Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and contains thousands of granite boulders that surround the mountains and hillsides around the lake. Recently Mike Hatchet has produced a very detailed guidebook on bouldering on the North and west Shore of Tahoe. With over 3,200 problems, it has shed some light on a ton of areas that were only accessed through local knowledge and word of mouth.
Growing up in the north east part of Lake Tahoe I am pretty familiar with most of the areas, but with the purchase of this book I was able to go to some really high quality boulder fields. During my three month visit to Reno I went and checked out three main areas: Road Cut, Castle Peak, and Soda Springs.
Below the climbing area of Road Cut there is a small bouldering field with massive boulders up to 15 meters. Most of the bouldering here is V8 to V10 with the exception of one V4 warm-up. Currently the boulders are on private property, but the owner is nice enough to allow climbers to access the boulders without any problems. The first boulder you reach is the White Lines boulder which holds one of the best V8’s in the Tahoe area. Its commonly referred to as the Midnight Lightning of Lake Tahoe. A perfect series of crimps leads to a heinous top out on non existent holds. The next boulder down holds a problem called the Real Deal V10.
Several of my friends got together over a weekday and I was invited to come along on a bouldering session on the Real Deal. We arrived at the boulders pretty late in the day as the temperatures dropped into the 40’s. For me warming up in cold temperatures is the worst part of the day. Your tips are completely numb and trying to climb can be painful. The good part is once you get the screaming barfies your fingers warm up and as long as you keep climbing and moving around you can keep your body warm for several hours. Several laps later on the V4 we were ready to head down and work a highball V8 with a V10 sit start recently established by my friend Joel Zerr. Thirty minutes of projecting everyone made some progress, but no sends that day. So we headed on to our main goal for the day. One of my friends Fabian has been working the Real Deal for a while and is very close to sending and today he was gunning for the top. After several burns energy was very high and he was falling from the last move. I got the chance to start working the problem and the line is incredible. Eight moves lead out a roof on natural features to a moderate high ball top out. The last move of the crux is an all out lunge to a three finger sloper using a pogo with the right leg. Really cool problem. After a few hours past dark the temps dropped near freezing and we left the boulder and headed back to Reno anxious to return for another session.
Castle Peak is a large granite area located 10 minutes past the road cut on I80. My friend Brian Sweeney discovered a lot of the boulders and has established problems from V1 to V11. I had heard a lot about this area and with the new guidebook I went to check it out. I arrived at the parking lot to find the access gate closed and starting hiking the extra half mile to the trail head. Once I reached the trail head, I quickly realized that finding the faint climbers trail was going to be very difficult due to the massive snow field that covered the meadow. After 15min of exploring and slugging through snow I found a faint trail that I hoped was the right one. Ten minutes later I reached the first boulder and kept going until I reached an area with two v8’s and some perfect warm-ups. I warmed up on some really cool V1 slabs then sent one of the v8’s in a hand full of tries. I was feeling pretty good. The next boulder I reached after hiking through a very faint trail was completely flooded by a huge pond. Determined to climb what is considered one of the best V6’s in Tahoe, I started grabbing logs and laying them over the wet areas to create a landing for the crash pads. Twenty minutes later I built a nice base to lay the pads on then in less than a minute I flashed the problem. A beautiful high ball on a massive vertical face with a tricky mantle near the top. The perfect Problem!
The next boulder I reached held several classic moderates and a wicked hard V9 overhanging finger crack. The classics proved to be very good and I reached the V9 psyched to get on what appeared to be a 13+ crack. Several minutes of struggling and grunting I found beta that lead me to the last move of the route. Pumped and shaky I went for the last hold and fell to the ground. My next burn I threw the knee bar and ripped my leg open badly. I was done for the day. I packed everything up and headed back to the car. A three mile journey back led to the comfort of the car where I bandaged my leg up and headed back to Reno.
Soda Springs impressed me and is one of the best bouldering areas I have been to. A beautiful 10 minute approach through a dense forest leads to several massive granite blocks laying right below a waterfall and stream. The warm-ups are a lot of fun and after climbing them it was time to get on some of the harder lines. The first problem on my list is a classic V8 called Fresh Tips. Perfect quarter pad crimps lead up a steep face with a throw at the end for the lip. After several tries I was able to complete this and move on to one of the areas hardest lines called Shiba Daang V10. This route starts on two bad crimps and makes a hard move right to the arete then slaps up the arete twice before a huge throw to the left end. Finishing off with a tricky mantle over the lip. After several tries I was able to put this one to rest and head home. The drive back was very pleasant and I arrived in Reno just before dark. Attached below is a sick video of my friend Joel Zerr establishing several Soda Springs classics.