Climb Knapsack Crack & Deception at Lover's Leap

Rate this Adventure Lover's Leap

A great climb for beginners! Knapsack Crack & Deception are 5.5 & 5.6 climbs (respectively) hidden on the Hogsback at Lovers Leap.

If you're just getting into outdoor climbing, it can be pretty daunting. There are so many amazing routes and so much to be worried about. Plus, you need a partner you trust to put the work in with you. To start, read a book or two, and if you can, work with a guide once or twice to make sure your skills are up to snuff. I'm personally more of a follower and don't do any trad leading, but I've been with Ryan on all our guided weekends. When you and your partner feel ready, get out there! 

If you're in the California area, Lover's Leap outside of South Lake Tahoe is the way to go. Here's a bit of advice for two of the best beginner trad leading opportunities in the area. 

To start, park or camp at Lover's Leap Campground. In the summer, it's almost impossible to snag a camping spot as they are first come first serve, but in the fall around Oct/Nov (as it starts to get cold) it's much easier to grab a spot. Our last trip we visited in Nov 2016 and the campsite was almost empty when we arrived after work at 10pm on a Friday. If you're not into camping or can't find a spot, Strawberry Lodge is also a great choice if there are rooms available.

From the Lover's Leap parking lot, walk the Pony Express Trail along the creek bed past the East Wall until you find the climbers trail on the left hand side. The first time we tried to find this trail, we got lost and ended up way down in the trees. Instead, pull left a little earlier than the end of the main creek (if you've reached the area where the creek has unearthed some trash, you've gone too far) I promise, you'll know it when you find it. The trail follows a small creek bed up & to the left from the main Pony Express Trail, and in-between two of the hillsides until you come around to Hogsback. Follow the climbers trail all the way around along the base of the backside, over a log, across some steep-ish slanted granite, and up through some scree before finally making your way to the base of the climbs. (We finally used our GPS watch to map it, and I can send you the info if you message me!)

Knapsack Crack (5.5)

While climbing this route, I've literally met dozens of people saying "this is my first trad lead" and all I tell them is to enjoy it! You can do it in 2-3 pitches. The first from a small tree, and the second from a ledge. I remember only one move where I felt a bit shaky but otherwise all smiles. 

Deception (5.6)

When we climbed deception for the first time it was early morning, freezing cold, and the rock was pretty slippery for the first few moves over some wet moss. I think Ryan, who was leading, struggled more with confidence than anything else. The slope of both these climbs is steep but not vertical, so if you slip you'll more slide down the rock than fall. After the first undercling move on the first pitch, it's an easy shot up (except the small traverse on the third pitch, which isn't so hard as it is scary) but you'll love the view from the top. 

As always with climbing, check out mountain project or supertopo before you head out and lose cell service to get more beta & photos as needed. 

Good luck and have fun!

Pack List

  • A partner! 
  • Hiking shoes
  • Locking carabiner OR small summit pack to take your hiking shoes up with you (the way down isn't difficult, but it's much more comfortable having your shoes. We both have the REI Flash 18 and they serve us well.)
  • Climbing shoes (although I swear I saw a guy free solo knapsack crack one time in legit slippers)
  • Harnesses 
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Layers: it can get cold on the Hogsback as it's mostly in the shade until afternoon
  • Trad climbing rack: our rack is mostly single cams with select doubles at the common hand sizes, plus a set of nuts. For details on exactly what gear you will need refer to the SuperTopo guide book.
  • Rope: you should be fine with a 60m or 70m
  • Guide book: we use print outs from the SuperTopo South Lake guide
  • Your sense of adventure! 
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Activities Rock Climbing
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn


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