Regular Route, Fairview Dome, CA

July 10, 2008 / 5.9, 8 to 11p, trad.

Today, we climb another route on Fairview Dome: the Regular Route. We had climbed this classic on one of our first trips to the Eastern Sierra, several years ago now, but I (Lucie) was not leading at the time and I wanted a shot at it.

We're getting an early start, hoping to be first in line. We saw two cars at the trailhead at 6:30AM (!) the day we climbed Lucky Streaks, so we want to be at the parking lot by 6AM. This means setting the alarm at 5AM... the price to pay to be first on such a classic climb, so close to the road… We get there as planned and to our relief, nobody else is there…yet. We reach the base of the route less than 20 minutes later, gear up and start climbing at 6:30AM. We keep an eye on the approach trail in case another party shows up, but - so far - we have the route to ourselves.

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The Regular Route (shown), on the NW face of Fairview Dome.
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Looking up at the route from the base.
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Racking up at the base.
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Starting up pitch 1 (5.9).
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Half-way up pitch 1.

The first pitch is long and quite sustained. I start climbing the left crack for one or two moves, then transition into the right crack. The going gets tougher a few feet below where the two cracks merge into one. I can't really tell where the crux will be and keep telling Eric over and over: "OK, I think I'm at the crux now". Of course, he gets a bit annoyed with me and tells me to "just move on with it". It's really not too bad. Just thin slabby face moves (unfortunately pretty slippery) with finger locks in the crack. I put in a lot of pro and am pretty much out of gear by the time I reach the tree. I had intially planned to go belay higher, on the ledge to the right but I am out of gear and rope. It's a full 200 ft from the rope-up point to the tree, but you can probably simul-climb the last bit if you only have a 50m rope - that's what we did the first time we climbed the route.

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Eric leaving the belay. It's a long pitch!
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Following pitch 1.
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Catching the first sun rays.
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Starting the short second pitch (5.8).
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Getting onto the ledge to set up an anchor.

From there, I do a very short pitch (~40 feet) to the next ledge to the right of the crack. This pitch is a bit awkward. It is good old-school 5.8, and a bit wide for my taste. I layback the widest part but Eric jams it straight in. I am glad I did not try to do it with what I had left on my rack at the end of the first pitch...

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Belaying Eric up.
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Views of the numerous granite domes in the early morning light.
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Starting up the sustained finger crack of pitch 3 (5.8).
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Pitch 3 is a real beauty.
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Turning the small roof is probably the crux.

The third pitch (5.8) is a beauty. It starts with a very sustained fingercrack. Because it is a bit slippery, it feels a bit harder than 5.7 to me and not as secure as I would have liked. The crack sucks in nuts though and I place a lot of pro there too. Turning the small roof (5.8) turns out to be easier than I thought; I use the crack on the left and I stem between the right and left cracks. No big deal. The rest of the pitch is easy. Instead of belaying on a tiny stance on the right (just after turning the small roof on the left), I continue higher and belay on a big ledge, just below the white flake. Again, it's a full 200 feet from the belay on the ledge 40ft above the tree to the comfy ledges below the white flake.

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Above that, it's cruiser (long pitch).
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Eric getting to the belay ledge.
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More views of Tuolumne Meadows.
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Pitch 4 (5.8) is another fun pitch...
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...with more face and stemming moves.

A shorter 4th pitch brings me to Crescent Ledge. There are maybe a move or two of 5.8 but it's much easier than the previous pitch because it is not as sustained. It also involves more face and stemming moves with good rests in between. We take a break on the big ledge, have a drink and a couple of GUs. Another party is now getting started with the first pitch.

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Belaying on Crescent Ledge.
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Eric joining me on the comfy ledge.
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Views from Crescent Ledge.
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Pitch 5 (5.6) is a short and easy pitch up a white ramp, quite polished in places.
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Just below the roof on pitch 6, another fun and well-protected pitch (5.7).

The 5th pitch is another short and easy pitch up a white ramp. I follow the 5.6 corner on the right, which is quite polished in places. I belay as high as possible as I'm planning to link the next two pitches.

Next is a really fun pitch, up a handcrack and through a roof, with very good pro again. A piton protects the roof move, but it can be easily backed-up. Above the roof, I move back left into a right facing corner that I follow to a big ledge with a tree (just below the 5.7 move shown on the SuperTopo). The topo shows to belay on the ledge above but belaying on the ledge with the tree is much more comfortable. Eric follows and tells me that he also enjoyed the pitch very much.

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Next is the rightward traverse (p 7, 5.4).
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Starting the traverse after pulling the 5.7 move to gain the small ledge I'm standing on.
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Traversing further right than I should have (should have gone up the white flake in the center of the pic).
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Heading up a crack system toward the big pine tree.
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Belaying near the big pine tree on a nice ledge.

The 5.7 move to gain the ledge (can also be bypassed on the left as indicated on the topo) is pretty commiting but fair at 5.7 and can be protected with a green alien or two. After that, it's a long and easy traverse to gain the blocky ramp further right. It's obvious, where to start climbing up again, the rock is white and worn-out… When I reach this point and want to go up, Eric tells me that I should traverse further right and I listen to him… I end up reaching the easy low 5th class corner about 20 feet below where I should have. No big deal except that the rock here is not that clean. Oh well, lesson learned: if you're leading, you do the routefinding; don't rely on your second to tell you which way to go ...even he's a better climber! I soon get back on route and continue up to a ledge with a big tree.

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Eric getting to the belay.
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Checking out the topo.
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Heading up the easy corner above the pine tree.
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Re-racking on the broad summit.
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Views from the summit.

The last 4 pitches are much easier. After checking the topo and taking a break, we decide to simul-climb. We short-rope by doubling one of our two ropes. The shorter (30m) distance between us makes simul-climbing much more efficient. The second rope goes into Eric's pack and I head up again. After following an easy corner, my upward progress is blocked by a huge flake and I traverse left to gain another crack system. I then give up on trying to follow the very (overly?) detailed topo. I just pick a way more or less straight up, traversing to the left at times, but heading straight up the last 40 feet below the summit. All in all, it's pretty easy with a few low 5th class moves here and there. I finally reach the broad flat summit and belay Eric the rest of the way up.

It's 11:30AM. The climb took us 5 hours. The views are great and the weather perfect; the morning clouds that had worried me are all gone. Blue skies and a sea of granite domes. What more could you ask for?

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More views.
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Starting the friendly descent.
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Class 2/3 slabs.
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Near the base of the south face.
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A party on pitch 3 (my favorite pitch)

We change into our approach shoes. After a long break and the usual summit shots, we start the very friendly descent down the south face (cl2/3 slabs), then contour around the base of the west face back to the start of the route and our second pack (If you didn't leave anything at the base, you can go straight back to the trailhead instead). The route is getting crowded. The party who started behind us is finishing the traverse pitch. A third party is beginning the second pitch. We pack up and head for the car.

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Having a burger at the Tuolumne Grill.
       

We're back just in time to get a burger for lunch at the Tuolumne Grill. A great day!

Unsure about the forecast for the next days, we get back to the bus and pack our gear for OZ and the Hobbit Book. If we feel good enough, we might try that combo tomorrow instead of Saturday.

Note: we carried the exact rack recommended in Supertopo. As usual with Supertopo, this was more than enough to thoroughly protect the route.