Trip Report
Red Blooded American Male, Kerckhoff Dome
Wednesday January 20, 2016 9:31am
Credit: this just in
Kerckhoff Dome towers over Big Creek, CA, a small Edison town above Shaver Lake. Though it does have some free routes, it is mostly an Aid area and most routes have a similar connection. That connection is Kenny Rose.

I went to High School with Kenny's younger son, Charlie and have been good friends with both of them ever since. Kenny was the one who got a lot of us into climbing. I still remember the first day sometime in 2001, at Trapper Dome of Courtright. Kenny led the climbs and we top roped. I can still hear Kenny's voice yelling up to me at the anchor "Now lean back!" To me this was just nonsense. Why the f*#k would I lean back when I just fought my way up this thing, over gripping to stay on the rock? Now I let go? I'd say when I got back to the ground and not till then, I was hooked.

Over the years I've shared many ropes, boulder sessions, beers, and good laughs with Kenny. We call him "The Legend" because of his climbing accomplishments and more so, because of his unique character. You look at the Guidebook for Kerchoff and Mr. Rose is on nearly every FA, some yet to see a second.
This story is about a new route Kenny Rose, Brandon McLemore, and myself did in the winter of 2013. Red Blooded American Male, 5.10B, A2.

Now I gave the little intro about learning the ropes with Kenny, because this was my first aid experience ever. I was back to noobville and though wasn't scared of the exposure, I didn't know the system.

Day 1
After the steep approach with full value packs we were ready to head up, planning on breaking away from the first pitch of another one of Kenny's routes(will edit in the name) and into new territory.

Brandon McLemore is one of the coolest people I've ever met. He was there that day in Courtright and some of my best days climbing he has been a constant character. Mac is "I'm f*#king,.... Down for whatever." This is his attitude in most things and what better attribute for a climbing partner?

Mac leading the first pitch.

Just above this pic,Mac brought Kenny up to start the new territory. Mac had never really aided either, and Kenny knew where he was going.

Kenny reaching for a piton.

Myself cleaning and in ladders for the first time.

Big Creek from top of P1. We ended the short day after hauling and securing our gear. We waited a week to return.

Day 2

Kenny jugging

Funny thing here. So I left in that piton, because being from noobville I had seen fixed pins and thought that's what you do. Kenny made fun of me and gracefully retrieved it.

Notice my helmet, with bandana, and cut off fingers leather gloves. Just like on TV, I'm so aid.

Kenny heading up what to me looked improbable, but think he said it was probably on A1.

Mac having fun cleaning the steep as Kenny hauls.

Look closely and you can see the pigs(so aid) hanging at the top of two. What we all came to climb was the features above this, sadly I couldn't miss work the next week and during the sunny winter of 13, Mac and Kenny finished the next 2 or 3 pitches the following week. They said they were better than expected and Kenny and I had planned to go back and free the upper pitches, but I tore my shoulder.

Though they included me on the FA, I really don't consider it as one for myself. I do consider it another great experience with two of the best climbing partners and friends I'll ever have.
These days are the best part about climbing.
Thanks for reading.

  Trip Report Views: 3,448
this just in
About the Author
this just in is a climber from north fork.

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Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jan 20, 2016 - 09:54am PT
I want to see more chest beating in your future reports. :) Nice line and finish to the report, there will be more for you in the future homez! Thanks for sharing.

And this is real good:

Why the f*#k would I lean back when I just fought my way up this thing, over gripping to stay on the rock? Now I let go?

Seems like a lot of people online forgot they used to be noobs at some point, glad there are others out there who remember how fun that is... :)

Gym climber
its nice here in the spring
  Jan 20, 2016 - 10:21am PT
Thanks TJI always good to see pictures of places I know and people I know climbing in those places. Did you get permission from the legend to mention the name Kerkhoff on the internet? If you didn't tell him your brother said it was ok in order to deflect any agitation away from yourself. (Since he doesn't have a computer your probably safe).
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
Author's Reply  Jan 20, 2016 - 10:28am PT
Haha Lud, I'll send him the link, but I'm trying to make him famous. His routes deserve to be noticed. I'm sure a case of bud light will fix anything, right?

Yeah V, I love taking new people climbing cause it brings me back to that day and we all have been there. Thanks man!

Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Jan 20, 2016 - 10:51am PT
so aid! LOL! great share!

futuristic old school line, braj!!!
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:06am PT
Love this TR.
Great sequence of aid photos,
Good background info.
IMHO, you are part of the FA.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:11am PT
Good stuff TJI!!!

More TR's anticipated!!

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:12am PT
Great job, Justin!



Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:14am PT
Nice! I first got interested in Kerchoff Dome in 1971, when Tim Schiller and I put up a few routes on a cliff above Old Railroad Grade. When Centerfold got climbed, I lost interest. Too bad. I can see I made a big mistake.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:16am PT
Cool stuff!

I love the area around Shaver. Drove up the backside of that ridge Kerkhoff sits on, on the logging roads. Tried to get up close that way, but I backed off. I was just scoping the area out.

