Did this route with 2 friends 2 days ago ... didn't feel the rating is too off ... Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. There are a few small creeks that you will cross on the trail to North Dome, so if you don't want to carry a sh#t load of water, bring a water pump.
2. You can stash a backpack at the top of the North Dome, to leave some water for the hike out.
3. Hike down from the top of the North Dome to the base: keep to the right side of the drainage. We made the mistake to hover closer to the dome, but end up keeping coming back to the drainage cause the bushwacking on the left side was too nasty, wasted a lot of time. Once you start seeing some slabs beneath you, cut left towards the dome. You will see some cairns if you are lucky.
4. Pitch 3 traverse: after leaving the pitch 2 belay station, climb about 10~20 feet, keep an eye over your shoulder. You will see a hole to your right, but only after you've already passed it. But that is ok, climbing a bit higher seems to make the crossover a little easier and more importantly, more gear options! That's when I finally understand the supertopo comment about "move up then down and around the corner". After getting onto the face, keep moving diagonally to a crack that you won't see it until you are on it, so the runout is actually not bad.
5. The 2 chimney sections on Pitch 5 are not bad at all (for the record, I'm not good at chimney in general). And you can get gears in here and there, so felt very secure.
6. The Pitch 6 "polished 5.6 lb" is indeed polished, but the hands are so solid, make it very bearable ;-)
7. Pitch 7 "polished 5.8 lb" is actually not that polished, small edges on the face made it easy. However, some vegetation and dirt fill the crack, make it looks hard to protect. Luckily, a few openings (probably someone cleaned a few spots!) save the day.
Overall, a very enjoyable climb with the awesome view of half dome all the way up!
Reference the redmarked topo in the photos, in retrospect it looks to be spot on - no 5.8 up high, just more 5.6-5.7 on rough edges. The P3 traverse move is a mindblower. Pretty glad I brought a 5.11 leader with me for that one. As a "one move" 5.9 leader, that one would have backed me off. Also agree, bring three #2 cams if you have them.
Pitch six and the 5.8 sustained lie back section on pitch seven can be linked with a 70 meter rope for a super lieback pitch. Just past the grassy vegetated section where the liebacking ends a semi-hanging belay can be set up with a #3, a #2 camlot and a .4. Have to agree with the previous post that some additional cams or a couple of link cams could be handy for the 5.7 lieback on pitch 5 if you do not feel comfortable running it out a bit. This route has it all runout friction, chimneys, sustained liebacking, cracks, and route finding. If 5.8 is your limit this could be a very challenging undertaking.
This was a wonderful outing. Beta above is all pretty good in my view. Don't try this one if '5.7' is your limit! We walked down from the upper road, and found the approach long, and the gully to the south of north dome manzanita laden and scratchifying. As it was our first and only time up there, we got confused by the first set of trees leading on to the face above the approach to the route. If you come this way, may sure you avoid this confusion. The main route picture clearly shows this upper ledge system that is to be avoided.
I would have liked a few more 1-2in cams for the long and strenuous layback cracks. Maybe a couple of the small link cams if you have them.
Linked with Royal Arches on Friday. The 5.7 traverse from the corner to the south face was awesome and well protected. The 300' of liebacking was sustained with few rests near the top. For me was definately harder, at least physically, than Crest Jewel, as well as more time consuming. Made for a long day but great challenge.
I agree with pretty much all the previous posters: taken the rating and on paper the route looks casual but turns out to be an amazingly physical and burly Valley climbing adventure!
Great rock quality and the location make for a memorable day of climbing... that comes at a price. I'd have given the route five stars, if it hadn't humbled me so thoroughly.
Like the guy from Italy says, this ain't no 5.7-- it's a Yosemite 5.7 on steroids, basically in the 5.8 realm. The pitch 3 move is actually easy except for the route-finding, pitch 4 can be "runout" and the final pitches are definitely sustained. I would only recommend this route for 5.9 and above leaders in good physical shape. Coupled with RA this is one of the better and more obscure routes in the Valley.
We did it on a brand-new 60m rope--I understand ropes are usually a little long when new, and shrink with falls.
