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Auburn State Recreation Area

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About Auburn State Recreation Area:

IMPORTANT: This area is extremely access sensitive right now, since basically we have no legal access. The Access Fund is working with local climbers and the SRA to rectify the situation. Until the time that access is resolved however, please refrain from adding any route info or directions! Auburn State Recreation Area

Description: Within the boundaries of the Auburn State Recreation Area (SRA) is the remains of an old limestone quarry, formerly the Spreckels quarry. The quarry was bequeathed to the Bureau of Reclamation after the Teichert Inc. had determined that the lower quarry had yielded as much material as was financially feasible. The new land was then included in the State Recreation Area for management by the SRA for the Bureau of Reclamation. The SRA allows recreational usages include hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, camping, mountain biking, gold panning, equestrian/horseback riding trails, off-highway motorcycle riding, and whitewater, with Class II, III and IV runs. Ironically enough, climbing was not addressed in the recreational usage plan despite the quarries large rock cliffs being ideally suited for technical rock climbing..

History: Rock Climbing in general has been an acceptable use of public lands since the early 1900s. California areas such as Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows, Mt Tamalpias, Castle Crags, Malibu State Park, and many other sites have a long history of rock climbing as a recognized recreational usage. Additionally, rock climbers are often cited as being a very conscientious and responsible user group. Technical rock climbing has been practiced in the Old Limestone Quarry located in the SRA since the late 1980’s. The original climbers established approximately seven rock climbing routes, which required some amount of fixed protection; pitons and protection bolts. From all accounts, early climbers were not discouraged or refused recreational opportunities at this time. On November 18th, 1998, Kirk Arens and friends were practicing rope jumping on an elaborate rigging system. Rope jumping uses some of the same gear as climbing, but in itself is NOT an activity that is required or done while performing technical rock climbing. Kirk misjudged the length of his rope jump and was killed in the resultant impact. Climbers from this point forward have been discouraged from using the Auburn SRA for technical rock climbing. No mention of rock climbing was ever placed into any official regulation or code related to the Auburn SRA prior to this year 2003. Since no posting of any regulation is present at the quarry, climbers in the early 2000’s started re-exploring the area for rock climbing routes because it was unknown that climbing was being discouraged here. Currently there are almost fifty established rock climbing routes within the Auburn State Recreation Area. These routes cater to climbers of all levels from easy, moderate, and hard levels of climbing.

Climbing: The remaining rock cliffs left after the conclusion of active quarrying present a perfect opportunity for performance of technical rock climbing. The rock is highly featured limestone along with other sedimentary rock mixed in. The actual quarrying process itself has created large features, which are ideally suited to climbing. Furthermore, the relative lack of climbing cliffs and opportunity in the greater Sacramento area has placed a large importance on securing climbers access rights to the Auburn SRA. The nearest established climbing besides Auburn is the granite walls located on the private property of the Consumnes River Gorge.

Technical rock climbing is a growing sport, and Sacramento’s climbing population is large enough to currently support three fulltime climbing gyms: Granite Arch in Rancho Cordova, Sacramento Pipeworks in Sacramento, and Rocknasium in Davis. The rock quarry at Auburn SRA represents the greatest potential for developing climbing within state owned lands in an approximate 50 mile radius of Sacramento. Other state areas such as Mt. Diablo State Park allow technical rock climbing on its rock cliff faces. Furthermore, there are many other State owned or managed areas, which allow rock climbing within their jurisdiction, which are currently being managed under the same usage plans as those in effect at the Auburn SRA.

Another aspect of usage is the fact that the Placer County Sheriff uses the Old Quarry as a practice grounds for their Search and Rescue Team. What is truly ironic is the Search and Rescue Teams use the routes established by climbers as means to practice for climbing rescues! Were climbers not present and active in developing routes in the quarry, the Placer County Sheriff would not have the ability to use the quarry in the current manner, unless they themselves developed the same type of routes that climbers have.

Nearest town or city: Auburn
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