Hidden Dome is home to one of the best kept “secrets” in the park, Too Secret to Find (5.10b). At 35m it is a full value finger/hand crack with a fun roof pull at the end. Few walls are as “star” rated in Miramontes' guide as Hidden Dome’s northwest face. Too Secret and Balance Due (5.10c) get top billing. Four of the other routes get multiple stars as well. He normally is not that liberal with recommended routes on one face. Balance Due, Too Secret and Screaming Woman (5.10a) are definitely worthy. Screaming Poodle (5.10c) and Major Creative Effort (5.10b) not as much. The three 5.8 routes are ok but nothing to write home about. If you climb them all, this makes for a great day out in the spring or fall.
Screaming Poodle, 5.10c
I initially climbed these routes in one outing in mid-April and the main wall faces more west than north, therefore expect afternoon sun. Only the two short 5.8 routes to the far left face true north. All six of the routes on Hidden Dome’s northwest face share a fixed rap station on top of the dome. The other two can be walked off to the north.
A marked up topo photo in Miramontes' guide is misleading. I had climbed the routes at Gilligan’s Island before and the topo photo would lead you to believe that Hidden Dome shares the same gully. He also reports the distance to hike to Hidden Dome the same as it is for Gilligans. This is not the case. Hidden Dome is more like half a mile straight ahead from the Boyscout trail parking (vs 1.1 miles). Leave the main trail at the “T” intersection and follow a faint climbers trail straight up the gully in front of you. Cool Dome is a blocky objective on the left side of the gully and Hidden Dome is on the right side up at the col. Boulder hop to the base. Too Secret to Find is the obvious true crack from bottom to top at the center of the dome.
Routes Listed Left to Right as you face the Wall
Calgary Stampede-20m-5.8*/Around the corner on the true north face. Worth doing and as good as Tucson at least. Head up easy ground through a wide crack to the finger/stem corner. The corner crack peters out at the crux move forcing you more onto the face then in the corner. Walk off to the col on the left. Dow
Tucson Bound-20m-5.8**/I don’t think this one is worth two stars as Miramonte has it in his book. Maybe it is because I saved the 8’s for the end of the day. A cool, but too short, knobby crack on the right side of the true north wall. Walk off to the col on the left. Dow
Screaming Woman-25m-5.10a**/Climb up the worse rock on the face up easy but flaring cracks. Pro before the run out face climbing is via a C4#2. It looks too flaring, but there is one pocket that it fits well in. The last move to the bolt is a run out layback slab side pull, a bit unnerving for a crack climber. Easy but run out ground to the top from there. Dow
Screaming Poodle-30m-5.10c**/The crux is fairly immediate off the deck and a bit tricky to protect. Some stemming and traversing (left) underclings pulls a bulge onto the easy scoops above. Then follow a thin crack as it curves right and peters out to face climbing with a bolt. Dow
Too Secret Too Find-35m-5.10b***/An outstanding crack pitch that rivals any classic 5.10- pitch at Jtree in terms of protection, fun moves and location. Too Secret centers Hidden Tower’s main wall running straight up its gut and is by far its best route. It is a fairly soft 5.10b by Jtree standards with the crux starting just below the roof in a flaring crack. The roof pull itself is not the crux and is assisted by several positive jugs. I can get by leading Too Secret with nothing larger than a C4#.75 plus one #3 for the roof move itself. Other beta sources discuss a much larger rack but it is not needed. There are always multiple gear options in multiple cracks with the smaller placements being in the cleaner and harder rock. Also not reflected in Miramontes guide is a fixed rap anchor directly above the route. Dow
Balance Due-30m-5.10c***/Balance Due is no doubt the second best route on the face, tying in several thin seams with two bolts. The seams are good for micro cams and wires, but small for tips most of the time. Therefore, this is more of a face climb than crack climb. The crux moves are at the bolts. The taller you are, the easier this route becomes. Dow
Major Creative Effort-25-5.10b**/Scramble up to atop some boulders on the right side of the main wall. The crux is right off the deck via a flaring and dirty crack. Tough but rewarding moves lead to easy crack climbing above that leads to a short bit of run out face climbing that leads to an alcove between summits. Bring the second up on a gear and then scramble left to rap Secret. Dow
""You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.""