Classic Climbs

Farley! The Classic 5.9 At Sugarloaf

By April 21, 2021 No Comments

Driving west from South Lake Tahoe on highway 50, you go over Echo Summit and start your descent towards the central valley.  After passing the local ski area, Sierra At Tahoe, you come around the Twin Bridges curves and see the magnificent Lover’s Leap.  Continuing down through  Strawberry you come to the small town of Kyburz, where the 400 foot tall spire Sugarloaf is located.

Early ascents of Sugarloaf are recorded in the 1950’s with familiar names like Yosemite legend Warren Harding, Royal Robbins, Tm Herbert, and Steve Roper.  In 1954, Harding climbed the West Chimney trying to reach the south summit. In the same year he climb the classic line on the east face,  Harding’s Chimney.  One of the most obvious lines you see as you drive west into Kyburz is the giant flake and chimney of Farley.  Another prolific Yosemite and High Sierra pioneer, Steve Roper teamed with Eric Beck to get the first ascent of the first two pitches in the mid 1960’s.  After reaching “Silver Ledge” they traversed left and finished on the route Scheister.  Then in 1971, Jim Orey took a direct finish up the fantastic Knobby Wall.

Farley!

Pitch 1

Chip starting the first pitch!

Starts up a shallow left facing corner with a thin hand jams and pinching the arete.  Quickly it turns into an undercling and the giant flake which you mostly lieback.The liebacking is strenuous, especially on your right arm.  Good knobs appear on both sides of the flake to provide good footholds for placing gear and a much needed rest.  The crack in the flake widens as the climb steepens.  Three and four inch cams protect the moves perfectly.   A final power lie back brings you to good knobs for your hands and some gold polished footholds.  Most climbers then gingerly step right on big, but slick knobs and clip the bolted anchors for Opus 7, a bolted 5.11d face route.  Parties who opt for these anchors are missing classic pitches above!  Continuing on past the Opus 7 anchors the flake widens and turns into a chimney.  Using slick holds for both your hands and feet, lets you pull into the chimney where you finally get off your tired arms.  Easy chimney moves bring you to a small stance and a belay.  Nice to have a three or four inch cam for the anchor.

Michele entering the chimney at the end of pitch 1

Pitch 2

Starting the second pitch!

Leaving the belay the climbing starts off easy with low angle cracks, flakes and chimneying .  The chimney ends and turns into a right facing corner.  A short power lie back leads you to an awkward pod where you can get a chance to place a bomber cam before the next section of liebacking.  Power up the corner as the crack widens to eventually gaining a sloping ledge in a chimney.

Chris liebacking on pitch 2!

Easy chimneying  leads to a spacious belay, the “Silver Ledge”.

Pitch 3

The initail corner of the third pitch! photo credit Timmy Oneill

There are a few options from here.  The original party traversed left around the corner and finished on Scheister, 5.7.  You can also climb up and off to the right, traversing under Grand Illusion (5.13), to a nice ledge with bolted anchors at the end.  A single 60 meter rope rappel brings you down at the base of Dominion and East Chimney.The best choice is to continue straight up to the “Knobby Wall”!  Leave “Silver Ledge”, and climb straight up to the big left facing corner.  Fun jamming and stemming lead you to nice knobs and the top of the corner.  From there, step out right and face climb to a bolt.  From here two more options exist for you to quest out onto the “Knobby Wall”.

Option 1: Climb mostly straight up from the bolt, making the hardest moves just above it.  Continue up, running it out to eventually find a godsend foot long horizontal crack that will take a much needed piece of protection.  A small cam goes in solidly and lowers your heart rate.  Continue up on easy knob climbing eventually reaching the summit block with a large horizontal crack.

Ro on the Knobby Wall, option 1

Option 2: From the bolt, continue right towards the edge of the Knobby Wall and the arete just above Grand Illusion.  Looking at the climbing above you are hoping to find a knob to sling, but this is just wishful thinking.  The runout is real and falling is no option, but the knobs are good for both your feet and hands.  Continue up to the large horizontal crack.

The Knobby Wall, option 2. photo credit Timmy Oneill

Mael, Jake, and Petch enjoying the summit!

From here you can cut left to Harding’s chimney and finish with the tunnel through.  Going right you gain an easy gully to the top, or just before the gully climb a two bolt 10a “Farley Mowat”.  Reaching the summit you are rewarded with 360 degree views of mountains, river valleys, and forested hillsides.

Farley is a mega classic rock climb that shouldn’t be missed!  Not ready to lead this bold adventure?  Contact Lover’s Leap Guides to take you up this wonderful climb!

Thanks for reading!!

Petch

Petch

Petch has been climbing since 1989 and has passion teaching and guiding as much as he does for climbing. At the end of an eight month climbing trip that took him and his partner from Joshua Tree in Southern California to Devils Tower in the eastern part of Wyoming, and everything in between, the final stop turned out to be Lover’s Leap. The right turn towards Lover’s Leap landed Petch in the campground in 1993. Climbing for eight months and a bank account of zero, he quickly found a job at the Strawberry Lodge. Falling in love with Lover’s Leap and Strawberry he found making a home easy. A guiding job opened in 1996 with teaching youth backpacking and rock climbing. The exciting future of guiding as a full time profession led to the opening of Lover’s Leap Guides in 2003. With his enthusiasm and knowledge of Lover’s Leap, Lover’s Leap Guides has become the most popular and busiest service to climb at Lover’s Leap. He has spent countless hours working with the Access Fund, CRAGS, and the Forest Service to maintain trails, protect nesting raptors, and community outreach. Climbing most of the routes at Lover’s Leap, he has also added numerous routes of his own. From 5.5 to 5.12D, some of his first ascents have become modern day classics. A good chance you will probably climb one of his routes when you climb with Lover’s Leap Guides. Petch is certified by the AMGA as a Rock Instructor and holds his certification as a Wilderness First Responder and CPR.