My second trip to the Calevaras Dome canyon. We did 3 climbs on Hammer Dome across from Cal Dome. This area is a little west of Kirkwood, sunk a few thousand feet below the mountains. It's quite a drive down the PG&E dam access road.
This time I really got hit with how amazing this place is. There are some similairities to Yosemite Valley, which can't be that far as the crow flies; creekside campsites, really tall trees, year round water flow, narrow canyon, same elevation, 8-1200' climbs, tons of shorter routes, close to the car, blah blah blah.
the one thing it lacks is the crowds. And El cap, but so what for the purposes of this write-up!
Greg and I went to Hammer Dome on Friday. Here we're walking the trail to the base of this south facing dome, starting to feel we made the right decision to bail going up Cal Dome (north facing and in view here). That thing sure is huge though! Sands of Time coming up... It had rained hard for 4 days, and we would probably have been turned around up there.
First we did Gemeni Crack 5.8, a really fun 4 or so pitch route with a nice variety along the way up. You can make out the worn upper crack on the right here, and no it's not that lame and low angle. Fairly easy however.
Greg led the first 2 pitches, going left on the huge flake. This was awsome. You can go right as well at that bush as well. Going left is 5.9.
I went next using most of my 60 meter rope going from the belay at the top of the flake, across the wall a little and up the actual 5.8 gemeni crack. You can see the wear on the rock from years of climber traffic. After the first rap, we went back up the 5.10b crack on Smoke Screen, just to the right of the 5.8 just top roping our rappell lines.
After rapping down we climbed the next route over right called Smoke Screen 5.10c. I led the first corner cave-like pitch, which my guess is about 5.7 or 5.8. It was pretty wet, and really cool. In one tiny little pitch you tunnel into a cave and climb over a small roof to start the face climbing in the sun. Then Greg did the crux pitch which had uncharacteristically close bolts. Or what you hope for in other words. Great face climbing.
I led the next pitch with some fairly spread out bolts on I'm guessing 10a/b? No info on the topos we had. Friction only, not much to pull or step on.
I'm belaying with a guide style device, auto block for hands free moments.
Here's our 4th pitch on Smoke Screen, where Greg crossed over Gemeni crack to reach the 5.10d (forget climb name).
The terrain isn't vertical, but it's steeper than it looks in these pictures.
After Smoke Screen, we went right and did the 3 pitch Wings and Stings 5.7. Cal Dome across the valley is impressive! Drying out, but still looks wet where we wanted to go.
This is one of the best climbs I've ever done.
We rapped one more pitch below where we started, assuming the rap chains signaled a good way back to the trail. Instead we ended up on the wrong side of the water chanel. Anyone know if there is a trail to get out of there? We bushwacked at dusk for a mile or two in climbing shoes to reach a point where we could walk under the thing and get back on the trail.
In this pick we are walking down a road, not lost on the mountain!