Trip Report
Striking Gold in the Shadow of Basket Dome - 2012 FAs
Tuesday May 14, 2013 12:22pm

The beautiful East face of Basket Dome

It all started with a tale of a grand route on Basket Dome. I went on a run, to check it out, and see what gems were hidden in the Yosemite backcountry. I found the mega-route, Milestone, and explored the surrounds for other potential lines. I ended getting a bit lost, and took something like the blue line in the photo below, which is not recommended. On the plus side my run took me past the small dome on the right, that I have come to call Acorn Dome. Acorn Dome had a few cool looking lines so I knew I would be back to investigate later in the summer.


Basket Dome Overview

Its hard to describe all of the reasons I seek out First Ascents. Perhaps it is the dream of establishing the perfect multipitch route with tricky cruxes and spacious belay ledges. I have only done a small number new routes and I am still learning what makes them exciting and meaningful. The draw of natural features is obvious and I saw a soaring dihedral on the right side of Acorn Dome. It begged to be climbed! Unfortunately further inspection showed that inside of the dihedral was sealed and would not take any gear. On the left side of the dome I had seen a long dike feature on xRez which appeared to be continuous and potentially climbable. Over the following weeks, and months I took many trips back to Acorn Dome and established a total of seven pitches between two routes.


The beautiful golden dike on pitch two of the Miwok Dike



Looking back down from midway up the second pitch.

The most obvious line, and first to be climbed was the five pitch Miwok Dike. This route follows an obvious golden dike for two mega pitches, surrounded by easier slabby climbing. The route is steeper than it appears in photos and you often end up laybacking and pinching the dike to make progress. The majority of the climbing on pitches two through four is bolt protected with a few gear placements on the third pitch. The third pitch requires a full sixty meters of rope and has a gamut of movement from easy friction and an exciting mantel to dike hiking. Pitch by pitch beta here.


Casey on the Miwok Dike with Half Dome lurking in the background.

During my time equipping the Miwok Dike, I noticed a line of large knobs leading up to the pitch two belay. I followed these down and found an exciting series of scoops, flakes and crystal features that continued for 70 meters back to the base. This stretch of climbing was much harder than the Miwok Dike. With occasional gear placements, this crystal streak turned into a two pitch direct start for the Miwok Dike, called the Staircase of Frozen Tears.



Casey sets up for a cruxy mantel on Pitch Three of the Miwok Dike

Perhaps the best thing about climbing on Acorn Dome is the scenery. You are surrounded by huge cliffs and the vertical relieve down into Tenaya Canyon is massive. I think you can occasionally make out people on the cables of Half Dome, but dont expect to see any other people in the area or on the route. It was a sweet adventure exploring the unknown and spending time figuring out these two lines.



Casey at the crux on Pitch One of Staircase of Frozen Tears

Neither of these routes are perfect but they helped me understand the life-cycle of how bigger routes get established. Without a crack-line to follow, some of the route direction is up to the developer. In some places the sequence is obvious and too cool to skip, like the mantel in a photo above. Other times it is tricky to find the line of least resistance when faced with blank slab. There are divided schools of thought in regard to adventure routes, versus mellow ones and bolting these climbs made me think a lot about climbing style.



Casey starts off on the second pitch of Frozen Tears

Perhaps my next routes will have a bit more spice, but for now Im happy that I can recommend these routes without hesitation. Both routes are perfect for people trying to break into slab climbing, and are not yet comfortable with huge runouts found on many Yosemite and Tuolumne slabs. Getting to Acorn Dome or Basket Dome is an adventure and well off the beaten path. Once you start climbing you will find that both of these routes are well protected and do not require bold-school talent.


Casey tops out on the Miwok Dike with Clouds Rest in the background.

Acorn Dome Topo with all routes shown.
Acorn Dome Topo with all routes shown.
Credit: cultureshock

For higher quality photos, pitch by pitch beta and details on the approach check out this post:

http://www.dreaminvertical.com/2013/02/striking-gold-in-the-shadow-of-basket-dome/

I've held off posting this trip report since I realize some people will not be a fan of these routes. But now that Tioga pass is open, I think it would be a shame to keep them to my self, especially after the months spent establishing them. The rock is amazing and the dike pitches are hard to beat (4/5 stars!). Both routes were established on rappel, which made sense since I was approaching the dome from above. They are closely bolted, which was both a product of a learning experience for me and a statement that not all slab routes need to be run-out. A competent party could easily bring less draws and skip bolts. A 60m rope is mandatory since the third pitch of the Miwok is a FULL 200 feet.

Go have a look, I doubt you will be disappointed!

 Luke

  Trip Report Views: 4,670
cultureshock
About the Author
Luke is a trad climber and occasional runner from Sunnyvale, CA.

Comments
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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
very very cool...
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  May 14, 2013 - 12:46pm PT
those look SAWEET!
Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
  May 14, 2013 - 12:55pm PT
Nice work Luke!

Josh
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
  May 14, 2013 - 12:58pm PT
Wow, you guys scored! That dike looks top shelf. Good job guys.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 14, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
Super cool looking slab routes - hard to believe nobody's done anything on that dome til now.

Way to get on it - it's so beautiful out there, and so relatively easy to get to. The climbing looks top quality.

The last part of the approach can be bad if you don't go the right way, or casual if you do.
rincon

Trad climber
Coarsegold
  May 14, 2013 - 01:05pm PT
Both routes were established on rappel, which made sense since I was approaching the dome from above.

So you just started rappelling and bolting on the way down?

