Summer climbing starts early in the Sierra
Tahoe’s rock climbing season has arrived, as snow at Lover’s Leap, Donner Summit and Ninety-Foot Wall continues to recede. Warm temperatures have made climbing at the Pie Shop a comfy affair for at least a month now.
“With ski season ending so soon, it’s definitely an early season for climbing. Donner Summit is ready to go,” said Jenny Fellows, whose husband Chris is co-owner of Sierra Mountain Guides Inc.
The company is a co-op of seven guides who offer everything from beginning rock climbing classes to guide services for expert routes throughout the Sierra, from Shasta to Whitney.
Donner Summit off Interstate 80 in Truckee and Lover’s Leap near Strawberry on Highway 50 are popular spots for the company.
The two spots are world-class climbing destinations that just happen to be in Tahoe’s back yard. A lot of the routes were put up by climbing legends like Alan Steck, John Long and Steve Roper. Yosemite great Royal Robbins said in his 1976 Tahoe guidebook that Lover’s Leap has the best selection of concentrated free climbs in California, with the exception of Tahquitz Rock in Southern California.
While it is difficult for some to describe why climbing is appealing, Chris Fellows suggests climbing is a metaphor for life.
“You have to be right in the moment, you can’t worry about the move you just made or the move you are going to make,” he said. “That metaphor is really addictive.”
Fellows has been guiding skiers, mountaineers and climbers for 25 years and is a member of the American Mountain Guides’ Association. Taking people on the rock is personally rewarding to him.
“For a longtime rock guide, it’s the chance to introduce people to a sport that incorporates body, mind and spirit, and fosters an opportunity for true personal growth,” he said.
For climbers, it’s a great chance to spend the day on the sunny rock with friends and family looking at amazing views, Fellows added. Rock climbing also offers unique views that hikers, bikers and skiers can’t get.
Mike Schwartz, owner of The Backcountry store on the North Shore, agreed that climbing is a great sport to pick up.
“It’s easy to forget about everything else that might be worrying you,” when you are climbing, Schwartz said.
The backcountry offers a complete selection of climbing gear. New gear this year includes more choices for women, Schwartz said. Harnesses and shoes are being made that fit women specifically. And all the equipment continues to get lighter in weight.
Alpine Skills International, which has guided and offered rock climbing courses in Truckee for more than 25 years, just moved its offices to the upstairs of The Backcountry’s Truckee store.
Sport Ltd. in South Lake Tahoe offers a full selection of climbing gear and is connected with a guiding service called Lover’s Leap Climbing Guides.
Lake Tahoe Community College also offers beginning and intermediate courses in rock climbing. To find out more, contact the Wilderness Studies department.