Destination California: Bouldering in Vacaville

Destination California

Note: Since we shot this piece, the area has been heavily affected by the LNU Lightning Complex fires. Visitors should wait until the fire is extinguished and the weather cools.

Long before the popular Nut Tree shopping center opens for the day, there is a special place in Vacaville that offers panoramic views and a little distraction from the daily rat race.

“I find it kind of to be like a meditative practice, in a way, just because there is a lot of problem-solving aspects to it,” professional climber and Boulderfield Gym owner Carlo Traversi said.

Before the hills heat up, Traversi guides climbers to the Nut Tree boulders.

“This is a fantastic place to come climb, especially if you are new to the sport,” he said.

The big basalt boulders are scattered among heritage oaks and dry grass tucked behind a quiet neighborhood.

“There are a lot of holds,” Traversi said. “It’s pretty easy to read the rocks here.”

This type of climbing is called bouldering, done without rope and heavy equipment because climbers are only a few feet off the ground. There are also large safety pads below the Nut Tree boulders.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

“A lot of time, I’m looking for the hardest way up, so you are never sure if it is going to work out, which is kind of the fun part of it,” Traversi said.

One of the great things about bouldering is that you can put together different routes each time, like finding a different puzzle piece every time you go about it. Your ability increases dramatically the more you do it, and the sense of accomplishment is fantastic.

“You always want to climb within your range,” Traversi said. “Make sure that you are checking out the guide book and not getting yourself into territory far beyond your ability.”

It can be hard to climb up, but it can be even harder to get down. In other words — respect the rock. Safety first.

The Nut Tree boulders are a playground for anyone who wants a fun introduction to climbing.

“That’s where we come to challenge ourselves,” Traversi said. “The view ain’t bad either.”

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