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Calawee Cliffs

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Bigler's Bounty T,TR 
Blissful Banging T,TR 
Drain The Lake T,TR 
J'aime Bonpland T,TR 
Tessie's Terror T,TR 

Calawee Cliffs Rock Climbing 

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Location: 38.99684, -120.0947 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 4,384
Administrators: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: William Fleming on Aug 7, 2015  with updates from Logan Swartz

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Top Rope Thomspon, following the first ascent of B...


Talk about a beautiful place. Coming straight from the water in DL Bliss State Park and made of impeccable granite, these cliffs stand proud above the lake and descend hundreds of more feet into the clear depths of Tahoe.

Originally, this was a multi pitch area frequented in the early Pliocene by groups of Australopithecus Afarensis who made the long approach from Africa for weekend climbs. Unfortunately the Piacenzian Age brought heavy glacial flooding, and the bottom pitches were rendered unaccessible. Climbing is now single pitch traditional cragging above the water that can be accessed by foot, boat, paddleboard, dirigible, or submersible.

The rock is bomber granite and the climbs range from 5.6-5.12. All climbs are led on gear, lead bolts are prohibited. All climbs have fixed anchors and all but one features 2-bolt anchors with chains and mussy hooks. However…..


So watch out!!! Top roping is also possible for some climbs and is described in the route descriptions.

The park costs $10 for a day pass or $70 for all California State Parks for the year. The park also offers camping, cliff jumping, high lining, rope swinging, trail running, bouldering, longboarding/skateboarding, paddle boarding, kayaking, and the not to be missed wakeboard/wake skate sessions with friendly boaters.

On some summer days this place can become a little overwhelmed with drunken humans. Most are friendly and awesome, but not everyone is in their best form. While the majority are great, others are like Jerry. Jerry's been drinking Patron since sunrise. He just shotgunned a Coors Light tall boy, threw the can into the lake, and is going to belly flop a gainer 60ft into 5 feet of water. All while his cohorts chant Alpha Omega Forever! from their rental boat. You'd hope that an intoxicated Spring Break philosophy wouldn't need to permeate into every area with sun and water, but obviously it does happen.
Fun is fun, and people deserve to get hammered and loud!!! But Bliss is too nice to drunkenly destroy. If you see people littering or spray painting tags on the rocks, stop them. Even if you don't see it happen, stop and pick up a couple pieces of trash to take with you. Tahoe thanks you.

Getting There 

From Lester Beach
- Head south on the rocks around the corner, and stay as close to the water as possible for about a half mile or 10-15 minutes. As you round the corner watch out for some nice cliff jumps into the water that range from 10-40 feet. The first climbs start at a cliff jumping rock with a thick knotted fixed rope and sometimes a rope ladder heading up the back. It's narrow, about 40 foot tall, and there is graffiti on the south side that says "rooster rock". The climbs "J'aime Bonpland" and "Blissful Banging" can both be found here. If you want to access "Drain the Lake", "Tessie's Terror", or "Bigler's Bounty" by foot you will need to use the Rubicon Trail.

From Rubicon Trail
- This trail connects DL Bliss State Park with Emerald Bay in 3.6 miles and continues on after that. If you're looking for a nice hike or trail run, Rubicon is hard to beat.
To access the climbs using the trail, hike for about 5-10 minutes from the parking lot. After a few hundred meters you will come to a cool part of the trail with boulders on one side and a chain barrier on the other. Continue until you come up a small hill and find a lookout and a wooden bridge. Directly before the bridge (the north side) there are two trees on the lake side of the trail. Directly below the northern tree is "J'aime Bonpland" and below the southern tree are the anchors for "Blissful Banging". To access these anchors you can climb down an unconsolidated hillside towards the top of "J'aime Bonpland" and then traverse to "Blissful Banging". or you can rappel off of either one of the trees directly to the bolts. If you choose to rappel DO NOT LEAVE SLINGS OR CORD ON THE TREES!!! Remove all your rappel anchor gear when you're done!!! They are an eyesore for the hikers on the trail, and the rangers have asked us to leave as little impact as possible. Please be respectful! If the tourists are stoked, the rangers are stoked, and we are stoked. Keep the stoke alive.

For "Drain the Lake", "Tessie's Terror", and "Bigler's Bounty" continue hiking on the trail over the wooden bridge for another minute or two until you arrive at a prominent point where the trail turns to the right with a tower below the trail on the lake side. It's a beautiful place and hard to miss. If you hike down the hill towards the lake from here, you will be in between the two towers for the highline. To access the top of "Drain the Lake" climb to the top of the north high-line tower, if you want to get to the top of "Tessie's Terror" then climb to the top of the south high-line tower. Both towers are easy to get onto and walk around on, but are pretty exposed. Be careful.
If you want to lead either climb then head to the shoreline between the towers and to the north tower for "Drain the Lake". The start of "Drain the Lake" is only accessible by foot when the water is low. Otherwise you need a boat/paddleboard to access the lead. If it's high water and you don't have a floating device you can only top rope this one.
If you want to access the "Tessie's Terror" anchors climb to the top of the south high-line tower. "Tessie's Terror" is the only climb without designated anchors. To setup the anchor loop stoppers over the three, 1/2 inch bolts without hangers (high-line anchors). There are also other bolts with equipped hangers, but its a hodgepodge of bolts up there. I find using the half inchers without hangers the best, but it's up to you. If it's for a top rope you'll need a long piece of cord to get the master point over the edge.
If you want to find "Bigler's Bounty" look to the south of the southern high-line tower. There is another small black tower with a splitter hand crack that leads to anchors. That is Bigler's.

Check out the route description for more info.

Climbing Season

Weather station 7.9 miles from here

5 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Calawee Cliffs

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Calawee Cliffs:
J'aime Bonpland   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 110'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Calawee Cliffs

Featured Route For Calawee Cliffs
Rock Climbing Photo: J'aime Bonpland

J'aime Bonpland 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b  California : Lake Tahoe : ... : Calawee Cliffs
Tahoe wasn't always Tahoe. Over time, The Lake has been given different names by different groups of people. In the winter of 1844 John Fremont and Charles Preuss were having a very bad time trying to explore the Sierras during winter. On February 14th, after "an extraordinary meal of pea soup, mule, and dog" they dragged themselves up Red Lake Peak on Carson Pass and became the first White Europeans to see the lake. At the time, local Washoe had already named the lake. They called it Da-ow-a...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Calawee Cliffs Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Bouldering on Rooster Rock
Bouldering on Rooster Rock
Rock Climbing Photo: Blissful Baning on the left (above the human) J'ai...
BETA PHOTO: Blissful Baning on the left (above the human) J'ai...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Highline Towers  On the left (south tower) is ...
BETA PHOTO: The Highline Towers On the left (south tower) is ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The prominant point where you turn down from the R...
BETA PHOTO: The prominant point where you turn down from the R...

Comments on Calawee Cliffs Add Comment
Show which comments
By Laine Christman
From: Reno, NV
Aug 7, 2015
Nice addition, nice location!
By William Fleming
Aug 17, 2016
Pretty surprised to hear that Andrew! Not to throw you under the bus but I took my friend's 9 year old son out there the other day. He had a backpack with all the cams, was wearing sandals, and made it just fine.....

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