Jen and I took our first Tahoe climbing trip, heading to The Emeralds along the I-80 corridor. We headed out early Saturday morning, hoping to snag a campsite close by. Unfortunately, the Lake Spaulding and Bear Valley campgrounds were completely full. Luckily, we were able to snag the last remaining campsite at Fuller Lake Campground, which only had 6 sites and no running water.
After setting up camp much later than expected, we headed out to The Emeralds, which is roughly a 15 minute drive. There were a bunch of cars parked next to the trailhead. Many people seemed to be hiking or lounging by the river, which has very clean and clear water. And by this time, it had gotten up to high-80’s, so most climbers were actually coming back from climbing due to the heat.
The approach took about 30 minutes to get to the first wall, Dollar Store Wall. Finding the right trail was a little confusing since you’re moving along a wide rocky path, and it’s hard to tell when to break off towards the cliff. Thanks to the person that made a large arrow out of sticks!
Dollar Store Wall was taken over by a large party, so we moved to the Lightning Bolt Crag further down. We did Summer Storm (5.9+) and Rolling Thunder (5.10b). Rolling Thunder was a cool climb with delicate movement past the second bolt.
The original plan was to do this 2-pitch sport climb (our first multi-pitch climb ever) at the Negativity Wall the next day, but after coming this far in the baking sun, we decided to just do it now since we were so close. By this time, the rock was pretty hot to the touch, but not unbearably so. The 2-pitch route consists of Cast in Stone (5.8) and Life is Bad (5.8). The first pitch leads to a fairly large ledge, and you could really just walk around without being anchored in. Once at this ledge, you need to reset the anchor closer to the next pitch. The second pitch goes over a roof, giving some very cool exposure.
As we were finishing up, we realized we were very low on water. We had only brought 2 liters between the both of us, and it was almost gone. We packed up and hiked back to the car as the sun went down, feeling dehydrated and hungry. Once we made it back to the campsite, we realized the campground didn’t have drinking water! It would be another hour and a half to fill up on water at Lake Spaulding, so we decided to skip dinner, sip on the remaining water, and try to sleep. Unsurprisingly, we did not get much sleep.
The next day, we tried to climb someplace with less of an approach. From the guidebook, I chose what looked to be an easy roadside crag–No Name Slab. It turned out to be a crappy approach with no clear path, despite only being 200 feet away. Setting up the TR anchor off the tree requires some steep scrambling of the left side. We only did a few short, easy routes before the heat became unbearable and we just decided to call it day and head home. The last misfortune came during the drive back when the AC stopped working during 105-degree weather–terrible!