Trip Report
Wamello Dome (TR)
Sunday June 21, 2009 12:57pm
A bonzai overnight run from the Bay Area Friday night to Wamello (Fresno) Dome. The goal was the South Pillar route (5.8ish) but mostly lighter than than. Knock the 6-7 pitch thing out and head back Saturday late afternoon/evening.

Yeah, right!

My partner for the soon-to-be quasi-epic was my good buddy Ezra (photonez). He has been doing well getting into trad-leading, doing some easier pitches in the valley. He climbs pretty hard, just getting into trad-leading.

Me, I can lead 8's and light 9's on gear, just haven't been doing it a lot lately. We've been sport climbing the local sandstone crags, which would prove useful later. The rock quality was outstanding compared to sandstone slopers!

Thanks to DR amd mooch we had tons of beta on how to find the trailhead, "it's a little confusing, but you'll find it" we kept reminding ourselves. Very true, DR!

We missed the Sky Ranch Road turnoff (turned too soon) but eventually found it (the billboard, duh!). Google maps got us lost for about 15 minutes on Sky Ranch so we jettisoned those directions, deferring to DR and the guidebook.

We stayed on course and eventually found the deteriorating roads. After cracking some relief beers we continued to get lost for about an hour or so, but we did find and go down Beasore Road for a while.

Every once in a while something would scurry off the road, I thought frogs? Nah, too fast. Finally Ezra see one and says, "Dude was that a tarantula?". That's when I remembered another buddy, Ken, reminding me that his friends see a lot of them at their house in the area. Nice, I ain't sleeping on the ground, I f*#king hate spiders!

Alright, we turn around on Beasore and head back to the correct road, find a sign for Fresno Dome camping and head that way. We pass that, head another 3 miles or so and at 11;30pm, we find what we think is the trailhead. (Turns out we were right).

We bust out the sipping whiskey and prepare for sleepy-time. We decide to sleep in the back of my rig. Ezra brought a 'bear-alarm' in case any bears showed up. It's kind of an air-horn thing.

Here we are!

We wake up at 6;30 the next morning (my baby boy has me trained pretty well now) and Ezra is saying something in his sleep. "What?". Turns out that he was dreaming of a bear cub sucking on his hand and he was yelling at me grab the Bear Alarm! He woke up to relief that it was just a dream.

Ha hah!!! Let's rack up and get'er done!

Lots of bouldering and short stuff on the approach in. OW too!

First view of the Dome! Yesssss!

Here's a pano I put together of the first faces you come to.

After spending about 2 hours wandering around the base trying to find the route, Ezra thinks he has it but I'm saying, "Dude, that's not it, where are the 2 bolts at the bottom?". He thinks he sees the 3rd bolt of the route but I'm unconvinced. We do an ultra-zoom with the camera. Is that a bolt?

Ezra is getting discouraged because I'm saying we should try one of the other routes but he's got the ultra-stoke for South Pillar. At this point I'm thinking, f*#k, I don't know if I wanna do 7 pitches now. The Snaileye was setting in. Ezra wanders over to the 'right of the gulley we were bolt scoping' and says, "Dude, this is it!". I wander over and he says there are the 2 bolts. Bam! He's right!

Start of South Pillar and pitch 2's Knob Wall peaking out above.

Ezra on the first clip.

Ezra at the 3rd bolt.

High on the first pitch.

Loook at that stone!!!!

I led the second, probably most awesome pitch I've ever seen. Here's Ezra coming up. Lots of knob tie-offs.

Here's what you see looking across the 'Notch'. This was our high point. After lunch I looked at it, scoped the wrong line and deemed it "dude, I ain't doing that!".

Turns out we were scoping the wrong line.

We did an epic-bail. We panicked too, we only had one rope to rap 2 rope strectching pitches. WTF??!?

After calming down we pulled off the bail, leaving only 1 sling and 1 biner.

We ran into the only other climbers on the rock all day. A Rollie-Fingers (handlebar) moustachioed fellow informed us that we were scoping the wrong line. After he told us the right way we felt like chumps.

