New Route on Tokopah Dome - April 17 - April 19, 2015Posted by Adventure 16 | 04.20.2015
Climbing in the Sierra is fantastic. If you’ve got a sense of adventure and a willingness to explore, there are so many brand new lines to be discovered on quality rock. Many of those opportunities aren’t even that far from civilization. Lower Tokopah Dome in SEKI is one of those places, and although it’s just a few hours hike in, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. My friend Vitaliy and I spent a few days there recently, and I followed along on a route he envisioned a year prior. The camping was great, the climbing was outstanding, and we emerged with even bigger smiles than we went in with.
Our packs were heavy with gear and food, but we left the parking area around 6,800 feet feeling light. Cracking jokes over hastened pace, we made our way about a mile or so up the proper trail before heading off into the woods along a ridge toward the domes. The going was steep, but we made good time and were soon dropping camp on a beautiful slab overlooking Tokopah valley, with glorious views of Alta peak and The Watchtower. A couple years prior, we were hanging off frozen snowmelt across the valley, looking at the domes and wondering about the climbing. It would turn out that we wondered for a good reason.
(Left image) All smiles before starting pitch #1
(First image) Vitaliy starting pitch #2 of Moonage Daydream way back when
(Second image) Taking advantage of a water source near camp
Carrying as much gear as we thought we’d need, we headed off from camp toward the lower dome, stopping to fill bottles at the stream just steps from our tent. The approach to the base of the climb was short, passing through soggy meadows and winding through the trees. Staring up at the slab, we wondered if the roof above would go, or the face above that…the unknown is as exciting as it is nerve-wracking.
Vitaliy charged up the rock, and amazingly enough, the roof went! The thin holds above lead to hero jugs, and the ensuing holler of joy echoed off the granite cliffs around us. Success? Not yet, as we still had 3 more pitches above to complete. However, the climbing proved to be easier as we progressed, with interesting movement past chickenheads and great friction-slab.
(First image) Vitaliy makes short work of the steep finale of pitch #1
(Second image) Following the crux pitch was tough and thrilling
As we climb each pitch, we made mental notes of the route and the gear we used, making sure to stop and enjoy the position and the views. Although the difficulty backed down in the upper pitches, the rock was SO GOOD and the variety of style kept us wanting more. Four long pitches later, we were sitting on top nursing sore toes and snacking, not wanting to leave but looking forward to the spoils of victory back at camp (also known as hot food and cushy sleeping pad.)
(First image) Wild chickenheads make for great climbing and rope racks
(Second image) Views can't be beat on the way off the dome
Technical Clothing: I’m not sure how I made it this far in life without a lightweight windshell like the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody. Multi-pitch climbing should be illegal without such a piece. At around 6 oz, it packs into its own pocket, clips to your harness, and sheds wind and a light sprinkle like a champion. Why aren’t you buying one right now?
Climbing Gear: Bend, OR provides some of the best all-around single-axle camming devices available. Metolius Mastercams are reliable, relatively light, cost-effective, and American-made. I don’t leave home without the ½ inch size and smaller on my rack, and I can’t count the number of times one of the offset Mastercams has turned an awkward flare into a bomber protection point for me through a crux. Buy them. Rack them. Shred the Gnar.
Do's and Don'ts
DO bring a little hot sauce or cloves of fresh garlic to spice up your dinner. Freeze dried food in particular can be a little bland, so do yourself a favor and carry some spice.
DO be aware of your surroundings and know your destination. We brought light cord and properly hung our food high, which kept it out of the claws of the lively bears that we saw bounding around camp. Also make time to pause and appreciate those bears.
DON’T forget to bring prusik cord with you on routes. We were lucky on this route, but another climb later in the weekend required 70 meters of ascending to unstick a rope. Be prepared.
DON’T bring too much weight on a multi-pitch route, particularly on an unknown climb. Leave the selfie-stick and Dutch oven back at camp - you’ll want to reserve space in your pack for extra bail gear and protection as the going can get weird.
(Image above) The route in red is our new one
Written by Adam Burch, A16 San Diego Sales Associate
April 17 - 19, 2015 Mango Lassi Luiz Machine 5.10+ Route
- Climb Smart - 3 days of Climbing Skills Clinics & Camping October 13 - 15, 2017