Here is my short list of favorite climbs in Tuolumne Meadows.
It starts in the Meadows down by Lake Tenaya. There are many additional
good climbs. These are the ones I've led.
Stately Pleasure Dome
All the moderate routes on Stately Pleasure are pretty good. West
Country, blah, blah, blah, blah etc. Problem is you have
to do that long deproach down the ball-bearing-covered slabs
with lots of exposure.
South Crack 5.8: Nice climbing for
about a pitch of finger-handsized crack.
Rock Lobster, 5.9+: An excellent (sandbag) route. Steep 5.8/9
corner for the first pitch (stemming, jamming and
laybacking). Then a short series of hard face moves to a wild
fingertip traverse and mantle (says 5.9+ in the guide, I'd call it
10b). This is followed by one of the best cracks in the Meadows with
about 80 feet of finger and hand jamming. If it were climbed more often
it would be a bit cleaner. You can finish by flailing and thrashing up
the Hoodwink roof or escape underclinging the roof to the right and up
You can see someone on the left up at the end of NeedleSpoon and a
party of two on the right on Zee Tree. The Dike runs up the obvious
dike in the middle.
The Dike, 5.9: Just across the road from Stately Pleasure.
Got to do this one just because the line is so nice.
The stories of big runouts are exaggerated. Mostly easy
climbing up to the crux pitch
where a bolt protects the couple of 5.9 moves just fine.
You can walk off down the right side (as seen facing the dome) with
only a few moments of terror as it is steep in spots,
rap off with two ropes or climb the 5.7 (one move) dihedral above
the last pitch of The Dike and walk off to the left (East).
Needle and Spoon, 5.10a:
Pitch 1 is very continuous 5.9 (or harder)
face climbing. It is too well protected -- must be a dozen bolts
on the first pitch alone. The technical crux is just one thin move
going for a great little ledge. Those bolts are hard to see
sometimes. This is the big brother of the The Dike.
Paul Doherty at the start of Needle and Spoon.
Aquaknobby, 5.9: Yow! A great route but a bit scary. It starts with a third
class up a 5.6 slab. The long second pitch is classic Meadows knobs
sans bolts. You can place some pro in a little dihedral, but the
crux moves (pretty stiff for 5.9) are steep and sequential.
You can place medium stoppers between
knobs. Definitely a "real" climb. More stiff runout climbing leads to
the crack. The left-leaning crack that looks so nice from the road is
actually just a couple of moves through a bulge then hiking to the top.
Walk off left at the top. I did this with my friend Bill Frey and we
walked away thinking we were losing it since it seemed hard and scary for
a mere 5.9. We stopped at the Mountaineering School to get a beverage
and saw Peter Croft. He said `what did you climb this morning?'. We said
`Aquaknobby'. His eyebrows went up, he said `pretty stiff eh?', we
felt way better.
Looking past the south shoulder of Pywiack to the Vision.
The Vision, 5.10a: Nice route, great line. Pitch 1
is missing the upper bolt, pitch 2 is big-time major-league
runout but not too hard (minimal 5.9) although the
belay at the bottom of the pitch is not great (2 rusty
1/4 inch bolts) and the few bolts that do exist on the
climb are in bad shape -- looks like they have been pounded
by rock fall or maybe crazed people. Pitch 3 is classic
Meadows 5.10a face climbing with good-enough protection.
Pitch 4 is a nice enough but disappointingly easy crack up the
headwall. No harder than 5.6 most of the way.
Note, haven't climbed this route since 1980 - bolts could have been replaced.
There are some surprisingly nice bolted routes here. You scramble up some
third class to a long ledge system. The routes follow bolted lines. It is
generally steepest at the bottom and the runout to the first bolt might
be intimidating if you are close to your leading limit! Need two ropes to
get down from chains. As the angle kicks back half-way up is a long way between
bolts, but the climbing is easy with knobs all over the place.
