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Woodfords Canyon

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Woodfords Canyon Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 5,200'
Location: 38.7653, -119.8463 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 89,238
Administrators: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Milton Mugambe on Feb 17, 2009  with updates from brucelacroix
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Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Working steep granite. Woodfords Canyon.


Woodfords Canyon offers year-round climbing. The south-facing side of Highway 88 allows comfortable climbing conditions during the winter months. When the mercury climbs into the 40's in Reno, the temperatures at Woodfords can allow for surprisingly comfortable climbing, assuming there are clear skies and light winds. In summer, the shady walls lying on the south side create perfect conditions during the hotter summer months.

The area is relatively unknown, usually only receiving the attention of a few parties on weekends. The climbing is generally traditional and although there are routes up to four pitches in length, the majority of the climbs are a half rope long, with a 70m rope being extremely useful. The granite on the winter side is generally excellent with some areas of coarse rock. The summer areas have finer grained granite and less coarse rock but more dirt and munge; these climbs required extensive cleaning on their first ascents.

These climbs offer some of the purest crack climbing in the Tahoe area and is a great training area for Yosemite and the High Sierra.

Most of the Woodfords climbs lie on public land in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. You can always check the HTNF website for current access information.

Getting There 

Woodford's Canyon is located in Alpine County, California, along Highway 88, 20 minutes from South Lake Tahoe. There are quite a few different parking areas and trail heads.

Driving from the west

Take Highway 50 west from South Lake Tahoe. Drive through the town of Meyers, go left on Highway 89 (south), drive several miles to the junction of Highways 88 and 89. Turn left onto Highway 88 (east), drive down the valley which follows the steep East Fork of the Carson River. Towards the bottom of the canyon the road becomes less steep and to the left is an obvious south facing treeless mountain side. The golden rock formations above the bushy slope is known as The Fortress. Park on the north-side of the road next to rotating road condition sign, where a small stream runs along the shoulder of the road. This parking area is on the left after passing Crystal Springs Campground. Pull a u-turn after passing over the bridge and park in front of the aforementioned road sign. Follow the well beaten trail that goes upstream (west) towards a tree covered rocky ridge. From the ridge follow a decent climber's trail that is marked by cairns through a line of trees that lead to the base or The Fortress. The wall lying directly above the approach trail is known as the Donnie G and can be identified by a prominent "stalactite". Allow 30-45 minutes for the approach.

Driving from the east

From the East, Carson City or Gardnerville, take 395 to the 88 intersection Northwest of Minden. From here, at 395, it is 15.2 miles to the parking area for the "Fortress". On the way you will pass the junction with 89 toward Markleeville.

From this junction, it is 1.3 miles to the "Fortress" parking area, on the right.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.0 miles from here

115 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',15],['3 Stars',57],['2 Stars',32],['1 Star',7],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Woodfords Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Woodfords Canyon:
The Perfect Lie Back   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   The Fortress : 6 - Liebacks Area
5.8 Hand Crack   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   The Fortress : 1 - Books Area
In the Tall Grass   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 60'   The Tiers : 1st Tier
Quoia the Destroya   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Fortress : 4 - Second Alcove
The Wind Through the Keyhole   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 60'   The Tiers : 1st Tier
Tall People Reach Short People Climb   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Tiers : 2nd Tier
Whisker Biscuit   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Fortress : 3 - Donnie G
Neutron   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Cloudburst Canyon : High Energy Wall
Cat Scratch Fever   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   The Fortress : 1 - Books Area
Bush League   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   Cloudburst Canyon : One Of These Days Buttress
I Be Jammin'   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 75'   The Fortress : 4 - Second Alcove
Sun Wall Middle   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 95'   The Fortress : 8 - Sun Wall Area
One Of These Days   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   Cloudburst Canyon : One Of These Days Buttress
Sun Wall Left   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch   The Fortress : 8 - Sun Wall Area
O.U.L.D.   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 130'   The Fortress : 4 - Second Alcove
Long Arm of the Aug   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   The Tiers : 3rd Tier
Arrowhead   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 80'   The Fortress : 3 - Donnie G
Proton   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Cloudburst Canyon : High Energy Wall
The Hand of God   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 4 pitches, 600'   The Fortress : 2 - Wood Hood
Livin' A Dream   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Cloudburst Canyon : One Of These Days Buttress
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Woodfords Canyon

Featured Route For Woodfords Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Hillside strangler

