The Flamingo Buttress

All routes begin in the same place, with the Flamingo Buttress. This short section of the Tahoe Via Ferrata allows all climbers to quickly learn how to connect themselves to the rock and slide the carabiner along the metal cable using the Continuous Lifeline System. This starter section of climbing features a short cable bridge, as well as a near vertical section low to the ground so climbers can familiarize themselves with the system before going higher. The Flamingo Buttress ends when climbers move towards the start of The Loophole, Sundial Arete and the Skyline Traverse.

The Loophole

After completing the Flamingo Buttress and walking along the Tahoe Traverse overlooking the Village at Squaw, the start of The Loophole shares the first 100’ of climbing with the Skyline Traverse and Sundial Arete climbing up a deep groove in the rock that holds fun moves before leveling off in a fun scramble. The route then splits off from the Skyline Traverse, and you’ll climb up through steepening terrain directly below a technical ski run called Sylvesters Slot. At this point, a short but nearly vertical section gives off the feeling of a jaunty alpine climb in the High Sierra as the route begins to weave back and forth among granite towers. Higher up, you’ll have the chance to wave hello to the world-famous Squaw Valley Tram full of amazed onlookers as it passes overhead.

Arriving at what is known as the Ski Tree (you’ll see why) atop Sylvester’s Slot, The Loophole breaks off from The Sundial Arete and pulls you out to The Olympic Valley Overlook for an incredible photo opportunity. After getting the perfect photo, you’ll continue traversing a ledge system back towards the Skyline Traverse. Rejoining a portion of The Skyline Traverse near the “monkey in the middle” bridge, you’ll descend with the assistance of ladder rungs, returning to the start of the climb after a final sloped section called The Great Escape.

With 1.5 hours of climbing, the whole experience from the start at our base camp in The Village at Squaw Valley to saying goodbye to your guide is about 2.5 hours.

The Sundial Arête

After moving through the Flamingo Buttress, the start of the Sundial Arête shares the first 100’ of climbing with the Skyline Traverse before taking a right. Climbing through steepening terrain below a technical ski run called Sylvesters Slot, climbers begin slowly gaining exposure from below. After a short but nearly vertical section, the route begins to weave back and forth among granite towers. Climbers won’t forget to wave hello to the world-famous Squaw Valley Tram as it passes overhead full of amazed onlookers. Nearing the top of the Tram Face, climbers find themselves scrambling along a rocky ridge with incredible views of Shirley Canyon. Topping off the route, climbers cross a final airy and steep span, ending on a tiny bluff dubbed the “Island in the Sky”. It’s at this point that both routes rejoin before finishing together with one last airy section of climbing.

The Skyline Traverse

Sharing the same section of climbing for about 100’ as the Sundial Arete, the Skyline Traverse breaks left while evoking an exploratory feel as it ventures up towards a series of slabs and ledges. After navigating the lower slabs, climbers will encounter a narrow chimney feature climbing right through the mountain. Once through the chimney section, the route moves through another ledge system before arriving at a bridge called “Monkey in the Middle”. Climbers will cross one at a time while posing for those instagram photos. Continuing to move up, it seems at each corner there is another angle to see and another playful section of climbing. Once near the top of the route, climbers must cross the 50-foot-long “Super Monkey Bridge,” using only one cable for their feet and one cable for hands. Once complete, the route joins the Sundial Arête for one final airy span directly below the large tram tower sitting atop the cliff.

Final Ridge / Descent

After summiting, groups will enjoy the beautiful panoramic views of Squaw Valley while taking some photos to remember the experience.

From here, a short but beautiful hike along the ridge offers stunning views of Shirley Canyon, KT-22, and many other surrounding peaks. The hike ends at a mountain road where our 4×4 vehicle will be waiting to give a quick ride back to the village, where climbers can turn around and view the epic face they just climbed. Gear gets returned to the office, and climbing plans for the future are dreamed up.

What’s a good next step after trying the via ferrata? Try a half-day of family rock climbing on Donner Summit.