Lucky Streaks, Tuolumne Meadows, CA

July 7, 2008 / 5.10d, 6p, trad.

We're up early as we are expecting other parties to queue up for this classic route. We leave the bus at 6:15AM, and start hiking around 6:45AM. There are already two cars at the pullout, and we can see one party finishing the second pitch of the Regular Route! Hope the other team is on that route too…

It's a short and pleasant hike on a very good trail to the base of our route. Nobody there! There's a good size snow cone at the base of the route, but fortunately, a good ledge can be reached, just above the top of the snow. We gear up quickly and move to the ledge to setup a belay.

Click for high resolution
Fairview Dome (seen from the top of Mariolumne Dome).
Click for high resolution
Lucky Streaks follows an obvious line of steep cracks and corners on the right side of the west face.
Click for high resolution
Eric starting the easy ramp of pitch 1 (5.9).
Click for high resolution
Higher on the ramp.
Click for high resolution
About to traverse right ot join the other flake system.

The route couldn't be any more obvious: it follows a nearly plumb line of corners and cracks all the way from base to top of the right hand side of the west face of Fairview Dome. The first pitch starts up an easy ramp (5.6) to where it peters out and one has to make a thin 5.9 move to reach another flake system. Note that this move could be intimidating if you're not comfortable at 5.9; there is good pro, but it is well below your right foot when making the move (quite safe though). This leads to a good belay ledge.

Pitch 2 starts easily, then gets into a clean, steep finger crack (5.10a) for a few moves to an awkward belay at the right edge of a ledge (no anchor further left).

Click for high resolution
Lucie following pitch 1.
Click for high resolution
Getting to the good ledge.
Click for high resolution
Great views in the early morning light.
Click for high resolution
Starting pitch 2 (5.10a).
Click for high resolution
Tackling the steep finger crack.

The third pitch is the crux, and starts with a very tricky 5.10c/d move up a thin finger crack (balancy, technical move). The rest of the pitch is quite sustained, with another 10b crux, then a 10a ramp/undercling/lieback thing. Very good pitch, quite continuous. Good pro, but you have to work it a bit because of the large crystals in the rock.

Click for high resolution
Following pitch 2.
Click for high resolution
Lucie approaching the belay.
Click for high resolution
Eric starting the crux pitch (5.10d).
Click for high resolution
Going up the 10a ramp.
Click for high resolution
Higher on pitch 3.

Pitch 4 is easy and short, up a low angle dihedral with plenty of fun knobs (crystals). About 5.8+, and not at all sustained, contrary to indications in Supertopo.

Click for high resolution
Lucie following the left angling ramp of pitch 3.
Click for high resolution
Almost there.
Click for high resolution
More views.
Click for high resolution
The lower angle, grainy dihedral of pitch 4 (5.8+).
Click for high resolution
Higher on the same pitch.

The next pitch (pitch 5) starts with a long traverse to the left under an overlap, and into another left-facing corner. The traverse is initially quite easy (5.7/5.8). The pro is OK, but not super-obvious. The last third of the traverse gets very thin (thin feet and not-so positive underclings), and has little pro (I didn't bother with any, but I think you could get at least one piece). The last moves are tricky 5.9. The best approach I found was to step far left and down with my left foot to a small edge, then friction/micro-edge up from there into the corner. The corner itself is sustained 5.9 with a finger crack. Quite fun, and a bit brainy. Great anchor and small slopy stances for the belay, a few feet below where the variation rejoins the corner from the right (this is about 160ft, much longer than suggested in Supertopo).

Click for high resolution
Following pitch 4.
Click for high resolution
Starting pitch 5 (5.9). A tricky pitch.
Click for high resolution
Eric on the long leftward traverse into another corner.
Click for high resolution
Getting into the corner is the crux of the pitch.
Click for high resolution
Looking down at Lucie following the traverse.

The last pitch (pitch 6) is a long, sustained 5.8 flare (fun).

I was carrying the rack suggested in Supertopo and it is quite a bit more than necessary. I had a #3 and a #4 Camalot. I never used the #4, although I probably could have in the last pitch (I ran it out at the end instead, as the flared crack is quite secure). All belays offer really interesting and bomber gear anchors. At least half of the belays are hanging/semi-hanging. The climbing is quite different from what we've been doing the last many days: the grain here is large and rounded, offering less secure friction, but the large knobby crystals add face holds around the cracks.

Click for high resolution
Getting into the dihedral after turning the overlap.
Click for high resolution
The last moves before reaching the belay.
Click for high resolution
Eric starting the last pitch, a long 5.8 flare.
Click for high resolution
Higher on the same pitch.
Click for high resolution
And we're there!

We were in the shade until the last few meters of the last pitch (p6) and descended in full sun (South-facing). The route was in full sun by the time we got back to the base (1:20PM). Perfect timing. The descent is super friendly: a quick scramble down class 2 or 3 slabs, then a short walk around the base of the dome will lead you back to your packs! Five stars for user-friendliness and climbing quality. A great route!

Click for high resolution
Summit shot.
Click for high resolution
Descending the class 2/3 slabs on the back side of the dome (South face).
Click for high resolution
Looking up the South face descent route.