Wamello Dome (TR)


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Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 21, 2009 - 12:57pm PT
A bonzai overnight run from the Bay Area Friday night to Wamello (Fresno) Dome. The goal was the South Pillar route (5.8ish) but mostly lighter than than. Knock the 6-7 pitch thing out and head back Saturday late afternoon/evening.

Yeah, right!

My partner for the soon-to-be quasi-epic was my good buddy Ezra (photonez). He has been doing well getting into trad-leading, doing some easier pitches in the valley. He climbs pretty hard, just getting into trad-leading.

Me, I can lead 8's and light 9's on gear, just haven't been doing it a lot lately. We've been sport climbing the local sandstone crags, which would prove useful later. The rock quality was outstanding compared to sandstone slopers!

Thanks to DR amd mooch we had tons of beta on how to find the trailhead, "it's a little confusing, but you'll find it" we kept reminding ourselves. Very true, DR!

We missed the Sky Ranch Road turnoff (turned too soon) but eventually found it (the billboard, duh!). Google maps got us lost for about 15 minutes on Sky Ranch so we jettisoned those directions, deferring to DR and the guidebook.

We stayed on course and eventually found the deteriorating roads. After cracking some relief beers we continued to get lost for about an hour or so, but we did find and go down Beasore Road for a while.

Every once in a while something would scurry off the road, I thought frogs? Nah, too fast. Finally Ezra see one and says, "Dude was that a tarantula?". That's when I remembered another buddy, Ken, reminding me that his friends see a lot of them at their house in the area. Nice, I ain't sleeping on the ground, I f*#king hate spiders!

Alright, we turn around on Beasore and head back to the correct road, find a sign for Fresno Dome camping and head that way. We pass that, head another 3 miles or so and at 11;30pm, we find what we think is the trailhead. (Turns out we were right).

We bust out the sipping whiskey and prepare for sleepy-time. We decide to sleep in the back of my rig. Ezra brought a 'bear-alarm' in case any bears showed up. It's kind of an air-horn thing.

Here we are!

We wake up at 6;30 the next morning (my baby boy has me trained pretty well now) and Ezra is saying something in his sleep. "What?". Turns out that he was dreaming of a bear cub sucking on his hand and he was yelling at me grab the Bear Alarm! He woke up to relief that it was just a dream.

Ha hah!!! Let's rack up and get'er done!

Lots of bouldering and short stuff on the approach in. OW too!

First view of the Dome! Yesssss!

Here's a pano I put together of the first faces you come to.

After spending about 2 hours wandering around the base trying to find the route, Ezra thinks he has it but I'm saying, "Dude, that's not it, where are the 2 bolts at the bottom?". He thinks he sees the 3rd bolt of the route but I'm unconvinced. We do an ultra-zoom with the camera. Is that a bolt?

Ezra is getting discouraged because I'm saying we should try one of the other routes but he's got the ultra-stoke for South Pillar. At this point I'm thinking, f*#k, I don't know if I wanna do 7 pitches now. The Snaileye was setting in. Ezra wanders over to the 'right of the gulley we were bolt scoping' and says, "Dude, this is it!". I wander over and he says there are the 2 bolts. Bam! He's right!

Start of South Pillar and pitch 2's Knob Wall peaking out above.

Ezra on the first clip.

Ez, first clip, on South Pillar.
Ez, first clip, on South Pillar.
Credit: bluering

Ezra at the 3rd bolt.

South Pillar first pitch.
South Pillar first pitch.
Credit: bluering

High on the first pitch.

Loook at that stone!!!!

I led the second, probably most awesome pitch I've ever seen. Here's Ezra coming up. Lots of knob tie-offs.

Here's what you see looking across the 'Notch'. This was our high point. After lunch I looked at it, scoped the wrong line and deemed it "dude, I ain't doing that!".

Turns out we were scoping the wrong line.

We did an epic-bail. We panicked too, we only had one rope to rap 2 rope strectching pitches. WTF??!?

After calming down we pulled off the bail, leaving only 1 sling and 1 biner.

We ran into the only other climbers on the rock all day. A Rollie-Fingers (handlebar) moustachioed fellow informed us that we were scoping the wrong line. After he told us the right way we felt like chumps.

