Fresno Dome Trip Report. � May 2000

When Karl Lew and Christian started talking about Fresno Dome I was excited. Longer routes, up near Yosemite. And I hadn’t been there, so it was another pin for my map. Elevation @ 7,000 feet. I was stoked. Tom Kenney had recently posted a TR about climbing at Dome Rock, and I sent him an email talking about that, then invited him to join us on the trip.

Friday night, Tom shows up at my house. I’ve already sandbagged him into driving. We toss my gear in his truck, and we’re down the road. Pleasant conversation and an impressive collection of Grateful Dead CD’s help the time pass quickly. 11:30 or so we pull into the campground. Spot a few familiar cars, toss out the tarp and my sleeping bag, and I’m asleep in 3 minutes.

6:15 Saturday, Karl is up and about, and reluctantly I drag myself from my bag. A few hours of breakfast, gear sorting, and general relaxed hanging out. Introductions are made, and we talk about how the last time most of us climbed together, there were bunches of attractive women on the trip, and lament the fact that there were NONE on this trip. Not even unattractive women.

The Cast: Karl Lew, Bob, Jim Suaer, Christian, Renee, all from the bay area. Me, Ray and Jeff from Bakersfield. Tom from LA.

Ok, get on with the story. We hike in. The topos are hard to follow, but we pick a likely looking line and had up. I’m leading, Tom following, Christian Renee and Bob are going to follow Tom and I up the route. Others of off climbing elsewhere. The first pitch is wide, dirty and completely without merit. Oh well. I placed Toms new 4.5 Camalot. Belay Tom up. Start the next pitch. It doesn’t look like anything I saw on the topes…hmmm…strange. I spot a likely looking sort on angling flaring crack up a slab, and follow it to it’s end. A few thin face moves out to a bolt, then up. Definitely harder than 5.6, the face was probably 5.8 ish, but I couldn’t figure out how to get over to a bolt, so skipped it, giving me a pretty scary 30 foot runout. I was out of rope, so I built a belay and Tom followed up. I sort of knew I was off route at this point, so I advised Renee to look elsewhere for the route. The next pitch was pretty straightforward, but with a neat airy traverse and few other moments of excitement. Single bolt belay, sort of backed up with a nut, on a HUGE ledge and I bring Tom up. I’m looking around for the where the route goes from here. An easy looking slab above promises no gear, or bailing out to the right up some 4th looking stuff. I choose the straight up slab. Kinda exciting friction climbing with no protection except one or two pieces of marginal pro, I actually told Tom to take me off belay, and spot me like a boulder problem. I knew if I fell I would break bones on the belay ledge, but I was hoping he’d prevent me from tumbling over the edge. Exciting stuff!!! Topped out. Gorgeous summit. Walked around a bit, then hiked down the dome to the saddle where our gear was.
Tom was tired, and Karl was leaving, so Jim and I grabbed gear, a rope and blasted down the hill. I’d seen Ray and Jeff on a neat looking route, so we found their gear, and I headed up the first pitch. I somehow managed to miss every bolt on the pitch. At on point I probably spent 10 minutes on a biggish ledge, 30+ feet out from only gear, not wanting to do the moves above. I slung a creaking flake, and pulled the final moves to the belay. WHEW.

Jim ran the next two pitches together. Built a natural anchor. I followed, got to Jim’s belay. Looked for bolts on the next pitch, and spotted a double bolt belay station about 6 feet from Jim. “uh, Jim, how come you didn’t use that?” LOL. 3 more pitches, 6 total (done in 4). 1:45 minutes, would have been faster if it weren’t for my slow lead on the first pitch.

Back to camp, approaching sunset. Renee is telling of bailing of a roof. He and I grab a rope and jog up the dome. I lower him to recover his cams, and we hike down. Beer and spaghetti for dinner. And an early nights sleep.

Sunday morning my shoelaces have been snacked on…Hmm, Kinda annoying. Another slow start, and down the hill again. Tom led a supposed 5.4 that had tough start. Bob and Christian and I all followed, then we rapped from the belay. Tom and I went and looked for the South Pillar route. I led the first pitch, which was airy and fun. I talked tom into the second pitch, which seemed to freak him out a bit. He built a belay about 50 feet out. We talked about our options, and Tom was voting for going down. I traversed 30 feet over to the top of a big gully. Belayed Tom over and lowered him. He placed gear on the way down and I down climbed. Tom had built a belay. I got myself fully wedged in this wide crack. At one point I was fully thinking people would be slinging my rib cage for years. I finally freed myself. My ribs hurt pretty bad, although they seem OK now. I found a big horn, we threaded the rope. No gear left, except for my chalkbag which I left sitting on a ledge.

I stepped on a moving rock on the hike out, smashing my foot pretty bad. Pretty badly bruised, but it’s getting better…

So a fun weekend. A few casualties. My ribs and foot. Good climbing and good company