Especially because after rapping to the ground and the second rap, OUR ROPE WAS STUCK!!!

His ladyfriend freed them for us when she passed them and we had beers and reflected at the base.

The first 2 pitches we did knock out were Super-Stellar!!!

We'll be back....

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About the Author
bluering is a trad climber from Santa Clara, Ca..

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Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Jun 21, 2009 - 01:07pm PT
Looks pretty knobular, Blue.

Ya know, the tarantulas don't mind you.
Take their lead.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2009 - 01:42pm PT
Skully, it's fabulous rock. I know tarantulas are pretty harmless, just don't like 'em, kinda freaky.

I'll let Ezra chime in on his take of this stuff. He's out climbing on Skyline today.

fist clamp
  Jun 21, 2009 - 01:57pm PT
arrrgh, booty ahoy!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2009 - 02:42pm PT
These are the lines we were scoping. Yellow was the Hell No I don't route, Red is suspected proper traversing route (maybe a bit lower?). Purple and Green were other options considered.

The crux of our problem was negotiating the Notch. I thought we were suppose to go to the base of the notch and work up the face shown. Apparently, you walk across the notch and grab plates on the other face leaving gear half-way for the second. It's easier said though, the right side of the notch traverse is a 300' drop off to the base. Airy!

I could get down the notch but couldn't figure out how to safely get the ssecond down. He'd have to rap it somehow.

Like I said, we were DOING IT WRONG!@

What was cool is that the gear for the first two pitches was light. After the 3 bolts it was a #3 Camalot, a 2 #1 Camalots. Belay on slings.

2nd pitch was all slings with an optional brown Tricam in a horizontal crack. There is a bolt on the second pitch that I extended with a sling, but you don't need it. The belay for pitch 2 was sitting down with a #3 and #2 cam down low in a crack 'just to feel good'.

That 2 #1's, a #2, a #3, and a brown Tricam for the first 2 pitches. And a bunch of slings (6-8 2 footers, 2-4 4 footers) and a cordalette. I think we used the cordalette for the first belay.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Jun 21, 2009 - 03:08pm PT
Nice tr Bluering.

I guess I've done the South Buttress but never the south Pillar. Love to know where the route goes from the notch.

How wide is the notch? If I didn't put any pro in for 50-60 feet after downclimbing to the notch, could I protect the second from the next anchor by just belaying the second down from the top and then back up?


Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Jun 21, 2009 - 03:09pm PT
Awwww... You were SO close.

Yellow is indeed your line. Maybe a skosh to the right of your yellow mark, including over that vert bit on the skyline (actually way casual).

First time up I made the error of going green rte. Actually, straight up the center on the left side of that OW-looking thing (it's not) then diagonally left up that smooth slab. The climbing is fine, but the pro is not. I spent a good 20 minutes with small wires building an anchor, at full 60m but not quite to where it joins your green line) that was pretty funky at best. Belayed with both heels on little knobs to quell the sketch factor -- you know the drill. Never went that way again.

So glad you liked the all-time knob pitches. I knew you would. The line up by yellow continues just as good, and at about 55m you get a belay spot with tied off giant knobs. Airy because exposure comes up from the right to meet you, but a bomber spot. Then you pull the roof -- really only vertical -- and feel like a hero.

Oh, getting down into the notch: It's really only 8-10 feet, a couple of moves. Put a piece in just before you lower over the edge. The second stays clipped to it for the downclimb, then can still reach up to unclip once it turns 4th class. If the leader can wait until he's 20' up the main wall beyond to put in his next piece, then the second will have a toprope as soon as he unclips from the downclimb.

What a cool climb. You'll get it next time!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2009 - 03:15pm PT

I dunno. I'd like to hear someone detail how to do it right.

I dunno, I pussed out on it.

DR. yeah, my yellow line should be over to the right more....

I should have known the headwall would be chill after doing the second pitch, you can see the knobs on the headwall in the pitch.

We just got sketched at the notch. Thanks for the notch beta in your post above, DR.

Next time! We're stoked to go back.