Good to see that place get some love.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:22am PT

The clink of the iron as you move up
the smell of rock and iron -
the ringing of a well driven pin
the confidence of clip'in in
Stepping higher, going for the Top step?
Carefully adjusting on hooks....
The whole clusterphux, aid climbing. . .

Banging your way up can be addictive

This just in ,
Thnx for taking us along

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:29am PT

Great stuff, Justin!
(now off to watch Leicester City v. Tottenham)!

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Jan 20, 2016 - 11:37am PT
Nice TR. Kerkhoff Dome is an adventure for sure.

I did some climbing there in 2000. Did you guys approach by climbing up the old cog railway? That's pretty cool.

There's a crack on a pinnacle at the base called The Wizard. Seems silly to do a single pitch route there but it's really good .10d fingers to fists.

We did Centerfold, a long 5.10 done in 1972 by "Ketchner" (no 1st name in the SEKI guide, anyone know?) And given a direct finish by Fred Beckey, Jim and Dave Black. It was a grand adventure and ended in a bit of serious craziness which can only be discussed around a real campfire, not a virtual one.

I was all set to go up the following day and have a go at that Dream Stream, which looks seriously exciting, but I got poisoned at a local restaurant. Actually they didn't poison me, without knowing I ate something I am highly allergic too. The effect was the same.

That's a great crag. Even the long moderate Centerfold was heads up all the way. Unlike most southern Sierra domes, Kerkhoff stays vertical nearly to the top.

Trad climber
San Francisco
  Jan 20, 2016 - 12:05pm PT
Loved the photos. Nice stoke for these rainy indoor days...

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jan 20, 2016 - 12:17pm PT
I have quit supertopo, except for good trip reports about rope shenanigans!


Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Jan 20, 2016 - 01:06pm PT
Yes! I was up there last weekend kicking myself for having not climbed that dome or fished the beautiful creek below it. Thanks for the obscurity share.

Sweet line, it was easy to find in my pictures. Did it trend slightly left about a pitch above the aid roof in that chimney/crack system or go straight up the water groove?
Credit: limpingcrab
Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
  Jan 20, 2016 - 01:12pm PT
Nice, Justin. Damn, the Legend, TollSAR in the flesh...brings back memories.

Hey Donut...remember last time we were there? I think i still remember the moment when it dawned on you and I that, oh wait we're here to carry gear for Kenny and his partner, not actually climb ourselves lol! Classic Legend. But we got to play on Dream Stream so that was cool.

Centerfold...I know a guy who freesoloed that. Always though that was pretty cool, imo.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Jan 20, 2016 - 01:22pm PT
TFPU.... Yes Kris, that was a scary little incident... best for real campfire lore.

  Jan 20, 2016 - 01:29pm PT
Great stuff Justin. Your stoke and Sherpa'ing of the gear seemed integral to this ascent in my humble opinion.

That choss though, jeez!

who me?
  Jan 20, 2016 - 01:46pm PT
Yeah buddy, Good stuff! NO it cannot be called RBAM, Red Blooded American Male was given for a reason and it Fits! You had to be thee and you have to know the Bud Light flooded mind of "The Legend" to know why.
Great stuff brotha, hey im still " Im Fu@#$ng down for whatever" just give me a minute i have to find a baby sitter! haha!

Thanks for posting my friend!
Nate D

San Francisco
  Jan 20, 2016 - 01:59pm PT
Good share, thanks! Real purdy dome I've only admired from afar.
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
Author's Reply  Jan 20, 2016 - 02:58pm PT
Hahaha, Mac! The Warbler was playing Devil's Advocate with the name. Another moment for real campfires is how that name came to be, before we even started the approach. Good times bro.

Kris, we did walk up the railroad grade. Hopefully one day share a real campfire and hear the rest of your story.

Jeremy, yeah Kenny will try to carry your harness and shoes in exchange for the rope and gear if you let him.

Yes Ryan pure choss, just like that Canadian Granite you look at everyday.

Thanks to W.L. Gnome, Larry, survival, Nate, munge, Kevin The Defender of Women Worrall, ksolem, Guy, John, Blue, Steve, hellroaring, and Moose.

Limpingcrab, what were you doing in Big Creek if not climbing or fishing?

Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
  Jan 20, 2016 - 02:18pm PT

you still at the same number brotha?

Let's go to the gorge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jan 20, 2016 - 02:28pm PT
Sweet send fellas!

We have a small cabin in Camp Sierra, just down the road and I salivate at that thing monthly. Way to go get after it. So much Pine Beetle devastation up there it makes me sick. The forest is dying a filthy cancer by the week up there. Sad.

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Jan 20, 2016 - 02:52pm PT
Thoroughly enjoyable read, as usual.
Love those thick yellow "aid" gloves - classic!

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Jan 20, 2016 - 03:51pm PT
Now that's my kind of outing.

It was nice meeting Kenny at the shuteye gathering.

Lot of good stories heard that night.

Cheers Justin, and yes you were most certainly part of that FA!

