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Upper Gorge, Upper Wall 
Wishing Well, The 

The Gorge Rock Climbing 


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Location: 39.33083, -120.64481 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Justin Johnsen on May 23, 2014
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Super Alpine Route Direct .11a. Emeralds, CA.

  • Flood Danger MORE INFO >>>
  • No overnight camping on PG&E property MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    WARNING (this only applies to the Gorge Section and not the Benches section)! As the sign posted at the parking lot reminds you, this area is subject to sudden and severe flooding, especially in run off times (spring and winter). Most of the climbing routes in the gorge are in the potential flooding areas, as walls of the gorge sit below several LARGE floodgates from lake Spaulding. These gates may open at any time, and as the sign in the parking area states, there may or may not be warning. Being in the gorge when the gates open would probably mean death, and being in the other climbing areas will mean that your exit is blocked until flood waters reside. Read all posted signs in the parking area, and also beware that these may not be updated.

    Mike Carville's 1999 Guide to "The Gorge" was the last published information, but many of the routes changed due to flooding in 1997. In 2010 to 2012 Carville and friends restored many of the original lines and added many more but in the winter of 2013 another flood made much of the gorge deeper, so the first bolts on many of the climbs were very high. That problem was fixed in the summer of 2013 and the area is again ready for some great climbing. Very little specific route info is available on Mountain Project but Josh Horniak is getting a new guide out that will rectify that problem in the spring of 2014.

    The Gorge and the Wishing Well are located below the outlet gates of Spaulding Reservoir and in the spring and winter can be subject to flooding if the gates are opened or if water is going over the gates. Once the lake level is below the bottom of the gates, which usually occurs in the spring, there is no possibility of flooding. It is easy to determine the level of the lake by hiking to the gates and looking. This potential flooding only refers to the Gorge and the Wishing Well.

    This page is being recycled from Aron Quiter's original main page describing the Emeralds.

    Getting There 

    See the Emeralds Getting There section for driving directions.

    For an overview map of walking directions with GPS coordinates, go to "The Emeralds" Main page and see John Robinson's photo: Guide to the Emeralds, page 1

    From the dirt parking lots at the South Yuba River bridge, follow the road upstream on the south (right-hand) bank of the river. You will come to a cairn on the right of the road follow this trail and it will go uphill to the Benches areas. When you get to Kudos continue up the same main approach trail. When you get just below Fast Food Wall (1 min past Kudos) turn left and go uphill to the top of the ridge. After about 10 min you will come to a fork, go left on the trail cut thru the Manzanita. Continue on this "trail" with cairns until you start going steep downhill. Scramble down some scree and you're dead smack in the middle of the gorge. Lower gorge is to your left and upper gorge is to your right toward the dam. (It should take you about 40 min to go from the trailhead to the Gorge) The "wishing well" doesn't really exist any more because the boulders that formed the pools have been swept downstream during the release of flood waters.

    Note: There are sandy slopes above the gorge and when it's windy or after a rain large rocks have been known to pinball down into the gorge. It seems the large boulder in the middle of the upper gorge is ground zero. We also found a rattlesnake by this boulder last year.

    Directions contributed by Aron Quiter and Kelley Gilleran.

    Climbing Season



    Weather station 0.6 miles from here

    13 Total Climbing Routes

    ['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',6],['2 Stars',3],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
    ['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',0],['5.9',0],['5.10',3],['5.11',5],['5.12',5],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

    Classic Climbing Routes in The Gorge

    Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Gorge:
    Wander the West   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 130'   Upper Gorge, Upper Wall
    Sub Zero   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport   Upper Gorge, Upper Wall
    Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Gorge

    Featured Route For The Gorge
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tom Addison heading into the crux on Whirl Pool .1...

    Whirlpool 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  California : Lake Tahoe : ... : Upper Gorge, Upper Wall
    Emeralds, Grand Wall in the Middle Gorge. This is a 35 meter pitch to top of wall. Start on big ledge, climb through bulgy roof and up blocky face to a blunt arete to chains .11b. Or continue past chains (crux) up onto headwall .12a. Climb good edges to anchor. Need a 70 meter rope to skip midpoint belay and reach the ground. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

    Comments on The Gorge Add Comment
    Show which comments
    By Erik B
    13 hours ago
    CONDITION REPORT 
    Rappelled into the Upper Gorge today to check out conditions. The water was below the dam so it is safe to climb below. As far as I could tell the routes there were not affected by the winter storms. The narrow pool at the base is very full so getting over to the south side wall will be interesting...
    By Kelley Gilleran
    From: Sacramento, Ca
    May 27, 2014
    The easiest way to get into the gorge is to hike 10 minutes past Kudos down the same main approach trail. You will get to a well maintained trail that cuts left (downhill) and dumps you out at the middle gorge. Scramble down some scree and you're dead smack in the middle of the gorge. Lower gorge is to your left and upper gorge is to your right toward the dam. The "wishing well" doesn't really exist any more because the boulders that formed the pools have been swept downstream during the release of flood waters.

    Note: There are sandy slopes above the gorge and when it's windy or after a rain large rocks have been known to pinball down into the gorge. It seems the large boulder in the middle of the upper gorge is ground zero. We also found a rattlesnake by this boulder last year.
    By Justin Johnsen
    Administrator
    From: Nor Cal
    May 28, 2014
    Cool, thanks Kelley. I'll roll that into the Gorge page here. I climbed the Emeralds for my first time on Sunday, but didn't make it past Fast Food. We spotted the cairns and trail leading to the Gorge past there.

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