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Stately Pleasure Dome
Mountain/Rock

Stately Pleasure Dome

 
Stately Pleasure Dome

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.84000°N / 119.46°W

Object Title: Stately Pleasure Dome

Activities: Trad Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 9000 ft / 2743 m

 

Page By: Steve Larson

Created/Edited: Sep 13, 2005 / Mar 15, 2006

Object ID: 154667

Hits: 7043 

Page Score: 89.01%  - 28 Votes 

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Overview

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree…

…With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.”

I don’t really know whether this dome was named after Coleridge’s famous poem, but if he’d seen it, I wouldn’t be surprised to find the poem was inspired by the dome rather than the other way around!

Whatever the origin of the name, Stately Pleasure Dome is a lovely place to spend a day cragging. There is an unusual concentration of easy to moderate routes here, and the approach to all climbs takes but a few minutes of scrambling up third class slabs. Combine that with the southern exposure and stunning views of Half Dome, Tenaya Peak, Cathedral Peak, and other Yosemite landmarks, and its easy to see why it attracts crowds.

The Supertopo guide Tuoloumne Free Climbs by Greg Barnes et al is a popular reference, though it only describes four of the many routes in detail. The ancient Climber’s Guide to the High Sierra by Steve Roper provides sufficient detail to find all of the routes described in the overview below.

Getting There

Stately Pleasure Dome is situated at the northeastern end of Tenaya Lake, about 28 miles from Lee Vining on the east, and 33 miles from Crane Flat on the west. Tioga Pass Road (SR 120) lies conveniently at the base of the dome’s lower slabs. Parking is available on both sides of the road.

Routes Overview

View of Stately Pleasure Dome...
1) Class 3 approach slabs
2) Pine tree @ top of P1, Far West Country
3) West Country
4) Great White Book
5) South Crack
The table below gives an indication of the kinds of routes that have been established. There are bolts all over the dome, but I have not yet found a single source of route information that covers the large number of routes evidently in existence.

The technical part of the dome is perhaps 500 feet high. Thus, the routes are all around 4-5 pitches in length. The technical crux is typically in the first pitch, or possibly the second pitch. The angle lays back the higher you go, and the climbing slowly transitions from easy fifth class to third class slabs. Typical route times range from 2-4 hours for an average party.

Route/Grade Source Description/Comments
Far West Country 5.6 Roper A fourth class pitch leads to a large pine tree left and up from the start of West Country (see photo here). A crack to the right of several straight-in cracks leads to friction slabs, which continue several pitches to the top.
West Country 5.7 Supertopo A wonderful 4-pitch route. The second and fourth pitches are pure fun crack/dihedral climbing. Some feel that the crux on pitch 2 is a more in the 5.8 range. Maybe so, bit it's only a few moves, and it protect well.
Hermaphrodite Flake 5.4 Supertopo Strictly speaking, this route ends after two pitches of climbing to the top of the flake. If you want to proceed higher, the difficulty increases to 5.8 or more.
Eunuch 5.7 Roper An old-school runout friction climb. Starts from the top of Hermaphrodite Flake .
The Great White Book 5.6R Supertopo A classic! The runout sections are in fact quite secure. Don't let this route scare you off.
Get Slick 5.10 Roper An old school runout friction climb starting just right of the Great White Book .
Sweet Nothings 5.10 Roper Yet another old school friction climb starting 30 feet left of the South Crack . One pitch ending at the anchor of Get Slick
South Crack 5.8 Supertopo Another classic route that throws a lot of different challenges at you over six pitches (can be done in fewer). The 5.8 sections are short. The runout friction spots can be intimidating if you're not confident in your feet.
Dixie Peach 5.9 Roper Continues straight up the left-facing corner where South Crack steps right into the eponymous crack.
The Way We Were 5.9 Roper A circuitous route to the right of South Crack .

Descent

The Supertopo guidebook describes the standard descent in some detail, perhaps more than is really necessary. All climbs end in more or less the same place on third class slabs about 100 feet below the true summit of the dome. A large wall arches up from the left (west), gradually tapering from 30 feet high to nothing near the top. A solitary pine tree on a sloping ledge below this wall is plainly visible above and to the left of the route ends. Either rappel from the tree or downclimb a short fourth class section to third class slabs below. Stay near the base of the wall until reaching a small notch in the drop-off to the left. Climb down at the notch (about 4-5 feet) and follow whatever route you please down the slabs below.

Red Tape

The dome lies in the heart of Yosemite National Park. One week passes cost $20 per car in 2005. Annual national park passes were $50. The Tuolomne Meadows Logistics Page contains additional detail, plus links to useful resources. Check it out!

Camping

The two closest campgrounds are the main campground in Tuolumne Meadows, and Porcupine Flat, about 8 miles west on SR120. Although the main campground is located in the midst of incomparable beauty, with store, gas station, hot showers and hot food for sale, it is also very crowded; without reservations you will have a hard time finding a spot. The Porcupine Flat campground is about equidistant from the dome, and is much more likely to have an available space. It’s also a lot cheaper ($8/night vs. $18/night). The Tuolomne Meadows Logistics Page has additional information on these and other campgrounds in the area.

Images