While we don’t have any snow yet in Tahoe, it’s started to get plenty cold. I’m afraid my outdoor climbing season might be over for the year. But I did manage to get one more day of climbing in last weekend when I was up in Truckee, in a great spot for people new-ish to outdoor climbing (like me!) and their more experienced climbing partners (Greyson).
We were up on Donner Summit in an area known as Green Phantom which has a variety of routes from 5.6 – 5.10+. We didn’t end up climbing on the actual Green Phantom this time (there were other people on it and we were freezing), there are several other bolted top rope routes available for climbing. We like climbing in this spot as it’s a quick and easy to access (you can hike down from the top or rappel) and is usually way less crowded than the other busy Donner Summit spots.
The Mountain Project describes it as
“… almost directly below the old arching bridge at the top of the Donner Summit climbing areas. The cliff is not that tall but is excellent granite quality with great views of Donner Lake. There exist about 8 routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.10+, with other toprope possibilities. 3 of the routes are sport routes, while the rest are toproped. If you want to jump on some moderate face routes and don’t have a lot of time, this is a good place to go.”
Green Phantom is made fairly obvious by its green coloring, and the other top rope routes are located to the right on the shorter faces. We usually warm up with an easy (5.6 according to Local’s Guide Rock Climbs of North Tahoe) route on the left corner of the shortest, furthest right face.
There’s also a 5.9 crack climb (Fine Line) that’s obvious on this face. I made it up this one for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I was so excited! This time around, it was so cold that we only lasted for two short routes each before calling it quits.
I’ve played around on the middle face, not making it up a route with a tough undercling (Undercling Thing, I think), and going up a fairly easy route (which I don’t think it was an official route). I’m excited to tackle the Green Phantom when it warms up again this spring!
The top of the climb is rewarded with views of Donner Lake
Not only are these fun, fairly deserted climbs, but the view is killer! You’re looking down on Donner Lake and up to Grouse Ridge. You’re also pretty protected from the wind, but in the shade most of the day. If it’s a hot day, this is nice, but can really make for cold fingers on a late fall day. Make sure you also check out the view from the Donner Lake Overlook.
Grouse Peak, another climbing and bouldering area in Truckee.
What: Green Phantom, Donner Summit, Truckee, California
Where: Head west and up Donner Pass Road (along Donner Lake) and park in the Donner Lake Overlook parking lot. Cross the road and walk under the bridge. You’ll end up on top of the routes. Turn right to find the anchors; turn left to head down the (slightly overgrown) trail to the bottom.
After: When you’re done, you should head into town and find my favorite new addition to Truckee – Pho Real – a pho truck! I’d recommend the pork pho, but the veggie also looked amazing for vegetarians and those who are not soy averse.