I'm just glad we found it and got in 2 ptches and bailed with no injury.

Next time.

EDIT: I removed my bad beta....

Trad climber
Southern New Hampshire
  Jun 22, 2009 - 01:24am PT
I was stoked once we found the route. I walked around the dome for about an hour identifying all sorts of routes before finally finding the South Pillar. We came in from the east side of the dome and saw some cool looking sport routes. Finally walked all the way around to the west side, but decided to stay away due to a falcon squawking at me. Then BAM, there was our route.

I lead the first pitch and was a little spooked not being able to place any of my shiny cams. Though, I soon found slinging big knobs was much easier than over analyzing a cam placement. I f-ed around at the first ledge for 20 min trying to set up a belay, but could only get one cam and no good heads to sling. Then, decided to climb up another 20' to the next ledge where I scored some great knobs to anchor.

This was only my second lead, Munginella being the first. I truly appreciated the seclusion and definitely enjoyed not having to wait in line to get on the route.

Thanks to Mooch and DR for the beta. Thanks to Steve for a kick ass time.

I'll be back, this will get finished.

Side note: It's quite unnerving the first time a mini-helicopter buzzes your head. There were a lot humming birds checkin us out, probably wondering what the hell we were doing.


Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Jun 22, 2009 - 01:46am PT
Bump for a humble TR,

Good work bluey, looks like perfect rock, not a soul around!

gettin turned away makes the summit that much better on the 2nd try.

  Jun 22, 2009 - 11:42am PT
Looks like a fun trip !

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jun 22, 2009 - 11:51am PT
Way to get after it boys. Bummer you got hosed. Looks like a great route. At least you got off the couch and got your hands dirty. Adventure always beats doin' nothing even if you get spanked. Good work.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 22, 2009 - 11:59am PT
In retrospect (Ezra will probably agree) it would have been less sketchy to just do the Notch. Figure it out somehow.

You really don't want to bail from Notch, no rap stations, lots to get ropes hung on.

You know what they say about hindsight though.

I am stoked on givin 'er another go. It's a wonderful route with great climbing (at least on the first 2 pitches). You can see from my Notch pic though that that 3rd pitch up (just right of my yellow line) looks tasty too! And the knob headwall!


El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Jun 22, 2009 - 06:19pm PT
Looks like a fun route!

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Jun 22, 2009 - 06:38pm PT

"Etsuko on the incredibly scenic 3rd pitch of South Pillar (Fresno Dome) - October 11, 2004" (photo by Misha)

  Jun 22, 2009 - 07:01pm PT
"I am stoked on givin 'er another go. It's a wonderful route with great climbing (at least on the first 2 pitches). You can see from my Notch pic though that that 3rd pitch up (just right of my yellow line) looks tasty too! And the knob headwall!"

Now that you have the approach dialed your next attempt should be good to go. Try to get another day added to your trip to avoid the deadline of a late drive home hanging over your head. It might be prudent to walk up to the summit and check out where you will top out and stash a few cold beers for the summit party. Since the approach isn't that bad you might consider bringing a skinny rope to trail, to keep your bailing options open. Good luck.

Trad climber
Steamboat Springs, CO
  Jun 22, 2009 - 07:03pm PT
nice.. that climb brings back some good memories! The first pitch direct start is good, but the last pitch (yellow line) is perfecto.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 22, 2009 - 07:09pm PT
Good ideas, Wack. Thanks for that pic, Clint, looks about where I took my shot from.

I was running over options at the notch and since we were leaving a sling/biner to rap off, we should have just rapped into the notch and climbed out.

DR's beta is helpful for getting the notch right, however.

Wack, all your suggestions are good ones; The skinnier 2nd rope, the beers, and the extra time.


  Jun 22, 2009 - 07:15pm PT
Nice TR Blue!
Looks like nice rock.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 22, 2009 - 07:58pm PT
Despite getting shut down, it was a very useful trip in terms of finding the Dome, finding the route, and getting a taste of what's up there. And getting of the couch for my season opener in terms of multi-pitches.

