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Truckee River Canyon

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Truckee River Canyon Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 5,826'
Location: 39.31865, -120.19705 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 101,051
Administrators: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Aron Quiter on Oct 7, 2002

70° | 29°

73° | 29°

73° | 29°

69° | 26°

72° | 27°

72° | 26°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Laine exiting the crux and heading into the sustai...


Containing many basalt formations holding many fine routes in the Tahoe area, in this region, located above highway 89, you will find an excellent view of the large ski areas on the eastern rocks of the canyon.

You will find a diverse range of climbing here, including some of the best sport climbing around. There are also a fairly large selection of traditional routes as well.

Being high up in the Sierra, this area will only be climbable when the snow resides on the approach in the spring, usually in April or May, and continuing through late December, depending on the year. On a dry year, you might find this area climbable year-round.

Many guide books cover the lower parts of the Truckee River Canyon in their Reno area chapters. But since Mountain Project is organized by states, all California crags from the outlet of Lake Tahoe to the California border are in the TRC area now.

See individual crag pages for specific directions.

Developed areas here include the Amphitheater, Bear Cave Cliff, Big Chief, the Columns, Deep Creek Crag, Light Deprivation Buttress, Little Chief, Sawtooth Ridge, Shirley Canyon Cliffs, the Truckee River Basalt Area, and Twin Crags.

Getting There 

Climbs around here are accessed either from highway 89 between Tahoe City and Truckee, or from interstate 80 near Truckee.

See the Big Chief page for driving directions from Truckee to the Big Chief parking area, and other nearby crags along forest road 6. These are closed seasonally.

Other Truckee River Canyon crags are reached using highway 89, as are the forest road 6 crags during winter and other snowy months, when the gate stays locked.

For the Truckee River Basalt Area: Head South down Highway 89 out of Truckee towards Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City. You will see the Basalt cliffs of the Truckee River Basalt Area on the left, and you can park in the campgrounds in front of the rocks, yet still on the west side of the Truckee river.

For The Ampitheater:Head South down highway 89 out of Truckee towards Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City. Park just before the turnoff to Alpine Meadows. You will be able to see the Ampitheater just before the bridge heading over The Truckee River.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.2 miles from here

130 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',53],['2 Stars',57],['1 Star',11],['Bomb',3]

Classic Climbing Routes in Truckee River Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Truckee River Canyon:
UNR Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 45'   River Rock
Spring Break   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   River Rock
War Path   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Big Chief : Center Wall
War Paint   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Big Chief : Center Wall
Times Up   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Big Chief : Honeycomb Wall
Jitters   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 70'   Deep Creek Crags : The Arena
Route Stealers From Hell   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Big Chief : Center Wall
Karls Crack   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   River Rock
Festus   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Big Chief : South Wall
Mohawk   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 40'   Big Chief : Center Wall
Witch Doctor   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Big Chief : Center Wall
Sweating Bullets   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Big Chief : Honeycomb Wall
Flamethrower   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 130'   Big Chief : Center Wall
May Cause Drowsiness   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Big Chief : South Wall
Pow Wow   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 30'   Big Chief : Center Wall
Flying High Again   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Big Chief : South Cave
Total Recall   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 45'   River Rock
Raindance   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 30'   Big Chief : Center Wall
Totally Chawsome   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 35'   Big Chief : Center Wall
All Guns Blazing   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch   Big Chief : Center Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Truckee River Canyon

Featured Route For Truckee River Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Festus in the late afternoon sun.

Festus 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a  California : Lake Tahoe : ... : South Wall
A very sustained 10a (with the exception of a long runout on low 5th class terrain before the final two bolts), Festus grabs your attention with many cool moves and various techniques required as soon as you clip the first bolt.Very short people may find the crux to be moving off the second bolt into the right-facing dihedral (very reachy for those at the lower end of 5'). For me, the crux was the steep and slightly runout ground between bolts 3 to 4, a mini-traverse that thankfully offers great...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Truckee River Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Colorful rock is not an understatement, Yusuke Kom...
Colorful rock is not an understatement, Yusuke Kom...
Rock Climbing Photo: A view of Lake Tahoe from the crags.
A view of Lake Tahoe from the crags.
Rock Climbing Photo: Old Custer testing the Cape of Good Hope on Africa...
Old Custer testing the Cape of Good Hope on Africa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Always good to bring a lifeguard.  Scamp patrols t...
Always good to bring a lifeguard. Scamp patrols t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Brian on the super-overhung .11c variation of Real...
Brian on the super-overhung .11c variation of Real...
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting Flamethrower, awesomeness!
Starting Flamethrower, awesomeness!

Comments on Truckee River Canyon Add Comment
Show which comments
By Bill Grasse
From: Carbondale, CO.
Jul 17, 2007
Does anybody know if there is good free camping somewhere near this area? I'm headed this way to work/climb for a couple of months and I'd like to just camp to save money.
By Justin Johnsen
From: Nor Cal
Jun 14, 2014
I've expanded this page a bit since Aron first wrote it, combining areas in this chapter of John Jackson's North Tahoe guide.
By Caleb Griffin
Jul 31, 2017

I'm a sport climber from Bakersfield, CA and will be staying at Goose Meadows for a small camping trip with some non-climber pals from work next week on August 9th and 10th. I'd love to spend a day checking out the local crags, maybe Deep Creek Crag or Big Chief, but am in need of a partner(s). I lead a solid 5.9, have my own gear, and am always up for new challenges. Please hit me up if you'd be down for a plus one!


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