*Linked pitches 1&2, but second simulclimbed up the slab a little so leader could reach 2nd belay.
*Pitch 4 was fine. Rope was long enough.
*Linked pitches 6 & 7, but second had to simul a little to a good place to sit in the chimney.
There was no rope drag at all on pitch 3. After you've traversed into the seam it's 5.low for the rest of the pitch. If you place pro low, I expect you will get rope drag. But it isn't necessary. Thanks Couloir for keeping me mindful of this.
I thought the most fun part was the P3 traverse, but the move at the beginning seemed scrunchy, and my tall partner found it hard.
did the route in august with my wife and two daughters 11 and 13 y.o. we forget the topo and was a tricky business find the traverse to the right on pitch 3.the last three pitches were too committing for the elder one of the daughters for leading, so we tied all together. the liebacks are stout and committing for the grade. we did crest jewel last year and we find it less committing and climbed it quickly. the bushing from porcupine flat is enough bad, but bearable: take 1,5-2 hours. I think the route need a confident 5.9 leader: it's never really difficult, but it is impressive and sostenute. a great adventure for the grade, surely more committing that the fairwiew's regular route at tuolomne (we did it two days later and we compared). it is better rated 5.8 than 5.7!
Did this route a couple weeks back. The slab climbing on the first pitch gets a little harder than 5.6 near the top(I found it more scary than the runout on pitch 4). The second pitch is much shorter than the 90' the topo lists(50-60ft). The traverse on the 3rd pitch is very confusing(good luck finding it). We had horrible rope drag after the traverse and had to break the pitch into two. 4th pitch was excellent(best on the climb). The chimney on the next pitch was tough. The second chimney goes easy and you can lieback the corner to the end of it and have as good a belay as it shows lower down in the topo. The last pitch is easy but a little confusing. We went right a ways before heading up, but it was dark so we didn't really know where we were going.
Did the route on 7/26/03 and had a great time. Beautiful liebacks & jamming, exposure and views of Half-dome, up and down valley. Overall, my partner and I thought it was a more sustained climb than the regular route on Fairview - although no one move was tougher than the (often wet) P1 crux on Fairview.
On approach: stay west as long as possible to avoid the dense manzanita.
1 and 2nd pitch can be linked. Topo lists 2nd pitch as 80', but its much shorter, perhaps only 40-50'.
3rd pitch has crux move, it's committing, but protects well, perhaps tougher for 2nd carrying a pack, since it's a little overhanging. Use long runners going around to limit the rope drag.
4th pitch was LONGER than 60m and required about 10' of simulclimbing to get to the belay. It's not clear where someone would belay if on a 50m as the last 40-50' is on slab.
Rapping Crest Jewel- the anchors are bomber but some of the raps are very, very diagonal and it's not super easy to see the bolts if you haven't just climbed Crest Jewel. I've done both and it's almost certainly faster to just hike down the watershed to the west of North Dome. You just don't want to descend North Dome without descent beta.
The first time I did North Dome was by soloing the South Face. It scared the crap out of me. Then I tried to descend by staying close to the dome. I had to swim through the worst imaginable sea of brush. It would have worked the crap out of me, but I was already out of crap
1. Bushwhack down the west side of North Dome and then work across the slabs until you pick up the trail that leads to North Dome Gully. This way is probably the fastest, but has epic potential if you're unfamiliar with NDG.
2. Head north from the summit and pick up the rim trail. Then head left and follow it to the Valley via the Falls trail. This is easy walking, but it's pretty long. You'll probably get down after the bar closes.
3. Same thing, but go right and follow it to Snow Creek. I think this is even longer.
4. Hike out to the Tioga Rd. and have someone pick you up or else try and hitch hike.
5. Basejump. Probably not a good idea.
I've gone ways 1 and 2 and can't exactly recommend one over the other. The first is shorter, the second less hassle.
I consider myself a decent 5.8 or one move 5.9 leader (Nutcracker, Commitment, Haystack, South Crack, etc). I had a beginner in tow and we backed off the 5.7 traverse on the third pitch. Just couldn't see a way to escape the diehedral without committing to an irreversible move, with my gear well below my feet. Definitely stout for a 5.7 move.