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Jan 20, 2016 - 04:35pm PT
Limpingcrab, what were you doing in Big Creek if not climbing or fishing?

Mrs. Limpingcrab
Mrs. Limpingcrab
Credit: limpingcrab

PS, draw a topo or it's just an ascent and there's no route!!!
Flip Flop

Earth Planet, Universe
  Jan 20, 2016 - 06:02pm PT
Nice first wall tale. Cool pics. Spicy A1 with that slab below. TFPU

Gym climber
its nice here in the spring
  Jan 20, 2016 - 06:17pm PT
Tollstar, I heard your trail running now, carrying Kenny's gear (including an adequate supply of delicious bud lite) would probably be excellent training for a trail runner. Here's a picture of me on the 5.10a part of Dream stream it was 5.10 A1 for me.
Credit: doughnutnational

Oakland, CA
  Jan 20, 2016 - 08:43pm PT
This is all killer no filler, as always. Thanks, this just in.

That granite looks really good.

And I appreciated the sling extension work in the pic leading up to the roof. Though I suck at it myself, I get good satisfaction from seeing expert level sling extension work. There's a pic from an FA up on the Porcelain Wall that kills me every time, 10/10 sling work. I'll try to find it.

Edit: Solid sling work on the Porcelain. Esthetically pleasing to look at.

PS - Bandana, gloves w fingers cut off, and good sense of humor. So damn aid.

The Good Places
  Jan 20, 2016 - 08:45pm PT
who said nailin' with other males couldn't be fun?

cool TR, and a fine setting.
Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
  Jan 21, 2016 - 04:39am PT
Lol, bravecowboy.
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
Author's Reply  Jan 21, 2016 - 06:34am PT
Micro, this last year has been crazy to watch the trees quickly go. Lost all of our shade at our house.

Phyl, it's quite the process to make those custom gloves. First you have to buy them, then cut the fingers, then wear them. Or you could buy the Petzl ones at REI, haha. Hope you are doing good and can make it to Shuteye this year.

Josh, that aid stuff is a lot more work than I thought. Hopefully you can make the Gathering in June and you are healing/healed.

Nice Limpingcrab. Funny topo comment too.

Le Bruce, thanks man, glad you liked it and hopefully meet you soon.

Same for the brave cowboy, but buy a f*#king cowboy hat and some sh#t kickers to climb in.

Flip, thanks man. Kenny texted me that it's actually 10b, A2, so I edited it above. He made it look easy.

Lud, nice shot and Kenny enjoyed the TR, probably doesn't like your avatar name though:-)


Trad climber
Auberry, CA
  Jan 21, 2016 - 01:16pm PT
Kenny Rose, "Mr Big Creek". Much respect!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 21, 2016 - 04:32pm PT
Really nice TR, makes me want to learn to climb aid!

  Jan 21, 2016 - 08:23pm PT
Nice TR Justin. Kerckhoff looks so cool. Ive explored around there a little but haven't climbed there. Did hike up to the top of the tracks once and scoped the dome. The PG&E hydro-electric works are very impressive too.

Trad climber
Auberry, CA
  Jan 21, 2016 - 08:09pm PT
Great trip report Justin! Thank you.
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
Author's Reply  Jan 22, 2016 - 07:57am PT
Thanks Ezra, Rob, and Barry.

Barry, hope you are doing good and the hip is 100%.

Upper pitches follow the water streaks/runnels just right of center.
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Jan 22, 2016 - 08:49am PT
Beautiful area. Thanks for posting-lars

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 12, 2018 - 11:19am PT
Bump for Big Creek love.
Tamara Robbins

not a climber, just related...
  Jul 12, 2018 - 12:54pm PT
(RR Collection)
(RR Collection)
Credit: Tamara Robbins
Found this amidst Dad's route info....Not sure if name is a spelling error on the part of the map maker, or if it changed over time?
john hansen

  Jul 12, 2018 - 01:07pm PT

made it a bit darker so we can read it. Hope you don't mind.

Credit: john hansen

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Jul 12, 2018 - 01:57pm PT
Cool. He calls the pinnacle (The Wizard?) 5.9.

Old school for sure.

Trad climber
Auberry, CA
  Jul 13, 2018 - 08:39am PT
My guess is this is a totally sandbagged topo that was drawn up by one of the first free ascentionists of the Centerfold route (either Dave, or Jim Black, or maybe Fred Beckey) and then passed on to Royal, with tongue-in-cheek. The ratings are so completely sandbagged as to be ridiculous!

Note: Iron Man route has become the nowadays Centerfold 5.10a/b. Tin Lizzie variation has become Away 5.9.

Gym climber
its nice here in the spring
  Jul 15, 2018 - 05:36am PT
I looked at that topo and thought, Center Fold (which I will refer to as Iron Man from now on) is rated 5.7 on the YDS by the man who invented the YDS.

Trad climber
Auberry, CA
  Jul 15, 2018 - 07:46am PT
5.7? Well, maybe you should just give it a free solo, then! Or, maybe you already have?
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