Especially because after rapping to the ground and the second rap, OUR ROPE WAS STUCK!!!

His ladyfriend freed them for us when she passed them and we had beers and reflected at the base.

The first 2 pitches we did knock out were Super-Stellar!!!

We'll be back....

Captain...or Skully

Social climber
North of the Owyhees
Jun 21, 2009 - 01:07pm PT
Looks pretty knobular, Blue.

Ya know, the tarantulas don't mind you.
Take their lead.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2009 - 01:42pm PT
Skully, it's fabulous rock. I know tarantulas are pretty harmless, just don't like 'em, kinda freaky.

I'll let Ezra chime in on his take of this stuff. He's out climbing on Skyline today.

fist clamp
Jun 21, 2009 - 01:57pm PT
arrrgh, booty ahoy!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2009 - 02:42pm PT
These are the lines we were scoping. Yellow was the Hell No I don't route, Red is suspected proper traversing route (maybe a bit lower?). Purple and Green were other options considered.

The crux of our problem was negotiating the Notch. I thought we were suppose to go to the base of the notch and work up the face shown. Apparently, you walk across the notch and grab plates on the other face leaving gear half-way for the second. It's easier said though, the right side of the notch traverse is a 300' drop off to the base. Airy!

I could get down the notch but couldn't figure out how to safely get the ssecond down. He'd have to rap it somehow.

Like I said, we were DOING IT WRONG!@

What was cool is that the gear for the first two pitches was light. After the 3 bolts it was a #3 Camalot, a 2 #1 Camalots. Belay on slings.

2nd pitch was all slings with an optional brown Tricam in a horizontal crack. There is a bolt on the second pitch that I extended with a sling, but you don't need it. The belay for pitch 2 was sitting down with a #3 and #2 cam down low in a crack 'just to feel good'.

That 2 #1's, a #2, a #3, and a brown Tricam for the first 2 pitches. And a bunch of slings (6-8 2 footers, 2-4 4 footers) and a cordalette. I think we used the cordalette for the first belay.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 21, 2009 - 03:08pm PT
Nice tr Bluering.

I guess I've done the South Buttress but never the south Pillar. Love to know where the route goes from the notch.

How wide is the notch? If I didn't put any pro in for 50-60 feet after downclimbing to the notch, could I protect the second from the next anchor by just belaying the second down from the top and then back up?


Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 21, 2009 - 03:09pm PT
Awwww... You were SO close.

Yellow is indeed your line. Maybe a skosh to the right of your yellow mark, including over that vert bit on the skyline (actually way casual).

First time up I made the error of going green rte. Actually, straight up the center on the left side of that OW-looking thing (it's not) then diagonally left up that smooth slab. The climbing is fine, but the pro is not. I spent a good 20 minutes with small wires building an anchor, at full 60m but not quite to where it joins your green line) that was pretty funky at best. Belayed with both heels on little knobs to quell the sketch factor -- you know the drill. Never went that way again.

So glad you liked the all-time knob pitches. I knew you would. The line up by yellow continues just as good, and at about 55m you get a belay spot with tied off giant knobs. Airy because exposure comes up from the right to meet you, but a bomber spot. Then you pull the roof -- really only vertical -- and feel like a hero.

Oh, getting down into the notch: It's really only 8-10 feet, a couple of moves. Put a piece in just before you lower over the edge. The second stays clipped to it for the downclimb, then can still reach up to unclip once it turns 4th class. If the leader can wait until he's 20' up the main wall beyond to put in his next piece, then the second will have a toprope as soon as he unclips from the downclimb.

What a cool climb. You'll get it next time!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2009 - 03:15pm PT

I dunno. I'd like to hear someone detail how to do it right.

I dunno, I pussed out on it.

DR. yeah, my yellow line should be over to the right more....

I should have known the headwall would be chill after doing the second pitch, you can see the knobs on the headwall in the pitch.

We just got sketched at the notch. Thanks for the notch beta in your post above, DR.

Next time! We're stoked to go back.

I'm just glad we found it and got in 2 ptches and bailed with no injury.

Next time.

EDIT: I removed my bad beta....