Will be back with a stonger partner.
San Ramon, CA
Jul 13, 2002 - 03:20am
Pitch #3: Route-finding crux on this pitch. To exit the corner, move up flake that is past the belay tree, go about 5-10' more and then look right(this should be about halfway between the belay tree and off-route slings around a rock). The sidewall to the right should have several horizontal cracks on it and a circle/hole is about 1/2 way up this sidewall and makes an excellent right foothold. Horizontal cracks take 1/2" to 1" pro so you don't fall 15' back into the corner below. This "crux" is only about a 5.7 mantel.
Pitch #4: Be prepared to place thin pro and then run it out for 30'(5.6) to belay.
Pitches #5-8: All sustained liebacking with another 30'(5.6) runout to exit the climb.
Speed-climb Royal Arches in about 2-4 hours, hike 1 hour to North Dome, and prepare to spend about 4 hours on this climb. If you like VERY SUSTAINED liebacks and cracks that rate 5.7 and feel like 5.9, then do this climb! If you're not a comfortable 5.9 leader, then don't even think about leading this climb! The 5.7 rating is a sandbag.
Also, keep an eye on your time and the weather-- my partner and I saw storm clouds/lightning over Cloud's Rest/Half Dome on pitch 6. We topped out about 1 hour later, 5pm-- as tired as we were, we were the 2 idiots running away from the lightning storm that had touched down on North Dome(I bet 10 lbs. of shiny metal cams double well as lightning rods)! Since North Dome Gully was wet(and we didn't want to get stormed on rappeling Arches) we took the Yosemite Falls trail for 7-8 miles of hiking and reached the valley floor at 9pm. Jason, thanks for the fun and the big-balls leading on Pitch #4!
San Ramon, CA
Jul 10, 2002 - 05:08pm
Cams: 2 ea cams .5" - #3 Camalot (3.5 Camalot optional, extra small-med cams useful for belays)
Nuts: 1-2 ea #1 Rock to med/large (offsets useful)
P2 is short - stop @ big pine tree w/ rap slings
P3 routefinding crux: Old faded wad of slings through a rock hole in dihedral below a roof/block signify you've gone too far up the dihedral. Surmount right wall of dihedral on horiz ledges and cracks 35' above big pine. (Optional belay just after these moves on ledge @ base of shallow crack - better for voice contact if windy.) There's another wad of old slings around a tree 100' up visible from low on this pitch.
P4 save a red Alien or 2 for the last gear before the traversing runout to the ledge. Second can smear right out a golden dike (lower than leader's traverse) then straight up to ledge to avoid some fall potential.
P5 there's a short, wide section above a stance in the middle of the pitch - not to be confused with the chim at the start of P6 up higher.
P6 belay "stance" at end of pitch is questionable. Possible gear everywhere in this area for semi-hanging belay
Not one bolt or fp (well, one broken one) on the route
Stout for the grade
Warm up on Crest Jewel for the sporty slab sections
P4 mental crux, P7 phys crux
San Ramon, CA
Jul 2, 2002 - 01:37pm
I'm surprised no one has mentioned what a show-stopper the traverse on the third pitch can be. It's 5.unrateable. I had two points of contact at the crux - my hip and the palm of my hand.
You also need to be comfy with runout smooth slab as well as chimneys on this climb.
The historic FA/FFA teams also help to make this a great climb.
San Ramon, CA
May 21, 2002 - 10:42am
Yeah, did it this past weekend. There were three parties on it - it's all Supertopo's fault! Supertopo also causes global warming. Just kidding of course. It's a fun route, but fairly stout for 5.7 - harder than Crest Jewel for sure! Great day of easy mileage combined with RA.
San Ramon, CA
May 21, 2002 - 01:22am
the route should be in great shape right now. get up there!
I see from the route beta on Royal Arches that the route is in decent condition. What about continuing up to North Dome and doing the South Face? Possible yet? Lots of snow/ice/waterfalls? I'm arriving next Monday and staying for a couple of weeks. Any beta would be much appreciated.
The South Face stays in the corner
Photo: Chris McNamara
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