Approach'A Little Nukey' is not only a popular Courtright multi-pitch route but the easiest route upon the northwestern face of Power Dome. This dome is located in the Helms Creek Gorge, just below Courtright Road. Additionally, it is the first dome seen on the right when driving into the Courtright area.
There are two ways to approach this route and the dome itself:
1) Park at the PG&E road entrance (gated) just before you get to Courtright Reservoir (a gravel turnout on the side of the road, 200 yards before the reservoir). Hike down the paved road to its terminus. Leave the road and head directly toward Power Dome by going under a large tunnel aquaduct, then up a short rise. Once over the rise, head down small broken terraces to the creek. Cross over the creek on rocks to the base of Power Dome. In the early season or during peak hours, the creek may be difficult to cross. Use caution! Once across, locate a ramp next to the base and head up to the top of the ramp (level at the top). 'A Little Nukey' starts near the top of this ramp.
2) The second choice is to drive past the reservoir spillway and park near the north side of the dome. There is a camping area on the right side of the road, at the first left bend. This area can be accessed through a small dirt trail, which is set 100 yards back from the road. Park here. There is a 4th class approach down into the creek, which requires assiduous route finding. Initially, one needs to drop midway down to the dome and then traverse a series of ledges and dishes upon its northeastern shoulder. Although this is the best option for the return descent from the summit to parking lot, be sure to allot extra time for the descent to the base of Power Dome. Once at the base, all routes can be accessed via a bit of 3rd class scrambling.
Route DescriptionPitch 1: (5.8) Follow a line of bolts (8 total) straight up shallow dishes and edges. After the 3rd bolt, the rock becomes more featured but the climbing is just a tad bit steeper. There is a 3 bolt belay (with rap rings) at the end of the pitch (50 meters). NOTE: A fourth bolt is located 2 feet above the belay and should be used for the next pitch opening moves.
Pitch 2: (5.9-, 5 bolts) Head directly above the 1st pitch belay anchors. A few move of 5.9 are encountered in between the 2nd and 3rd bolts. Continue straight up to a small black roof (4th bolt on the lip of the roof) and surmount the roof. Once over, head left and up by following the remaining 2 bolts to the belay station (3 bolts with rap rings). NOTE: There is a set of belay bolts 30 feet below ALN's 2nd pitch belay. This station is the 1st pitch belay of 'Aplodontia' (5.9R).
Pitch 3: (5.8 or 5.9, 1 bolt and pro to 1/2") One can either head straight up to a right facing corner (5.9, pro to 1/2") or head up and right, underneath a bus-sized flake. The first option takes you straight up to the 3rd pitch belay. Both options are short in distance to the belay, but this is the shorter option pitch. The second option goes to a bolt (30 feet from the belay), which protects a 5.8 move, and continues to the right facing corner of the flake. Continue up the flake (5.6, pro: 1/4 to 1"). Once at the top of the flake, head left out onto the open face for 20 more feet to the belay bolts (4 bolts with rap rings.... and an epoxy sealed carabiner?) NOTE: 3 out of 4 bolts at this belay should be considered suspect! One is an old 1/4" rusted buttonhead and the other two are spinners (3/8" buttonheads). Be sure to back up your belay!
Pitch 4: (5.9, 2 bolts with solution pockets for pro) From the belay, traverse right 15 feet along a small foot ledge to access the first bolt. Pass two bolts (5.9) and head toward a black water streak above. Twenty feet past the 2nd bolt., the climbing turns down to 5.5 or 5.6, following solution pockets (recommended Tri-Cam placements.....a few can even be threaded!!). The water streak becomes a bit steeper but good holds abound. Once over the steep section, head up and right to a 3 bolts belay or continue 60 feet further to a 4 bolt belay (rap rings) that falls directly below an easy right facing corner.
Pitch 5: Head up the right facing corner (5.6, pro to 1"), which slants left, to a pine tree with slings (rap rings). 4th class to the summit.
Descent: Walk off the east end of the dome and back down to the parking area or continue up the road, past the spillway and back to the gravel turnout.
Essential Gear+ 60 meter rope
+ Quickdraws (10)
+ Cams: small to medium
+ Tri-Cams (#2 to #7)...for solution pockets
And your best Tuolumne shoes!
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