OZ - Hobbit Book, Tuolumne Meadows, CA

July 12, 2008 / linkup, 5.10d, 4 pitches, trad and 5.7R, 4 pitches, trad.

It's Saturday and we're expecting a crowd... Up early (5:15AM). After the usual breakfast routine, we drive to the trailhead for Drug Dome. Nobody's there when we arrive!! Easy approach, with just a couple hundred feet of steep boulder field at the end. The route is obvious enough. The upper corner looks awesome. We take our time getting ready since nobody's in sight. We start climbing at 7:35AM.

I am a bit apprehensive about the first pitch. Supertopo calls it 5.10aR… then again, I find Supertopo to be overly conservative in most instances. The unprotected section is clearly visible from the ground, maybe 20ft up. There are some thin flakes on the left, that might accept some gear… we'll see. After placing a small nut far to the right (useless it turns out), I start up the flake on the left. Not hard, but not a cruise either. I am able to place a small nut after about 12ft. It looks like one could traverse low, and reach the right-hand flake at its bottom. Trouble is, what little pro you have at this point is not effective here… could be 10aR. So I keep going higher. There is another set of traversing holds higher up, and I am hoping to be able to get more gear in. And I do. A nut tool would help clean the vegetation from behind the flake, which would then probably offer good placements. Even then, I find two mediocre nuts (one small, one tiny), and also place the black Alien with two of 4 cams in (probably useless). Anyway, with this in, the moves are somewhat protected, and really not very hard. More like 5.9PG IMHO. Once in the RHS flake, there are good placements. The move over the arch and onto the ramp is a bit interesting, then the ramp is fairly easy, though occasionally awkward. Pro anywhere you want it here (except for a wide section high up). There is a good bolted anchors (new SS bolts) at the top of the ramp. Lucie follows without trouble. I try to take some pics of her, but our small second camera is shot… the lens has been crushed and the cover won't open! We'll get to see if our extended protection plan from Best Buy works out…

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OZ makes a great "approach" to The Hobbit Book.
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OZ's magnificient corner in the early morning light.
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Getting ready at the base.
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Eric starting the first pitch (5.9 PG).
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Traversing right toward the main flake.

The second pitch doesn't look too bad from here. Not quite vertical, and at least the first bolt is bomber. The first couple of moves off the belay turn out much harder than expected (I'd say 10a). Slopy holds and a commiting pull/mantle onto a ledge. Good #2 Camalot on the ledge to protect the second before traversing straight left to another steep move. Up this to another bolt (spinner) just below the crux.

The crux consists of finding some way to move up 2' and left 4' to another narrow ledge. Two approaches: up then left on desperate sidepulls, or sharp left then a hard mantle onto the ledge. At first, I thought the upper option looked better. I try it, but fall off while trying to stabilize on a desperate mantle. Second try, I opt for the leftward traverse (slopy hand holds and very little for the feet) to below the next bolt, which I am able to clip before commiting to the hardest move. The traverse itself is not that hard (maybe 9+), but the move onto the ledge is pretty bad-ass.

From here, traverse a bit further left, then move straight up past 3 more bolts on a steep wall. Pretty damn hard. All the holds are slopers, and good footwork is essential to avoid pumping out. Somehow, I make it through clean. Probably about 5.10c (Supertopo says 10d, but I think the lower crux is harder). One more section of steep 5.9 liebacking, then easier terrain to a trad anchor at the base of the upper corner. Lucie has trouble following this pitch. She is carrying a fair amount of weight (since we're planning to link this route with the Hobbit Book), and is finding some of the moves reachy. She ends up having to hang in the rope a few times but makes it up anyway.

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At the bolted belay atop pitch 1.
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Views from the belay.
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Starting the tricky face of pitch 2 (5.10c?).
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Higher on pitch 2.
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Reaching the corner.

The next pitch is the reward. It's what you're here for. The most beautiful, clean-cut dihedral this side of Southern Utah. Starts not too steep (leftward), and gets progressively steeper until it leans back right around a bulge near the top. Sustained 10a/b; may deserve 10c for its sustained nature? One crux is moving past a small "roof" (right jog in the crack). Then sustained stemming and liebacking, fortunately with decent rests on thin stems at regular intervals. Three fixed pieces near the middle. Otherwise the pro is consistently 1" (red Aliens), or an occasional larger piece or large nut. Simply amazing. We both make it clean to the anchors (bolts, and yellow Alien if desired), even though we're both feeling tired from the 10d face pitch below.