How did you decide where to put the bolts?
ec

climber
ca
  May 14, 2013 - 01:14pm PT
It was like climbing someone else's route. - Norman Boles on a Rap Bolted FA


'Still nice stuff though, especially that nobody else had the initiative to get out there.

 ec
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
"Bold-School"

nice one
bob

climber
  May 14, 2013 - 01:58pm PT
Cool! I remember looking at that stuff when headed over to Milestone. Really pretty. Awesome effort and thanks for posting it!

Bob J.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  May 14, 2013 - 02:08pm PT
Way cool man. Thanks for the info and for sharing your stoke and thoughtful vibe. Can't wait to get on that Dike someday!

Scott
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
  May 14, 2013 - 03:02pm PT
Nice work! Looks like a great area.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 04:00pm PT
Can't wait to give this one a go. Wonder if it'd be a better spring route or fall route wrt temps. Now that the Tioga is open, going to be hard to wait... One partner who saw this TR has already pinged me about charging it.

Sweet!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  May 14, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
Looks really fun, hope to climb it some day! Congrats on more FAs homez.
Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
  May 14, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
Bump for awesome
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Author's Reply  May 14, 2013 - 06:05pm PT
Route will be climbable both in spring and fall. The golden granite can get pretty hot in the summer. The approach is the main consideration for what season you go. If you are going to go camp out by the summit the Spring would be good since the creek near the summit would still have water. There is also a creek with water between miles 1.5 and 2.5 on the North Dome Trail. The only downside is that I found the dry creek bed to be the best way to approach. There is a GPS track and approach beta on the DreamInVertical link above. I'd be happy to show someone how to get to the route so I could shoot some photos.

Per the bolting question above:
So you just started rappelling and bolting on the way down?

It is an easy scramble from the summit down to the end of pitch 5. I built a gear anchor here and rappelled to P4 and then tied two 70m ropes together which reached almost to the ground. I then mini-traxioned out to see if there was a climb. It went!

Next I rapped from P5 to P4 and then double rope rapped to where P3 would end. I placed a bolted anchor at an obvious stance and pulled my ropes. From here the two 70m ropes tied together reached easy 5th class about 40' above the ground from P3. I then rapped the route and the climbed back up cleaning and figuring out where the bolts should go on mini-traxion.

The lowest pitches were bolted first and then we worked up to the summit. Each pitch was climbed many times on mini-traxion before the bolts were put in. The belays are at good stances. The nice thing about this approach is that the cruxes are well protected and the clipping stances work out. The thing I learned is that early on I had a tendency to "want" more bolts. As you go higher the climbing is easier and the bolts get more spaced out.

-Luke
10b4me

climber
  May 14, 2013 - 06:14pm PT
very very cool...

+1
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
  May 14, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
Again, great looking route. My feeling though is that you outta try do those things ground up. Not trying to cast any shadows, but in my opinion, the art of slab climbing and stance drilling go hand in hand. Or may I say, hammer in hand. Its sad that its becoming a dying branch of the sport.
DaveyTree

Trad climber
Fresno
  May 14, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
Looks cool. Way to put in the effort. Not easy or cheap.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  May 14, 2013 - 06:44pm PT
agreed ^^^^^^ with KP.. The pic at the overhang is reminiscent of "darth vaders revenge" in the meadow..
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 11:33pm PT
its becoming a dying branch of the sport.
I don't think it's dying.
These are just 2 routes; there are lots more slab routes in Yosemite done recently on lead.
The most obvious examples are at Dozier Dome.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1206856/Dozier-Dome

I suspect Luke was facing logistical issues of finding a partner to hike all the way in there and then belay for stance drilling.
That is a lot of time to ask of someone (unless you find a second stance driller - then they could be psyched!).
Vs. going in solo and working it out on minitraxion, then bolting.
And getting a partner when all the bolts are already in.

Although a climb like this with an approach from above could also be done as a "pure minitraxion" climb.
No bolts at all; just share a line on a photo. Very minimal impact, leave no trace, etc.

With a remote route like this, I suspect it will not get repeated much, because there are similar quality routes with shorter approaches.
Also similar well protected slabs with shorter approaches - Cookie Sheet and Bunny Slopes.
As a result, much of value of the climb is the enjoyment of the people while doing the FA. It looks like Luke had fun and learned some things, which is good.
Someone doing the FA on stance would have had a longer and more challenging adventure.
But there are also many such on lead FA possibilities still to be done.
David D.

Trad climber
California
  May 14, 2013 - 07:26pm PT
Oh man this looks awesome! Can't wait to try these out. TFPU! (Literally)
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
  May 14, 2013 - 07:38pm PT
Stance drilling on slabs is as fun as it gets. Its an adventure sport in itself that hopefully doesn't get shoved aside by the relative convenience of equipping on rappel.
Greg Barnes

climber
  May 14, 2013 - 07:52pm PT
Doing slabs on lead is not at all a dying branch of the sport. Take a look through the Whitney Portal section of Bishop Area Rock Climbs (Croft/Lewis 2008) and you'll see TONS of new slab routes, single to multi-pitch, by a variety of people - and pretty much all ground up (GU in Marty Lewis terminology, TD means Top Down aka rap cleaned/bolted).

Not to mention Tuolumne, Valley, etc...take a look at this hand drilled on lead route:
http://www.mountainproject.com/v/tron/107049788
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  May 14, 2013 - 07:53pm PT
Both routes were established on rappel, which made sense since I was approaching the dome from above.

I was so enjoying the trip report until read this.


Then I thought it was a troll.


Then I was just sad.


