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Donner/Truckee

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Donner Memorial State Park/Coldstream 
Donner Pass Road 
Freeway Crags 

Donner/Truckee Rock Climbing 


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Location: 39.3184, -120.314 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Aron Quiter, John Robinson, M.Morley, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Adam Stackhouse, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Brian Quiter on Oct 7, 2002
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Mark Hudon climbing at Donner, 1979. Photo by Blit...

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Description 

The Donner/Truckee area of the Sierra Crest has climbing on granite rocks ranging from small to hundreds of feet. Both cracks and face climbs coexist here, and there are some kick-ass climbs of both sorts. The climbing season is from mid April until whenever snow closes the roads in November or December. Donner/Truckee's high elevation means that even during beautiful summer days a surprise storm is possible, so be prepared.

Lodging



Camping near the climbing is illegal, but doesn't seem to be too severely enforced. If that troubles you, seasonally there's camping on the opposite side of Donner Lake (see Donner Memorial State Park's website for details), and both cabins and hotels accommodations in from there to Truckee, which is an ample source of nearby food and entertainment.

Granite Flat Campground opens earlier each year than Donner Memorial SP. It is located a few miles south of Truckee on highway 89. It currently costs $22/night for a single vehicle site. It's not the most remote campsite as it is directly adjacent to 89, but has decent toilets and well water.

Access



In 2014, the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Access Fund jointly launched the Save Donner Climbing campaign. The following year, it purchased formerly private land for public conservation and access, which includes the Black Wall and other nearby cliffs.

CRAGS is the local Access Fund affiliate that helps supports this area.

Getting There 

Non locals will all drive on Interstate 80 from outside the Donner area.

Climbing Season



Weather station 2.8 miles from here

277 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',36],['3 Stars',113],['2 Stars',99],['1 Star',23],['Bomb',2]
['<=5.6',16],['5.7',9],['5.8',30],['5.9',35],['5.10',75],['5.11',61],['5.12',19],['5.13',7],['>=5.14',1],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',17],['V4-5',1],['V6-7',2],['V8-9',3],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',1],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Donner/Truckee

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Donner/Truckee:
Labyrinth   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   Donner Pass Road : Black Wall
Composure   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 180'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Insidious Crack   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 160'   Donner Pass Road : Grouse Slab
Rated X   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Donner Pass Road : Black Wall
Jellyroll Arch   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Donner Pass Road : Grouse Slab
One Hand Clapping   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 4 pitches, 500'   Donner Pass Road : Black Wall
Black September   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 110'   Donner Pass Road : Black Wall
Nova Express   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Bottomless Topless   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 80'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Touch A Cannibal   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   Donner Pass Road : Black Wall
Firecracker   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Donner Pass Road : Black Wall
Farewell to Arms   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Peter Principle   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 80'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Aerial   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Karl's Overhang   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch   Donner Pass Road : School Rock
Disciples Of the New Wave   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Cookie Mix   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 80'   Donner Pass Road : South Star Wall
Monkey Paws   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 70'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Panic in Detroit   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Trad, TR, 65'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Cannibals   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Donner Pass Road : Snowshed Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Donner/Truckee

Featured Route For Donner/Truckee
Rock Climbing Photo: jeff on the lieback

Cannibals 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b  CA : Tahoe : ... : Snowshed Wall
A technical masterpiece of face-climbing wizardry exemplifying the best Donner has to offer. This is the first route in the Cannibals Gully to the right of the "Little Feat" arete. Work up into a shallow right-facing dihedral, then follow the left trending panel on a series of thin liebacks and underclings. Tackle the thuggish, devious boulder problem with seemingly nonexistent feet which then deposits you at a "thank god" jug for recovery at half heighth. The upper face challenges you with a se...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Donner/Truckee Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Donner Lake on a balmy December day.
Donner Lake on a balmy December day.
Rock Climbing Photo: This picture isn't washed out... I just glow that ...
This picture isn't washed out... I just glow that ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown problem (V4?) on an unknown boulder at Don...
Unknown problem (V4?) on an unknown boulder at Don...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from high above Donner Lake
View from high above Donner Lake

