Enjoyed this route on Sep 27 2008. The bolts on the second anchor of the direct route have a sling with rap rings, however the sling is in a shocking state; certain death for anyone foolish enough to rely on it. Hopefully someone will donate a bit of webbing to correct this situation.
As an aside, none of the 4 bolt anchors of the direct start have chain-links on them; all 10 of the anchors of the conventional route do.
Climbed this with RA start a couple weeks ago. A great way to get 5 more good slab pitches in. Plus you can stash extra food, water, and your RA rack at the top of North Dome Gully and climb unencumbered (we took 9 draws, an optional green alien that I'd leave behind next time, and two pre-rigged anchor setups), picking up your gear as you head down the gully to finish the day. Fast belay changeovers are easy with that rack! With a 60m rope you can link the first two with 5 feet of simul climbing.
The 5.10d felt slightly easier to me than the OZ 5.10d, though there are a couple tenuous moves still. The crux is very tightly bolted.
Descent off North Dome back to the start of the gully isn't too bad, though routefinding is occasionally tricky. We stayed right (away from the dome) whenever we were unsure which way to go and did more slab-walking than bushwhacking, which was nice. Total descent time from top of North Dome to the Ahwahnee parking lot was 2:40, though it was the third time we'd done the Gully so that helped.
Make sure to have comfortable shoes, as it's a long day on your feet.
For a big day, you can do Royal Arches to Crest Jewel Direct, and then run from the top of North Dome across to the Falls Trail and back to Camp 4. Just follow the well established trails and signs to Yosemite Point and then to Yosemite Valley. The run down is about 8 miles, but it's almost all flat or downhill.
It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but the trails through the forest to Yosemite Point are really beautiful, and I think it's more fun than slogging down the North Dome Gully or doing endless rappels. It's also a pretty quick way to get back to camp 4: the descent run took 1h45m.
My friend Nick and I did this a few days ago (also running from Camp 4 to the base of Royal Arches) in just under 12 hours camp-to-camp. We belayed all pitches except for some simul climbing at the top and bottom of Royal Arches.
The route is really nice this time of year. Did it November 12th and there were no other parties around. We approached via royal arches and then followed the approach beta from the ST.
I would say that the picture in the approach is a little misleading. It depicts the start as being down and to the right of the regular CJ route start (easily seen from hike in due to the large tree which marks it). It show the left end of the large arching roof as the start of CJD but it is actually about 200ft left of there on the left side of the huge right facing corner.
The crux in definitly tightly bolted but pretty tough. It was fun to finally figure out the sequence-excellent trip.
Climbed it via RA on 5/22/04...this made for an incredible day! The direct start is fun, and well-protected (by slab standards anyway). Crest Jewel proper definitely felt more run-out by comparison.
The bolts are really close together on the 10d pitch, but not on the 10a pitches. It was great to have big, shiny, new bolts the whole way up!
When hiking over to North Dome from the top of Royal Arches, we did not see the approach trail referenced in the supertopo. Instead we basically scrambled straight uphill from the top of Washington Column which was reasonable.
It is worth noting that 14 pitches of slab is a LOT of slab. The third-to-last pitch (5.10a) felt like the crux of the route due to the fact that we were getting tired and because it was quite windy.
My friend Lummox and I did the second ascent of this route and found to to be a great way of enjoying more fun climbing and less bushwacking. It's Like adding Moratorium to East Buttress of El Cap but easier.
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