"They are closely bolted, which was both a product of a learning experience for me and a statement that not all slab routes need to be run-out."

right. They don't have to be run out. But they should be established ground up in traditional areas like Yos and Tmeadows.


gah, what a bummer



Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 08:38pm PT
There is also a "combination" style for FAs:
 lead ground up, placing as much stuff as you need to get up the route
 then / later, if you think the route may be repeated, add bolts (usually when rapping off)
This yields both the ground-up adventure, and a well protected climb (if appropriate) where the bolts go in pretty quick.

And the "upgrade" style for FAs, in use at Dozier Dome:
 lead ground up, place 1/4" bolts (these go in much faster, more feasible on 5.9/5.10 footholds)
 replace with 3/8" SS on rappel
Adventure, fast and quality result.
Greg Barnes

climber
  May 14, 2013 - 08:33pm PT
Yep, I use the "combination" style a lot, while most people don't (including Bryan Law, I think he got pissed when James' article on Tuolumne a few years back implied that he added bolts on rap after the FA). The most obvious & controversial example is Shagadelic, which we called 5.7X on the FA - then we added most of the bolts on the route (including 9 bolts to the previously 1 bolt third pitch).
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 14, 2013 - 08:36pm PT
Great job and TR!!!!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  May 14, 2013 - 09:04pm PT
yep, Clint and Greg are spot on for combined styles (after the fact of establishing ground up). Nothing wrong with well protected. And there are some great ways of doing that. I appreciate good bolts, and good bolts and placements can and are placed well going ground up.

nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 14, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
Nice job! I immediately wanted to get out there and climb it. While I appreciate and respect the ground-up ethic, and think climbs done in that manner need to be preserved, I also think there is room for lots of approaches.

A few nicely protected climbs here and there, especially on moderate terrain that the ground-up masters did not see fit to claim in the last 50 years where the grade has been climbable, well it's not a big deal (edit: for me). There should be room for everyone to do their own thing, and not have others get all Taliban or Christian Fundamentalist about it. I know for certain when I am on the climb, I will not be thinking "this would be so much more fun if only the FA party had bolted it ground up." I'll just be enjoying the views, and appreciating that I can be in that sea of blankness where someone was nice enough to stick bolts for me.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 09:22pm PT
"this would be so much more fun if only the FA party had bolted it ground up."
Styles are more just suggestions for how the FA party might maximize their fun / challenge, during the FA.

Repeats of bolted routes will never reproduce the experience of leading the route ground up. Once it's bolted, the style that the bolts went in may not matter much, unless you are inspired by the story / adventure the FA folks had.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 14, 2013 - 09:34pm PT
I knew this thread was going to turn into a debate about GU vs TD, surprised it took as long as it did. The way I see it, the only thing lost to the way they did the FA is one party's pure adventure, or really only one person's pure adventure. That adventure is the ultimate climbing experience, but really only one person gets that experience, and after that it's really all the same.

There are advantages for those that follow when a route is done this way - bolts are more likely to be in good locations, rope drag is minimized, the best weakness is usually found, whereas when climbing slab ground up that isn't always the case. The party that does the FA can be rewarded by knowing they did the best they could with the resource at hand to create a route for others to enjoy forever.

The downside is that on a dome like that, where it's possible to climb anywhere, almost, top down tactics could lead to endless squeeze jobs which would ruin the aesthetics of such a beautiful and remote dome. I like to think, however, that any climber who would venture out there to climb would have an appreciation of beauty and solitude that would preclude that from ever happening.

The routes in the photos take obvious strong lines, so it's hard to argue they're not good routes just because they weren't done GU, IMHO. The number of bolts might bother some, but I'm thinking at least as many climbers would be bothered by less protection when on the lead miles from the road.

Some of these perspectives were a part of our thinking when we did Milestone, but that route's a little different. I see no reason why an independent and remote dome like Acorn Dome can't be developed in a way that is at odds with Yosemite and Tuolumne slab climbing tradition. If people feel strongly enough that routes out there should be in keeping with the standard, they ought to hike out there and do it the way they believe it should be done.


Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 09:45pm PT
thank for report, good job on finding and making new routes..
Now you can easy find the best approach to Basket Case
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
  May 14, 2013 - 09:57pm PT
That gold dike is an absolutely beautiful natural feature and the fact that it is well protected makes it even more appealing. Hats off to those guys for the work that went into finding and bagging this plum.

Nobody is getting all "Taliban" or anything else about how it was done.
I am only stating an opinion based on my experiences on granite slabs over the years. I know the FA team won't feel this way, but I think they actually short changed themselves a bit by not going ground up.

In any case I can still congratulate them on such a gorgeous find.


The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 14, 2013 - 10:05pm PT
I wasn't thinking you were getting all Taliban, Kenny - things HAVE changed since the old days, and it pretty much seems all good to me. I get great vicarious pleasure in seeing photos from a clean and classic new route like that.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
The dike looks similar to Dragonback Dike on "Escape From Freedom", East Face of Mt. Watkins.
ablegabel

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 10:16pm PT
Nice job and a good looking route. To bad about the poor style you put it up in. Looks like you at least thought it out well. I'm sure it will get some traffic, but it's sad to see that this is becoming an accepted style for multi pitch routes in Yosemite. (Sean, Kevin, now Luke) seems like you could have done better for Yosemite. No difficulty levels broken here. Just makes my heart sad - Eric Gabel
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 14, 2013 - 10:23pm PT
I think it's less than perfect style, ablegable, but if it's crafted well, I couldn't call it poor style, myself.

Do you care to elaborate on why this makes you sad? That's a pretty strong statement along with your judgement of it being done in poor style.

I'm not looking to argue here, or defend my attitude towards the method - just looking for you to flesh out your opinion.

Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  May 14, 2013 - 10:38pm PT
Sometimes people have to discover things for themselves. I don't imagine Luke is going to become the rap-bolting king of Yosemite after this. He sounds like a thoughtful guy and chances are the finished product is damn near perfect. Mini-tracking and marking bolt placements is evidence that this was not a rush job.

Nonetheless, I'm hoping this style does not catch on. Even in an area as large as Yosemite, or the Sierra, unclimbed rock is a finite resource and we should all leave a bit for the explorers of the future.

I bet it's a cool route.
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
  May 17, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
I know Kevin, I was actually quoting Nutjob from his prior post. I think you spelled it out very well in your first post. If anybody knows its you, just how fun it can be to cast off into the unknown. I know things have changed but I still believe strongly that if a slab route can be fairly easily stanced, it outta be at least tried. If only just for the fun of it. That said, Ive got no shots to take at these guys. they scored.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 14, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
To the extent that climbs become part of a portfolio establishing the reputation of the FA party, I think it definitely matters GU vs TD. Knowing that a given line went in GU adds to the "holy crap those dudes are badasses" vibe of awe and respect I feel while climbing something. All respect is seriously due to the folks who adhere to that ethic.

I guess since I have not staked any part of my identity in that game, nor have I really experienced what it is like except for a few times on accident (and never with placing bolts), I guess I don't really have any street cred to chime in on the ethics of the thing. My limited foray into that part of climbing (ground up into the unknown) has definitely produced my most rich experiences and memories. But for the vast majority of the time, I can just speak as a spectator who takes advantage of the final product.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 14, 2013 - 10:56pm PT
It's a multifaceted situation, and it sounds like Luke thought carefully about how he would do the route. He admits he hasn't done lots of FAs on slab, and his willingness to take the inevitable flak in the sincere interest of creating a route that is as good as possible in his mind deserves respect.

I couldn't believe that dome was untouched the first time I walked under it, and the second time, 3rd etc. It's a long way out there, and although Luke calls it a "small dome", it's only small next to Basket Dome and Watkins. He apparently spent a lot of time doing it the best way he could, and I'd guess that even top downing it was plenty exciting and adventurous. Maybe not in the classic trad sense, but in human terms.

This style should be reserved for special circumstances, and this seems like it fits.

He could have botched the drilling going ground up with little experience, but had a more traditional adventure. Would that have been better?
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  May 14, 2013 - 11:03pm PT
Jeez, I guess so. To me lying about what you did is a couple notches worse than thoughtfully rap-bolting an obscure slab line.

The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 14, 2013 - 11:15pm PT
That's true, Joe. Another factor, as I see it, is that his is the first route on the Dome, and that dome and it's zone are quite unique and detached from any other Valley or Tuolumne climbing area. If other routes had already been done there ground up, it would be different.

There is room for a different style in this case, and those offended by it don't have to go out there and look at it. For that matter, that dome is wide enough to do a number of new routes in classic trad style without seeing the bolts on Luke's routes

Kinda like the boob thread - if they bother you, don't look at 'em
ablegabel

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 14, 2013 - 11:46pm PT
Nothing to argue about here Warbler. Just my feelings on the matter. It looks like a fine route and I'm sure Luke is a good guy and did a good job on it. Just don't see why he couldn't have given it a go ground up. You of all people know that once in a lifetime experience of doing a long route ground up, never knowing what will happen next, if it will go, and having to find that inner courage to keep pushing on into the unknown. I've had some bad experiences with rap bolters over the years, so my opinions will reflect that. I've had routes I've started ground up rap bolted over before I could finish them. I have worked up my courage and strength to do long routes only to see some one rap bolt the whole cliff in a day. I spent a long time figuring out a long line on Super Nova Wall one time, after 3 calf burning hours stance drilling on lead I ran into 2 bolts at the end of my third pitch. (I believe these were your bolts, when you put anchors down the whole face looking for a route Warbler?) I was crushed! Couldn't figure out how they got there. Never even occurred to me that someone would rap bolt a whole wall. We came back and finished the route three years later but the sting of that and other experiences has left me a little jaded. Seeing what has been happening out at Shuteye Ridge and Cochise Stronghold (whole walls grid bolted in a day) breaks my heart. And Yes, I think this is a poor style of climbing. I just don't want to see it in Yosemite. Would be nice to save some ground up opportunities for the next generation. So that is what makes me sad Warbler - Eric Gabel
ec

climber
ca
  May 14, 2013 - 11:50pm PT
Eric, you ain't jaded...

 ec
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 15, 2013 - 12:21am PT
Eric,
Yeah, it's when people using the 2 styles (on lead and on rap) are competing for the same climb/rock that the frustration happens.
Fortunately it doesn't occur very often, but it does sometimes.
Of course we have all run into old pins in the middle of what we though were FAs; that's a drag, too. Although sometimes the mystery remains - was somebody rapping to bail or were they climbing up....

I've seen the "stance" for the last bolt on the first pitch of Space Babble. Kevin gets my respect all time for that (it's a completely sick stem). Maybe a surprise that he has done some rap bolting now, but people adapt to fit available time, skills, etc. As long as people aren't bolting "too much", I don't care what style they use. "Too much" is a subjective line that I can't easily define, but "grid bolting" is an example; where the bolts on supposedly separate climbs are within an arm's reach of each other.... Kevin's not doing that.

I agree with Eric; I don't see a big problem with Luke's route(s) on Acorn Dome. On this forum we have been looking at the xRez photos of this dome for a couple of years now, and nobody went up there to do the routes until Luke did. It's not as dumb as rap bolting the top slab pitches of "Growing Up", that's for sure.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  May 15, 2013 - 12:31am PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1154791&msg=1154791#msg1154791
msiddens

Trad climber
  May 15, 2013 - 12:33am PT
Nice work Luke! Love to repeat it for sure
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 15, 2013 - 12:35am PT
May 14, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
I spent a long time figuring out a long line on Super Nova Wall one time, after 3 calf burning hours stance drilling on lead I ran into 2 bolts at the end of my third pitch. (I believe these were your bolts, when you put anchors down the whole face looking for a route Warbler?) I was crushed!

