A Little Nukey

Page Type: Route
Route Type: Technical Rock Climb
Time Required: Less than two hours
Difficulty: 5.9


'A Little Nukey' is not only a popular Courtright multi-pitch route but the easiest route upon the northwestern face of Power Dome. This dome is located in the Helms Creek Gorge, just below Courtright Road. Additionally, it is the first dome seen on the right when driving into the Courtright area.

There are two ways to approach this route and the dome itself:

1) Park at the PG&E road entrance (gated) just before you get to Courtright Reservoir (a gravel turnout on the side of the road, 200 yards before the reservoir). Hike down the paved road to its terminus. Leave the road and head directly toward Power Dome by going under a large tunnel aquaduct, then up a short rise. Once over the rise, head down small broken terraces to the creek. Cross over the creek on rocks to the base of Power Dome. In the early season or during peak hours, the creek may be difficult to cross. Use caution! Once across, locate a ramp next to the base and head up to the top of the ramp (level at the top). 'A Little Nukey' starts near the top of this ramp.

2) The second choice is to drive past the reservoir spillway and park near the north side of the dome. There is a camping area on the right side of the road, at the first left bend. This area can be accessed through a small dirt trail, which is set 100 yards back from the road. Park here. There is a 4th class approach down into the creek, which requires assiduous route finding. Initially, one needs to drop midway down to the dome and then traverse a series of ledges and dishes upon its northeastern shoulder. Although this is the best option for the return descent from the summit to parking lot, be sure to allot extra time for the descent to the base of Power Dome. Once at the base, all routes can be accessed via a bit of 3rd class scrambling.

Route Description

Pitch 1: (5.8) Follow a line of bolts (8 total) straight up shallow dishes and edges. After the 3rd bolt, the rock becomes more featured but the climbing is just a tad bit steeper. There is a 3 bolt belay (with rap rings) at the end of the pitch (50 meters). NOTE: A fourth bolt is located 2 feet above the belay and should be used for the next pitch opening moves.

Pitch 2: (5.9-, 5 bolts) Head directly above the 1st pitch belay anchors. A few move of 5.9 are encountered in between the 2nd and 3rd bolts. Continue straight up to a small black roof (4th bolt on the lip of the roof) and surmount the roof. Once over, head left and up by following the remaining 2 bolts to the belay station (3 bolts with rap rings). NOTE: There is a set of belay bolts 30 feet below ALN's 2nd pitch belay. This station is the 1st pitch belay of 'Aplodontia' (5.9R).

Pitch 3: (5.8 or 5.9, 1 bolt and pro to 1/2") One can either head straight up to a right facing corner (5.9, pro to 1/2") or head up and right, underneath a bus-sized flake. The first option takes you straight up to the 3rd pitch belay. Both options are short in distance to the belay, but this is the shorter option pitch. The second option goes to a bolt (30 feet from the belay), which protects a 5.8 move, and continues to the right facing corner of the flake. Continue up the flake (5.6, pro: 1/4 to 1"). Once at the top of the flake, head left out onto the open face for 20 more feet to the belay bolts (4 bolts with rap rings.... and an epoxy sealed carabiner?) NOTE: 3 out of 4 bolts at this belay should be considered suspect! One is an old 1/4" rusted buttonhead and the other two are spinners (3/8" buttonheads). Be sure to back up your belay!

Pitch 4: (5.9, 2 bolts with solution pockets for pro) From the belay, traverse right 15 feet along a small foot ledge to access the first bolt. Pass two bolts (5.9) and head toward a black water streak above. Twenty feet past the 2nd bolt., the climbing turns down to 5.5 or 5.6, following solution pockets (recommended Tri-Cam placements.....a few can even be threaded!!). The water streak becomes a bit steeper but good holds abound. Once over the steep section, head up and right to a 3 bolts belay or continue 60 feet further to a 4 bolt belay (rap rings) that falls directly below an easy right facing corner.

Pitch 5: Head up the right facing corner (5.6, pro to 1"), which slants left, to a pine tree with slings (rap rings). 4th class to the summit.

Descent: Walk off the east end of the dome and back down to the parking area or continue up the road, past the spillway and back to the gravel turnout.

Essential Gear

+ 60 meter rope
+ Quickdraws (10)
+ Cams: small to medium
+ Tri-Cams (#2 to #7)...for solution pockets
+ Slings

And your best Tuolumne shoes!

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-4 of 4

kpalsson - Jul 22, 2005 8:34 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

From the camping area in alternative 2, follow the fairly obvious gash descending down and towards the river side of the dome. There were cairns there at the time. Basically, follow the most obvious way down (easy, not even third class) from the carpark, heading towards the front of the dome. You'll fairly quickly (5 minutes tops) get to the end. A nice big ledge atop some death slabs. Don't consider downclimbing or looking for sneaky ways down. Rap. Walk out to the end of the ledge, and you'll find two bolts with chains. Just rap. You'll get down to another pair of bolts shortly (we suspect a single 60 would reach these second bolts, but we were rapping on double 50s) From there we rapped 50 metres to the base of the slab. We also suspect that you could rap 30m and downscramble the lower portion of the slabs.

From here, you will be at the remains of a cable car? that used to cross Helm's Creek. It's a very easy slab walk down stream (and then some upscrambling) to get to the base of all the climbs on Power Dome. Water level might change this, but we didn't see much evidence of anywhere we walked being seasonally under water.

slobmonster - Aug 2, 2005 6:09 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Instead of going all the way to the bolted anchor atop P3, consider building a gear anchor in the crack at the finish of P2. This leaves you directly beneath the opening moves of P4, making the traverse unnecessary.

Dave Daly

Dave Daly - Aug 3, 2005 2:36 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

I think you'll see that this is mentioned in the opening sentence for Pitch #3. Thanks for elaborating though....


Guyzo - Aug 12, 2005 5:08 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

If you park at the bend in the road, you can reach the base via rapell. Walk to the place where the slabs steepen (north end of dome) down climb to the point where a ledge system (approx 3 feet wide) starts across the slabs, walk this ledge to it's end. chain anchors will be found. You can then do one rap 165" to the start of the ledge system that traverses the entire face. Walk this, note some 5.5 climbing is found along this walk! You can break out the ropes and protect this section (small tcu's). go another 100 feet to a little corner system. climb up 35" (3rd class) and you are right by the start of "Welcome to..." .

I always do this approch, because one is wearing climbing boots anyway. The other way down is a scree slope with some loose junk that gets into your shoes. Bob Kamps showed me a variation to this that requires no rope, but you must have brass balls to do it! At the start of the 3 foot wide ledge look down about 60 feet. A small dike cuts across the slabs and leads to the landing spot of the rapell. down climb to this dike and traverse across the slabs, this is very exposed but it is solid. 5.2 XXX IMHO

Viewing: 1-4 of 4