West Wall

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.79940°N / 120.135°W
Additional Information Route Type: technical rock climb
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.8
Sign the Climber's Log


Shortly after passing the large boulders on one's L-hand side on the approach trail from the parking lot/campground, take a climbers' trail to the R. Work your way past the lower buttress (on the L- there will likely be a line for Surrealistic Pillar). Continue up the sandy and steep trail- you will pass Dear John Buttress on the R. After much elevation gain (compared to most approaches at the Leap anyway), you will eventually make it to the W Wall of Lovers Leap. Work your way L on a trail skirting the base of the wall. You will eventually crest a rise, at which point you will have an excellent view of the Traveler Buttress and Corrugation Corner (not to mention Pyramid Peak & the Hogsback if to the L). To the R of the (bolted- look for the first one ~10' up) arete at this rise is a prominent R-facing dihedral. This is the beginning of the route.

Route Description

Pitch 1: Take the aforementioned dihedral up. This first pitch is shared with Hospital Corner. This pitch is steep & fairly continuous 5.7. There is some runout climbing above the initial dihedral section (5.3) over jugs & small steps until you reach a huge ledge with a 2-bolt anchor. There are links off of which you can rap' if you want here (2 ropes required, I’m guessing).

Pitch 2: This is the crux of the route. Move L (looking at the wall; i.e. away from the corner) to the obvious off-width crack. Grunt your way up this towards the chimney above. This is strenuous & burly 5.8- arm bars and sticking your leg in might allow you to rest en route. Bring one or two 4.5" pieces to protect this (a nasty pendulum fall would result if you came out of the crack w/o pro'). The crux comes maybe 15' or so up, below an obvious chockstone. Look for a smallish pocket on the right that you can stick your hand into (this was key for me) to get past this section. Mantle the chockstone to gain the chimney. Go straight up the chimney towards the obvious, ominous, & enormous roof above. You can lasso the large flake at the top with a double-length sling for pro'. Once at the top of the chimney, take the faint yet fairly positive ledge system towards the sunlight. You can protect with small-medium cams & nuts in the crack at the edge of the ceiling. Looking outward, you will have to step out to the R (looking outward) after getting to the edge of the chimney. The exposure at this point is wild, & you realize that there's air below you here for quite some ways!! Turn the corner onto a small, yet adequate belay ledge. There is a 2-bolt anchor here as well, albeit it without rings or links. If you want to rap' here, you'll have to bring your own sling (and rap' ring(s), if desired).

This second anchor/belay station is shared with the bolted arête route mentioned in the ‘approach’ section- it should be the 2nd anchor for this route as well. According to the Carville guide, there should be a 2-bolt anchor for the arête’s 1st belay station as well- this would make it possible to rappel twice to get back to the base (these would both be 2-rope rappels, I suspect)- again, this information is based on what is stated in the guidebook. The first belay station of West Wall (& Hospital Corner) is not directly beneath the 2nd one, so rappelling directly back to it is not a logistically viable option.

Pitch 3: If continuing the climb, follow the easiest & most obvious line from the second belay, working your way up and L from the belay station along a ramp to a headwall, then R along a dike on the face to easier climbing. From here go up, trending slightly left. This climbing is much easier than that encountered up until this point, but the rock is much grainier & looser than that found previously- I suspect that many parties bail after the first two pitches instead of continuing. The next most logical belay is at a large flat area directly at/below the Slash, a diagonal shelf system that bisects the west wall of the Leap.

Pitch 4: Follow the Slash (a vegetated diagonal line going up and R), the line of least resistance. This climbing is mostly class 3-4 (with maybe a few easy 5th-class moves), but caution must be taken here, as protection options are somewhat limited, there is more vegetated area, dirt, & crumbly rock than solid granite, and a slip would mean a nasty pendulum fall (assuming any pro’ placed held). Follow this upward to a large ledge. If you lack radios, this is a good place to belay. If you have radios, you might consider continuing upward past a few large boulders until you can see the rim of the formation with the trees on top. This option would entail more rope drag.

Pitch 5: Once beneath the rim (at the top of the Slash), you should be able to see the trees at the top, in particular a large dead tree somewhat below the others on a large ledge. There are various options from here. Follow the most logical line to the top- this should not exceed 5.5 (our variation involved going up a sloping face next to a crack (able to be used as an undercling), then traversing on 5.5 face to easier ground. Once at the rim, scramble on sandy ledges to the top (3rd class)- make sure not to slip on this easy yet exposed and dirty/sandy terrain, and make sure not to drop loose stuff onto your belayer below. You should arrive at virtually the true summit of Lovers Leap.
To get down, find the trail that parallels the rim & follow it up and over the true summit, which is less than 50 yards away (going NE, towards Tahoe). This will eventually take you back to the main approach trail. Follow this back to the parking lot/campground. This should take you an hour or less.

Essential Gear

helmet; 2 ropes if you wish to rappel after first or 2nd pitch; rap rings & extra runners if want to rappel from 2nd pitch (check a guidebook to make sure that a good bolted (first pitch) anchor to rappel from is directly below 2nd pitch anchor); 3 single- & 4 double-length runners (to decrease rope-drag); 6 quick-draws; radios; pro’: cams to 4.5” (take two 4.5” pieces unless you want to leapfrog your primary protection in the off-width); 1 set of nuts

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.