Trippin’ Out West: Part 2 – Tahoe!
After 3 days of beautiful but not bountiful bouldering on the Nor-Cal coast, Sara and I cut east across California to “fabulous Lake Tahoe”. The scenery quickly went from astoundingly good to memorably bad as we passed through the flat, hot, and strip-mall filled central part of Northern California. Wanting to sample the local culture, we decided to get stuck in a big traffic jam near Sacramento, but rewarded ourselves with a stop in the small town with the great name of “Rocklin”, which contained a small roadside park filled with boulders. It was a guilty pleasure – no hiking to the blocks, no mosquitos, no deadly highballs. The downside was that the boulders had been quarried, and the road noise was pretty bad. Still, Sara and I had a fun time – the rock was good quality, and the problems were plentiful. It was kind of like being in an outdoor gym.
We continued that evening to Lake Tahoe, hoping to stay a few days while deciding if it was really too hot to go to Bishop (it was). Our first destination was a place called “The Secrets” near South Tahoe, which the guide book described as having great scenery and free camping. Unfortunately, we arrived to find the road blocked by a foot of snow – evidently there had been record snowfall this year, and it was still melting in the middle of June. Ignorant of the fact that we were on National Forest land, we set up a hasty camp in a nice meadow just next to the road, thinking we were bad people for camping “au suavage”. It was a beautiful spot, with a stream near by and great views.
We decided to get some local beta about the best spots, since our guidebook had a less than stellar record. We were super lucky to meet Jay Sills from Tahoe Sports Ltd, who lent us a Mondo pad and sent us to his favorite secret spot. We had a great time there, but realized that we were pretty picky when it comes to problems – highballs are out (can’t risk a broken anything), V6 and higher is out, anything dirty is out (we had only small toothbrushes), and of course we don’t want to waste time and skin climbing anything other than classic, beautiful lines. So in the next two days we climbed only about ten problems, but they were excellent. We also visited the more well-known areas of Donner and Bliss, where it was much easier to find lines to our liking, and we met the amazing photographer and done-it-all-guy James Adamson. James let us crash at his beautiful home in Truckee, and took us up to the Donner Summit area the next day, where we had the most scenic bouldering session I can imagine. The blocks are situated on top of a mountain overlooking a huge, crystal blue lake. Who can ask for more?
Lessons learned: 1) Ask the locals. 2) National Forest land = yay! 3) Drop-knee maneuvers are fun even when completely unnecessary.
In the next episode: Hot spring madness!