Type: Trad, 50 ft
FA: Chris Vandiver and Royal Robbins, summer of 1973 (not Karl Hammer, 1974?)
Page Views: 2,788 total · 14/month
Shared By: Brian Quiter on Jun 29, 2002
Admins: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Donner/Truckee area Details


Karl's Gym begins as a clean fist crack through the first roof. Higher up, the crack becomes thinner and more fractured as you pull through the second crux.


Gear to 2.5", there are three rap bolts shared by "Hanz and Franz" at the top. To top rope, either hike all the way around the rock, (which is pretty far either way you chose) or first climb one of the easier climbs to the right, then reach the bolts from above. About a 20' sling will help reduce rope drag.


Aron Quiter
Oakland, CA
Aron Quiter   Oakland, CA  
The initial crack section of this route is a great overhanging workout.

Lotsa work for a 5.10d! Oct 9, 2002
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
The climb as described seems off. I jammed a few flakes with handjams to reach the first roof, whereupon I had a hard time getting anything larger than my second knuckle in. I'd call it a slanting fingercrack through a roof, really, with a few "super secret" hidden jugs and a few thin hands jams here and there, after the first crux (10d). The upper crack is a wide stem area with nice layback holds (10b). The 3-bolt anchor up top goes fine with a cordalette or a few 2' slings. Short people (_ 5'5") can pull through the roof into a funky leaning sloper lieback which gets "good" when you paste a foot out right onto the flake just below the lip and reach for the good hold/crack.

Fun, but not a classic. There are better lines at the cliff.

A fair 10d where I am from, but might be harder than other climbs of the same grade at this cliff. Very hard for shorter people. Sep 29, 2003
Oakland CA
caughtinside   Oakland CA
physical roof pull down low. I didn't find the hidden jugs and went with my old standby, the desperation lunge.

upper crux is a little easier, but the stem is pretty slick.

I followed this. My partner led it, and took a couple falls on the low crux. He only had a yellow alien, and a top piece red alien in. Every time he fell, the lead end clipped back into the yellow alien, 3x in a row, so we had to throw a locker on there to keep it out! Apr 17, 2007
I too disagree with the official description of the climb. The lower part consists of a couple of face moves up to a roof with a leaning off fingers crack above it it. This aint no fist crack. May 12, 2009
San Francisco
tallmark515   San Francisco
Onsight. Great route! As mentioned above, pulling the first roof is definitely the crux of the route. Easy face climbing for 10' leads to the first roof (.10d), finger sized cracks in the bottom of the roof will help you leverage yourself while seeking good locks above the roof. Seek out the hand jam (and hidden jug... if this is what the above poster is referencing), get your right foot up and work the crack (I liebacked it) until you hit the solid hand jam. Short but sweet.

Second section, .10c, involves a few lieback moves on a great (yet polished) vertical lip of a crack. Work the crack with a few jams until you hit the jugs up high. Jul 20, 2009
For history's sake, The first ascent of this climb(Karl's Gym)was done by Chris Vandiver and Royal Robbins in the summer of 1973. It was done while traveling through the Donner Summit Area while we were conducting a Rockcraft climbing seminar. Jul 14, 2011
The crux pro is bomber provided you are diligent in your rope management and prevent the feared Z clip. Great pumper of a route with a cool change of style up high. Aug 14, 2012
Peter J
Ford E-150, wherever
Peter J   Ford E-150, wherever
Apparently I just missed all of the jugs. I straight in jammed the whole thing--borderline campusing on shitty locks. Sep 24, 2018