Fall is such a great time to go climbing ( and pretty much all sports) , this is definitely my favorite time of year.
Greg and I got in the car monday night for the 2.5 hour drive down to Tuolumne Meadows (east end of Yosemite) for a day of climbing yesterday. At 7:30am it was 35 degrees, so we picked out a south facing warm up climb just east of Stately Pleasure Dome called Vicous Thing, a 2 pitch south facing 10a off-width listed in the older Falcon Rock Climbing Guidebook. The sun hit the slope just as we left the car and it was T shirt weather for the entire day from there! No people, bugs, wind, cell phones, etc....
Well warmed up we got. Greg especially. We had no info on this climb but we did have a bunch of big cams in the car, which all got used on the first pitch. nothing bigger than BD #5, but I think we had at least 4 cams total larger than #3.
We parked at the Tenya Lake paved parking area on the east end and started the 30 minute hike through the ledges up to the base of the climb. Right next to it was Curve like her 5.9r which I did many years ago with Barry. This is also a really cool looking route that we wanted to do also, but Lucky Streaks was really the goal of the day. And you can't rap off of either climb, you walk down back to Tenya Lake the way you do from the Stately Pleasure Dome climbs.
Water running on rock does not help inspire confidence in general.
The wavy flake hides the first 10a pitch of Vicious Thing, and the name fits. It's pretty physical and a little mossy, but not impossible or under-graded or anything. To get the cams in right greg had to really climb it off-width style, sinking in there and even going up with his back against the rock at times. I got to just lie it back which was a little more pleasant, although also fairly strenuous. The edge is a little rounded and it's steeper than it looks.
Then there are the bees swarming in the rock, a seemingly common find in Tuolumne for me. Sit, stay bees.
in the right picture, greg is where the Falcon Guide shows a rap anchor and belay spot. There were some really old slings you wouldn't use, and we didn't inspect how they were secured. This wasn't that long of a pitch to get here and Greg didn't see a good spot or reason to belay, so he kept going. This is where it really got interesting.
The next pitch is 5.9, and more heinous (read awesome) than these pictures show. You really get deep in the chimney to place gear, and the crack gets overhanging with a steep, smooth, wet face for your feet. The rock wall in there was fully running with water, as was the pro placement. I think the water is from recent snow and rain, but I have no idea if it's wet like this all season or most of the season. Anyway, it seemed safe and we climbed it no problem, but your gettin' wet and your squeezing and turning around in a vertical cave. Vicous!
Greg probably ran out of rope halfway into the 2nd pitch and brought me up to finish it. With a 70m rope I'm pretty sure you could do it all in one long pitch.
I finished on more 5.8 or 5.9 terrain in the sun and we were psyched with our little 3 hour car to car adventure.
Most of my pictures are of my ski and climbing partners' backs. It's not because I'm scared to go first.
um...ok, sometimes it's nice to let someone else go first!
It does make the picture better with that perspective too though.
Next around 12:30 we set off through the woods towards Fairview Dome to climb Lucky Streaks - a 6 pitch 600' 5 star climb. After doing Serenity Crack to Sons of Yesterday in the Valley last week, I thought that would surely be the best quality rock climbing for me this year. Although different, I thought Lucky Streaks was just as fun. Although littered with small knobs and funkier cracks, the solid golden granite on Lucky Streaks is pretty friendly towards your hands and feet. My calfs are buring today from hanging belays and small foot holds, but my ankles got worked stuffing my feet in 8 pitches of crack climbing on last week's climb now that I think of it. Anyway, Lucky Streaks is pefect golden granite crack and knob face climbing without a shred of loose stuff, and long vertical pitches with a few roof traverses thrown in there. It doesn't get any better than this.
This is my 3rd climb on Fairview Dome. Reg Route 5.9 was easy, and I'd like to do that again soon. Fairest of Al was a step up in difficulty and had totally sketchy old bolts, but now that Logan replaced them all I'd like to do that one sometimes too again (mostly face climbing).
I drew the lower half of the route in here. It's pretty vertical when your on the rock.
There is a blank runout section on the first pitch so Greg used a steeper crack for pro on the left. This might make the first pitch 5.8 or 5.9.
My drawn line here is the 10a finger crack portion of pitch 2 which I took. I was nervous with supertopo saying steep sustained blah blah blah. It is, but it's not sustained 10a, just the steep part. Felt like 5.9 to me, possibly because you could put gear in easy and above your head even whenever you want. I was psyched.
I set up a hanging belay with some ok feet to stand on a little. There is a little ledge up there large enough to comfortably stand on, but the gear would be at your feet. The rap slings people use are hung around a block that seems to be just sitting on the ledge. I wouldn't use that thing to go down without much more inspection around it, or backing it up with a nut in the rock.
Greg goes for the crux 10c lieback moves right off the belay on pitch 3. This was tricky and a little barn door feeling, but you get solid finger locks after the initial few steps. Not that easy to start.
Then the pitch continues at 5.10 a little more and just starts getting better and better in a left facing corner with a short traverse under a small roof.
I led the 4th pitch, 5.9 stemming on knobs with a good vertical finger crack. I went up half a rope length (60m rope) and set another hanging belay for greg to take over on pitch 5, a roof traverse into more vertcial steep finger crack.
Actually I climbed right by the traverse spot by accident as I looked too quickly at the topo. It keeps going and gets better and steeper, but I could tell I was going the wrong way looking up at a huge wall growing less and less featured. I downclimbed about 15' and guessed this traverse was the way to go. It doesn't look like you can protect it from the belay, but you can and there were 2 stuck Tri Cams as well.
Not sure how hard the traverse is but it felt 5.9. Positive underclings across the whole thing, but your feet are high so you crouch down a little to walk across staying a little hunched over.
Pulling around the corner is probably the crux on this pitch 4. Greg got the rope to work well with some slings. Supertopo shows an optional belay here which some people might want, because the finger crack stays at 5.9 and steep after you get around it.
Here I'm following on pitch 4 just as I went around the corner from the roof. one pic looking up, the other looking down.
You could climb most of this route with nuts if you had to or wanted to. Now I took over for the last lead on pitch 6, one that I'll never forget. This was a full rope length of steep 5.7 with the most perfect manufactured feeling flake type grip inside the crack. Although I placed gear, I never felt like I had to. As the crack angle lessens towards the top it becomes wider and easier. I saved my #3 looking up at what was going on and dumped it in the crack near the top. I was pretty glad I did this, as I don't remember seeing any option for any other pro for the last 40'. Small .5ish cams went in well for the final belay up top.
Damn, does my goat Tee make my nose look extra big?
pieced together pano. Colors have changed down there and it is BEAUTIFUL. It's pretty sweet around Tahoe right now too though!
Walking down the slabs on the backside you have to traverse a little left to feel out the lowest angle rock. Fairview Dome is one incredibly huge solid piece of granite.