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Bolee Gold

5.10c, Trad, 400 ft, 4 pitches,  Avg: 3.4 from 37 votes
FA: Gary Anderson, Jay Smith and Rick Summer, 1977
California > Lake Tahoe > Highway 50 Corr… > Sugarloaf Area > Sugarloaf > S Face


Bolee Gold begins at the end of the big ramp on the south face of Sugarloaf. From here, follow the line of bolts straight up the thin face towards the top anchors of 'Hookers Haven' (the 12a to the right). Bolee Gold doesn't use the anchors, but continues left towards the arete then up to the first set of anchors. The first pitch totals 7 bolts. The second pitch continues straight up past another 7 bolts to another hanging belay.

The two pitches can be done as one for a 150' non-stop sustained crimp-fest. This is what I base the 3 star rating on.

From here, continue directly upwards past some flakes, then onto easier slab that is runout, but bolt-protected 5.8.


Pro to 3 inches plus a minimum of seven quickdraws. You can easily rappell down the face with just one rope, or walk off the northern side of sugarloaf.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Nat on pitch 1.
[Hide Photo] Nat on pitch 1.
Climbing on the first pitch of Bolee Gold. The traversing roof of Hooker's Haven ends here.
[Hide Photo] Climbing on the first pitch of Bolee Gold. The traversing roof of Hooker's Haven ends here.
Following the last pitch. You can see the mediocre knob tie off that you can get to try and mitigate the run from the last bolt to the anchor.
[Hide Photo] Following the last pitch. You can see the mediocre knob tie off that you can get to try and mitigate the run from the last bolt to the anchor.
S. Giffin starts into the crux of the first pitch.
[Hide Photo] S. Giffin starts into the crux of the first pitch.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

San Francisco
[Hide Comment] Did 2 pitches of this route only. First pitch is the money pitch, a few .10c moves and a kinda sketchy traverse to the left up high. Second pitch is short and feels more like .10b than .10c Mar 31, 2009
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
[Hide Comment] I agree: the first pitch is full-value, and the second pitch only has a few cruxes. The second pitch, however, is a bit more runout than the first. We continued to the third belay, but quickly became bored of 5.6R knob-hauls, and rappelled back down. Apparently, you can go to the top via more easy "R" climbing.

Very exposed climb, and reminiscent of the Valley. A must-do at the Loaf. May 14, 2009
Salamanizer suchoski
Janesville Ca.
[Hide Comment] Full-value??? There's bolts every six feet. It's not run out or dangerous in any way.

Got bored huh, well you missed out on one of the coolest pitches on the route. Yeah, there's only two bolts in 140ft and only 5.6, but it's enough to get your attention a little bit. Some pretty cool rock up there with some enjoyable climbing.

Now go climb Pan Dulce, it's three pitches and of the same quality as Bolee Gold accept each pitch is 5.10+ and there are little to no run out sections. May 14, 2009
Los Alamos, NM
[Hide Comment] Can be done in 2 pitches with a 60 m.

First two (standard) pitches are tricky and sustained! Make sure the partner who is the hero leads them!

Last two pitches run together go at ~195 ft. The actual final pitch (i.e. standard #4) is a pretty sweet and exposed run up some 5.8 R++ slab with soaring 270° views on the tiny belay perch at the top. Mar 2, 2010
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] R++ . . . . is that like NC-17? hehe

This an elegant route with just enough of edginess to be safe yet exciting for the grade. Due to the south facing aspect and the thin features it is best climbed in cooler temps.

Agree with comments about the lower pitches not being runnout. While the climbing is no harder than the 10+ rating, it has consistently tenuous moves all the way through any of the anchors.

The upper pitches protect almost reasonably with judicious gear placements supplementing the rare bolt. Do not expect these to be 'girlfriend' pitches. Though an easier grade they maintain the tenuous nature, have less straighforward routefinding, and the runnouts will keep you focused (or gripped).

In order to do the route in 2 pitches you must go to the 4th set of anchors that is a somewhat hanging belay for your first pitch. From there it is a rope stretcher to the top with no good options to set up anchors near the top. Mar 2, 2010
[Hide Comment] Did it yesterday and didn't encounter any snow on the hike up.

For those wondering about gear on the last runout pitches - I ended up using a red #1, a blue #3, and a green .75 (all Black Diamond C4s). This made the pitch a little less runout, but make sure to use runners to extend each piece you place (I would have also liked a few runners for those super spaced out bolts - I didn't have any and the rope drag almost pulled me off the face, since we linked the route into 2 pitches).

I used a #1 in the thickest part of that first big flake you encounter at the beginning of the runout section (although it's kinda loose and you may consider skipping that since the climbing is comparably easy at that spot), a #3 in the big horizontal crack, and a .75 in the diagonal ledge thing towards the top. There are loose flakes to the left of the route towards the top which could seriously send some rock down on your belayer, so don't pull on them.

Once you get past the hardish 5.10+ sections of face climbing at the bottom, the top IS quite runout (although nothing like Snake Dike in Yosemite). However, unlike Snake Dike, even though the upper sections of this route are only between 5.6-5.8 I wouldn't send a 5.8 gym climber up there to lead the final pitch since some of the moves are reachy and involve balancey footwork on small round knobs with some potentially big falls. Bring a couple additional runner to sling around those bigger knobs you should feel fine about the top.

