Hello Climbing Community!
Here’s some information on the conditions of Lover’s Leap as we kick off our summer climbing season.
The Caldor Fire which started in August of last year, burned through the Leap and changed the landscape for years to come. Visiting for the first time, it’s heart wrenching to see the destruction of the beautiful trees and shrubs that grew alongside the Leap. After repeated visits, you will start to notice a strange beauty that the fire created. Fresh green sprouts of manzanita, scrub oak, bitter cherry, thimble berry, white fir, Jeffrey pine, grasses, and more are starting to grow out of the ashes! Squirrels, Peregrines, Stellar Jays, Pileated Woodpeckers, Spotted Owls, Common Poorwills, lizards and more still can be found at the Leap. Also watch where you step, Rattlesnakes are out!
There are still pockets that were not touched by the fire. The giant Aspen grove on top of the East wall, the wild Sierra Junipers on the ridge of the Hogsback, the base of the Lower buttress and Dear John, and the trees on the summit of Lover’s Leap are standing strong.
We have received many questions on the conditions of the trails and routes at the Leap. Here is the current conditions report.
Lover’s Leap from the top of the East Wall.
The campground and day use parking area is now open as of May 27th. The fire came close to the uphill sites, but no damage was done. Camping fees are $28 a night and day use is $10 per car. Unfortunately Interagency passes are no longer accepted. We also have new campground hosts, Sean and Christina. Let’s show them respect as they have put a lot of work into getting the facilities up and running.
The Lower Buttress
The Start of the Lower Buttress and Main Wall Trail
The fire burned hot from the Boulders to Slippery Ford. The approach trail to the Lower Buttress is still the same, and is located about a hundred yards past the boulders. There is a sign on a tree and the trail has been lined with rocks. Once reaching Surrealistic Pillar, the base area is the same as it was before the fire. The platform for the start of the Pillar is collapsing, so avoid walking on the edge of the slope.
A lined trail leading to the Lower Buttress and Main Wall
The Main Wall
The Main wall saw little fire damage, except on the far right side of the cliff. Approaching from the top of the Lower Buttress, head straight back from the top of Surrealistic Pillar. Once reaching the base of the small crag just below Main Wall, the trail switchbacks up and right towards Dear John, eventually heading back hard left to the base of the Main Wall.
The East Wall
There are two trails to the East Wall. The first one you come to is directly below The Line. Use this trail to access The Line, The East Wall, Psychedelic Tree, Fandango, The Central Wall and Eagle Buttress. The Peregrines are nested on Eagle Buttress, so please do not climb on this formation until the birds have fledged.
This trail has also been lined with rocks to the base of the talus, then cairns will guide your way up to the Line. Please do not cut off this trail before the Line to access Bear’s Reach.
The trail leading to the Line and the right side of the East Wall
The second trail is the main trail to the East Wall. This trail starts under the route Haystack. Use this trail to access all routes to the left of the East Wall Route. Bear’s Reach, East Cracks, Fantasia, Haystack, and Pop Bottle are best approached this way.
Lover’s Leap Guides and the Strawberry Station replaced the food storage box just past this trail after the wooden one was burned and only hinges remained. Use this box to store your food and protect your packs from the still present squirrels and chipmunks.
Please remove all gear and trash at the end of the day.
The bear/squirrel box just below the East Wall
From the true summit of the Leap, keep close to the edge of the cliff trending towards Corrugation Corner. Careful not to be lured by the hiking trail that is further back and leads towards Camp Sacramento. From Corrugation follow the trail down towards the East wall.
Topping out on routes from Fandango to Bears Reach, head straight back to find the descent trail. Routes from Scimitar to Pop Bottle, stay on the ridge following cairns to a big downed tree that leads back towards the main descent trail. The descent now crosses the creek up high and switchbacks on down to the Pony Express Trail.
Where the descent trail meets the Pony Express trail.
The trail remains in the same spot as before, just past the Line access trail. This side of Hogsback burned hot. Please follow the lined trail to the saddle and continue over to the base of the North Face routes. Hiking off trail, will cause erosion in the soft soil and prevent vegetation from growing back.
Descending the Hogsback, please stay on the ridge until reaching the saddle. Do not cut down early which will only cause damage, not save time, and dirty your approach shoes in ashes.
What can you do?
Stay on the trails and do not create new trails. Help others find the trails and encourage other climbers and hikers to do the same. Lining trails and the base areas to help define them better can also be done.
Do not climb in the Falcon closure areas, and let other climbers know about the closure.
Crags, the Access Fund, and Lover’s Leap Guides are trying to organize upcoming trail days. The Forest Service is overwhelmed with the massive area that the Caldor Fire burned. They are requiring Forest Service representatives to be present at any volunteer days. With the workload and staffing problems, we have not been able to get a date established. When a date happens, we will let the climbing community know.
Strawberry Station General Store
VW party in front of the Strawberry Station General Store!!
The owners, Squirrel and Jennifer, have always been there for the climbing community. The fire has caused a big strain on their business. Please support them by buying climbing gear(they have a great selection with good prices), climbing and approach shoes, food, snacks, beer, wine, and gifts.
Lover’s Leap Guides
We are up and running courses. Beginning, Learn to Lead, Multi-pitch climbing, group climbing, Self Rescue, and Straight Up Rad climbing!
We Love the Leap! We have put a lot time working on trails to help make the Leap a better place. Please consider using us for a fun, educational day on the rocks. If you never used a guide before, maybe give it try and climb routes you have always wanted to do.
Look forward to seeing you out of the rocks and maybe to share a rope with you.
It’s what we do;)!