And as I said before, we had a blast!

I think Ezra, despite getting a bit spooked (like me) learned a lot too. We were both sketching about the bail, but he's got a lesson now in trying to be cool and figure things out and bail safely.

Also, having a baby at home I have found, makes me a lot more cautious.

Trad climber
  Jun 22, 2009 - 08:43pm PT
Looks great! Thanks for posting all this.

Trad climber
Southern New Hampshire
  Jun 22, 2009 - 08:55pm PT
Steve and I agreed after getting off the route a second rope may have been a good idea.

I really like the idea of walking up to the summit and leaving the victory beers and what not. Plus, it would allow for scoping some of the last pitch.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 22, 2009 - 09:27pm PT
The second rope.

I ran over our escapade with my regular partner, Ken, and his reply was, "You didn't take a second rope?".

Ezra even asked me at the truck if we should take one and I replied that we wouldn't need it. Stupid!

Ezra, a good partner is there to question the judgement of the other climber. Next time ask me, "Dude, are you sure, remember Wamello?".

Good times, buddy! Let's do it again soon. See you in the Valley this weekend.

Oh, and I was telling Ken about the dive-bombing falcon and he laughed robustly, especially the part where it actually saw you on the notch and squacked at us.

Why you so mean to falcons? It was pretty funny though. That thing spied you over a ridge let you know, "Stay away!".
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Jun 22, 2009 - 09:34pm PT
Always appreciate your TR's .... packed with honesty and details for the next party. You going to Tuloumne this summer ? Give the little John bug a squeeze from rock auntie lynne. :D

Trad climber
the jeep
  Jun 22, 2009 - 09:41pm PT
Cool Blue!! and photo, thanks for posting up!!

sounds like you got it figured out for the next round!!

very cool looking formation


Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Jun 22, 2009 - 10:06pm PT
Dive bombing falcons, eh?

Here's a bird story...

So Peter and I decide, spur of the moment, to climb the South Buttress. Only it's evening. But there's a full moon, so off we go.

Now Peter Horvath is a good partner. Hungarian national soccer team, a "kick" ass athlete (sic), he's making a living in California coaching high-end girls soccer teams. Beyond that, he just loves to climb. At that time I had climbing classes at Foothill College, and Peter was one of my apprentice guides. A great one. We'd had the Intermediate Rock group on Wamello all day, but that was guiding and now we wanted to stretch out and climb.

Twilight on the first pitch, which Peter leads, then dark above. But the moon is slanting across those plates and knobs and I've been there many times, so I leave the headlamp off and just enjoy pulling upward. Not putting in much pro, just full of climbing.

I put my hands up on one of those horizontal breaks and start to pull up to the ledge.


A huge owl explodes off the ledge, right over my head. It's a tossup which of us is more surprised. I can feel wind from the wing beats. Instinctively I duck back down, but just in time I remember not to let go. Good thing, I'm a loooong ways above any pro and that knobby face is a cheese grater.

I twist around and the owl is flapping off toward the moon, luminous white outlining him with dark shadow between.

Slowly I pull onto his ledge, feeling kind of luminous myself.

Trad climber
  Jun 22, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
Thanks for the TR

Will have to get up there

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 22, 2009 - 11:17pm PT
Nice, DR! Prolly close to crapping your pant, eh?

Lynne, I'll be in the Valley/Tuolumne with the whole family this weekend. Prolly even the dog, no babysitters.

Prolly climb in Tuolumne but I'm not sure yet. We're gonna play it out as it comes.

We'll go back again this summer, let me know when you're up here, Lynne, I could 'guide' you up Wamello Dome. It's really nice up there, no rangers, no rules, just sweet granite!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Jun 22, 2009 - 11:31pm PT
Wow, Doug, you had a close one! There is a famous case of a Minnesota State Park Ranger who went for a walk one night and got too close to a Great Horned's nest. He never saw, or heard, her coming. She hit him right in the face and took out both his eyes!
Nate D

San Francisco
  Jun 23, 2009 - 03:28pm PT
Cool story DR. On an FA attempt we were doing (in the daytime), Tiki-Jer reached up into a horizontal slot between plates and a bat flew out. It was tucked back in there when I passed by on the follow, quivering like a leaf. Route was later named "Wingman". Might have to be seasonal bat closures on that wall in the future. :)
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Jun 23, 2009 - 03:46pm PT
BTW, little help from other locals, please.

