There are two main areas at Mills Peak: Crack Shack and the Meth Lab. Al Swanson and Larry Senya opened the first routes here in 2000 and labeled the crag the Meth Lab for its hidden aspect. In 2011, Daniel Seeliger developed the cracks and face below the lookout and maintained the theme by naming it the Crack Shack. The rock is composed of Metamorphic Gneiss, the same as most of the Lake Basin and Sierra Buttes area.
This is also the trailhead for the Mills Peak downhill and makes a great day to combine climbing with a classic downhill mountain bike ride to Graeagle.
Crack Shack This 70-to-80-meter wall at Mills Peak stands just below and east of the lookout tower. Routes include short three pitch routes and good cragging along its base. Most routes follow distinct cracks to anchors where you can set up to top rope or continue for one or two more pitches to top. Although itís mostly prominent cracks, there are a few very nice sport routes. The wall gets early morning sun and gradually moves into the shade.
These routes are new, barely climbed and the wall has lots of lichen. Donít whine and contrast it to Donner or Yosemite, just help make it cleaner and nicer for the next. Scrub it off with your hand or a brush. Even though thereís been much cleaning already, many details still need your help.
See photos for topos of routes.
Meth Lab Nearly 10 short sport routes climb vertical-to-slightly-overhanging face between and around giant blocks just northwest from the lookout. The base provides somewhat flat and shady, forested area, especially nice during hot temps.
No matter what direction you head in from, get on the Gold Lake Highway. Mills Peak turn off is signed and located only a mile south and uphill from Gold Lake. Turn off the GL Hwy. on to a gravel road heading east. Less than a mile, turn left at a signed junction. From here follow the main road to its end, and park at the lookout tower parking. Low clearance vehicles can make it but can opt to park just before getting to the ridge line and a slighly bumpier road, one quarter mile before the lookout.
Crack Shack Approach: 15 min. Find a faint trail just northwest of the parking that heads down a gully just north of the tower. The trail heads down and gradually around to the right. Look for cairns and orange tags. If you climb the entire wall, you can walk back up to the parking or walk back down traversing below the Boulder Tower to gain the approach trail.
Meth Lab Approach. 8 min. The Meth Lab sits just northwest and downhill from the lookout parking. Hike 100 meters up a faint trail that ascends between two rocky peaks northwest of the parking. Walk down and right through large rocks and talus to the northern side of the giant blocks.
The middle route on the Meth Labs main wall. This route follows bolts up a vertical to just over vertical face (notice thin crack midway up wall) to bolts and chains....[more]Browse More Classics in CA