Urs MoosMuller on his FA, and one of Sommersets pr...
The Sommerset Boulders
Old, Weathered, Volcanic ... these are the terms that come to mind when one thinks of the climbing options in the Reno area. The Sommerset zone is the exception.
Its unclear who first found and climbed these boulders, but there is no doubt a previous generation came through years ago and ticked a few of the most obvious lines.
But few references to this spot exist, that said, occasional signs of past, and sometimes ancient, development have appeared including a small number of cleared landings, a lone shiny bolt in a really funny spot, and a set of weathered top rope anchors in another.
We respect and wish to honor those who have come before us here, If you have climbed here and would like to contribute, or see any errors in our information... Please do not hesitate to make contact.
Yes, you are going to run into a few problems here that could be considered contrived and low-ball. Such is the nature of the Washoe Valley where quality routes of any kind are virtually non-existent. But, you'll find even the hokey problems are fun, and will you give you a good pump! Mixed in with these one will also find plenty of classics, on quality stone, with great landings.
There are a number of different zones, each containing a smattering of decent problems on generally good granite. Some lines are can be gritty, new lines on these boulders often require extensive prep.
The first area, the East Side, runs from the road cut westward and contains probably 15 or more boulders scattered across 2 ridges and canyons. Rock Quality varies with the best stone usually found on the ridge tops with more grit the lower into the canyons you go.
The middle area is pretty much ground zero, the area holds a solid stash of problems with good landings across a dozen or more solid, sharp, tan granite boulders. Rock quality is good here and new lines are still be had.
Walking southward along the middle zone hillside one can really get a taste for this areas potential, the zone has a semi-wild feeling but then houses are encroaching. Potential boulder problems dot the landscape here, but this is tough country and each potential FA requires the suitor to put his or her time in to make the climb at least semi user-friendly.
The third area is the West Side, this zone is comprised of three separate granite outcroppings that all sit on the same plateau. Here you will find a decent variety of problems with a little something for everyone. Some of the cliffs here are broken into tiers but still hold some great climbs.
The Fourth area, the Primordial Soup Zone, is to the North of the boulders and is a different deal all together. The rock here is primarily sandstone and is breakable, but with a bit of technique one can ascend even the steepest lines. And this crag is steep! Super overhanging and well featured, a good pump can be had in a short time and the walk is less than 10 min.
For anyone wanting to climb within the Sommerset zone, there are a few things to be aware of. If you don't live in the area, it's possible you can be harassed by the security driving around. So be discreet, and kind to the loc's.
Most of all though, please respect the area so we don't lose the privilege. Carry out everything you bring in, no new permanent anchors of any kind, and please use good judgment when "cleaning" new lines. Be respectful and friendly if you do encounter the securitas, or local residents. Watch for Rattle snakes, Bring a pad or two, clear a path while your out there ... and have fun : )
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Sommerset Boulders:
Discovery of a shiny bolt 2/3 way up this 12 foot face made us realize we weren't the first to be out in this area, i imagine this went in before pads were cool.This problem requires both power and finesse. Laying back on slaps and slopers, work up n right with friction only to a small but positive knob, from there it gets tricky requiring a short traverse out onto the roof before bringing the feet up left and mantling over.This problem is in a cool spot just down from the big Broken Promises B...[more]Browse More Classics in NV
I can shed some light on the boulders along the ridge where the road cuts through the hill. It was called Pumpkin Patch and a big boulder- ah, man, it was wonderful- was called the Pumpkin. It's now someone's backyard. It had a lot of graffiti on it, easy walk-offs and soft, flat landings. Once construction started on the road around 8 years ago, it was all off limits. I'm stoked to see a new crop getting in there. I'm being cautious of mentioning where it is, because the folk who originally posted were. There were some old time climbers that used the area as well. I'm unsure whether they'd be on mountainproject.com, but they likely have most of the first ascents :( Someone write me back and lemme know if I'm thinking of the right place.
... I believe the pumpkin is now, sadly, part of someones living room. It's literally, from what i've seen, part of someones house with half the boulder on the interior and the home built around it.
Some other boulders in the area have also been dynamited to make retaining walls around the area, which to me is a sad display of arrogance considering they were there for 10000 years or more before we came.
Its hard to say how much longer the remaining boulders will last, i'm convinced the housing bust is one of the only things keeping them from destroying the rest of the stones.
On another note... While some of these problems do have first ascents attributed to them, we by no means aim to claim that outright. And we made a point to make sure that when we did claim an FA, it was only after a serious effort was made in putting up the lines including cleaning, bush removal, honing landings, etc. As the intro says, we aim to honor and respect those who came before us and hope that future generations who climb in this area will do the same. //Sulli
I used to go bouldering at Pumpkin Patch Hill 20 years ago. "The Pumpkin" was the best boulder in the area close to town. Probably 25-30 ft. in diameter and about 15 ft. tall and shaped just like a big round pumpkin. Nice little cracks where the vertical grooves on a pumpkin would be. It was obvious that "The Pumpin Patch" had seen a fair amount of activity long before I first went there. Now "The Pumpkin" is part of someones landscaping and partially backfilled. A real shame they had to put a huge 4 lane road right through "The Pumpkin Patch" and destroy some good bouldering. I also spent a couple of days exploring the hills around there during that time, before any of the roads were put in, looking for anything worthy of roping up for. Found a bunch of the boulder areas listed here that I scrambled around on, and did some of the obvious V-1 stuff, but did not spend time working anything. Only the excellent little, up to 45 ft. tall, routes on the cliff/pillars above Mogul really held any interest for me. I am sure others were poking around out there before me, but as far as I know only Pumpkin Hill saw much use BITD due to the easier access there compared to the other boulder spots close by. Nobody took notice of bouldering "first ascents" back then.
I don't understand why you guys would publish info on an area where access is all ready a very sensitive issue. Furthermore if you love and respect this area so much, why would you spray about it in the Reno Passport.