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Sugarloaf Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 4,800'
Location: 38.772, -120.30558 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 102,235
Administrators: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Brian Quiter on Mar 9, 2005
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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BETA PHOTO: We had a brutal time finding the trail from the ro...



Sugarloaf is a huge granite spire towering over the town of Kyburz on highway 50 between Placerville and Tahoe. It is considered an excellent winter crag because of its lower elevation and mostly south-southwest facing position. There's both sport and trad, with single and multi-pitch routes of grades both easy to moderate, as well as full on hard committing routes that will test the strongest and boldest of climbers. The spire is about 350 feet tall and you can walk off the uphill side without much difficulty.

Peripheral Rocks

The Sugarloaf area also includes a handful of smaller rocks that you can find along the trail leading up to Sugarloaf proper. These rocks hold a slew of low to moderate quality routes with a few classics thrown in. Routes on these rocks can range from easy 5th class to extremely difficult and vary in height between 40 and 100 feet tall.

Land Ownership

The climbing area, and the Pony Express Trail that passes below it, are both in Eldorado National Forest. You can always check the ENF Website for recent information.

But access to the Pony Express Trail and climbing areas uses public right of ways over private land. As always, please respect the locals the live and work in Silver Fork and Kyburz as you hike in and out of the public playground above.


Local businesses, including gas stations stores, a cafe, and an inn, are just uphill and downhill from Sugarloaf on highway 50, in the towns of Silver Fork and Kyburz.


There are some options for camping in the area but they are undeveloped, few and far between.
1) Drive just up the hill (east) on HWY 50 to Silverfork Rd. There are several pullouts just a few miles up the road that allow for overnight camping. However, the gate closes for the winter, so if it's snowy and icy, chances are the gate will be closed.

2) Drive down HWY 50 (West)and make a right onto 31 Milestone tract. There is a large pullout that allows camping. This road also closes in the winter months but tends to stay open longer than Silverfork Rd.

3) There is year round opportunity along Ice House Rd. Located several miles back (west) down HWY 50, Ice House Rd offers year round primitive camping along numerous pullouts and dirt roads.

Getting There 

From the Bay Area, head East on 80 to Sacramento, then take 50 East, through Placerville and another ~30 miles (if you see the town of Kyburz sign and gas station, you've gone half a mile too far). After passing School Road, look for a dirt pullout on the right shoulder, on the south side of the two lane highway, and park there. Across the road on the north side you'll see a building with a locked blue outhouse on the left. This is basically half way between School Road, and Larch Lane.

Rock Climbing Photo: We had a brutal time finding the trail from the ro...
We had a brutal time finding the trail from the road so figured we'd document it - the trail starts to the left of this building

Once parked, walk to the east end of the dirt pullout, and carefully across highway 50 to get to the left side of the outhouse and fence around the building.

Walk uphill for ~200 feet and you'll find a 'now entering forest service land' sign. From here a climber's trail is obvious and you just walk up it to the crags.

Sugarloaf is about a 30 minute hike straight up the hill. From route 50 to the base of the main formation, it's about 600 feet up over half a mile.

A more adventurous approach is to start down at 31 Milestone Tract, and find the Pony Express Trail from near the domes there. Over less than 2 miles of trail, it reaches the elevation halfway between route 50 and the base of the main Sugarloaf. This approach can be done on foot or fat tires (assuming you bring a means to secure your bike out of sight while you slog to your wall or boulder at Sugarloaf).

