RENO’S LOCAL CLIMBING: Why our area is one of the top 10 places to live for climbing

[Paul Heppner]

The Reno area was recently ranked number seven by Climbing Magazine for the top places to live for climbing ( Reno’s proximity to Bishop, CA (bouldering Mecca) and Yosemite are major factors in this result but the local area is also surrounded by magnificent climbing. The many climbing areas are enough to last most climbers a lifetime. However, there are more and more people getting into climbing every day that don’t know where to start. Here are a few good places to get you going.

DISCLAIMER: Consult guidebooks and seek proper instruction before visiting any of these areas. RockSport is not responsible for damages, loss, injury or death as a result of this information.

WASHOE BOULDERS (33.8 minutes) BoulderingWashoeBoulders

The Washoe Boulders is one of the best areas for new boulderers. Each boulder has a wide face with many easy climbs and even easier top outs. Driving there has been made even easier with the I-580 extension and the dirt road leading to the parking is manageable for any vehicle. The problems range from V0 up to its most classic line, Wasabi (V7). The rock itself is volcanic and can be rough on the fingers but the short approach and plethora of easy problems are well worth it for new boulderers.

RIVER ROCK (28 minutes) Top Rope/Sport/Trad


River Rock is another great spot for beginner climbers, the most important feature being the ease of setting up top ropes. The walk/scramble around to get to the top of the routes is mellow and accessing the anchors isn’t too sketchy. Knowing where to park is tricky but after you u-turn at Floriston, you should be able to see the formation on your right. Navigating the many trails to the first bridge is also tricky for first timers but once you get it down its fairly simple. There is also a still pool of water at the second bridge that makes a great cool down after a hot day of climbing. The climbs themselves are short and range from 5.7 to 5.11b. Some routes can be lead with gear and others are sport climbs. Be wary though, some of the sport climbs are actually mixed and you’ll either need to plug some gear or run the route out.

DONNER SUMMIT (48 minutes) Top Rope/Sport/Trad

DonnerSummitDonner Summit’s bountiful routes and gorgeous views make it a frequent destination for locals. It’s also a great place to learn how to trad climb especially at the Schoolhouse Wall. Green Phantom (just below the bridge/vista point) is another excellent top roping area. The approaches to the many walls vary from just off the road to a 20 minute hike. The amount of routes is enough to last any climber a handful of dedicated seasons. In addition to its easier routes, there are also many tough routes ranging up to 5.13a such as Warp Factor (4 stars, sport). Donner Lake’s proximity makes for an excellent post-climb cool down. As a side note, there is also a Sani-Hut just off the road at Snowshed Wall.

BIG CHIEF (approx 1 hour) Top Rope

BigChiefMy personal favorite, Big Chief is the area’s premier sport climbing crag. The drive on the fire roads and the hike through the woods are long but well worth it. The area features over 50 routes, some of which are multi-pitch. New routes are also springing up each season. The continuous lines on the main face make moving from route to route easy and the climbs range from slabs to long roof climbing. The route grades hover around 5.10 for the most part and there are a few harder climbs in the cave that go up to 5.13a. Despite not being as accessible for beginners as other areas, the majority of routes are incredibly fun and worth repeating many times.

OTHER Noteworthy Areas

Dinosaur Rock – Carson City, NV

Pig Rock – Pyramid HWY, NV

Saddle Boulders – Donner Summit, CA

Lake Tahoe, CA/NV (Great area, too much to cover in this post)

You can get more information on these areas as well as the ones listed above by checking out the guidebooks in RockSport’s retail area or by looking at topo sites such as Mountain Project and Super Topo. If you have any questions feel free to ask a RockSport staff member for more information.


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