I wasn't "looking for a route" over there on the Mosstrum, I knew exactly where the route was. I was checking out and preparing a route that starts at the toe of the buttress on The Haunted House route, and finishes on The Spirit of '76 route. Both those short freeclimbs involved placing bolts on rappel or aid. Spirit of '76 has a short 12- overhanging block pitch, and Haunted House has an 11+ 6 ft roof. The center section of the route which you encountered needed excessive lichen scrubbing on a crux section, also. For all those reasons I chose to rap the whole line. I doubt very much that the route you were climbing shared the same start, or the same finish, so it's just unfortunate your route was not an independent line. You shouldn't let things like that leave you "crushed" - sounds like you still did your route.

Due to my partner's inability to get back to it, and lately mine, it remains unfinished, as far as I know.

Would be nice to save some ground up opportunities for the next generation. So that is what makes me sad Warbler - Eric Gabel

This is the age old argument, but it only holds so much water. The dome in this thread, and it's new routes could have been climbed 50 years ago by Tom Higgins, or any number of top slab climbers, ground up, but it has been there untouched through all those years, in spite of rap bolting's appearance, and climbing's growing popularity. Had these routes been done ground up, there would still be two less new routes left as "ground up opportunities for the next generation."

Not all routes that get rap bolted are done so because the climber doing them is incapable of doing them ground up. Sometimes it's a choice made to create a better route for the future. It could be argued that it's a less selfish way to put up a bolted route for that reason.
WBraun

climber
  May 15, 2013 - 12:42am PT
ablegabel -- "Super Nova Wall one time, after 3 calf burning hours stance drilling on lead I ran into 2 bolts at the end of my third pitch. (I believe these were your bolts, when you put anchors down the whole face looking for a route Warbler?)"

I think those might just be Tom Rohrer's rap route anchors.

He's a rappeller.

I few years ago we had rescue training there and he shows up with another guy to rappel down the Super Nova wall.

He said he has rappel anchors spaced all the way to the ground.

Just a wild guess that they are his bolts you encountered?

Maybe not?

I can't imagine Kevin rapping down there making a rappel route to begin with.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 15, 2013 - 12:55am PT
Kevin did place some anchors on rappel over on the (far?) right side of Super Nova wall. (He describes it in his post above, but has also mentioned it in the past).
Yep, Tom Rohrer has one over there also!
So I couldn't say which is which....
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 15, 2013 - 01:51am PT
I agree with Joe and Kevin that any form of bolting (or observable / recorded FAing) reduces the available FA adventures for future climbers.
Usually I don't save the good stuff I find for future climbers - I do it. The good stuff I leave are climbs that I don't think I could do a good job on (usually because they are "above my pay grade" as my partner Bob puts it).

I believe Eric's point is that the rap bolters will (on average) do more pitches per day of FAing than the ground uppers, as he gave example of this. Not always, but on average, if both are on rock of the same difficulty.

The trick I use that makes me feel less guilty about doing FAs is that I "don't do very many". Whether that's true or not is unclear. At least it's down to about one weekend a month and no summers if that helps.

Many of the new routes I do are "junque"; not worth repeating. Occasionally we find something decent.
If I thought all my routes were great and were a huge contribution to Valley climbing, then I'd probably try to do more.
Fortunately I'm not that crazy, yet.

Luckily, in the Valley we have miles of stuff to explore and there's plenty for the future if people are willing to walk. Like Luke did. The stuff close to roads will be the leftovers, almost always.
WBraun

climber
  May 15, 2013 - 01:22am PT
Clint

LOL

Kevin wrote his post while I was writing mine and thus explained him making rap a route down there.

Well what ya know :-)

But I do remember seeing someone was trying that face while doing the Rostrum one day looking over there .....
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 15, 2013 - 01:32am PT
Ha, Werner!

I wasn't making a "rappel route" per se. I know you have seen the two twin bottomless corners across from Reeds above and right of Supernova. They're each 150 to 200 ft long, and real well defined. We rapped down to climb the left one starting from a nice ledge with a tree at the bottom of it. Did that pitch ground up, after rapping down to the start of (if that's possible), and it was a really good 5.11 fingers to hands section followed by an offwidth pod and some roofs and stemming. Just like a 70's style Valley crack pitch - I'm gonna go out on a limb and call it Classic, then below that big tree covered ledge we veered out of the crack system onto an irresistible overhanging wall with huge jugs for the second pitch. We cleaned and rap bolted that - it's super exposed, wild and really steep. Then from the ledge is a 5.9 knob pitch with huge diorite knobs and one protection bolt, placed on lead. The last pitch is an obvious left facing corner with an undercling roof in it which tops out at a couple of bolts on the edge of the slabs right below the Rostrum park spot. We called that Spirit of '76 for the crack pitch.

We also did a two pitch route at the bottom, Haunted House, which kinda aimed in that direction, and I had the idea of doing a 10 or 11 pitch route all the way up the wall, but never linked the two routes up. The Haunted House has the wildest roof I ever did in the Valley - a good six footer with a full facing down body stem, all performed at the edge of a gigantic down facing, gaping, bottomless chimney.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  May 15, 2013 - 01:48am PT
East (North-east?) face of Basket Dome is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. OP eluded to it with the 1st foto. Who's gonna do that?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 15, 2013 - 01:50am PT
I think it would be easier to face off with an 800 lb gorilla than to freeclimb B Dome's bulging east wall.

