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 ThereStately 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.
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.
|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 .|