North Face - Castle Dome
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Here's me at the bolts on the 6th pitch. You can ...
From the castle dome obsevation deck (recognizable because of the poles pounded into the rock), West Ridge and North Face are dirctly across you on the back of the dome. West Ridge ascends the opposite face and North Face faces a little further left than the dect.
To reach the start of both climbs (same first pitch) hike down right of the observation deck, then down the gully beneath the deck until you reach a fir tree with a sling around it. The climbs begin by ascending the dike dirctly across from the tree.
P1 (5.8) - Up the dike for 15 feet then up and right on the not-steep slab just east of the actual west ridge. Belay at the small trees.
P2 (5.9) - Continue up the slab and then to the left-facing dihedral. Pro is good in the dihedral's crack. Belay from the tree a little left of the dihedral's top. Be careful not to knock rocks down from the belay - they end up at the first belay spot.
P3 (5.7) - There are two options for this pitch. The 5.7 option involves moving straight left on a ledge to the next set of small trees, then up an easy face to another ledge.
(5.9?) - It is also possible to directly ascend the off-width-looking cracks directly above the second belay station. More work though.
P4 (5.9) - If you took the 5.7 pitch, you need to traverse right on the somewhat narrow ledge to the dihedrals, then up them to the numerous spires atop them, where you set up an easy belay. If your P3 was the off-width, you need not traverse right much at all.
P5 (5.9) - Follow two big flakes upwards, then traverse across a nearly vertical face to a comfortable ledge from where you belay.
P6 (5.8 C0 or 5.10) - Proceed up and left following a flake from the belay ledge. When the flake ends you'll find 3 bolts on the face. The upper two bolts are for the pendulum. Regardless of how you chose to get across the nearly blank face, you wind up left of it on another flake. Follow this to a ledge with a bush on it. Stay low to avoid the bush and proceed further left on the ledge until you find a ~5.4 ramp up and to the right. Belay from the tree above the left side of the pendulum.
P7 (5.9) - Start climbing directly above the tree and heaqd up and slightly right until you intersect a dike going up and left. The crux is near the top, then you're done!
A standard rack will pretty easily take you to the top of the climb. Mostly cracks until the 6th pitch where you can pendulum across a nearly blank face, or you can free at at '10.b' (not so sure I agree). The 2 bolts from which you pendulum are only 1/4 inch, so that's a little unnerving. Further, it may be best not to place any pro on lead after you complete the pendulum. You'll belay from the tree above the finish of the pendulum and the climbing up to the tree is only 5.5 or so.
The 7th pitch might be a little harder to protect because it ascends a dike and there are no constant cracks and no bolts. Fortunately, the crux of the 7th pitch is well-protected.
To descend, walk off the back-left and there are stairs down the dome. If you don't see the stairs, look for an easier way (or go for it...).
By Nick Sullens
From: Yosemite/ Weed
Oct 10, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C0 R
Okay climb, would be better with more traffic. A 5.9 for 5.10 climbers as many of the pitches have less gear than you would like. The first pitch is probably R rated, as well as the 3rd pitch 5.7 face/dike part. The last pitch is wonderful, great dike climbing, really cool crystal features, excellent protection. Additionally, the fourth pitch is killer, super fun 5.9 climbing. Pitch Four was the only time where I felt like the route was legitimate 5.9. I did the penji instead of the traverse, those bolts are old! Retrobolt anyone?