Sierra Gorge Section (SGS)
Qualifying Gorge Scrambling List
Hosted for WSC on Climber.Org

Purpose: To give hikers the opportunity to visit remote, wild, scenic places where few humans have trod, especially on the western slopes of the Northern Sierra Nevada.

The Western States Climbers do not maintain this list, but provide access to it on this webpage for interested parties.

Go straight to the list of gorges
See a brief introduction to gorge scrambling
See a description of the sport of gorge scrambling
See the categories of qualifying gorges
See the grading system for gorges
See a list of basic equipment for gorge travel
See a list of extra essentials for gorge travel
Check this glossary for gorge scramble terms

See the emblem requirements for significant accomplishments in scrambling gorges on this list
See those who were recognized for their accomplishments in scrambling gorges on this list

See those who contributed to bringing this gorge list to you.

Just a  word of warning

A few related lists of worthy objectives are:

Please send any comments on this Sierra Gorge Section List to John Sarna.

Note: Most of the following description is copied from the Peak and Gorge Section NAS/SGS List, which cites Gene Markley as the author in 1978.



Introductory Description

The physical nature of these traverses will be such that the scrambler will encounter problems that will permit them to utilize his strength, stamina, agility and fortitude to overcome the natural obstacles that confront him. The gorge setting will be such that the scrambler will be aware of the wilderness aesthetics of the area. In this setting, man's relationship to his natural environment will become apparent and appreciated.

Gorge scrambles are rated I to VI, where I is the easiest, essentially a rock hop, and VI is an expedition gorge (special insurance restrictions apply to these). Unusually high or low water flows can add dramatically to the trip's difficulty. Neophytes should inquire as to the rock scrambling and swimming ability required, and how to wrap their gear.


Description of the Sport

What this sport offers is the opportunity to visit remote, wild, scenic places where few humans have trod. It does require a knowledge of all mountaineering techniques such as scrambling, boulder hopping rock climbing plus the ability to swim. A scrambler must have good stamina, be in excellent condition, and be able to function under adverse conditions. It is similar to cross-country rock scrambling with a few extra problems thrown in. In a short section of a gorge, one may be required to cross a raging stream, scale a short wall, scramble through loose rock, do some bushwhacking, and cross a dangerous slide area. While the rock climber can often rappel off his loft and the peak climber can ride the scree off the mountain, the gorge scrambler after his traverse usually has to climb several thousand feet out. This is generally through dense brush, loose rock, slides and cliffs.

Of all mountain sports, this is perhaps one of the most hazardous. The scrambler must always watch for falling rock, loose rock, wet rock, moss covered rock, and unstable slide areas. He must be on guard against falling into a raging stream or box waterfalls. Other problems can be heavy rains, rattlesnakes and poison oak. Rescue is almost impossible in any reasonable length of time because of the difficult terrain involved. Helicopter rescue is limited because of the narrow canyon walls and wind drafts.

First of all, a scrambler must be prepared for the worst. He should study his traverse before the outing. A compass, map, matches in a waterproof case, extra energy food, and extra clothing should be carried. Gorge teams should be generally small in number; preferably not more than twelve.


Qualifying Information for the Sierra Gorge Section Gorges

Significant accomplishments in scrambling gorges on this list may be recognized by inclusion on the WSC Internet Recognition List of Emblem Holders and List Finishers.

Adult Plan

To qualify for the Gorge Emblem, an adult gorge scrambler must traverse a minimum of ten gorges from the qualifying list. A minimum of five gorges must be selected from those designated as emblem gorges. The remaining five gorges can be any of those found on the qualifying list or be exploratory in nature.

Youth Plan

This plan is for youth through age 20. The youth must scramble six gorges, three of which must be designated as emblem gorges and three must be designated as standard or exploratory.

