(UPDATED 4/2013 MUCH OF THE INFORMATION BELOW THIS PARAGRAPH IS NO LONGER ACCURATE AS ADDITIONAL FLOODING HAS CHANGED MUCH OF THE LANDSCAPE. THERE IS NO LONGER A WISHING WELL AND WHERE THE WISHING WELL WAS IS NOW LARGE BOULDERS. THIS ENTIRE AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER DEVELOPMENT BY MIKE CARVILLE, JOSH HORNIAK AND OTHERS. THERE WILL BE A GUIDE PUBLISHED IN THE NEAR FUTURE WHICH WILL PROVIDE COMPLETE INFORMATION ON THE AREA. THE WARNING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE DESCRIPTION CONTINUES TO BE VALID. ONCE THE WATER LEVEL IN SPAULDING LAKE IS BELOW THE OUTLET GATES, THIS WARNING NO LONGER APPLIES.
Located in the area below the upper gorge sits the wishing well, and when viewed from above it's easy to understand why. The wishing well is an emerald colored pool located about 70 feet down from the upper gorge, and is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place.
This area used to be home to a ton of long moderate to difficult climbs (5.9+ to 5.12b).
However, due to flood damamge, most of the lower bolts no longer exist. Most of the rampy area used for belaying no longer exists. The beginnings of many climbs are now slippery smooth rock, and probably could still be climbed at considerably higher ratings, but falling would mean that you're going to land in the wishing well, or take a bounce off of the rocks first. A Rescue team would take a LONG time to get in here. Most of the starts of the routes on the north side of the well are impossible to get to without swimming.
All routes need to be rappelled into, if you know where you're going you can lower off one of the trees above the wishing well into the area using a 60 meter rope. Otherwise you can rappell down from the gorge above using long slings to rope around one of the many large rocks. Rappelling from the top of Three Minute Hero ( 5.9+) is no longer an option, as someone cut one of the bolts, and the other one has seen better days.
You will be in the shade for almost the entire day here, since the 100 foot gorge walls surround the wishing well.
It should be noted that you will either want to bring an extra rope and leave it on the initial rappell to use for an exit (using ascenders), climb what's left of Three Minute Hero (formerly 5.9+, but probably a low end .10 now), or risk climbing out using the loose sketchy rock and some trad gear to climb the slab (~5.9) on the Southwest side of the well.
WARNING! As the sign posted at the parking lot reminds you, this area is subject to sudden and severe flooding, especially in run off times (late spring and late fall). The walls of the upper wall of the gorge sit below several LARGE floodgates from Spaulding Lake. These gates may open at any time, and as the sign in the parking area states, there may or may not be warning. Being in the Wishing Well when the gates open would probably mean death, if the gates opened while you were in The Wishing Well, you would probably have about 10 seconds of reaction time to move, and there is no fast exit out of this area, and no higher ground without climbing a route or going up to the floodgates themselves. Read all posted signs in the parking area, and also beware that these may not be updated.
4/2013 MUCH OF THE INFORMATION BELOW THIS PARAGRAPH IS OUTDATED (SEE ABOVE) THE EASIEST WAY TO ACCESS THIS AREA IS TO PARK IN THE SPAULDING LAKE BOAT LAUNCH PARKING AND WALK OVER THE DAM TO THE FIRST SET OF FLOOD GATES (APPROX 1/4 MILE PAST THE DAM. JUST BEFORE THE FLOOD GATES GO TO THE OUTLET SIDE OF THE FLOOD GATES AND CROSS THE DRAINAGE. CONTINUE ON THE RIM OF THE DRAINAGE FOR APPROX 300 FEET UNTIL YOU COME TO SOME METOLIUS RAP ANCHORS LOCATED ABOUT SHOULDER HIGH. (THERE ARE OTHER ANCHORS LOCATED AT YOUR FEET OR OVER THE EDGE BEFORE YOU GET HERE BUT DON'T RAP ON THESE) RAP OFF THESE ANCHORS USING A 70M ROPE AND YOU CAN CLIMB BACK OUT THE SAME WAY YOU RAPPELLED ON A 10C CLIMB. YOU CAN ALSO ACCESS THIS AREA FROM THE BOTTOM WITHOUT RAPPING BY FOLLOWING THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN "PHOTO'S OF THE EMERALDS" A 3 PAGE GUIDE TO THE BENCHES AREAS. YOU WILL SEE A NOTE STATING "TRAIL TO GORGE, WISHING WELL ETC) CONTINUE ON THIS MARKED TRAIL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE GORGE).
Probably best not to go in here, but if you really, really need to:
Approach #1:Approach time: 40 - 75 minutes
From the parking lot head accross the bridge and up the gated entry road. Stay on the road for .6 miles until it ends un a gravel / logging area.
From here, stay in the valley and travel up the large boulder outwash for quite a while (tough to judge distances due to the nature of the terrain) until you can see the large gorge on the right.
Go up to the mouth of the gorge, and instead of going inside, head up through the trees and rocks to the right following (sometimes!) a narrow deer trail.
This will continue to parallel the gorge, until you get up to the flood gates. Walk down through the upper gorge, where you will see the drop off at the end of this section of the gorge, and you can see the Wishing Well from above. From here, use some long slings on the rocks to set up a rappell anchor. Remember that there is no easy way out of the Wishing Well, as there is another 100 foot drop off on the opposite end of the Wishing Well that is not easy to access, and there is nothing existing that you can use to rappell down to the lower gorge from here.
Approach #2: Approach time: unknown, but faster and less strenuous than approach #1.
It also seems possible to approach this and other areas in the gorge from above, by taking a boat off of Spaulding Lake and heading over to the floodgates on the west end of the lake. I personally have not treid this approach, but from what I saw at the floodgate, it certainly seems possible.
To get to the Spaulding lanuch area from I-80, exit on the 20 headed towards Nevada City. About 1/2 a mile later, take a right on Lake Spaulding Road towards Camp Spaulding. There is a boat launch approximately 1/4 mile after the Camp.
Take your boat accross the lake to the west end, where you will find the flood gates. Exit your boat on the shore near the floodgate, and find your way to the other side of the gate. Once you get to the gates, go down into the upper gorge past the bolted climbs. You will see the drop off at the end of this section of the gorge, and you can see the Wishing Well from above. From here, use some long slings on the rocks to set up a rappell anchor. Remember that there is no easy way out of the Wishing Well, as there is another 100 foot drop off on the opposite end of the Wishing Well that is not easy to access, and there is nothing existing that you can use to rappell down to the lower gorge from here.
I'm not one hundred percent sure but this sounds like an area I visited a couple years ago, I didn't follow the creek up but instead I hopped on the water flue, which is accessible right by the road before the bridge over the Yuba. From that you can walk right on top of it all the way to the gates. Your well off the canyon floor in case they do open up, and I remember being able to bolt ought from the flue!
A new Tahoe Guide book from Josh Horniak will have all the routes in the Emeralds/Bowman Area (fall 2013). There are now 27 newly bolted lines in the Gorge ranging from .9-.13. The greatest concentration of routes is in the .11 range. Some of these routes require a 70 meter rope. Dam Release/high water in spring is a very dangerous issue here. Other than that the climbing is great and the Wishing Well remains cool even in July/August when the rest of the Emeralds is hot. Cheers, Mike
Approach: from above steel monkey traverse slab to right and up to top. Head (left) east past Kudos/Fast Food Cliff then another 15 minutes to Gorge - follow trail/karins left at fork - gentle down hill. Enter middle Gorge to access Wishing Well. About 35 minutes from parking area.