Down the gully a ways where it's just vertical is a different matter. There's a couple or three lines east of Milestone. I don't know about all free, but mostly. If you go the right way to the base, the bush is friendly.

Even crossing the creek - cross it well above the waterfall at the hugest tree in the drainage. That's hard earned beta right there.
WBraun

climber
  May 15, 2013 - 02:01am PT
I'll go there tomorrow and free solo the second ascent and rip all the bolts out with my bare hands.

Like real men do?

We just hijacked this poor guys trip report?

He was totally transparent.

So sorry.

Thanks for everything ...... :-)
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 15, 2013 - 02:07am PT
I bet he's thoroughly entertained, Werner
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
  May 15, 2013 - 02:24am PT
Wanna go out there and put some routes in ground up. Maybe experience that end of the spectrum? Give me an email, I'd be stoked to head out there and work another route with you. Finding partners for that kind of stuff in next to impossible, especially the second time.

Ground up slab isn't a dead art, it's just in the shadows because nobody really cares.
ablegabel

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 15, 2013 - 02:25am PT
No disrespect intended Warbler. Just telling you my experience. I am well aware of your routes and have extensive topos of them and other routes in the area. I have to say I am much more a fan of your older routes than newer ones. It didn't seem to me that raping down a thousand feet, power drilling in bolt anchors all the way, justified a 200' base route. Buy the way, it does look like a good route(Haunted House). I don't think it will ever go free up higher. You like rap bolting, I don't. I doubt our opinions on the mater will change. I got better things to do. Just wanted to put a voice in for ground up. Thanks to Luke for posting up. Hopefully he will try some good old fashion ground up for his next routes. Not worth hating people over though - Eric Gabel
David Wilson

climber
CA
  May 15, 2013 - 10:44am PT
Way to go Luke! Thanks for the TR. Makes me want to walk out there this summer.
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  May 15, 2013 - 10:57am PT
good stuff man. looks beautiful. i hope you can simply enjoy the discourse here.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  May 15, 2013 - 11:10am PT
Knowing that a given line went in GU adds to the "holy crap those dudes are badasses"

I am much more a fan of your older routes than newer ones.

It is kind of sad other climbers are so judgmental, even when someone creates a nice clean line, not a squeeze job. Funny how climbing is supposed to be personal achievements but we are quick to judge everyone else around.

Now that Luke posted about how little was done on this dome, I hope all the GUppers will stop whining and rather go and explore opportunities that I am sure are still left on it. Me thinks there will be more whining and little action.

cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Author's Reply  May 15, 2013 - 12:04pm PT
I bet he's thoroughly entertained, Werner

Of course. I was aware such a debate would happen. I even added a disclaimer!

More comments means a higher likelyhood that these routes will get a repeat. Doing new routes is still a learning process for me and that means taking some flak.

Kevin is right that Acorn Dome is not small, but it is dwarfed by Basket dome. The Miwok dike is somewhere in the 700'-750' range.

Clint is spot on that I don't really know very many people with the willingness to hike out and spend time on new routes. This means that I do most of the work solo, especially in the exploration stage.

Chad, I'll shoot you an email for sure. I've gone ground up before, just never stance drilling. In the past my new routes have always had some type of marginal gear available. So I have drilled bolts on lead from crappy equalized pieces that wouldn't hold a fall.

This thread made me realize that without any type of crack features you really have to gun for those stances or hope for a hook when going ground up. This is a big contrast to other routes I've done where aiding ground up was possible before trying to free the route.

Thanks for the thoughts.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  May 15, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
Clint is spot on that I don't really know very many people with the willingness to hike out and spend time on new routes. This means that I do most of the work solo, especially in the exploration stage.


If this is a serious offer, there are a lot of us doing remote FAs, and we definitely try and help each other out when not preoccupied with our latest obsessions. It can be hard to make schedules work, but if you want to do more of that slabby hook and stancing style, I'm always interested.


http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=229851&msg=793057#msg793057


I just want to try that slab to the right.
mikeyschaefer

climber
Sport-o-land
  May 15, 2013 - 03:28pm PT
Way to go Luke! Looks like great climbing and a great adventure for you.

And to all the people that are "sad" that you rap bolted it, don't take it personally. What you did up there was your decision and should only impact you. They are just looking for a reason to bitch and i don't really think they have one. What you did was RAD and you should be stoked!

I've rapped bolted, I've aided climbed FA's, I've pre-inspected ground up, and I've gone ground up, all in Yosemite. What I've learnt is what really matters is you have an adventure and you push your own personal boundaries farther. And i bet someday you will be stance drilling putting up great routes. Its all part of the evolution as a climber.

I hear you about not being able to find partners for these sorts of things. People say they are psyched but when it comes down to it very few people are. Then you gotta line up schedules. That can be extremely hard. I just started rope soloing stuff instead. It is slower but not that much slower. Definitely a bit scarier but you get use to that part.

Again, way to get after it!

RyanD

climber
Squamish
  May 15, 2013 - 10:56pm PT
Good job dude, that dyke looks stellar!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 15, 2013 - 10:59pm PT
They are just looking for a reason to bitch and i don't really think they have one.

The routes are no doubt doable ground up, and if you're a knight in shining armor who sits in judgement, but never noticed the potential, or took the time to hike out there, it could make a guy grumpy. That's about the only good reason to bitch.
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  May 15, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
F'ing awesome... very very very cool.