Lastly, on this route you will see lots of anchors - the very first set you can see right from the start (the one up to the right with the chains) is actually the anchor for Hooker's Haven - that 12a roofish crack. The next set you encounter is up and to the left on the arete and is just out of sight when you begin the climb (ie. from the top of the ramp where you start). Above that is a 2 bolt (no chains/no links) anchor with a nice ledge for standing - from here, you can reach the very top of Bolee Gold with a 70m rope. This is ideal because your belayer can STAND to belay as you slowly make your way up to the top. To do the whole route in 2 pitches with a 60m rope, you will need to pass this ledge/anchor and go to the "third" anchor you see, which has been described in earlier comments as a hanging belay. The very top anchor at the end of the route is also a but of a hanging belay, but you can sort of sit in your harness and lean your side against the wall since it's quite slanted. Gorgeous views at the top and a cool (small) summit to walk around and take your shoes off. Jan 22, 2011
Los Alamos, NM
[Hide Comment] daniel - although I know you meant well with your two paragraphs of gear beta for three whole placements, I think it is totally overkill. No one wants or needs a play by play if they are competent enough to climb the first two pitches.

New beta: just bring a couple cams and suck it up. Jan 27, 2011
J. Albers
[Hide Comment] Hey Aerili,

I don't see anything wrong with Daniel's post. Perhaps you don't want more info, but maybe others do. In fact, from my perspective, your comments are more erroneous than his. For example, there is no 5.8R on the last pitch (there is some R climbing, but it isn't 5.8...and the R-rated stuff is not sustained R either). Furthermore, I would say that the most competent leader should be leading the last pitch since it is the only portion of this climb that a leader could get hurt on; the earlier pitches, while harder, are very well bolted and could be hang dogged into submission.

While I am sure that you meant well, that doesn't change the fact that your post is kinda snobby. You never know when someone might think it ironic that you tell someone else to "suck it up" on a mildly runout pitch that you think is "R++".

As far as the route is concerned...very nice. Though the hodgepodge of bolted anchors on this thing is a bit messy and unsightly. As Sal stated, the upper pitches are some of the best climbing on the route. Great line on generally good rock and the views are stellar to go with it.
Cheers. Jan 28, 2011
Los Alamos, NM
[Hide Comment] Thanks for your input, J. Albers, but I stand by my comments. There's still something to be said for figuring things out on your own.

For the record, the guidebooks out there label the last couple pitches of Bolee Gold as 5.8 iirc, hence why I wrote that. (The route poster also labels it 5.8.) I agree that most of those moves are more like 5.5-5.7, but I guess there are a few slab moves of 5.8 in there (not necessarily near protection).

I've done my share of run-out leading and I think whatever placements exist (especially on this route) the leader will find easily. I led those pitches with no beta and had zero problems...and I'm a mediocre climber. With the exception of beta on required gear size or whether cruxes are protected in general or not, my belief is the main beta for run-outs is: suck it up or don't lead it.

Edited to add: the 'R++' comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I think I had 4-5 pieces of protection in 200 feet of climbing, so I would consider that more than 'mildly' run-out, myself, although not unreasonable for the climbing. Ymmv. Jan 30, 2011
[Hide Comment] Did this climb last weekend. The whole thing was great--memorable moves and awesome exposure--definitely a must do at Sugarloaf. A bit of additional beta: both my partner and I are around 5'7" and we felt that the end of the last pitch (5.7R in supertopo) seemed way harder than 5.7. I'd say that due to the number of reachy moves and difficult routefinding over lichen-y rock, anyone under 5'8" should be confident at leading runout 5.9 face before attempting to lead the last pitch. Nov 12, 2012
Rocklin, Ca
[Hide Comment] Great route! One of my favorites I have ever done anywhere! First two pitches link easily and are well protected mostly positive holds but consistent climbing. I agree with most of the poster in that the rest of the route is considerably run-out and 5.8. Have your head screwed on right. A truly proud route with a proud an unique summit. May 8, 2013
[Hide Comment] On our first ascent in '77 we placed only 2 bolts on the first pitch and one to back up a single bolt of Hooks Haven 5.9 A4 first belay. Additionally there was a bolt without a hanger on the first pitch and just above the the belay on the second pitch both of which we attached wire nuts to clip into. That totals only 6 bots for all three pitches. The last pitch was a bit runout at about 5.8 but I placed no bolts on it. From the descriptions I read here it sounds like a half dozen or so new bolts were added. What is wrong with climbers nowadays? Rick Sumner Feb 8, 2016
Kyle Marks 1
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] Did this route yesterday and it was a great adventure! My partner and I are breaking into the grade and it was a thrilling climb for us. I recommend finishing the route and then rapping 40 feet down the back of it to the last pitch of Harding's Chimney, then finish on the North Summit and walk off. It's an amazing finish!

Also, be super careful on the flakes near the top of on the last pitch of Bolee Gold. They are really, really delicate and feel pretty hollow. TREAD LIGHTLY. Jul 18, 2016
Austin Donisan
San Mateo, CA
[Hide Comment] The 1st set of anchors pretty are far left and I nearly missed them. If you don't go far enough left all you get is a rusted 1/4" bolt in 30' of 5.10 climbing. It would be a hanging belay, skip these.

The 2nd set of anchors are 15' up and have a nice small ledge to stand on. Use these.

The 3rd set has 1 good bolt and 2 rusty 1/4"s and is only 40' above the second set. Hanging belay, definitely skip these.

The 4th set is about 40' above the ledge where the angle lets up. They're out of sight, but it's mostly 5.easy climbing to get there. Comfortable for sitting belay, not sure about standing. Apr 9, 2018