Desolation Wilderness. Photo by Blitzo.
Beautiful, spacious, and often daunting, the Sierra Nevada in the Lake Tahoe area contains some of the best summer climbing in California. The area is almost entirely covered in climbable rock, and route setters will delight at the bounty of untouched potential.
Consisting mostly of granite, with a few basaltic exceptions, you will find climbs off all types, from the long traditional and sport routes at Lover's Leap
, to the pumpy tall bouldering found everywhere, but most notably Donner
and Pack Saddle
Climbing is year round in some places, though most areas are covered in snow from the first snow (usually in October or November) until March - June depending on altitude and direction of the rock.
Access is at most of the region's crags, especially in the public lands of the Tahoe
National Forests. The Desolation
and Granite Chief
Wilderness areas have regulations you should learn about before visiting, but for day use, you can self-register for free at the major trail heads leading into them.
Also note that about a third of the Tahoe area and climbing is in Nevada, right across the unnatural straight state lines. See the Reno and Carson City
area for the Tahoe vicinity's Nevada crags.
Places to stay are plentiful, from BLM camping, organized campgrounds, lodges, cheap hotels, to even four star hotels in Reno and South Lake Tahoe. Tahoe Ice
Is a fleeting thing! And discussed on some threads inside
this site. Some flows form every year, others rarely so, all over the region. While no routes are documented here yet (ahem), at least one area has been created to track them: Eagle Creek Canyon Ice Climbs
Also see Tahoe (Nevada)
and Reno and Carson City
for parts of the greater Tahoe region in the state of Nevada.
From the Bay Area, head up Highway 80 to Sacramento, where you will either head up into the hills either on 80, 50, or 89, depending on where you're going.
From Reno, head up Highway 80 to go to North Lake destinations, or down highway 395 , and then West on highway 89 into South Lake Tahoe.
Some bus services are offered by Greyhound and Amtrak.
South Lake Tahoe and Truckee both have municipal airports if you have the resources.
For the rest of us, the nearest city with commercial flights is Reno. For some Tahoe areas, Sacramento's airport might be a viable second option. Each one still requires a drive into the mountains.
The first intercontinental railroad in the U.S. went over Donner Summit; one version of this line went through the Snowshed next to the climbing wall of the same name there. Amtrak still runs a train over the Sierra in this area, which runs through Truckee once a day or so. It's not cheap or fast compared to other modern travel to the Tahoe area, but is scenic (though it only goes by Donner Lake north and out of sight of Lake Tahoe).
Each year during Pacific Crest Trail season, a batch of through hikers backpack in from the south through some of the highest elevation terrain in the area, above Lake Tahoe's West Shore. Other trails connect to Reno and Sacramento.
Some climbing areas also involve travel on the historic Pony Express Trail (mostly along highway 50), or on the Tahoe Rim Trail which encircles the whole lake. Riding bikes or horses, or hiking, can be used to approach some Tahoe crags and peaks.
Around Lake Tahoe and some other area lakes, rivers or streams, deep water soloing or dry climbing spots may include travel by a variety of watercraft or swimming.
Once enough snow accumulates ever winter, many people ski and snowshoe to Tahoe's climbing areas, perhaps to do some ski mountaineering or ice climbing.
Weather station 5.8 miles from here
1,885 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',153],['3 Stars',765],['2 Stars',691],['1 Star',201],['Bomb',15]
Classic Climbing Routes in Lake Tahoe
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Lake Tahoe
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Lake Tahoe:
Featured Route For Lake Tahoe
O.U.L.D. 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b California
: Lake Tahoe
: ... : 4 - Second Alcove
With a combination of thin, balancy crack climbing, featured slab and exposed knob pulling O.U.L.D. is a climb not to be missed. The fun, bolted 5.9 slab warms you up and leads to the shallow corner that makes for the crux of the climb. Utilizing small cams and wires (RP's helpful but not necessary) carefully work your way up the beautiful tips/finger crack to a rest. Shake out and continue straight up the finger crack past some small bushes. Move left to a left trending flake peppered with kno...[more] Browse More Classics in California
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