John hopping long on the Bunny Slopes
There are lots of nice face/knob climbs going in at Dozier.
The approach is now a
pretty good trail and it takes maybe 20 minutes. Don't get suckered into hiking
along the well-beaten path that parallels the road.
Errett by Bit If you climb the first pitch of Errett Out,
moving right up a ramp to a pair of chains, then head up the long
second pitch of Bit-by-Bit, this is a called Errett by Bit in the latest version of
the SuperTopo guide. The left-hand start to Errett Out climbs up to a bolt,
then climbs a slightly spooky 5.7 slab up to a ledge/crack system. Out the left
side of the flake then following a line of bolts up and right to a double-chain
anchor. The next
pitch consists of very nice knob trotting up a well-bolted face trending a little
right. The 3rd pitch goes up an unlikely looking headwall with a couple of
well-protected moves above the belay after which the angle drops off.
You can rap down from three sets of chains (60m rope) or walk off. Maybe
a little harder than the Golfer's Route (but much more tightly spaced bolts)
and a little easier than Shagadelic.
Looking up the second pitch of Errett by Bit.
Looking down the 2nd pitch
The headwall 3rd pitch
Holdless Horror 5.7 This is a 3-pitch-long crack that runs straight
up the left side of the dome. Varies from a finger-sized crack to off-width
with enough knobs most places to allow you to skip the chicken wings. There are
a few steep sections. All in all a fun climb. A couple of big cams are nice to
have. Much of the climb can be sewed up with stoppers. The second pitch has all
the wide climbing, the third has a steeper finger/hand/knob section. Walk off
to the right, down the slabs, then cut back along a trail to the base
to pick up your pack.
Holdless Horror is the left-hand crack. The right-hand crack
is also a nice route.
Kitty approaching the second belay on Holdless Horror
Bull Dozier 5.7 Nice hand/finger crack! This is the second crack
right of Holdless Horror as you face the cliff. Better climbing than Holdless.
There is one move on the 2nd pitch past a wide (not that wide, you can get a
good left foot in the crack and a #4 Friend fits here) section that might cause a little pause, the
rest is really nice finger and hand-sized jamming.
Bull Dozier 2nd pitch
Isostacy 5.8 Another excellent route on Dozier that runs straight
up the center of the wall. The first pitch heads up a little corner then
up (go right a little) on knobs. This is a touch runout and you need to pick
the right path. Middle-sized cams
are useful here. Past a few bolts up to a nice belay ledge with chains. The
second pitch would be fabulous if it were a little steeper. Some runout easy
climbing then a really nice finger-sized crack for 150ft to another set of
chains. The third pitch to the top is only 60' but there are a couple of steep
moves on knobs (solid 5.8) well protected by two bolts.
Looking up the 2nd pitch of Isostacy
Looking up the 3nd pitch of Isostacy
Cheeseburgers and Beer 5.8 Nice one pitch route on the left side
of the dome. From the top of the trail, head left up hill a little further.
It is a long way to the first bolt, but the climbing is easy (though not
trivial). There is a definite crux with some thin moves past a bolt, then
nice climbing up over a bulge.
Cheeseburgers and Beer
The Hobbit Book 5.7 This route is a little treasure.
Takes a while to hike up to the base. Climb the big corner for
an easy pitch, then launch out onto an amazingly terrifying
(given the 5.7 rating) face on beautiful knobs. The only pro is
tying off the biggest knobs with girth-hitched slings.
Shagadelic, 5.8 This is one of the "new" routes in the
meadows. It takes a great line up the left side of Medlicott. A
pretty good hike up to the base. Starts with a bouldery move up to
a small ledge and then fires up a corner with a crack to a tree and
huge ledge. Up the face above the tree with a fixed pin and three bolts.
Some balancey moves there--might be easier to use the big crack on the right.