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 22, 2009 - 01:24am PT
I was stoked once we found the route. I walked around the dome for about an hour identifying all sorts of routes before finally finding the South Pillar. We came in from the east side of the dome and saw some cool looking sport routes. Finally walked all the way around to the west side, but decided to stay away due to a falcon squawking at me. Then BAM, there was our route.

I lead the first pitch and was a little spooked not being able to place any of my shiny cams. Though, I soon found slinging big knobs was much easier than over analyzing a cam placement. I f-ed around at the first ledge for 20 min trying to set up a belay, but could only get one cam and no good heads to sling. Then, decided to climb up another 20' to the next ledge where I scored some great knobs to anchor.

This was only my second lead, Munginella being the first. I truly appreciated the seclusion and definitely enjoyed not having to wait in line to get on the route.

Thanks to Mooch and DR for the beta. Thanks to Steve for a kick ass time.

I'll be back, this will get finished.

Side note: It's quite unnerving the first time a mini-helicopter buzzes your head. There were a lot humming birds checkin us out, probably wondering what the hell we were doing.


Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jun 22, 2009 - 01:46am PT
Bump for a humble TR,

Good work bluey, looks like perfect rock, not a soul around!

gettin turned away makes the summit that much better on the 2nd try.

Jun 22, 2009 - 11:42am PT
Looks like a fun trip !

Trad climber
fresno, ca
Jun 22, 2009 - 11:51am PT
Way to get after it boys. Bummer you got hosed. Looks like a great route. At least you got off the couch and got your hands dirty. Adventure always beats doin' nothing even if you get spanked. Good work.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 22, 2009 - 11:59am PT
In retrospect (Ezra will probably agree) it would have been less sketchy to just do the Notch. Figure it out somehow.

You really don't want to bail from Notch, no rap stations, lots to get ropes hung on.

You know what they say about hindsight though.

I am stoked on givin 'er another go. It's a wonderful route with great climbing (at least on the first 2 pitches). You can see from my Notch pic though that that 3rd pitch up (just right of my yellow line) looks tasty too! And the knob headwall!


Old Pueblo, AZ
Jun 22, 2009 - 06:19pm PT
Looks like a fun route!

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 22, 2009 - 06:38pm PT

"Etsuko on the incredibly scenic 3rd pitch of South Pillar (Fresno Dome) - October 11, 2004" (photo by Misha)

Jun 22, 2009 - 07:01pm PT
"I am stoked on givin 'er another go. It's a wonderful route with great climbing (at least on the first 2 pitches). You can see from my Notch pic though that that 3rd pitch up (just right of my yellow line) looks tasty too! And the knob headwall!"

Now that you have the approach dialed your next attempt should be good to go. Try to get another day added to your trip to avoid the deadline of a late drive home hanging over your head. It might be prudent to walk up to the summit and check out where you will top out and stash a few cold beers for the summit party. Since the approach isn't that bad you might consider bringing a skinny rope to trail, to keep your bailing options open. Good luck.

Trad climber
Steamboat Springs, CO
Jun 22, 2009 - 07:03pm PT
nice.. that climb brings back some good memories! The first pitch direct start is good, but the last pitch (yellow line) is perfecto.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 22, 2009 - 07:09pm PT
Good ideas, Wack. Thanks for that pic, Clint, looks about where I took my shot from.

I was running over options at the notch and since we were leaving a sling/biner to rap off, we should have just rapped into the notch and climbed out.

DR's beta is helpful for getting the notch right, however.

Wack, all your suggestions are good ones; The skinnier 2nd rope, the beers, and the extra time.


Trad climber
Jun 22, 2009 - 07:15pm PT
Nice TR Blue!
Looks like nice rock.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 22, 2009 - 07:58pm PT
Despite getting shut down, it was a very useful trip in terms of finding the Dome, finding the route, and getting a taste of what's up there. And getting of the couch for my season opener in terms of multi-pitches.

And as I said before, we had a blast!

I think Ezra, despite getting a bit spooked (like me) learned a lot too. We were both sketching about the bail, but he's got a lesson now in trying to be cool and figure things out and bail safely.

Also, having a baby at home I have found, makes me a lot more cautious.
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