A classic steep line featuring tricky face moves and an amazing finger crack
Steep and forbidding, the NW face of Drug Dome at first looks unfreeable. But in 1975 Dale Bard and Bob Locke put up something of a masterpiece of hard 5.10 climbing: Oz (pronounced ounce), which ascends an awesome dihedral. The route puts you on the plateau below Mariuolumne Dome and can also be used to access Hobbit Book there, instead of the standard slog.
Getting ThereDriving from the East, the dirt parking lot is on the left, about 4.7 miles from Tuolumne Meadows or a mile past Fairview and Daff Domes.
From the parking area, follow a trail off to the right for about ten minutes. When the trail splits, go right, by which time you'll have Drug Dome in view. Another five minutes will bring you through a field of giant boulders and to the start of the climb.
Route DescriptionThe climb starts under a small arching roof on the right that joins a left-trending flake system that angles up to the base of the dihedral.
P. 1: There are two starts. Directly under the arch is a thin crack (5.9 per Peter Croft) or a dozen feet to the right you ascend a discontinuous crack and traverse right into the arch (5.10a R per Supertopo).
I did the second start. The first gear was a double zero Friend, followed by a suspect double zero TCU. I climbed higher for a bomber hand-sized piece. Figuring out where to make the traverse took a fair amount of time. The moves weren't hard but were uncertainly run-out.
From either start, climb up under the arch until you can pull the roof, an easy 5.9 move (stay low). Then follow the flake system to a bolted belay.
P. 2: The crux. A rising traverse of hard face moves. Supertopo calls this "tightly bolted." That's only by local standards. Sport climbers accustomed to more generous drilling will be in for a surprise. The crux per se is going left from the third bolt, a reachy and devious move. You can yard through on draws if need be.
After the face climbing ends, there's an optional bolted belay or you can continue up a crack/flake system to the bottom of the dihedral for a gear belay.
P. 3: This is what you came for: 120 feet of laybacking and stemming on a beautiful vertical finger crack. For most of the dihedral there are good stances and gear (especially BD .5s). High up the crack overhangs and the real pump begins (5.10c). Two fixed nuts and an ancient cam make things easier. Above reach a bolted hanging belay.
P. 4: Traverse left, on two bolts (5.9 in Supertopo; 5.10 in Croft). Climb around the corner and down a foot to a stance. Traverse another corner, gear in dangerously loose flakes or better just run out this part. Turn another corner and clip a bolt. Run-out 5.7 face to a big ledge.
For the Gram Traverse: Climb up to the top of the huge roof and move right for two pitches of 5.10d/c, before climbing another pitch straight up to the top (5.9).
Descent: Traverse left, staying high near the top of the plateau for several hundred meters until you can descend some slabs and enter a big talus field. Follow the talus down left until you get to the base of the dome, where you can wend you're way back to the start if you left a pack.
Essential GearDouble set of cams to hand-sized pieces. Extra 1 inch pieces. Doubles to 3 inches if doing the Gram Traverse.
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