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DONNER PASS ROCK CLIMBING
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ROCK CLIMBING SPECIALS
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Technical Difficulty (Class):
Client to Guide Ratio:
1:1 or 2:1
Operating on a non-discriminating basis under Special Use Permit, Eldorado National Forest
One of America's most prolific rock climbers,
, has long considered Lover's Leap as one of the greatest climbing areas in the country.
The Leap's unique granite has horizontal bands that have weathered slower than the the surrounding rock, forming amazing dikes, shelves and ledges. Sometimes, ladder-like sections can be found on ultra steep routes, providing super exposed yet ridiculously easy climbing. Many excellent routes exist in the 5.7 - 5.9 range. Though they sound easy, they maintain a challenging character that reflects true ratings and traditional ethics as the sport of rock climbing was originally defined here in California.
Lover's Leap routes are best experienced as traditional multi-pitch climbs, climbing in a small team of 2 or 3 (including the guide) from the bottom of the cliff to the top. ASI does not condone large classes congregating at the bottom of a route and teaching top roping on the first pitch of a classic multi-pitch climb.
ASI Guides have been climbing at Lover's Leap for nearly 40 years
, having experienced the best and most classic routes. We invite you to join us to enjoy a super, high quality day that will leave long lasting rock climbing memories.
for 1 person
each for 2 people
Plus guide transportation cost or arrangement
Choose your own date
ASI can also organize climbing at
Recommended climbing days at Lover's Leap:
For Intermediate and Advanced Climbers
Most routes are 3 to 6 pitches in length. On a typical guided day, we usually combine 2 and sometimes 3 routes to produce a stellar day of climbing at each individual's level of ability.
In addition to the classic routes listed below, ASI Guides are familiar with many other equally enjoyable alternatives.
Some of our favorite routes to guide:
Pop Bottle 5.7, 3 pitches
A pleasant, shorter, easier route. Good to help get used to the climbing at the Leap.
East Corner 5.10a AO or 5.11b, 3 pitches
The stunning corner crack. The crux bulge on the second pitch is often climbed with a pull of aid, keeping the route at 5.10a.
Haystack Crack 5.8, 3 pitches
An excellent route following a right-facing corner with a fabulous 4-foot ceiling forming the crux.
, 5 pitches
"In its improbability lies its beauty" and "more bold than hard" have been used to describe this difficult test piece of character building climbing. For very experienced climbers only.
East Crack 5.8, 3 pitches
A good, stout climb in the 5.8 range combining crack and face climbing moves.
Bear's Reach 5.7, 3 pitches
One of the ASI Guides' favorite. Steep runout climbing starts this delectable blend of dikes, cracks and flakes leading to the infamous Bear's Reach, passing the crux section. Then, more interesting and thought provoking climbing leads to the summit.
East Wall 5.6 or 5.7/5.8 finish, 3 pitches
Don't underestimate the low rating of this excellent route. The steep, dihedral of the first pitch contains sustained combination climbing. It's followed by prevocative traversing pitches up and left, using some amazing features for natural protection. The final pitch is best done with a 5.7/5.8 move at a thin crack over a small roof or the 5.6 alternative.
The Line 5.9, 3 pitches
Directness of purpose is the best way to describe this near perfect, elegant route (one of the best climbs at the Leap). In fact, RR calls the first pitch one of the best at Lover's and one of the 10 best he has ever climbed.
Main Wall/West Wall
Lover's Chimney 5.6, 4 pitches
This cavern like experience offers good chimney climbing. If you go exactly the right way, you can avoid the brushy sections and enjoy easy to moderate climbing the whole way.
Book Mark 5.8, 3 pitches
Steep, sustained and exciting climbing lead to the prominent white corner (the book), to a final smooth chimney found on the last pitch. (season closure)
Eagle Buttress, Right 5.10a, 6 pitches
This route, a true LL classic, is a testament to the skill of the "hardmen" first ascentionists of the mid-60's. Many parts of this bold route have sections to be proud of after you finish the climb. (season closure)
Traveler Buttress 5.9, 5 pitches
This route has been called the best at Lover's leap. Steve Roper and Alan Steck chose it to be included in their legendary book,
"Fifty Classic Climbs of North America"
. The crux is a steep off-width squeeze chimney on the second pitch. It's not as bad as it sounds.
Corrugation Corner 5.7, 5 pitches
This has to be the best moderate route, even though it's stout for its rating. It's steep, airy and exciting with some of the best "dike hiking" at LL.
Hospital Corner 5.10a, 2 pitches
A good test of super sustained, crack climbing in a steep corner.
Surrealistic Pillar 5.7, 3 pitches
This stellar 5.7 route provides aesthetically pleasing moves climbing dikes and using cracks. The belay stances are magnificent. We often climb this route and link it with Corrugation Corner to provide one of the best 5.7 (but stout) days on the planet. The direct start of Surrealistic Pillar, 5.10a is a high quality, strenuous start to the route.
The Groove 5.7/5.8, 2 pitches
This route is great as an alternative to, or in conjunction with Surrealistic Pillar. One move of arguably 5.8 is found low on the first pitch.
For Novice and Intermediate Climbers
Hogsback is the small, lower angle, rounded formation directly above the American River (in front of the main face of Lover's Leap as seen from Hwy 50). There are 2 easier routes we like that are great warm ups or are excellent routes to introduce climbers to multi-pitch routes. They are:
Knapsack Crack 5.5 or easier, 3 pitches
A good excercise in continuous, multi-pitch climbing with a great opportunity to place and remove protection, build belay anchors and practice transitions, all on an easy climb.
Deception 5.6, 3 pitches
This route connects good cracks on the low-angle face to the typical overhangs at the top.
More information about climbing at Lover's Leap
Lover's Leap is located off Hwy 50, near the small outpost of Strawberry and the famous old Strawberry Lodge. It's 18 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe and 40 miles east of Placerville. There is a parking lot and a fun climber's campground that can be found by staying left on the small road behind Strawberry Lodge. A nominal fee is now charged for camping and parking for day use.
Good food is served at Strawberry Lodge. Approaches are short, about 15-30 min, as this splended area is easily accessible. The dirt road we use to approach the cliff is the old stagecoach and Pony Express road used in the 1800's.
The best time of year to climb at Lover's Leap is from early May through October. Its base is at about 6,000' and the formation is north facing, keeping it out of the direct sun for much of the day. September and October, California's Indian Summer, can be a fantastic time to climb. Tempuratures are cooler, the angle of the sun is lower, afternoon thundershowers usually have subsided and the conditions can be perfect.
Watch for rattle snakes that have been found sunning themselves on the granite slabs below and at the top of the cliff. Climbers often climb with a small, light pack to carry approach shoes to the top for the easy descent to the east. If you leave a pack at the base of the climb, it's important to clip it high on the rock, well out of reach of the rodents. Otherwise, they may chew a hole into the pack.
Peregrine Falcon Nesting
There is a seasonal closure by Eldorado National Forest between April 21st through September 30th to protect nesting falcons. It's on the portion of the face between Bookmark and the Hourglass, 30ft from the base to 30ft from the top edge.
When climbing at Lover's Leap, please try to maintain the tradition our forefathers began by leaving as little impact as possible to the area and as Royal Robbins asked us, "leave the rock as you found it".
Enjoy the Leap, it's truly a great area.
Prior & Follow-up Programs
Leave No Trace
"I had a great day with Paul Adams at Lover's Leap. We climbed Haystack Crack, The Line and Bear's Reach and we're back in Truckee by 6:00pm."
- Julian Pollak, San Francisco
More Testimonials >
©2012 Alpine Skills International