On August 22nd I climbed my highest climb so far: the 1000 foot Fairview Dome in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite. Exactly two months after our last Yosemite trip, we were well trained and ready for this big dome.
We were the first car in the parking lot a little after 7am, and after a short hike we were at the base with no one else in sight. I was a little surprised after all the horror stories of lines and slow climbers, but thanks perhaps to the fires and plague we were the first on the rock. Looking up, the dome was immense. For a while we had trouble believing the optional tree belay was 200 feet up, because when looking at the full 1000 foot climb it looks like the tree is right next to you.
Pitch 1: Luke to the tree
I started off the climb with the lead on pitch one. After a month or two of finger crack training I couldn’t wait to try the slippery and sometimes wet 5.9 crux. Sadly, it was a bit of a let down because I didn’t find it very challenging. It wasn’t too wet, and there were plenty foot placements so I breezed through it and continued on to the tree for the 1st belay.
Pitch 2: Luke – tree to second ledge
I did a quick lead to the second ledge above the tree to get us closer to the third belay. We thought about trying to get the 3rd belay in two pitches, but since we had three people and 60m ropes, we decided it would be easier as three pitches. Sometime around the beginning of this pitch another trio of climbers showed up, and I was really glad we were on the wall first.
Pitch 3: Andy to optional 3rd belay on ledge below big white flake
Andy took the lead on the “incredible sustained 5.7 finger/hands” pitch three. This was my favorite pitch of the climb. The climbing was great quality and very enjoyable.
Pitch 4: Chris to crescent ledge
Chris went up the left side of the big white flake and got us to Crescent Ledge. Luckily we the group behind us was slower so we had time to enjoy the view and take a short snack break.
Pitch 5: Chris hollow flake variation to 5th belay
Chris got some good exposure on the hollow flake variation on the way up to the 5th belay. Pretty easy but fun climbing.
Pitch 6: Luke to belay 7
I lead this one and it was my least favorite. I had a lot of trouble finding placements under and above the roof, and I had to look at the topo a few times to figure out where I was supposed to go. Above the roof I had some crazy rope drag, and I barely made it to belay 7 (skipping 6) at the end of the rope. I belayed the guys from the ledge as shown on the supertopo, but it was really small.
Pitch 7: retreat to tree below belay 7, then Andy for the traverse and climb to a tree that was possibly belay 8.
We retreated back down to the tree on the ledge below to belay the traverse because it was much more comfortable for three people. I got some awesome pictures of Andy leading the traverse, and he ended at a tree that may or may not have been belay 8 on the supertopo.
Pitch 9, 10, 11: Andy
Andy lead us the rest of the way to the top, which was pretty easy and other than the height, not so exciting.
Summit and descent
The summit caught me by surprised because all of a sudden we were at the top. The view was amazing, and Daff Dome, which we climbed last time, looked pretty tiny from our thousand foot perch.
Overall, I found the Regular Route to be pretty enjoyable and sedate. The views were great, and the climbing was easy enough to never be very frightening. Another plus were the great belay ledges, which really make things easier when you’re climbing with three people.