Dates – August 10 – 17, 2019
Leaders: Laura and Jon Sykes
Participants: Jeff Daub, Bob Hagerty, Ben Litchfield, Mark Meany, Pat Murphy, Jim Nupp
We gathered in San Francisco on August 10, and set out by van on Sunday the 11th for the 6 hour drive to our campground. We drove through Tuolumne Meadows on the way to our campground in June Lake, so we got a look at the beautiful granite slabs EVERYWHERE that we were psyched to tackle.
This gang was really good at getting going early in the morning and getting the van packed so we got a jump on the day. We found that we started earlier than most climbers – and it’s a good thing, because we got kind of lost the first couple of days we were there. 😉
Monday we headed for Dozier Dome because it looked like a good introduction to the type of rock in the park. It was supposed to be a 20 minute walk, but about an hour later we found ourselves at a wall that didn’t match the climbs we were looking for. After some reconnaissance and much referring to our guidebook and Mountain Project, and the aid of a smart phone with maps and GPS, we determined we had circumnavigated our dome and were almost at the summit not the way we intended to get there! We decided we would call it an acclimatization hike, as we were at about 10,000’ at the top of the dome. We down-climbed, and circumnavigated around to the side we wanted to be on and commenced to climbing – Jim, Mark, and Bob tackled a multi-pitch climb called Holdless Horror, while Jon and Laura led single pitch climbs for the rest of the team.
Tuesday we woke up a little beat from the day before’s activities, so we aimed for some easier climbs that were supposed to be a 5-minute approach. We still don’t know where those were or how to get there, and it was going to be in the scorching sun, so we headed for Daff Dome in an area called the wind tunnel. It was an arduous hike to get there, and once we did, we determined that we had once again circumnavigated the dome and taken the long, harder way to get there. Hey – anyone can take the easy route! This was a perfect spot as it was off the beaten path, sunny with an awesome breeze, and there were plenty of single-pitch climbs and a couple of multi-pitch ones, too. It was a good opportunity to give people a chance to lead easier routes and challenge their skills.
Wednesday we knew right where we were headed and the approach was short. The whole team climbed Pyawiak Dome via the Zee Tree route. The unprotected scramble to the start was about 150’ of 5.4 to 5.5 slab where there was a hanging belay, and then the first pitch was the crux pitch. The second pitch was 5-fun, and the 3rd pitch was very runout but the climbing wasn’t hard. We opted for the 5.0 traverse to a rappel station, rather than the 5.7 finish, which would have been a walk-off. We had done enough walking the past couple of days… after 3 rappels, we were all back at the base and in a few minutes back to the van. It was hot and very sunny on the climb with some breeze, and we were happy to be in the shade at the bottom. The funniest part of this day was getting an older gentleman to take our group photo back at the van – his young son had to help him, and we ended up with a funny photo of him.
Thursday we went back to Daff dome the easier way. We learned that the wonderful breeze doesn’t start until later in the day (we had arrived later the first day). We were pretty hot in the sun until about 1:00 when it was like someone turned the fan on. We climbed out everything there and then left, hoping to get on some crack climbs we had seen on the way up, but they were occupied.
Friday (Jon’s birthday!!!) we packed up our campsites and loaded the van thinking we might climb a couple of pitches on Stately Pleasure Dome on our way out, but when we got there a party was on the climb we wanted and we decided it probably wasn’t realistic to think we had time enough for this. Instead, we stopped by Tenaya Lake and took about an hour to do some bouldering and walking around taking in the scenery. Then we started the long drive back to San Francisco. After leaving the high country of Tuolumne, where the temps had been in the 70’s and low 80’s all week, we drove through pretty consistent 106 – 108 degrees. At one point, the temperature spiked up to 115, but was a pleasant 77 degrees after we reached San Francisco.
Overall it was an awesome trip. It was a terrific group of participants, and we did some fun climbing. We talked on the way back about some next destinations – stay tuned…Laura.