General Qualifying Information

The traverse in the qualifying gorges must include at least one mile of wild, remote gorge. The physical nature of these traverses will be such that the scrambler will encounter problems that will permit him to utilize his strength, stamina, agility and fortitude to overcome the natural obstacles that confront him. The gorge setting will be such that the scrambler will be aware of the wilderness aesthetics of the area. In this setting, man's relationship to his natural environment will become apparent and appreciated.

The qualifying traverse will be rated one through six. Although the rock problems will generally be limited to class four, other factors such as number of water traverses necessary, total elevation lost and gained and length of traverse may raise difficulties substantially.

Because of the newness of this mountain sport and the relative sparse information about gorges, credit will be given for any traverse that meets the standards of the qualifying Gorge Scramble II. On completion of these traverses, the description of the traverse, the exact location, the leader, participants date of traverse should be recorded so it may be later used to obtain recognition.

The process for obtaining recognition is specified under "process" on the WSC Internet Recognition List.


Contributors

Gene Markley and other members of the former Sierra Gorge Section compiled the original hardcopy version of this gorge list. Former Peak and Gorge Section member John Sarna designed the webpage to make this list generally available to the public after the dissolution of these Sections.



Warning

Hiking and climbing conditions do change, and some information given here is subjective. The Western States Climbers do not accept responsibility for outdated or incorrect information. Please help future climbers by sending corrections to John Sarna.


The Grading System

Scramble I

Essentially a rock hop through the center of a gorge, minimum amount of brush and rock to overcome, will contain several ups and avers, time limited to one day. (Example: Lower Bear River or Lower American.) The bath of fire is less than 1,000 feet of gain.

Scramble II

Some rock scrambling required, several ups and overs, some rock slabs encountered, brush and loose rock to work through, maybe one or two days. (Example: Chico Creek or Capehorn, North Fork of the American River.) Bath of fire, approximately 1,000 feet.

Scramble III

Some exposure encountered, a variety of ups and overs, rock slabs, brush and loose talus to traverse, some wading with bad footing encountered, may be one or two days in length. (Example: Golden Challenge, South Yuba River and Bake Oven, North 'Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.) Bath of fire, approximately 2,000 feet.

Scramble IV

Many strenuous ups and overs to complete, rock slabs, loose talus and moderate brush to overcome, several stream crossings may be required, pools lying between perpendicular rock faces to be traversed, ferrying of supplies and equipment required. (Example: Box Canyons I and II, done in combination, on Middle Fork of the Yuba River and End of the World, Middle Fork of the American River.) Bath of fire, approximately 2,000 to 3,000 feet.

Scramble V

Some expedition planning required, constant encounter of pools to traverse, hazardous rapids to work through, rock faces to traverse or climb around, strong swimming may be required during water traverse, minimum of two days in length. (Example: Devil's Gorge, Bald Rock Canyon, Middle Fork of the Feather River.) Bath of fire, 3,000 to 4,000 feet.

Scramble VI

Expedition gorge requiring constant class three and four climbing, floating traverse with belay may be required, streams may be in rage providing constant danger, roping required constantly, ferrying of equipment and supplies required, a variety of strenuous ups and overs, loose talus slopes to be traversed, time in excess of two days required, (Example: Tenaya Canyon, Yosemite and Upper Middle Fork of San Joaquin River.) Bath of fire, approximately 4,000 feet.


Categories of Qualifying Gorges

The Qualifying Gorges are divided into three series: Emblem, Standard, and Exploratory. The Emblem gorges are those that hold a physical challenge and a setting that has been previously explored and recorded. The Standard gorges are routine treks through wild, remote gorges that have previously been scrambled and recorded. The Exploratory gorges are those that have no previous recorded data and may be from any of the canyons located in the Sierra. For credit and recording data,, the exploratory gorges must be described in a brief statement.


List of Recorded SGS Gorges

This list of gorges primarily covers the Northern Sierra Nevada and is organized by river systems and generally ordered from south to north. An asterisk ("*") indicates an Emblem Gorge, and an "x" indicates a Standard Gorge.