Makes me antsy.
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
  May 16, 2013 - 12:39am PT
Finding a partner to hold a rope is often the most difficult part. Finding someone to swap pitches or trade leads after each drilled bolt is even harder. I put 90% of my routes up using a solo belay. I wish it wasn't like that as it makes things a bit more difficult, scary and risky, but these days there are far fewer people willing to skip a day of conveniently running up someone elses routes in exchange for putting up one of their own. Couple that with the overwhelming number of climbers that do put up routes who are totally unwilling to submit themselves to any risk of the unknown when putting up their routes and the ground up game becomes almost exclusively a solo affair.

I've had a few routes in Yosemite and elsewhere I've been eyeballing for a while which I continually put off for lack of some basic help.
So for all you ground uppers out there, feel free to put me down on your contact lists as a potential partner for your next big project. I'd love meet and grow my pool of like minded motivated individuals.

As for the style in which Cultureshock used to put his route up with. I don't see any problems with it. It's the top down "development" mentality some people have where they are going to preform some community service by developing an area that is often so destructive to the adventure based traditions of climbing. Not just putting up a route here and there for something fun to do like the OP has done here.

culture... my offer stands, give me an email when you're thinking of heading back out there or any other area you have your eye on and I'd love to join you for a full value GU adventure. I got my eyes on that white slab out there to the right.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 16, 2013 - 01:17am PT
Chad,
The ideal partner is one you can take turns drilling with.
I'm not good enough for that, but I know Tony is psyched:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=149476&msg=2103898#msg2103898

Bob Jensen, too. Did you see his TR on his FA left of Burning Down the House?
http://www.supertopo.com/tr/1st-Ascent-The-Arsonist-Burning-up-the-North-Face-of-Fairview-Dome/t11857n.html

If Mikey is around, grab him! Father Time, ground up, that is an all-time effort.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1962356/Father-Time-New-VI-Free-Route-on-Middle-Cathedral

My once-a-month partner Bob (cragnshag) is also good at stance drilling and gets the 3/8" in quick. We are heading out for some of this action tomorrow at 6am....

If you can make do with a partner who doesn't mind belaying and
will reel in the rope quick when you need to downclimb in a hurry,
plus has lots of time, sign me up!
I'm also good at keeping projects secret.
Besides, I owe you one for when you led that muck arch to fix ropes for Roger!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 17, 2013 - 11:39am PT
Here goes a nobody's long-winded two cents:

Big respect for the folks who are voicing dissenting opinions, and I sure as hell don't see their objections as "bitching" or "whining." Those who respectfully oppose Luke's style on this effort are standing on the solid ground of tradition, ground with deep bedrock running through Valley history (whoa extended the metaphor one step too far!). Yosemite's heaviest of heavyweights built that tradition one ground-up FA at a time. Take a quick waltz through Bachar's posting history here to be reminded that the dissenting opinion in this thread deserves respect.

One of Yosemite's proudest traditions is the GU ethic. Shouldn't that continue to be one of the standards that every FA is measured by? Even if that is just one metric among many for you, it has to matter. Even if you are a modern pragmatist and have nothing but disdain for the pure of heart, it has to matter. OP seems to be completely aware of it and does a good job of owning it in his TR. He expected healthy debate, he acknowledged misgivings of his own, he calls it a step in his learning as an FA'ist... I don't think that Luke or anyone else who cares about Yosemite tradition would be cool with all future routes in the Valley going up in this style. This ain't some valley in Europe where anything goes, most of us agree on that.

OP hasn't bolted a crack, hasn't chipped a hold, hasn't ensured the downfall of proud Yosemite tradition. But he hasn't lived up to it either, which he readily acknowledges (I think, at least in my reading, correct me if wrong, and I mean no personal offense). I'll climb the hell out of this route, and will have a blast doing it. I will feel thankful to OP for putting it up, and I respect his work. And I will hope that Yosemite tradition among FA'ists will hold in the future. Contradiction there but I'm comfortable with it.

So big respect for the people who are speaking up for tradition here. I hope that even if you don't agree with them, everybody can respect the place they are coming from.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  May 17, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
To the OP: Congratulations on establishing what looks like a beautiful, thoughtful new route in a gorgeous setting!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  May 17, 2013 - 12:24pm PT
That is simply the most beautiful dike I've seen, looks like a fricken golden railroad track. I love routes that pick an asthetic natural feature as their line, you got the goods!
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
  May 17, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
The routes look great. Thank you for not putting up yet another run out climb that will never be repeated. California needs another poorly protected slab about as much as it needs another freeway or subdivision.

The idea that Yosemite is some traditional stronghold is absurd. It is probably the most pounded on, rehearsed, pre-inspected, fixed, pin-scarred, chiseled, and beta infused climbing destination in the United States, if not the world.

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  May 17, 2013 - 12:55pm PT
maybe it's time has come. maybe precedent has no value, but the supreme court sure seems to like it. maybe there is no reasonable happy medium.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1373560/Yosemite-Rock-Climber-Survey-89-to-90

the positivity that is associated with 'community' offerings of well protected routes can still be had. Good routes can still be put up. areas can still be preserved. Just have fun doing it ground up. Don't be afraid to get a partner involved in your ground up shenanigans. It's not all serious grim factor five to go ground up. It just means you got a little slower and prolong the experience.

WBraun

climber
  May 17, 2013 - 01:02pm PT
The idea that Yosemite is some traditional stronghold is absurd.


It was never an "idea".

It is and was purely a natural thing.