Climbing Season

Weather station 10.4 miles from here

118 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',44],['2 Stars',44],['1 Star',23],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Sugarloaf

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Sugarloaf:
Chim-Chiminey   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 35'   Split Rock
Scheister   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 300'   Sugarloaf, East Face
Harding's Chimney   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, 3 pitches, 435'   Sugarloaf, East Face
Pony Express   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 170'   Sugarloaf, West Face
The Fang-Left Side   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   Sugarloaf, East Face
Morticia   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Sugarloaf, East Face
Farley   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Sugarloaf, East Face
TM's Deviation   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 300'   Sugarloaf, West Face
Knobelty   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 45'   West Buttress
Dominion   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Sugarloaf, East Face
Fingerlock   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch   Sugarbun
Hyperspace   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 165'   Sugarloaf, West Face
Self Abuse   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 45'   Midway Rock
Happy Face   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Sugarloaf, West Face
Blue Velvet   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Sugarloaf, East Face
Bolee Gold   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   Sugarloaf, South Face
Make That Move Right Now Baby   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   Sugarbun
The Fracture   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch   Sugarloaf, East Face
Taurus   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Sugarloaf, East Face
Grand Illusion   5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Trad, 1 pitch   Sugarloaf, East Face
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Sugarloaf

Featured Route For Sugarloaf
Rock Climbing Photo: Bill Price on "Grand Illusion". Photo by...

Grand Illusion 5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c  California : Lake Tahoe : ... : Sugarloaf, East Face
Originally this climb was the third pitch of "The Fracture" and climbed on aid, but in 1979, Tony Yaniro freed this demanding route producing what at the time was probably the hardest climb in the world.This was climbed in 1979, and recorded as the first 5.13b/c. Yosemite's "Phoenix" was climbed in some style in 1977, but is generally considered 5.13a.This starts in an alcove and the route is obvious. Take the Eastern Terrace to this alcove and go for it!...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Sugarloaf Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Arechiga on, Blue Velvet. 5.10c.
Mike Arechiga on, Blue Velvet. 5.10c.
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Arechiga on, The Dominion. 5.10a.
Mike Arechiga on, The Dominion. 5.10a.
Rock Climbing Photo: Atop Sugarloaf, above the Grand Illusion roof.
Atop Sugarloaf, above the Grand Illusion roof.
Rock Climbing Photo: "The Ghost In The Machine". Photo by Bli...
"The Ghost In The Machine". Photo by Bli...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sugarloaf, 1982. Photo by Blitzo.
Sugarloaf, 1982. Photo by Blitzo.

Comments on Sugarloaf Add Comment
Show which comments
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 27, 2009
Just a tip regarding the weather link for this page: my recent personal analysis and actual experience has been that Weather Underground (much as I love that site) does not portray an accurate forecast for the Kyburz area. Use instead; although their weather models are probably larger (and therefore less "local") than wunderground's, they seem more accurate.

If you check out the current list of Weather Underground's reporting stations at the bottom of the page (also visually listed on their WunderMap tab), you will see that not a single station is located at the same elevation as Kyburz--all are higher or lower. Further, I believe the numerous stations around South Lake skew the general forecast given for Kyburz to be colder/cooler than it really will be. Having climbed there on a day that was forecasted to be 40° with 40 mph wind gusts by Weather Underground and then finding nothing of the sort has confirmed my suspicions. That same day was forecasted to be 61° with 10 mph winds by noaa.
By Wa Na
May 13, 2014
If you want to stay in the area, I have a 4br house just below Sugarloaf by the school. You can rent the whole house or just 1 rm. Please call/txt (530) 318-7436 for availability
By GizzardJones
From: Rancho Cordova,CA
Mar 24, 2016

as of March 22nd 2016 for any walk offs the Main Sugarloaf Proper, the Tree has fallen down that folks could stem out to use as a crutch for the down climb section.
Now there is a mandatory 5.5 ish 5.6 short few moves of down climbing into the final descent gully.

Rock Climbing Photo: Main Walk Off Tree is gone. Mandatory 5.5/5.6? dow...
Main Walk Off Tree is gone. Mandatory 5.5/5.6? down climb for 2 moves

Rock Climbing Photo: Downed tree for the Descent Walk off SugarLoaf Pro...
Downed tree for the Descent Walk off SugarLoaf Proper

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