A. Feather River

  1. x - Horseshoe Bend - Middle Fork of the Feather River.
  2. * - Franklin Gorge - Middle Fork of the Feather River.
  3. * - Marble Cone Gorge - Middle Fork of the Feather River.
  4. * - Devil's Gorge - Middle Fork of the Feather River.
  5. * - Bald Rock Canyon - Middle Fork of the Feather River.
  6. x - Chico Gorge - Chico Creek.

B. Yuba River

  1. * - Box Canyon I - Middle Fork of the Yuba River.
  2. * - Box Canyon II - Middle Fork of the Yuba River.
  3. * - Box Canyon III - Middle Fork of the Yuba River.
  4. * - Bed Bug Smith - Middle Fork of the Yuba River.
  5. * - Foote Gorge - Middle Fork of the Yuba River.
  6. * - Seven Steps - South Branch Creek.
  7. * - Golden Challenge - South Fork of the Yuba River.
  8. x - Washington - South Fork of the Yuba River.
  9. x - Blue Tent - South Fork of the Yuba River.
  10. x - Lower Bear - Bear River.
  11. x - Granite Gorge - Big Granite Creek.
  12. * - Monument Gorge - Monumental Creek.

C. American River

  1. * - Blue Canyon - North Fork of the North Fork of the American River.
  2. * - Rawhide - North Fork of the North Fork of the American River.
  3. * - The Slot - North Fork of the American River.
  4. * - Royal Gorge - North Fork of the American River.
  5. x - Marble Gorge - North Fork of the American River.
  6. x - Sawtooth - North Fork of the American River.
  7. x - American Eagle - North Fork of the American River.
  8. x - Euche Gorge - North Fork of the American River.
  9. * - Giant Gap - North Fork of the American River.
  10. x - Cape Horn - North Fork of the American River.
  11. * - Screwauger - North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.
  12. * - Last Chance - North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.
  13. * - Devi1's Gate - North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.
  14. x - Bogus Thunder - North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.
  15. x - Bake Oven - North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.
  16. x - Mule Bridge - North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.

D. Rivers to the South

  1. * - Deep Gorge - Deep Canyon.
  2. * - American Hill - Screwauger Creek.
  3. x - Home Ticket - Grouse Creek.
  4. * - Grouse Gorge - Grouse Creek.
  5. * - Upper Peavine - Peavine Creek.
  6. * - Lower Peavine - Peavine Creek.
  7. * - The Links - Secret Creek.
  8. * - Secret - Secret Creek.
  9. x - French House - Middle Fork of the American River.
  10. x - Red Star - Middle Fork of the American River.
  11. * - End of the World - Middle Fork of the American River.
  12. * - Mosquito Falls - Middle Fork of the American River.
  13. x - Rubicon Trail - Middle Fork of the American River.
  14. * - No Return Gorge - Wallace Creek.
  15. * - Pigeon Roost - Rubicon River.
  16. x - Nevada Point - Rubicon River.
  17. x - Buckeye Gorge - Rubicon River.
  18. * - Muir Gorge - Tuolumne River.
  19. * - Tenaya Gorge - Tenaya Creek.
  20. * - San Joaquin Gorge - Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River.
  21. * - Tehipite Gorge - Kings River.
  22. * - Gorge of Despair - Kings River.
  23. * - Lost Canyon - Kings River.
  24. * - Enchanted Gorge - Enchanted Creek.

Glossary of Gorge Scramble Terms



Basic Equipment for Gorge Travel


Extra Essentials

  1. Flashlight (waterproof)
  2. Snake-bite kit.
  3. Waterproof matches.
  4. Candle.
  5. Pocket Knife.
  6. First-Aid Kit.
  7. Map of Canyon.
  8. Light, extra waterproofed clothing for bivouac.
  9. High-energy food.
  10. Light weight rope for protection.


Please send any comments on this page to John Sarna.

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This page was last updated on 17 Jan 2009