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Eric at the base of the fantastic corner.
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Starting up the money pitch (~5.10c).
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it keeps going and...
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...going.
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Looking down the corner from the bolted anchors at the top of the pitch.

Next is the traverse pitch. Straight to the left, past two bolts then gear placements and another bolt, followed by easier climbing up and right to a good ledge with a small bush. This pitch felt harder to us than Supertopo's rating of 5.9. Croft calls this 10a and we would agree.

One more pitch of easy 5th and 4th class climbing leads to the top of Drug Dome. Great route! Quite physical.

Clouds have been forming to the East for some time and getting darker by the minute. However, they don't seem to want to drift this way. The edge of the cloud is around the top of Fairview and not moving. Is it safe to launch into the Hobbit Book? These exposed domes are not the place to be in an electrical storm... We debate for a while, then decide to go for it. No time to loose. We quickly change into a short rope, walk over to the edge of the 4th class traverse (we actually traversed quite a bit too low, but no big deal), and start simul-climbing to the base of the the book.

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Starting the traverse on pitch 4 (10a).
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And disappearing around the corner.
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Simul-climbing on exposed slabs toward the base of The Hobbit Book.
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The 4th class ramp leading to the base of the Hobbit.
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Looking back at Lucie on pitch 1.

The first pitch of the Hobbit follows shallow dihedrals near the arete to a belay below a steeper hand crack. Very easy, quick, and fun.

The next pitch is a bit steeper but follows very positive cracks and corners, to a semi-hanging belay near a small ledge. Again, easy and very protectable pitch.

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Following pitch 2.
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Eric starting pitch 3 (5.7 R).
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Traversing left toward the lone bolt.
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The 5.7 R section of the pitch.
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Views. The weather is holding for now.

The third pitch is the business: up the corner a little, then sharp left 15ft to a bolt in the middle of the face, and straight up 40ft (totally unprotected) on plates (5.7) to rejoin the corner. Huge runout. Felt pretty scary near the end. Then continue further up the corner to just below obvious roofs. BTW, at the start of this pitch, I went up the corner until I was level with the bolt to my left. This involved a short (10ft) section of wide crack, difficult to protect, and much harder than the 5.6 shown on Supertopo (more like 5.8)… Maybe I should have started traversing lower?

The last pitch is fun. Up a few feet to the roof, traverse left under the roof, then many more feet of delicate climbing up the corner to the summit. BTW, supertopo shows liebacks here (!?). There's no need to lieback at all. Just delicate and fun face climbing around the crack. Very good pitch.

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The belay atop pitch 3, a small stance below the final roof.
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Starting the last pitch.
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Summit shot with Fairview dome in the background.
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More views from the summit.
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Descending the orange slabs to the NE, toward Fairview Dome.

We're at the top and the clouds haven't moved yet! They are getting darker but are still a couple of miles to the east. We take our time at the summit taking pics. Great views. This is the highest dome at Tuolumne. We're a lot higher than Fairview Dome. It's smoky though… not the greatest for pics. Thunder is starting to roll, still safely away. Time to go.

Down the beautiful orange slabs to the NE (straight toward Fairview), into the woods, and very easily around the entire dome. We find a tiny stream 10 minutes down, but don't get any water (we drank our last ¾ quart at the top). Eventually, we end up on a faint trail that traverses back toward the base of Drug Dome. A quick run up the boulder field and we are at the packs! Amazingly easy and pleasant descent.

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Views of Cathedral and Eichorn Pinnacle.
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Following an easy trail in the woods and back to the base of the dome.
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Another party of two on the 4th pitch traverse of OZ.
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Some greenery along the trail (not sure what this is called?).
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Back at the jeep after another great day.

A party of two is starting the traverse at the top of the corner. We saw them arrive at the base as we were starting the traverse ourselves. They took their time! I guess we're not the only ones having fits with the 2nd pitch!

Easy and gorgeous hike back down to the car and the end of a long, tiring day. We drive back to the campground under dark, menacing skies. Great day!