I lost a butt-load of gear up there a couple of weeks ago, and would love to have it back. That was the big snowstorm; I had my daughter's middle school friends there, and hustled them out of there before they got hypothermic in cotton hoodies and skateboard shoes. 3" of snow and falling.

I left my camp up by the Dome, and more stuff at the roadhead. When I got back 3 days later (my car broke down in Madera) some things were missing.

At the campsite up by the Dome:
A rope
3 backpack stoves
pots and pans
6 helmets (Moving Over Stone stickers on some of em)

At the roadhead parking:
3 coolers
2 wooden lowrider camp chairs

No real expectations here, but any help appreciated.


Trad climber
  Jun 23, 2009 - 11:17pm PT
Aw that sucks DR, have not been able to go out due to money situations. Really wanted to meet you out there that time.
Good on you to take care of the youngins'.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jun 24, 2009 - 12:22am PT
I took one of the coolers but none of the other stuff.

Just kidding. Sorry, couldn't resist. Thats lame man. There is kind of a good bit of "tourist" and hunting/oddball traffic up there. Doesn't surprise me that some of your stuff got swiped. The last time I was up there, we pulled in about midnightish and slept on the ground with a wierd bearded man in a truck camper next to us. The dude was in street clothes, no hunting gear, no camping gear, no binocculars, just a creepy guy in an old truck. Didn't sleep well with him lurking near. I hate it when odd characters creep me out in the hills. Takes away the vibe that's usually part of the experience. Hope you get some of the goods back somehow.
Nate D

San Francisco
  Jun 24, 2009 - 12:39am PT
Bet he thought you were just as weird - two yuppie goons showing up at midnight with odd gear and ropes. :)

  Jun 24, 2009 - 03:20am PT
" A rope
3 backpack stoves
pots and pans
6 helmets (Moving Over Stone stickers on some of em)

At the roadhead parking:
3 coolers
2 wooden lowrider camp chairs
To be cynical , check craigslist (Fresno) or Ebay .

  Jun 24, 2009 - 08:38am PT
Mike Arechiga (CR local) has another mini climbing booklet available at PG for Fresno Dome and Willow Creek Wall. Please remember that value is based upon your need. So while the price may seem steep while standing in the store it might be a good deal if it kept you from burning up $3.00 + gas driving around lost in the darkness or busting brush looking for the start of your epic.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 24, 2009 - 11:17am PT
Wack, I'd buy it in a second...if I ever went to a gym. Maybe I'll make a trip for the book.

I wonder if I've ever run into Mike?

Trad climber
Denver, CO
  Jun 29, 2009 - 01:05pm PT
Really nice TR, thanks for sharing. I can most certainly empathize!


Social climber
San Luis Obispo, Ca.
  Jun 29, 2009 - 07:50pm PT
When is the next trip Bra?

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 29, 2009 - 08:18pm PT
Barcus, we got Emerald Bay on the last weekend of July (24th?). That'll be cool, lots of people coming for that one.

WE should be able to get out again for a weekend prior to that. I just got back from Tuolumne this last weekend so I may around town this upcoming weekend.

That leaves???? I dunno, I'll call ya. Wamello Dome is ultra Badass!!!! Definately gonna try to make it back this year sometime.

Maybe before Emerald Bay.

EDIT: Todd's still up in Tuolumne climbing with Karl Baba. Lucky duck!

Trad climber
  Sep 16, 2009 - 08:36pm PT
Bump. I need some help Mighty, runnin' low on memory power....

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Author's Reply  Sep 16, 2009 - 08:42pm PT
We're still planning another assault on the South Pillar. We WILL NOT BACK DOWN THIS TIME!!!!!

Wanna go, Pate?
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