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Phantom Spires

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Phantom Spires  


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 6,400'
Location: 38.79, -120.2417 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 127,774
Administrators: Aron Quiter, John Robinson, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Aron Quiter on Feb 10, 2004
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Dirt road winter closures MORE INFO >>>

Description 

High above to the North, hidden from Highway 50, sits the lonely Phantom Spires, and many surrounding rocks.

Amongst a barren rock field you will find many traditional routes, along with some more difficult sport and mixed routes in an excellent, yet unsheltered setting that's almost eerie at times. Watching other parties climb is easy, since there are absolutely no trees surrounding the spires.

Wind can be unbearble, but because they face south, you can climb here from late fall to early summer before it gets too hot.

The black and white granite of The Phantom Spires will remind you of Yosemite, but like most Tahoe granite, isn't as glasslike.

Camping: around the the lot, just past the parking area.

Bring a 4X4 to access if it's been raining, or cross your fingers and drive REALLY carefully with your lower (not low!) clearance vehicles to get in on the 1+ mile long access road. If the access road is snowed in, or if you can't get in with your vehicle, you can always walk in, which is a very pretty and awe inspiring view of the surrounding valley and the Phantom Spires.

Getting There 

From the West:

Take Highway 50 to Kyburz, which is 31 miles East of Placerville. From Kyburz, continue East 4.9 miles to the marked Wrights Lake Road, which is a left turn.

Continue using the directions below.

From the East:

Head approximately 20 miles West on Highway 50, 4.1 miles past the small town of Strawberry (and Lover's Leap), to Wright's Lake Road, which is a right turn. Continue using the directions below.

Once on Wright's Lake Road:

This will wander up a around for a while, getting narrower as it climbs. After 2.3 miles, the Phantom Spires will leap into view. As soon as you can see the spires, take the next left onto an unmarked gravel logging road that's REALLY easy to miss. This road heads downhill from the road and moves more in line with the gradient around the valley, and can be seen from the paved road below the spires if missed. Follow the gravel road (slowly in 2wd vehicles!) until the road ends in a parking lot about 2 miles in. There is a pullout about 1/2 way in on the road if you feel that your vehicle can't take the road, and this will shorten the longer approach.

The mapquest map below will get you to Kyburz.

Climbing Season



Weather station 12.1 miles from here

75 Total Routes

['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',27],['2 Stars',32],['1 Star',7],['Bomb',1]
['<=5.6',6],['5.7',4],['5.8',13],['5.9',11],['5.10',25],['5.11',13],['5.12',3],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Phantom Spires:
North Ridge   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad   Upper Spire
Ginger Bread   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches   Upper Spire
Over Easy   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad   Middle Spire
Regular Route   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 130'   Middle Spire
Jugs Revisited   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad   Upper Spire
Hard Up   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad   Middle Spire
Corn Flakes   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad   Middle Spire
Lean And Mean   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches   Middle Spire
Fear of Flying   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches   Upper Spire
3-bolt Arete   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, TR, 25'   Shark's Tooth
Penny Candy   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Middle Spire
Blue Note   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   The Blocks
The Prow   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Middle Spire
Candyland   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad   Middle Spire
Robert's Aid Crack   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad   Upper Spire
Candyass   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R     Trad   Middle Spire
Steppin' Stone   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad   Upper Spire
Leaner and Meaner   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Middle Spire
Lesbian Love   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 110'   Upper Spire
Holy Smoke   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Upper Spire
Browse More Classics in Phantom Spires

Featured Route For Phantom Spires
Candyland heads straight up the face. The rope seen in the picture is actually going up Candy Ass (5.10d), which is the sport route immediately left of the route.  Look for the imposing, yet simple slab leading up to the 12"+ knobs.

Candyland 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b  CA : Tahoe Vicinity : ... : Middle Spire
This climbs an overhanging knobby wall, with a thin crack at the top.This climb faces west....[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Phantom Spires Slideshow Add Photo
Fantastic camping
Fantastic camping
Sunset at the spires #2
Sunset at the spires #2
Easily missed turnoff (left) to the Spires after ~ 2.2 miles up Wright's Lake Rd.
BETA PHOTO: Easily missed turnoff (left) to the Spires after ~...
Sunset at the spires
Sunset at the spires
Good day at the Spires
Good day at the Spires
Lower Spire
Lower Spire
Last climbers standing on a beautiful summer day
Last climbers standing on a beautiful summer day
Mike Arechiga on, Candy Land. 5.10c, mega classic!
Mike Arechiga on, Candy Land. 5.10c, mega classic!
perfect day
perfect day
Mike Arechiga on,K.E.Cracks.5.11a/b
Mike Arechiga on,K.E.Cracks.5.11a/b
the Spires (middle on left, upper on right) from one of the prominent camp grounds off the access road.
the Spires (middle on left, upper on right) from o...
Mike Arechiga on, Slow Dance. 5.10a.
Mike Arechiga on, Slow Dance. 5.10a.
A remnant from days gone by
A remnant from days gone by
Mike Arechiga on, Sharks tooth.5.9
Mike Arechiga on, Sharks tooth.5.9
Phantom Spires. Middle and Higher Spire. <br />Photo by Blitzo
Phantom Spires. Middle and Higher Spire.
Photo by ...
Mike Arechiga on,Five Tendons.5.10d
Mike Arechiga on,Five Tendons.5.10d
The Phatom Spires
The Phatom Spires
Having Fun at Phantom Spires
Having Fun at Phantom Spires

Comments on Phantom Spires Add Comment
Show which comments
By Blitzo
Jul 29, 2010
I remember when there were trees. It was kind of a horrendous hike up there!
By Justin Johnsen
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Mar 12, 2013
[edit/update: all dirt roads in Eldorado National Forest are open for business as of April 1, 2013.]

This is my first winter in Nor Cal, so I don't know if this is a yearly thing, or new for 2012-13.

Eldorado National Forest dirt roads are all closed the end of November until "at least April."

fs.usda.gov/alerts/eldorado/al...

"Dirt Road Seasonal Closure in Effect Nov. 29
Date(s): Nov 26, 2012
Contact(s): Frank Mosbacher
The seasonal closure of native surface roads, also referred to as dirt roads, in the Eldorado National Forest is in effect as of November 29, 2012. They will remain closed until at least April 1."

I saw a forum post that mentioned someone was ticketed for parking on the dirt road at the Spires, despite the warm dry weather.

So park on the pullout along paved Wrights Lake Road, and hike it in.

From WLR to the dirt parking lot/trailhead it's less than a mile, with a couple hundred feet of elevation each way. No problem!

Some people leave their low clearance cars there year round anyway, or when the dirt road gets too flooded or muddy.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Mar 12, 2013
Justin,

The seasonal closer of all dirt roads went into effect a couple of years ago (prior to that it was just select roads). They open the roads as conditions permit to minimize damage. The best thing to do is just call the forest service to find out what is open because they don't always keep their website up to date.
By Justin Johnsen
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Mar 13, 2013
Cool, thanks JA!