Regular Route 5.9

  • Currently 5.0/5

Fairview Dome

Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

Trip Report
Fairview Dome, Regular Route - Saturday, June 22 - Six Months Pregnant
Tuesday August 6, 2013 12:06am
After almost two months away from the Valley, my belly and I made the long trek out there last Saturday to tick off yet another classic route: the stellar 900', 12-pitch Regular Route of Fairview Dome.

My climbing partner Paul Hamblin and I, accompanied by Paul's beautiful wife Ciana and their adorable baby, took off on Friday night Tuolumne-bound. It was definitely a perfect route for making for a family-style Tuolumne trip. We slept in, rolled into the Tuolumne store around 9ish, had a leisurely breakfast, made a few friends, then sometime around 11 decided to head to Fairview Dome. Paul kissed Ciana and his baby girl goodbye, then we headed up to see what the crowd situation looked like. When we arrived at the base, we found a really friendly girl named Angie who was just about to finish belaying her partner and head up herself. Perfect timing!

I took the first lead around 12:30 p.m. sporting my brand new Mountain Mama maternity harness (yes, finally outgrew my regular one) and linked pitches 1 and 2. For a 5.9, I admit that I felt a bit insecure in a couple spots, especially where the crack was wet. Nonetheless, I got up all 230' using everything but two cams and a handful of stoppers (which happened to be just the gear I needed for the anchor. Phew!). I got to chat a little bit more with Angie while I belayed Paul up.

Credit: rollrsk8r

Credit: rollrsk8r

By the time Paul got up the massive pitch, he was out of breath so I volunteered to take the next pitch. I quickly knocked out the next 205' link-up of pitch 3 and half of 4, but got a little held up when a super speedy party passed us. After a bit of waiting, I led up past Crescent Ledge (and Angie's party) to the top of 5, where we ran into a three-person team methodically making their way up pitches 6 and 7. Feeling crunched for time (we had told Ciana to come pick us up between 4:30 and 5:00, and it was already nearing 4:00), I sped up pitches 6 and 7 past the three-person party, got slightly off route due to a dropped topo snafu, then after a short section of down climbing (argh!), got to the top of pitch 8.

Credit: rollrsk8r

Credit: rollrsk8r

When Paul joined me, we briefly relished the fact that we were the only climbers at the anchor, then simul-climbed the rest of the route with Paul in the lead, topping out around 6:00 p.m.

Credit: rollrsk8r

Credit: rollrsk8r

The descent was totally awesome--hiking off the back of the beautiful dome--and we reached the car about an hour later to a chipper Ciana who had just made dinner for us. Does it get any better than that?

As for the big debut of my new Mountain Mama harness, I must say that I really like it, especially compared to the standard full-body harness that I used during my last pregnancy. It is way more comfortable and I was able to easily adjust it in lots of places to best fit my body and baby bump. I particularly appreciated that there is padding on the leg loops, and that there is also a keeper strap on the leg loops ensuring maximum comfort while avoiding the possibility of the leg loops sliding down (which happened all the time with my other one). I also found that the back support was excellent and really comfortable.

Overall, the Regular Route of Fairview was a great route in spite of the crowds with some really fun and casual pitches and a stellar top out!

  Trip Report Views: 7,676
About the Author
Susie Christensen is a climber in the Bay Area. View her blog at

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Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Aug 6, 2013 - 12:21am PT
Oh boy...or girl...what a neat trip report. Had no idea they had maternity climbing harnesses...very nice job...


A long way from where I started
  Aug 6, 2013 - 12:40am PT
Great stuff! I remember when our first son, still a couple of months shy of being our fist son, got out on some good climbs at Squamish.

There weren't any Maternity Harnesses then.
Bad Acronym

Little Death Hollow
  Aug 6, 2013 - 12:49am PT
Wow, great job! Love the pics. Thanks.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Aug 6, 2013 - 12:49am PT
gfete, i.e. grinning from ear to ear .

Trad climber
  Aug 6, 2013 - 01:10am PT
Wow and congratulations...
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 6, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
Good for you staying active,
Careful on the lead climbing please. :)
Way to go!!!!!

Gym climber
  Aug 6, 2013 - 04:27pm PT
Sorry for the ignorance... but what is the suggested rules for climbing while pregnant? And what kinds of things would be damaging to the fetus? I see preggy's climbing in the gym, but is it safe for the fetus to be on a multi-pitch and what are the assumed risks?

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 6, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
Excellent work on one of my all-time favorite climbs. Adding a TR from a most unusual perspective (viz. 6 mos. pregnant) made it even better.

Thanks much.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Aug 6, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
Wow! Pretty cool stuff. Is "do not fall" a basic rule when climbing pregnant? Do you feel like sewing it up every 4 feet when pregnant vs. when there's not a little dude or dudette cooking in there?

It makes me happy to think what great adventures the little dude or dudette will be exposed to.
Jebus H Bomz

Sacramento, CA
  Aug 6, 2013 - 04:52pm PT
I've climbed with preggos before. Makes you a bit nervous! It's your own call for sure, but I'm glad you are having fun.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Aug 6, 2013 - 05:04pm PT
Cool. Back in 1993, my wife did some climbs with some friends while 6-7 months pregnant. One of them was a first ascent, which they named "Midwife Crisis". :-) Actually my friend Lin had the name picked out ahead of time, but needed a partner in the right condition to make the name work. The baby kicked quite a bit on the liebacking!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 6, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
Awesome report. Great send for all three of you.

It just gets better as they get older!

the Fet

  Aug 6, 2013 - 05:46pm PT
Leading in a maternity harness?! You kick ass! If it wasn't for the photos I'd think this was an imaginative troll.

which happened to be just the gear I needed for the anchor. Phew!

It's funny how often this happens.

