Peavine Ridge
Peak 6,645ft P300
Sugarloaf

Wed, Oct 7, 2020

With: Tom Becht

Etymology
Sugarloaf
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX

Continued...

8mi-long Peavine Ridge forms the north side of the South Fork American River drainage in the Eldorado NF. It connects to the Crystal Range at Pyramid Peak. US50 runs east-west in the river drainage below. We were camped atop Peavine Ridge on the last day of 4-day trip in the forest, one of the few places still open during the 2020 California fire emergency.

Peak 6,645ft

We were up before dawn for a long-ish drive along Forest Road 34, a good gravel road running along the ridgeline. Halfway to our destination, we found the road signed as Closed, but ungated. We conferred for a few seconds before driving past the sign - we were in a Jeep and could probably drive through whatever had closed. We found the road badly rutted in places, as though a mile-long section had suffered some sort of torrential downpour that washed away the 6" gravel roadbed in dozens of places. No problem in the Jeep. The topo maps show roads getting close to the summit on the north side, but we found the spur road off FR34 gated. Rather than try to recreate the meandering route used by Marcus Sierra on PB, we chose to hike it directly up the Southeast Face from the gravel road. It was very steep, loose, brushy and littered with downfall. Tom thought it was the worst summit of the four days, not the least because he face-planted in some buckthorn along the way. I didn't think it was that bad, but if pressed probably couldn't have name another summit we'd done that was less enjoyable. It took only 20min to reach the top, nothing special with views washed out by smoke from the various fires.

Peavine Ridge

We drove back to where we'd camped to pick up Tom's Jeep before heading down to US50. I paused to climb nearby Peavine Ridge, an LoJ summit we'd climbed the previous evening after dinner. It's a one-minute flat hike from the gravel road with a 6-foot boulder serving as the highpoint. I wanted to go back to get some daylight photos, which were only slightly more interesting than the evening photos I'd deleted. I thought this was the weakest of the bunch.

Sugarloaf

This was the most interesting summit of the trip, much to our surprise. Sugarloaf isn't very high, a granite outcrop low on Peavine Ridge, above the town of Kyburz. It can be seen ever so briefly while driving west on US50. An access trail can be found above the Silver Fork School. Parking is limited in the residential areas, so we parked back on US50. A resident pointed us to the end of paved Squaw Rock Trail (a residential road), and the trail that starts at the end of the road through his neighbor's property. There are no signs and you basically should know where you're going. A GPSr with a coordinate was helpful, but you can see the granite formation periodically through the trees. There is a traversing trail running below Sugarloaf that we connected to and followed a short distance before heading up on one of the trail threads below Sugarloaf. There are sport climbing routes all over the formation and some of the larger nearby rocks, too. The only scrambling route is found on the uphill (north) side. We followed a use trail up and around the west side, but there is another on the east side that we used for the descent. Most of the scrambling from the uphill saddle is class 3 with two crux sections. The first is where a dead tree has either been strategically placed or fortuitously fallen to allow easier access up a steep crack. The tree branch goes at class 3. Above this to the left is the class 4 crux, a 15-foot wall that must be surmounted. A thin, downward sloping ledge is found 4ft up the wall. The trick seems to be to gain this ledge with poor handholds, then walk the crack to the left where easier scrambling gets one up the rest of the wall. More class 3 scrambling then gets you to an exciting summit with an excellent crowsnest view of the river drainage. A two bolt rappel chain is affixed to the summit. This one is definitely worth a stop. We spent just over an hour on the roundtrip effort.

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