The Lake Tahoe area, no doubt, has the more trendy climbing spots like Cave Rock, Lover's Leap and 90-foot wall. But less than 10 minutes from downtown Carson City, Dinosaur Rock offers an exceptional alternative to the long commute needed to get to those spots. And while it can't offer the clean granite, exposure or extreme, multi-pitch routes, Dinosaur Rock has something for everyone, even for well-seasoned climbers.
About 140-feet high, Dinosaur Rock has 16 established routes, six of which are rated 5.7 or lower, making it an ideal spot for beginners. Still, the rock has modestly airy aretes, a decent groove of cracks and superb face climbs rated to 5.11 and higher, which are usually well past the threshold for most weekend climbers.
The more popular routes, like Deadman's Rappel (5.9) and Evolution of Man (5.7), can be easily top roped by following the dirt path from the base of rock to anchors placed in the rock. In all, there are six anchors for top roping possibilities, although some involve sketchy traverses and down climbing to reach them. There are several bolted routes allowing climbers to practice lead climbing. The best-protected route is The Gash (5.7), a route with a moderate grade and solid holds ending near Dinosaur Rock's highest point.
For beginners, Sauron's Nest (5.5), Afternoon Corner (5.6), End of Time (5.6) and Evolution of Man are good choices. Evolution of Man rises about 50-feet and can be safely protected by anchors that require little trouble reaching.
With Clear Creek flowing beneath, Dinosaur Rock also offers a peaceful setting with groves of trees filling the drainage, although the occasional broken bottle and spray paint decor detract from the pleasantries. The rush of the creek almost mutes the traffic noise from U.S. 50 and Clear Creek Road, but all water should be treated with iodine pills. Since the rock is north facing, morning is the best time for climbing when exposure to the sun is greatest. And even though we're in the midst of our first winter storm of the season, Dinosaur Rock remains climbable throughout much of the winter, when access to Tahoe crags is blocked by snow. But because of its' north-facing angle, the rock is generally cold.
To get there from Carson, drive south on U.S. 395 until you get to Clear Creek Road and turn right. Go past Costco and Fuji Park for 1.5 miles and park in the small turnout directly across from Dinosaur Rock. Enter the gully and cross Clear Creek by an obvious bridge system.
For a complete guide to area rock climbing and route descriptions, pick up 'Rock Climbing Lake Tahoe' by Mike Carville. The book is available at the Sporting Rage, located at the south end of town in the Albertson's shopping center.
For information on gear and classes, contact Kevin at the Sporting Rage at 885-7773. In the past, Kevin has had information on local climbers offering classes at Dinosaur Rock, but none are currently scheduled.
Jeremy Evans is Nevada Appeal sports writer.