I felt a bit insecure in a couple spots, especially where the crack was wet

I hate to say it but you know exposing the fetus to all that adrenaline in utero means he/she will be used to it and a lifelong thrill seeker and stress you out for years to come.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Aug 6, 2013 - 05:46pm PT
leading while gravid!!

yeah that's pretty damn GNAR

right on!

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 6, 2013 - 06:13pm PT
Preg bump!

Social climber
San Francisco
  Aug 6, 2013 - 08:34pm PT
Yeah Susie! Way to go! Must be getting really close to the due date - haven't seen you at the gym the last week or two.

  Aug 7, 2013 - 01:00am PT
Mountain mama! That TR is bad ass!

Bay Area, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 8, 2013 - 01:59am PT
Ecflau: As far as I know, there are no hard, fast rules about climbing while pregnant. This is the second pregnancy that I've climbed through and the guidance I've been given by my doctors/midwives throughout both is to continue climbing what I'm comfortable with. As each pregnancy has progressed, I have taken the various risks associated with climbing into consideration and have gradually scaled my climbing back over time to fit within my own limits. I have a pretty good sense for my climbing abilities, and always err on the side of caution when I climb. When I do multi-pitch routes in particular, I am careful to select routes that are at least two or three full number grades easier than my limit.

As for damage to the fetus, my doctors have explained to me that there's actually quite a bit of wiggle room and cushioning in there, so unless there's risk of hard physical impact to the belly in the later stages of pregnancy, the baby is fine. The real risk that causes any concern would be a high-impact fall that could result in pre-term labor--a risk I mitigate by opting out of anything that might have that potential.

Bay Area, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 8, 2013 - 02:10am PT
NutAgain!: Ha! Yes, doing anything on lead (which now, at 7 months, I have given up) requires a "do not fall" mentality. Luckily, while I was still leading, I only climbed routes that I knew without a doubt I wouldn't fall on. And yes, even though I climb stuff within my abilities, I definitely sew it up way more while preggo than when I'm not!

Clint Cummins: Your wife sounds so rad! Love the story.

Bay Area, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 8, 2013 - 02:07am PT
micronut: that picture is freaking AWESOME!!! (and insane!)

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Aug 8, 2013 - 02:24am PT
Bump for baby adrenalin shots! That's the good stuff.
Jim Herson

Emerald Hills, CA
  Aug 9, 2013 - 02:01pm PT
Way to go Susie! And congratulations on #2. That's awesome that you're feeling so good to still be getting after it. Because just between you and me, judging from those photos you're a bit past that awkward "Is she or isn't she" phase.

I panicked when Anne, at 5 months, pulled onto a belay on a long Squamish route sounding like a distraught freight train. It was terrifying. Almost made us rap. We did hang up the maternity harness after that though.

It's one thing to fess up on a climber friendly forum. But let's see what you really have. Dare you to post this on a mommy forum!

Trad climber
St.George Orem Littleton Vegas
  Aug 11, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
The wife in Estes Park - 3 mo preg with twins.  I wish we would have k...
The wife in Estes Park - 3 mo preg with twins. I wish we would have known about the mountain mama harness then she wouldn't have had so much belly ache'n about the back pains
Credit: Klimbien

Trad climber
  Aug 11, 2013 - 08:39pm PT
ALWAYS LOVE YOUR MOTHER,,,you never know what kind of climber she may be'''''

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
  Aug 26, 2013 - 11:54am PT
My X climbed while pregnant with my now 21 year old son. An active mom is a good mom. There were no residual effects upon my son other than he spends the majority of his time in the mountains seeking adventure.
Great report. Great story to tell the child as he/she grows.

Mountain climber
  Aug 8, 2014 - 12:37pm PT
I was 28 weeks (6 months) pregnant while climbing yo Kizlar Sivrisi peak at Antalya, Turkey. My dauther is 8 years old now. I think that every mother can continue to climb if feels comfortable. Pregnancy is not illness. My doctor said that Until 32 weeks (7 months) fetus is just like one of our internal organs. But you should not fall.
Rockin' Gal

Trad climber
  Aug 8, 2014 - 07:04pm PT
U go, grrrlz! Great TR!
looks easy from here

Ben Lomond, CA
  Aug 8, 2014 - 09:20pm PT
Woo! Climbing mom's are awesome! My wife's 16 weeks along and still getting after it; a Mountain Mama's probably in the forecast in a couple months.

As for damage to the fetus, my doctors have explained to me that there's actually quite a bit of wiggle room and cushioning in there, so unless there's risk of hard physical impact to the belly in the later stages of pregnancy, the baby is fine.

Glad you had a level-headed OB.

Oakland, CA
  Aug 14, 2014 - 10:27pm PT
Loved this.

I would love to be in a party of three some day and to get passed by a crushing, gracious, 6-mo. pregnant climber, as you passed that party of three. They must have been pretty psyched - like seeing a particularly nice rainbow. Just something you're glad to see in life.

That's a story I'd tell my grandkids.

  May 1, 2016 - 07:27am PT
Wow! But hey, what I seriously wonder, is how did you manage with the peeing climbing 8 pitches!? I am now 4 months, and I have to pee all the time, so I'm thinking several pitches long routes will be out of question for me this summer o.O
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
  May 1, 2016 - 11:09am PT
The FPA of a route is nowhere near as significant of its MPA, and with this, it looks like you might hold the treasured MPA of one of the 50 Classics

Social climber
  May 1, 2016 - 12:04pm PT
Alison Hargreaves was pregnant with her son Tom when she climbed the Eiger north face. So whutsalittle rock climbing ?

Great TR.

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Fairview Dome - Regular Route 5.9 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Fairview Dome is Tuolumne's largest steep face.
Photo: Greg Barnes
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