New Kingsbury climbs offer beginner-friendly recreation | TahoeDailyTribune.com

New Kingsbury climbs offer beginner-friendly recreation

Autumn Whitney | awhitney@tahoedailytribune.com
The Castle Rock climbs are suitable for all ages. Approximately 20 climbs recently opened, and each has at least 10-12 bolts.
Courtesy / Todd Offenbacher |

Climbing is becoming more accessible to beginners in the Basin. Last fall, South Shore local Todd Offenbacher began installing easier climbs in the Castle Rock area off Kingsbury Grade. At the start of the 2016 climbing season, he and a group of his friends put the finishing touches on approximately 20 new climbs in the same area.

Offenbacher has traveled around the world climbing. Referring to Chamonix, France, as a mecca for extreme mountain climbing, he expected the climbs in the region to be challenging and worried about bringing his family. Upon arrival, however, he saw the climbs had many bolts in place. Well-versed climbers know that the more bolts, the shorter the falling distance.

“It’s set up for success. It’s really inspiring, and certainly set the trend,” Offenbacher said.

Inspired by the trip, Offenbacher looked to bring the same level of climbing to Tahoe’s South Shore. A sport that requires lots of technical skill, climbing is user-driven and requires experience to create more climbs. Those that are equipped to create new climbs are driven to challenge themselves, rather than establishing routes suitable for beginners. Offenbacher thus set out to change this pattern found throughout South Shore.

“It’s about pulling it back in and getting everyone involved,” Offenbacher added.

He and his friends created expansion-bolted climbs, some of which are a couple rope lengths. Each climb has at least 10-12 bolts, and one climb has 26.

“My goal is to make something long-lasting and inspire people. This is right in line with creating more recreation in Tahoe,” Offenbacher added.

A first-time lead sport climber

Julie Macan would call herself a novice climber, climbing on and off for the past four years. Recently, she’s been focused on improving her skillset – her first lead sport climb was done on one of Offenbacher’s new Castle Rock climbs.

“[Offenbacher’s] made it really safe and put the bolts really close together. In a lot of Tahoe you might have one climb like that. Everything else is super hard.

“He’s developed this area to bring anyone — you can bring your parents there, or your kids. They would feel safe and not afraid their first time,” Macan said.

She believes the new climbs will get more people involved in Tahoe’s climbing community, because they are able to progress safely.

“I was sort of on the fence [about lead climbing] when I got there, and [my friends] were like, ‘You can do it, it’s super easy.’ Getting up climbing and clipping that bolt felt really good. People like Todd, who set up this route, it’s way easier than he needs to do, but having a family he knows this is needed,” Macan added.

What to bring

When visiting the new Castle Rock climbs, be sure to bring personal gear – belay, harness and climbing shoes – as well as a 60-meter climbing rope and 15 quickdraws.

The climbs are located at the top of the Tahoe Rim Trail off Kingsbury Grade, and range from 5.5-5.9.