Comments on Donner/Truckee Add Comment
Show which comments
By Nikolai Daiss-Fechner
From: Boulder, CO
Feb 11, 2008
If climbing near the top of Donner (Goldilocks, Schoolhouse, Hiking PCT etc), please do not park in the paved part of the Sugar Bowl Academy lot (formerly ASI). There is a service road that runs out the back of the lot. Parking on any of the dirt in this area is permitted. Just stay off the pavement.
Bathrooms are rather scarce on Donner, and burying it is tough since most of the ground is solid rock. There is an outhouse at Snowshed wall (can't miss it), as well as bathrooms at the Cafe in Norden (West towards where you get onto 80). Donner Ski Ranch is also sometimes an option. SBA (right on the pass) CANNOT allow general public to use their restrooms legally. Also, down on 40 along Donner lake there are a few small cafes and stores that may or may not have bathrooms. There is a beach on Donner lake at the west end that has restrooms, but there is an access fee depending on the time of year.
The easily accessible docks on Donner Lake are for public use, on a kind of first come first serve basis. Look down at the shore as you drive along the lake to find them. Excellent place to have an evening beer after climbing or spend a rest day lounging and swimming. (On a side note, do not fish here without a license because Rangers DO come by to check). The swimming is first class...water temps are chilly but very nice as far as snow runoff fed lakes go.
I would be more than happy to provide any additional info. Feel Free to contact me. I however, have a terrible memory and rout beta is not my strong point. I did live here (at SBA) for 2 years though and know the area itself very well
By ----
May 3, 2009
couple of questions about Donners Pass:

Is all the snow melted by the end of May? Is everything climbable at this time?

Are crowds ever a problem here? Is it very often that you have to wait in line for a popular climb? Would memorial day weekend be a bad time to go?

Thanks for any info you have.
By Rick D
From: Reno, NV
May 4, 2009
Response to Slab Guy:

The snow will still be around but you can get to all the walls as of right now. Snowshed is still pretty wet though. Snowshed is usually packed on the weekends, Truckee will be a zoo on memorial, everyone from the bay comes up.
By Paul Rezucha
From: Alameda
Nov 2, 2009
Could anyone tell me if there is any good place to camp this time of year around Donner? Most campgrounds are open May through October. Forest Land is ok to "dispense" camp but where/how does one find a good area that's not private and that is accessible. You do need a fire permit (free) from the park service/visitor center if you plan to cook or have a fire. Thanks!
By earl...
From: Las Vegas, NV
Oct 21, 2011
Does anyone know what camp site is closest and if there are any camp sites paid or BLM with trails leading to the climbing areas? I'm fine with long trails, even up to 10-12 miles.
By Rams
Jul 10, 2012
Can anyone recommend a guidebook for Donner and/or all of North Tahoe? I searched online and all I could find was the Falcon guide from 1999 and a Maximus Press book for Big Chief.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Jul 11, 2012
Rams,

See the link pasted below (it has a list of all of the books that are available):

mountainproject.com/v/norcal-g...
By John Jackson
Jul 13, 2012
Rams;

If you want the comprehensive guidebook for the North Tahoe region:

The new LOCALS GUIDE to North Tahoe has all 1,300 of the known routes in the North Tahoe-Donner-Reno region with full color overlays of almost every route. Included are seven hundred routes not documented in the other guidebooks listed, as well as a detailed history of climbing in the region.

More info here: camp4press.com
By slk
From: Reno, NV
Aug 5, 2012
^^^^^^

This guide is awesome for the area. For a .7-.8 climber it's helped to point me to some fun stuff. Going to go hit some .6 and .7 up above snowshed today and help clean it out!!!!

Thanks J. Jackson, see you at happy hour.
By Laine
From: Reno, NV
Jul 17, 2015
March 2015 - In collaboration with the Access Fund, the Truckee Donner Land Trust has entered into an agreement to purchase the 10-acre property that includes Black Wall and surrounding crags. Thanks to all who donated. If you haven't, you still can by going to this link