From the next huge ledge, climb up a little corner and then head
straight up a steep all with knobs for two full pitches! I figured when
we got up there the angle would be kicked back, but it's not. Although
the SuperTopo comments for this climb call it soft for the grade, it seemed
a good two grades harder than the Golfer's Route! So many bolts it is
essentially a sport route. Could have skipped every other bolt and it
still would have been well protected.
Shagadelic on Medlicott. The arrow shows two climbers on the 3rd pitch.
Little Sheba, 5.10a: Nice little finger crack. Steep but short.
Steve Mitchell, Little Sheba
(nice place on a cold morning)
Darth Vadar's Revenge, 5.10a: Classic!
Well protected, excellent climbing
on knobs over a small roof and up a pretty steep wall. 2nd pitch
is also good. No harder than 5.9. Used to be a good bit sportier
before somebody added a bunch of big bolts to pitch 2.
Golfer's Route, 5.7: This one is pretty nice. Easy knob
climbing with just one set of interesting moves about midway
up. This too has been retro-bolted. Both these
last two have been set up so you can rap off with a single,
Beyond Low-Profile Dome
Shadow of Doubt, 5.10c: Go do this one right away. Steep climb on
positive edges. Well protected (put a runner on the bolt before
you traverse right). No 5.10c anywhere on it -- more like 5.9
most of the way with three letter grades added for the sheer
terror of being on such a steep wall standing on those little
Paul Doherty following Shadow of Doubt
West Crack, 5.9: This is a beautiful line and nice
climbing, but doesn't quite live up to its big reputation.
Nice first pitch with some awkward stuff to start. Big overhang
on large holds to get going on Pitch 2, then off you go up
the long crack which is bigger and knarlier than it looks
Great Circle Route, 5.10a: I've always liked
this route. Nice 5.7 crack delivers you to a classic
thin Meadows face. Protect is good enough, place a piece
at the top of the crack before launching out into that
face. There are no knobs here. The golden polished face has
small areas where the surface has broken away leaving (sometimes)
a small edge and rougher surface.
You step carefully from one of these to the next, using the edges and
sometimes smearing the rough sections.
Can do GCR in one or two
pitches. There is a nice direct variation now that
goes up the face between Hogwash and GCR.
Alex, Great Circle Route
Hogwash, 5.10c: Well-protected face climb pulling down on
those little crescent-moon shaped holds and having to carefully
wind your way up two pitches. A good deal harder than GCR.
The Guide Cracks: There are various short, nice-but-hard-on-the-hands
cracks near GCR. The left-most (facing the wall) on the left side of the
little pillar is a steep 5.8 layback, and the one just to the right of the
pillar is a finger/hand crack also 5.8. The next crack right has a challenging
set of initial thin-hand moves (5.7/8) then gets easier. The furthest right
crack is a great first trad lead at 5.5 with as much gear as you want to place
and nice stances from which to place it.
Alimony Cracks down and left
of these is longer at most of a ropelength. Nice hand-size crack with a crux bulge that is
not just steeper but also has a short section where the crack goes wide.
Steve leading the rightmost of the Guide Cracks
Regular Route on Fairview, 5.9: Great crack climb, well-protected,
mostly 5.7, 5.8 jamming with a very brief, well-protected marginal 5.9
section down low. Don't bother taking any big or very small pro. Doubles
on #1 through #3 Friends plus some medium-sized stoppers will do the trick.
In the photo at the top of this page, the
Regular Route starts in the crack system pretty much directly below
the highest point and goes up left of the two slanted roofs.
Looking down at the 2nd pitch
The pitch above Crescent Ledge
Lucky Streaks, 5.10d: One of the best crack climbs anywhere.
First pitch is runout, start the
second pitch in the crack (maybe 10a at the start). Do the
10d straight-up variation to the start of the
third pitch (the 10a climb-around is gritty and ugly) - its
no big deal, just a thin move or two. The 10b lieback ramp is
scary and awkward. Take some tiny stuff for barely-adequate
pro. The 5th pitch traverse is inobvious. If you stay high
under the arch, it is definitely harder than 5.8 and poorly
protected. Supposed to go left 10 feet below the ceiling over to
the corner. The 5.8 crack climbing is excellent. Steep, sustained
with bomber pro. The only problem with this route is the
lack of decent belay ledges. Mostly hanging. Take a big rack
up to #3 friends as the pitches are long, and there is no
fixed stuff at the belays.