Whether it is practiced anymore or not this consciousness always remains the natural root bedrock of humanity in all time and circumstances .......
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  May 17, 2013 - 01:01pm PT
Thanks le Bruce. I agree. To me it is peculiar, this new route so remote and alpine done as a rapbolt & preview. The general argument for putting up such climbs is peculiar too: they are a gift to subsequent climbers just as trail building is to future hikers. In essence this view commodifies a climb. Whatever it might have contained as a wild and native formation and human experience the first time out will never be available as the horse is already out of the barn.

There are very distinct differences between GU climbs and TD climbs and the fundamental mythmaking of GU adventuring does not exist in TD; and that is the intention of all parties. They seek and theorize two very different viewpoints. It is important to keep the two philosophies distinct and not claim one is the only possible way of climbing. In the end it will be a matter of what one seeks, even though the two belief systems collide often.
pell

Trad climber
Sunnyvale
  May 17, 2013 - 06:34pm PT
Cool stuff. Just added these routes to my TODO list. Thanks Luke!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  May 17, 2013 - 06:44pm PT
Another aspect of this new climb-and-a-half is the certainty you could camp in that spot for as long as you wanted, in total silence and freedom.
Impaler

Social climber
Oakland
  May 17, 2013 - 06:47pm PT
Great job, Luke! The routes look pretty fun! I also think that it's great to have a few more safely protected slab routes around!
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
  May 17, 2013 - 07:41pm PT
Stunning dike there. Good for you for getting after it, Luke, unlike many others who drooled from afar. Prominent dikes like that - obvious natural paths up the slab - are particularly suitable for a GU approach where you don't risk a wandering line that is hard to interpret. Your personal experience aside, essentially, whether bolted TD or GU, the end result would be very similar on this dike. Not necessarily so on blank slab. As strange as it sounds, it's a very trad line for being bolted TD. I wish more lines bolted TD generally followed natural paths.

(I suppose I have to dive deep into Tarbuster's long trad thread to see how trad is defined in terms of ascent style relative to natural features on the rock...)

Anyhow, I've enjoyed reading the various responses.
Tork

climber
Yosemite
  May 17, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
Dam Luke, that must have been a ton of hard work. Thanks for all the effort and especially thanks for sharing it and not keeping it a big secret
Red Wing

climber
California
  May 19, 2013 - 01:45pm PT
Nice job on those routes! I know exactly where your route is! My girlfriend and I hiked up the switchbacks and put up a few routes on that dome in 2009 or 10? I have to check my topos. We knew the dome was potentially unnamed/unclimbed and wanted to bag it. We placed a handful of bolts over three days and climbed several routes. A few run outs on good rock let the routes flow - one of the best parts of the Yosemite slab climbing tradition. All routes were ground up in a day. We did not see any traces of previous passage.

Luke, although in this case our "style" is different, we have much in common and we should connect sometime. Perhaps trade some ideas. I'm always looking for motivated partners and good lines.

cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Author's Reply  May 20, 2013 - 12:47pm PT
Thanks for all the comments. Glad this could stay civil!

Chad/Salamanizer, I'll make sure to shoot you a message about doing a GU route. Perhaps you can teach me a few tricks and a good source of 1/4" bolts.

Red Wing shoot me a PM about your routes. Very cool to hear the dome had been climbed before. I'd love to see your topos.

Could you draw in your lines on this photo so I can update my topo.

http://www.dreaminvertical.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/AcornDomeTopo-Final.png

Thanks!
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
  May 20, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
Excellent !
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  May 21, 2013 - 01:28am PT
Glad this could stay civil!

I am kind of bummed. Would be great if TDners and GUppers would be down to meet up in El Cap meadow for a brawl. Mortal Kombat style, 1 on 1 tournament to decide whose style will stay.

Red Wing

climber
California
  May 21, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
Luke, your line starts on one of ours. Did you check out any of the other obviously established climbs along the base or did you get straight to drillin'?

Also, I'd like to know if the dome has been named already. Maybe on an old map, or gov't survey, etc. If I am the FAist I would like the dome to keep it's old name. Thanks.



cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
Author's Reply  May 21, 2013 - 07:16pm PT
Red Wing,

There are no bolts on pitch 1 or on pitch 5. So I doubt that your route was changed.
Acorn Dome Left Side.
Acorn Dome Left Side.
Credit: cultureshock

Yellow is the bolted section of the Miwok Dike. Do your routes match up with any of the other colored lines? Lots of potential stuff.

I saw obvious "potential" lines at the base, but didn't see any anchors, webbing or other signs of previous passage.

I swung around between the arch and the Miwok Dike and didn't see any bolts. I'm assuming you went up one of the weaknesses to the left of the dike. Looks like there are some cool looking flake features?

I had not heard of a name for the dome. My idea came from the following legend. There was another version of this story, that I can't seem to find, that describes the acorns flying out of her basket and forming the domes in Tuolumne.

Half Dome Legend
Half Dome Legend
Credit: cultureshock

How was the bushwhack to the base from the snow creek trail? It is pretty mellow to hike in via the North Dome trail.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 21, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
I think Acorn Dome's a good name, but it would be interesting to know if it's named on any maps.

Camping out there on the rim by the creek's a really cool thing to do - nice vibe out there...
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
  May 22, 2013 - 02:02pm PT
Can I say I hate you?

You see, in my laziness I have dreamed about that dome since I did the North Face of Quarter Domes back in 1975. It has been on my list ever since. How dare you step in on my 38 year long plan!

Oh well, I guess I need to act on those other decades old plans...

Seriously, nice work.
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  May 25, 2013 - 03:32pm PT
I love reading First Ascent Reports the best! Good Job on this one.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  May 26, 2013 - 09:31am PT
Good on ya mate!
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Nov 16, 2014 - 09:52pm PT
Bump

Horrible thing you did up there.
;-)

Good job! Looks like a gem.
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