Hillside Strangler 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c  California : Lake Tahoe : ... : Strangler Cliff
A great test in finger cracks, the Hillside Strangler is powerful, interspersed finger locks leading to a desperate finish. Short, but high quality....[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Woodfords Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Bill Price on Hillside Strangler. 1981 Photo by Bl...
Bill Price on Hillside Strangler. 1981 Photo by Bl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Stormtrooper buttress
Stormtrooper buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: neutron .10a
neutron .10a
Rock Climbing Photo: A short crack @ S.T.buttress
A short crack @ S.T.buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: lightning dream arete
lightning dream arete
Rock Climbing Photo: Lightning Dream
Lightning Dream
Rock Climbing Photo: Lauren on the White Kong Boulder, near Markleevill...
Lauren on the White Kong Boulder, near Markleevill...
Rock Climbing Photo:  East side of The Steeple
East side of The Steeple
Rock Climbing Photo:  S. Watson"s pictural of the Steeple Aka Agui...
S. Watson"s pictural of the Steeple Aka Agui...
Rock Climbing Photo: Al Dude bouldering on Mama Cat Boulder 1986. Photo...
Al Dude bouldering on Mama Cat Boulder 1986. Photo...
Rock Climbing Photo: One Of These Days, 5.10c. Wow!
BETA PHOTO: One Of These Days, 5.10c. Wow!

Comments on Woodfords Canyon Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 29, 2016
By Rick D
From: Reno, NV
Mar 13, 2009
This is awesome. Been waiting for someone to add this page. Been meaning to get down there for a while.
By Ron Anderson
Mar 21, 2009
Woodsford is an awsome canyon,,,It prolly has about twelve thousand quality routes still waiting.... Over the years there has been many passers through like Harding, Robbins Tm and Tommy Herbert there...Quite alot of history and eing so close, is one of the most over looked areas there is.. Thank god for steep approaches!!LOL....
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 10, 2009
I think some of the route organization here for this area is already confusing and not in the right grouping.

According to my topo, The Fortress should be listed as an area, and within that area should be the 2nd Alcove (and its routes therein). The Perfect Lieback should also be a route listed within a sub-area of The Fortress, aka The Liebacks Area.

Can we re-organize in this way? Also, is it possible to actually make such "sub-crag" area divisions within an area on mtnprjct? (It doesn't necessarily look like it.)
By Blue Eisele
Apr 28, 2009
People don't climb at Woodsfords much so do the area a favor and bring a wire brush with you. When you are done leading do a TR lap with your brush and on the way down clean all the lichen off the routes. Also thank Ryan and Dan for all their hard work putting up new routes and anchors!!
By Milton Mugambe
May 29, 2009
It's sad that woodfords is all alone. The best climbing is going on right now. It's been high and dry in the canyon while the popular areas are soaked. Try something new and be adventurous.
By Sasha Cohen
From: South Lake Tahoe CA
Jun 15, 2009
Hey Milt,
I heard you're putting together a climbing guide for Woodford's Canyon it's about time that a current one is done by someone who really knows the area!! I also heard you need a publisher. I will let you know if i find one.
Keep up the good work!
By C Miller
From: CA
Jun 16, 2009
A good online guide to Woodsfords Canyon is found here -
By Ron Anderson
Aug 3, 2009
iF You have any questions regaring the old guide let me know... Ron
By Milton Mugambe
Aug 16, 2009
The areas that have been posted all lie on the north-side of the road.. the were submitted during the winter months... so the summer stuff hasn't been included. I'm considering posting some more information on the south-side of the road, but I've been working on a complete guide for both sides of the road, and haven't had time to add anymore info. Milt M.
By Tyson Waldron
From: Reno, NV
Jan 21, 2014
I love this damn place. Tahoe obscurity at its absolute finest.
By Justin Johnsen
From: Nor Cal
Jun 27, 2014
Hey Aerili, I pulled the routes off the Fortress page, which makes it accept sub-areas now.

I also moved the areas/pages that belong there.

Since I haven't climbed up there yet, I didn't add an area for the Liebacks, but left the Perfect Lieback in the closest existing page (the Sun Wall Area).
By tahoemnts Schroeder
From: Truckee, California
Jun 11, 2015
Can someone recommend a good camping area near Woodfords Canyon? Considering the high temps somewhere that's not a slow cooker. Thanks.
By Ben Snow
From: San Diego, Ca
Dec 29, 2016
First time out at Woodfords today- it's a really sweet spot. Very warm and sunny and no snow issues.

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