Posted on July 31st, 2012 1 comment
Finishing off a week of alpine rock climbing training we chose to climb Charlotte Dome located deep in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. This impressive dome offers 1200′+ of rock climbing on superb granite in an exceptionally exhilarating setting. It is no wonder this climb has long been considered a classic among Sierra alpine climbers.
This climb is best done as a 3-day trip. The first day is an enjoyable backpack out of Onion Valley and over Kearsarge Pass (11,823′/3603m). Surmounting this pass is the highest elevation encountered on the entire trip. The trail then drops down above Kearsarge Lakes and intersects briefly with the famous John Muir Trail en route to Charlotte Lake. We chose to set up camp here in mid afternoon. This left the team plenty of time to take a swim in the lake and relax on a warm pleasant afternoon typical of summer Sierra conditions. An early dinner followed and the team was sacked out as night fell.
On day 2 the team woke before sunrise and navigated the approach to the base of Charlotte Dome by headlamp. The trail quickly turns into a faint “route” as it descends approximately 1000′ of elevation over a 2 hour period. Arriving at the base of the route after the sun came up the group divided into two teams, roped up, and began navigating the 12 pitches of rock climbing the route requires. Excellent quality granite is prevalent throughout the climb and a variety of rock climbing techniques are employed including face moves on friction in small solution pockets, crack climbing, and much more. The route lends itself to slinging small granite horns and “chicken heads” in addition to placing traditional rock climbing protection including nuts and cams. After climbing into the late afternoon the team arrived at the summit psyched on completing such a classic route! After summit photos and a snack all that was left was to descend off the back side and retrace the approach route back to camp at Charlotte Lake.
Day 3 was devoted to packing up and backpacking over Kearsarge Pass en route to the Onion Valley trailhead. An casual leisurely pace allowed the team plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent Sierra backcountry scenery and reflect on a truly memorable adventure up an all time Sierra classic route!
Congratulations Erin, Christy, and Vicki on a job well done!!
A few pictures are below. The entire photo gallery can be found here:
Starting on July 24 Erin Carey, Christy Grimsley, and Vicki Schwantes traveled from Washington DC to join SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg on a 7-day alpine rock climbing seminar. The goal was to learn skills and techniques applicable to the backcountry alpine environment. Over the course of a week we spent a couple days reviewing gear placements, anchor set ups, and rock rescue skills then put them into practice on climbs of Cyrstal Crag, the North Ridge of Mt. Conness, and Charlotte Dome. We covered a lot of ground in seven days and it was a lot of fun for all. There are separate write ups for our climbs of Mt. Conness and Charlotte Dome. Here are a few pictures of our days reviewing skills. The entire photo gallery is here:
After spending two days working on alpine rock climbing skills with Erin, Christy, and Vicki it was time to put some techniques into practice on some real alpine climbs. Our first objective was the North Ridge of Mt. Conness. Mt. Conness is located in Tuolumne Meadows on the edge of Yosemite National Park. The North Ridge is an enjoyable classic Sierra alpine climb positioned high enough to offer views as far as Half Dome into Yosemite Valley and many more prominent peaks in all directions. This climb has it all including fun climbing on high quality granite, two rappels off the 2nd Tower along the route, and exhilarating scenery throughout.
The group divided into two teams led by SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg. The goal was much more than just to climb the route in good style. It was to pass on as many climbing techniques as possible to help the team develop efficient climbing habits for use in alpine terrain where time, weather, and route finding are all critical to a safe and successful climb.
The climb went extremely well. A few pictures are below. The entire photo gallery can be found here: