Donner Summit is a small granite crag located in north Lake Tahoe just above the town of Truckee. Most of the rock is vertical to slightly overhanging with perfect bullet hard cracks leading through the natural weaknesses in the wall. There is one steep overhung wall higher up on the summit called Stars Wall which hosts the areas hardest routes. With a 5.14 trad and sport line on granite, it is one of the few granite 5.14’s in the country.
I grew up 45 minutes to the east of Donner Summit and this is where I grew up climbing. I remember climbing here at the age of ten and going every weekend with my parents. Since I was young, I have always wanted to climb A Steep Climb Named Desire 5.14a. The route tackles the longest part of the wall and is a pure endurance test piece. It was established back in 1989 by Scott Fry creating California’s first 13d. Later on a hold broke at the crux upping the grade to 5.14a. Since then it has seen a few ascents and is one of the test pieces of California.
I started working the first part of the route called Warp Factor 5.13a back when I was 16. After several tries I was able to send my first 5.13 and since then I haven’t been back to the wall. From the anchors of Warp Factor you get a bad rest on slopers before a seven move v8 boulder problem on crimps and flakes with bad feet. From there you get a bad rest to an awkward 5.12- finger crack through the roof to a massive jug. All the hard moves are done, but the top is still a very tricky 5.11+ on long reaches between bad crimps and pinches. A bomber pinky lock is the final hold to clip off of; with a lot of rope drag clipping the anchors is challenging. None of the holds are manufactured, but the wall is covered in hanging chains and draws which can be a distraction from the beauty of the line.
After traveling for several months around the states, I came back to Reno to visit family and friends. My main goal was to send A Steep Climb. Starting on the route I felt very strong and I was able to figure out the moves quickly. My beta was a lot different than previous ascentionists and I struggling a lot with a move right below the infamous crux. After several burns of falling at the same move, I got frustrated and tried to find another sequence that follows the normal beta. As soon as I used the new beta I was able to start making it to the final crux.
At this point I only had three days before leaving for Mexico. The pressure was on and I came back for my last chance at the route. With my dad belaying, I started up the line with complete focus and Warp Factor was a breeze. I quickly shook out and felt a split second of fear of falling on my last chance to send. I dismissed the thought, took a deep breath and started climbing through the crux. Everything felt perfect and I executed all the moves. Before I knew it I was at the bad shake after the crux with only a slight pump. I relaxed and climbed through the 5.12 roof to the jug and took my time shaking out. Making sure my arms were completely rested for the top, I started up the 11+ section feeling the adrenaline pumping through my forearms. There was no hesitation. I relaxed and made it to the chains completing my childhood dream route.