If you stare at the photo at the top you can pick out LS. It starts
below the left-facing open book on the right-hand side of the wall. At
the top of the book go up and left to a barely-visible wide-open book
and straight to the top.
Great Pumpkin on Fairview, 5.8 - this is an excellent
route! Best 5.8 I have done in a long time. All
four pitches are good and there is alot of variety
in the climbing. If you are new to 5.8 leading, this will test your
Magical Mystery Tour 5.8 - This is a daunting route to
stare up at, but in fact it is pretty fun and not hard. It is all the way
around the right side of Fairview. A line of big bolts (pretty well
spaced) goes up a steep wall. Did this with Bill Frey and the climbing cover
girl queen Karine Nisson (now Karine Croft).
Magical Mystery Tour.
Click for a bigger version (snagged this off the WWW).
Werner's Wiggle 5.8 (short but nice)
Water Cracks 5.7 Got to do them, but you probably won't
go back to do them again.
Trucking Drive: 5.8+ Nice little climb! Funny move over the roof made
easier if you use those bomber hands, good face climbing above.
Take some gear for the first belay and something bigish for
protecting the move when you hoist yourself over the roof.
Trucking Drive, Rawl drive on the left, Water Cracks to the right.
Rawl Drive: 5.10a and scary. Pitch 1 is hard 5.9 to the one ancient
bolt with a big splash if you don't make it, pitch 2 starts
with some hard-for-5.10a moves and excellent potential to get hurt. It is the tongue
of rock to the left of Trucking Drive in the picture above.
Lunar Leap: 5.9 Great little route. Stay to the right of the gold
wall for pitch 1 and belay as high as you can or a 165 foot rope
won't reach. Pitch 1 will get you thinking: it has fairly continuous 5.8
with skimpy pro. Pitch 2 has some solid 10a climbing despite the
5.9 rating. The move off the ledge is not the hard part, but it is
definitely a little intimidating. You leap up and right for a pretty
good hold and mantle onto a ledge. Once you get established above the Leap,
there is sustained 5.9 - 10a face climbing for a stretch, then it
Direct NW Face of Lembert: 5.10b Excellent crack climb. Pitch 1
has some 5.9 thin crack (pin scar) climbing. Pitch 2 goes up a
steep 5.9 corner with good hands, a bit of stemming, and an
interesting face move to the belay ledge. Pitch 3 is a nice clean
couple of moves up a steep locker-fingers crack, then a little
overhang with perfect hands to a good ledge. Can lead to the
top or belay there. Last section is no givaway. A scary mantel
and some steep face moves with no pro unless you bring along
a #1 Tri-cam.
Crying Time Again: 5.9. This is a marvelous
4-pitch route up the steep SW face. No real crux, but lots of
solid knob climbing. The traverse left on pitch 3 is a
bit runout from for both ends of the rope. Go right from the
ledge after the traverse. Straight-up looks great and there
are bolts to lure you up, but it is considerably harder than 5.9.
I grabbed this image off the internet. I wonder what they have in those
A group of three ont he 4th pitch of Crying Time
Northwest Books: 5.6. Nice little route.
Do Or Fly: 5.11b. Strenuous, surprising awkward crack given its
great size. Sew it up and you will get a pretty good forearm pump going! Watched
Big John B. 3rd class this one day and somebody said "there goes the Norelco
Man". I gave them a dumb look and he said "he's cordless".
Do or Fly.
There is a nice little 5.7 hand crack on the second tier of Puppy Dome and
another nice 5.7 corner to the top above that. Down by the river there are
some good boulder problems and some others on the "front" (parking lot) side.