A large ~400 foot tall Yosemite-like dome made of solid granite sits above Herring Resevoir. There is enough of this large slab for everyone.
There are many multipitch climbing opportunities here, many trad, many mixed, and also some other sport routes around in the area. There are also more things to boulder on than anywhere in the area except perhaps Donner Summit.
This is a great place for an more adavanced climber to bring a beginner to learn multipitch climbing, as there are routes starting out at only 5.0. Climbs up to 5.11 exist, with the potential for many other tough climbs that need to be developed in rocks surrounding Herring Dome.
Access to the main rock is unrestricted, though you will probably want a high clearance vehicle to get to Pinecrest Peak. A regular vehicle will make it to the approach to the base, though it might be slow going for the last several miles. Decending off the rock is a fairly simple downclimb walking around the face of the rock in a talus field.
There is also an excellent campground that is free located on Herring Creek Drive, though you will need a fire permitm a shovel and a bucket to enjoy a fire. A fire permit can be obtained during the day at one of many local ranger stations located along highway 108. One is located in Cold Springs, another is located on Sonora Pass proper. Camping in the area is primarily unrestricted if you don't feel like camping in a campground, as most of the area is located on BLM land.
There are several ways of approaching Herring Creek Dome, none of which are a simple walk in the park.
This area is within 3 hours drive from the bay area, 35 miles or so past the Table Mountain area.
From the 99, Head East on Highway 108 through the town of Jamestown, and also through the town of Sonora. Keep on Highway 108, another 27 miles to the town of Cold Springs. Keep heading up highway 108 to the town of Strawberry, another 4.7 miles past Cold Springs
This will take you to the base of Herring Creek Dome.
For access to the base of Herring Creek Dome, turn right off highway 108 2.5 miles past the city of Strawberry on Herring Creek Drive. Head uphill on this paved road 2.8 miles to forest road 4n27, where you should hang a right. Drive another 1.4 miles to the locked gate which is just before a bridge, which is where you should park.
Cross the bridge, and head upstream on the path about 3/4 of a mile until the dome becomes visible. Continue hiking in, and you will find yourself at the base of Herring Dome.
This will take you to Pinecrest Peak, which is located 400 feet above the Herring Creek Dome.
For access to the base of Herring Creek Dome, turn right off highway 108 2.5 miles past the city of Strawberry on Herring Creek Drive. Head uphill on this paved road until it becomes a fairly wide gravel road. There will be signs pointing you to Pinecrest Peak and the campground (with a right arrow), which you should follow. Continue on Herring Creek drive past the campground, which will be located on the left side of the road.
The road will have narrowed by now, but continue on the main road. Eventually, you will see a sign stating "Pinecrest Peak" and a right arrow where the road switches back uphill. Take this switchback, and head uphill along a narrow rugged road. A high-clearance vehicle becomes mandatory now, as the road is considerably more bumpy. Continue uphill, following the other sign which will tell you to take a right (?) to head up to Pinecrest Peak. You know you are there when the road ends into a breathtaking rightward view, and a wooden sign decreeing "Pinecrest Peak."
Park here, and walk 50 yards out to the edge of the cliff, where Herring Creek Dome will be visible 400 feet or so below you.
Access to the main dome is achieved by heading left around the main cliff bands into the trees and down into the talus field.
Access to the Pinecliff Peak areas are either reached from below by the same technique, or by rappelling down to the bolted climbs in the lower sections of the main cliff band that is below the parking area.
This route climbs the right facing dihedral just below the Pinecrest Peak sign. The dihedral can also be seen from the top of The Herring Dome. The rock is granite, with beautiful red, orange and pink colors making the visual stimulation on the climb sometimes a little too much. Starting in the corner, traverse through the bush and head up a sustained face using the arete as necessary. The route is sustained .10a, and if you're not acclimatized, it will feel like a considerably tougher climb. So...[more]Browse More Classics in CA
"Sea of Tranquility" here is a mega classic. Really really nice climbing.
Stunning to be climbing in afternoon sun too [though it makes the descent in the dark a littler harder :) ]
A Couple of updates to the HW108 guide.
There's actually 6 bolts on the first pitch, an extra one between the marked 3 and 4, and between the marked 4 and the belay.
The anchor at the top of P1 is a 3bb not a 2bb as marked in the guide.
The second pitch is much straighter than it appears in the guide, and has an extra third bolt
The pitches do NOT get shorter, contrary to what the book may appear to show :)
They do however, get easier.
The third belay is quite crusty and arbitrary, if you are climbing in daylight, you would probably start simul climbing here and be done with it. All gear is thin and marginal. Biggest piece we used was a #1 tricam.
Also, the big 12' high column marked in the topo is more to the right, closer to the top of the climb than is shown.
Anonymous Coward is right about Sea of Tranquility. I did the FA in 1989 using 4 times 1/4" bolts on lead, by hand. After we put out the book, the route became quite popular. Since I did the FA, I felt that I could legitimately add bolts, so I pulled the 4 quarter inchers and patched the holes (I dare you to try and find them). I then used 6 times 3/8" stainless, leaving the route a little run out, but a little better for 5.7 leaders. I didn't touch the top pitches, which are mostly Class 4. While I was doing this I pulled the quarter inchers from The Ancients and placed 3/8" stainless in the same holes. The topo was right when it was published. Someday ('07?) we'll finish the second edition. Lots of new stuff at Herring Creek Dome (not Herring Dome BTW). See Rob's web site for some of it. Call if you're in the area and need food, info, a place to stay, or a partner. I'm in the phone book.