better rock quality in the canyon, and require a creek crossing that might not be as simple as it seems at first. This little creek is fairly formidable even in the late summer/early fall; the rocks are slippery, the water is cold, and the banks are not too hospitable with the brush and loose rock. I'd like to build a halfway decent log bridge up here, but we might have to import a log.

Continuing up the canyon, you will start to see very impressive towers/walls of a strange conglomerate sort of rock on both sides of the road. This is the "Pinnacles" area and "Phantom Wall" on the left where a big cave goes into the rock.

Further up, the canyon opens up, and you'll pass by the "Beaver Piles" area out of view below you to the right, then arrive at the dam, and the "Grotto" and Big Cove" areas are to the right over the damn

21 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Frenchman Lake Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at Frenchman Lake

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
More Classic Climbs in Frenchman Lake »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season