Western Front is a rock formation in Yosemite National Park’s Tuolumne Meadows in the Sierra Nevada Range.
Western Front is often over shadowed by its bigger brother, DAFF Dome. There are, however, days that you may want to stay out of the sun or avoid getting caught in a freaky summer snowstorm four hundred feet up a rock. Those are the times that you could be looking for a kinder and gentler rock formation like the Western Front.
Western Front stands seventy feet high and several hundred feet long. The climbs are low angle and slabby. But, don’t let the low angle of this formation fool you. You have sweet little nothings for hand holds and footholds. In fact, in many sections you don’t have even those. All you have are slight undulations in the rock for you to balance on. Western Front is a good place to get a feel for the kind of climbing you need to be ready for if you are going to to get on bigger low angle rock formations such as Stately Pleasure Dome or Pywiack Dome.
Western Front has a seven minute approach from the road and your biggest problem on a weekend is finding a good place to park your car. The shoulder of the road is wide enough for several cars. But, DAFF Dome being a very popular place to climb, the parking spots fill up quickly. You may have to drive several hundred feet further and walk back to you approach trail. The short approach is very pleasant and mostly forested as is the base of Western Front.
Flowers on the base
Routes of Western Front
Western Front is a seventy foot slabby formation that is used primarily for top-roping. You may see one or two bolts on a few of the routes. I have been to this rock dozens of times and I have never seen a single person leading even the easiest route. To have one or or two bolts half way up a seventy foot cliff face does not qualify a rock as a reasonable training ground for leading. But, if you like to train without risking life and limb, Western Front is best for top-roping. There are five double bolt anchors on top that may be accessed from the right. The anchors, however, are too close to the edge and it’s safer to belay the person setting up the the rope. Unfortunatlely, there are no cracks or boulders on top to use for protection, and having a belayer is essential.
All of the climbs on Western Front are basically of the same nature: you’re using tiny crystals, edges and undulation on the rock to climb. The routes get progressively more and more difficult as you go right to left. The belay spots are flat and in the shade of huge pine trees. Western Front, at an elevation of 8500 feet, is a great summer play ground for beginners, as well experienced climbers.
A personal note:
I found a 5.9 or a 5.10 slab climb on longer routes on any of the bigger formations easier than the 5.9s and 5.10s on Western Front. I am aware that ratings are only personal opinions of the first ascentionsts and can vary greatly depending on many different factors.
|A||March of Dimes, 10a, 2bolts|
|B||New Tricks for Old Dogs, 10b, 2 bolts|
|C||Touch of Grey, 5.9, one or two bolts, not clear|
|D||Ace In The Hole, 10a|
|E||Deadheads Delight, 5.9|
|F||There is one more climb on the extreme left that I am leaving out due to it wandering nature. It should not be confused with March of Dimes.|
There are many campgrounds in the Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass area. During the peak season, however, it’s possible that you end up driving from campground to campground looking for a campsite to no avail. It’s important to remember that you can always camp close to Tuolumne Meadows without being in the heart of it. There are a number of campgrounds along Highway 120, Tioga Pass Road, that can be used. There are also a number of camgrounds along Highway 395 and in the Mammoth Lakes area. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and the following links should help a little.
Tuolumne Meadows Camping
Saddle Bag Campground
The Sierra Web/Camping
Mono Lake Station- 760-647-3000
Rush Creek, Mammoth Lakes Station- 760-924-5500