Home | Family Pictures | What's Tom up to? | Rogues Gallery | Climbing Pictures | Anne's Art | Vacation Photo Album | Website Links | Contact Me
I had the very good fortune to know someone who was on the Tuolumne SAR (Search And Rescue) team who invited me to come up there to climb. It turned out when I got there that I knew more of the people, but that is just another hazard of climbing on the road for 5 years. So I drove my little truck up onto some firewood logs to try to level it out, moved my food bins into some bear boxes, set my stove up on the picnic table and went climbing. My main goal was to tick off a bunch of the moderate classics and get back into climbing shape. Sending some harder stuff was a secondary goal.
This fine dome is within easy walking distance of the campground so it saw a lot of action. I was asked by a Japanese couple (after I took their picture in front of it) if it was half dome. I climbed NW books many times, mainly this was because it was quick and easy (easy enough to solo). All you needed were sticky shoes, a chalk bag, and a nut tool (in case of booty). It was particularly nice around sunset. We also did a number of the slab climbs on the SW face and "Crying time again" and "direct NW face". As you can see, it is pretty photogenic.
Fairview is probably the most impressive dome in the area. It's north face is some 900 feet tall and in view of the highway. The "regular route" is one of the "50 classic climbs of North America" made famous and crowded by this book, so of course I had to tick it off. We timed our approach nearly perfectly, as we got there just before 3 other parties, but late enough that the party who started much earlier (when it was cold) was 3 or so pitches up. Every time we looked down we were more relieved that we were above the cluster brewing below us. We followed Ted's beta of stretching the first 2 pitches to good ledges to avoid hanging belays. After the first 2 pitches the climbing got a lot mellower, and we cruised on up.
The next time we went to Fairview it was to do "lucky streaks" some 7 pitches on the NW face (just left of the dark triangle on the right side of the picture). Unfortunately someone was just starting up when we got there, so we moved on up the wall and did the "great pumpkin", 4 fun moderate pitches. Then we did "lucky streaks". The 10d crux pitch was rather unnerving for me, and the hanging belays were no fun. By the time we got near the top our feet were killing us too much to enjoy the crack climbing and we were ready to be done. Walking back down barefoot wasn't so great either.
My final trip up Fairview was via the descent. It was a pretty grueling hike with 600 feet of rope at the pace set by Bob. This was part of a SAR (I was drafted because they were short people), we were the backup plan in case the helicopter couldn't make the short haul for some reason. We weren't needed as the short haul was a success. All I have to say is I am still kicking myself for not bringing my camera up with me. I'll just draw you a mental picture... about 45 minutes before sunset with the orange light coming in low from behind, in the background are the peaks of the sierra crest freshly dusted with snow from the night before, There are a few storm clouds with fresh snow building over the crest and lit up by the golden glow, In the foreground is a red helicopter hoisting a rescuer and a hypothermic climber (he spent the previous night out) into the sky. I'm telling you, it was the money shot. (a pair of climbers had started up the previous morning (when it was threatening and then snowing) and spent the night out, the next afternoon one of them was able to make it down and to the ranger station. They picked about the worst night of the time I was there to be out, as I was cold at the campground standing around a campfire with lots of warm clothes on.)
Believe it or not, Daff stands for Dome Across From Fairview, which it is. My only previous climbing at Tuolumne was "west crack" on Daff Dome (a pic at the bottom of my old yosemite valley page) , but there were other climbs to be done, including "crescent arch", the first pitch of "bombs over Tokyo", and another run up West Crack.
I also climbed at plenty of other areas, Olmstead Point, Tenaya peak, Stately Pleasure Dome, Kitty and Puppy Domes, the Gunks, East Cottage Dome, Unicorn ... trad, sport, solo, bouldering, lead, follow, toprope... you get the idea. Here are some pictures.
Amazingly enough, there were a few non climbing activities, such as eating and sleeping, as well as slack lining, fire poi, and jumping in the usually frigid creek. So, of course I got some pictures of these too.
The feel in Tuolumne is very different from Yosemite Valley. For starters, it is much less developed, just a small store, gas station, visitor center down the road, and a lodge down the road the other way. Unlike the valley, when it was cold, you couldn't just go to the lodge or the cafeteria and warm up. Just one huge campground, (supposedly the largest one in the national park system). The weather was also a lot cooler, even when it was hot. It felt more like a national park, and less like a small tourist town overrun with tourists. There was one really cold weekend with snow.
I also managed a few side trips, like climbing the Prow in the valley, and the Palisades traverse further south in the Sierras.