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Climbing Courses in the Owens River Gorge

Owens River Gorge | California
Trip Highlights

Top reasons to rock climb in Owens River Gorge

  • Trip Highlight

    Over 300 routes to discover and practice your skills on

  • Trip Highlight

    Take your climbing further on hard compressed rock in varied formations

  • Trip Highlight

    California’s most concentrated sport climbing area guarantees diverse and engaging climbs

Nestled in the legendary Sierra Nevada, the Owens River Gorge is California’s sport climbing paradise. The crag’s 300 densely concentrated routes on world-class volcanic tuff include face, crack, corner, off-width, and even some chimney climbs. Although the verticality of the climbs may make them seem a little intimidating, they are generously bolted and cleverly routed out, providing an excellent opportunity to learn new techniques or upgrade existing ones. And when you combine the climbs ranging from 5.6 to 5.13a with the area’s breathtaking tuff landscapes, you get a bucket-list sport climbing experience nearly unmatched on the West Coast. Read more about climbing in the Sierra Nevada from Cody Bradford, AMGA-certified rock guide and 57hours ambassador.

Season

February

Nearest city

Reno, NV, is 4 hours away

Duration

1-4 days

Skill level

Beginner to advanced

Itineraries

Choose how you spend your days

Group Sport Climbing Course

2 days

Head to one of California’s top climbing spots for a safe and comprehensive sport climbing course. Learn the essentials of outdoor sport leading, such as safe lead and top rope belaying and sport-specific anchor building, from a seasoned AMGA-certified climbing instructor in the stunning Owens River Gorge.
Prerequisites: Must have prior experience top-roping 5.7 outside or 5.9 in the gym.

Group Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course

Full-day

Master the fundamentals of leading multi-pitch sport climbs in the world-class Owens River Gorge climbing area. From efficient multi-pitch transitions to belaying methods and considerations, you’ll learn to lead climbs with finesse and confidence. An AMGA-certified climbing instructor will accompany you and make sure your time on the rocks goes by productively and without a hitch.
Prerequisites: Must have taken a sport climbing course or have experience leading sport climbs at a grade of 5.6 or higher.

Group Trad Climbing Course

2 days

Join an AMGA-certified climbing instructor for a comprehensive two-day trad climbing course. Learn everything you need to know about safely and efficiently leading outside trad climbs. Owens River Gorge’s high-quality volcanic tuff and generously bolted lines will provide the perfect classroom!
Prerequisites: Must have taken a previous sport climbing course or have experience top roping outside at a grade of 5.7 or higher and leading inside at a grade of 5.8 or higher.

Group Technical Self Rescue Course

2 days

This self-rescue essentials course in Owens River Gorge will make you a safer and more confident climber. Discover a wide range of improvised rescue systems and learn fundamental self-rescue techniques, such as improvised lowering with an ATC, tandem and counterbalance rappelling with an unconscious partner, and managing stuck ropes.
Prerequisites: Must have previous experience climbing multi-pitch climbs.

Group Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course

4 days

Head to Owens River Gorge’s 300+ routes and master the art of big wall climbing in this four-day group course. Master big wall essentials, such as transitions, setting up port-a-ledges, assessing pitons, and much more with the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable AMGA-certified instructor!
Prerequisites: Must have taken a trad multi-pitch climbing course or have experience leading trad multi-pitch climbs at a grade of 5.8 or higher.

Trip Highlights

Learning Outcomes

Sport Climbing Course

This course is meant for climbers looking to learn how to lead sport climbs outside. As such, you’ll learn outdoors sport climbing skills such as:

    • Knots and hitches including figure 8 followthrough, overhand on a bight, flat overhand, fisherman’s, double fisherman’s, bowline, munter, clove, prusik, autoblock, Klemheist
    • Appropriate gear selection
    • Anchor building and cleaning for a sport climbing setting
    • Rope management for leaders
    • Safe leading techniques for sport climbing
    • Safe lead and top rope belaying techniques with an assisted braking device
    • Safe falling techniques and rappelling
    • Face climbing/sport climbing movement
    • Mental techniques for leading

Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course

After a short review of your sport climbing skills, you’ll learn everything you need to know to successfully lead multi-pitch routes with bolts, such as:

    • Appropriate gear selection
    • Anchor building for multi-pitch climbing with bolted anchors
    • Methods to belaying a follower
    • Efficient multi-pitch transitions
    • Efficient rope management
    • Considerations for belaying a leader on a multi-pitch climb, including fall factors
    • How to rappel a multi-pitch climb
    • Basic multi-pitch self-rescue techniques

Trad Climbing Course

After a brief review of your previous sport climbing knowledge, you’ll spend the following 2 days learning skills such as:

    • Appropriate gear selection and traditional gear placement
    • Anchor building and evaluation using traditional gear
    • Safe leading techniques for trad climbing
    • Safe lead belaying techniques
    • Safe falling techniques and rappelling
    • Basic crack climbing technique
    • Mental techniques for leading
    • Route finding and topos

Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course

This hardcore 4-day course will teach you everything there is to know about taking on massive rock walls, such as:

    • Appropriate gear selection
    • Aid leading with trad gear and bolts
    • Discussion of aid ratings
    • Pendulums
    • Fixing a line
    • Ascending a fixed line
    • Following an aid pitch (passing gear, lower outs)
    • Big wall transitions
    • Hauling and docking a haul bag
    • Rappelling with a haul bag
    • Assessing pitons and other fixed gear
    • Setting up a port-a-ledge
    • Setting up a comfortable bivy
    • Route finding and topos

Technical Self Rescue Course

Following a review of fundamental knots and an introduction to less common knots, bends, and hitches, you’ll go through:

    • An introduction to load releasable systems, the munter mule and block-and-tackle
    • Belay escapes
    • Knot passes
    • Improvised hauling
    • Simple, compound, and complex pulley systems
    • Lowering systems with an ATC, assisted braking device, and munter hitch
    • Improvised lowering with an ATC in “guide” mode
    • Improvised rappelling devices and techniques
    • Rappelling with a pull cord
    • Managing a stuck rope on rappel
    • Tandem and counterbalance rappelling with an unconscious partner
    • Rope ascending techniques
    • Single pitch pick off techniques
    • Rescue mindset for climbers
Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Owens River Gorge, California

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Owens River Gorge, CA, please refer to the US Government’s international travel guidelines and California’s official COVID-19 travel advice.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get on this adventure:

    • An experienced, local climbing guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • One, two, or four days of climbing courses depending on your chosen itinerary

What’s not included:

    • Transportation
    • Accommodations
    • Food and snacks
    • Technical rock climbing equipment

How fit do I need to be?

If you can climb a ladder, you’re good to go. Being in good shape is always a plus but far from necessary. Rock climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up a cliff using brute strength. To ensure you have a fun day, your guide will choose routes that best suit your skill and fitness level.

What if I’ve never climbed before?

For the Sport Climbing Course, participants must have prior experience top-roping 5.7 outside or 5.9 in the gym.

For the Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course, you’re expected to have taken a sport climbing course or have experience leading sport climbs at a grade of 5.6 or higher.

To participate in the Trad Climbing Course, you must have taken a previous sport climbing course or have experience top roping outside at a grade of 5.7 or higher and leading inside at a grade of 5.8 or higher.

Before participating in the Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course, you’re expected to have taken a trad multi-pitch climbing course or have experience leading trad multi-pitch climbs at a grade of 5.8 or higher.

For the Technical Self Rescue Course, participants are expected to have previous experience climbing multi-pitch climbs.

What about required equipment?

When it comes to technical climbing equipment, you’ll need:

    • Helmet
    • Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device, and chalk bag
    • Ropes
    • Climbing shoes
    • Cord — 7 mm, 15 feet
    • Prusik cord
    • Sling — 120 cm
    • Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)

Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:

    • Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 40L bag)
    • Water bottle
    • Food you can eat on-the-go
    • Hiking or approach shoes
    • Toiletries (sunscreen, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera — optional

You will be provided with a more detailed equipment list upon booking your desired course.
Some additional equipment, such as the assisted braking belay device, quickdraws, alpine draws, and micro-traction style device, can be provided by your guide.
Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

    • The max guest-to-guide ratio for the Sport Climbing Course, Trad Climbing Course, and the Technical Self Rescue Course is 4:1.
    • The max guest-to-guide ratio for the Multi-Pitch Sport Climbing Course is 3:1.
    • The max guest-to-guide ratio for the Big Wall and Aid Climbing Course is 2:1.
    • For these group courses, the cost does not decrease as the group grows.

Please note that your guide might charge private course rates if less than 2 people sign up. Climbing courses in Owens River Gorge can be arranged for bigger groups. Contact us prior to booking.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
    • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to climb on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to the Owens River Gorge, most people fly into Reno Tahoe International Airport 4 hours away. From there, you can rent a car or take a bus.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

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Wired for a better world

Outdoor adventuring makes us fall in love with our planet and people, it gets our brains rewired differently and forces us to rethink our life priorities.

For years, we’ve dreamt of building a company that can make an impact on things that we deeply care about. Here are some initiatives we are grateful to be contributing to.

1% of our sales goes to environmental non-profits
We provide work to thousands of local guides worldwide
We operate on carbon neutral and renewable energy
1% for the education and diversity in guiding
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