Fairview Dome, the largest of the Tuloumne domes, has been a magnet for climbers since the mid-1960s. While most of the routes on the faces facing Tioga Road are hard-moderate-to-difficult, here is a lovely half-day route for the less ambitious: a traverse of Marmot Dome, followed by an open ridgewalk, and finishing with an enjoyable climb up the northeast buttress of the dome.
From the Tuolumne Meadows store, drive west on SR120 (Tioga Road) until you can pull off the road at a point just north of the east end of Marmot Dome, the smaller satellite dome situated ENE of Fairview itself. Cross the road, and hike cross-country up the forested hillside until you reach the crest of the ridge. (You should not yet be on rock at this point.) Look for a low-angle slab crossed by two diagonal, parallel cracks. This is the starting point.
Head up the slab for a rope-length of easy friction (walking in some places) until you reach an arch that forms a 6-foot wall. Make a swing (5.4-5.6--height-dependent) up and over the arch, then head up and left to a belay spot near the ridgecrest. An obvious landmark at this point is what looks like a large, precariously-balanced boulder (it isn't a boulder, actually--just the protruding end of a huge flake). Face-climb up a knobby slab to the V-notch left of the "boulder". From here, scramble, and then walk about a quarter mile along the smooth, glaciated granite until you reach Fairview itself. From a point at which you can look down Fairview's north side to the highway, walk left along a smooth, vertical face for about 35 feet, then climb (5.6) the face to reach a long ledge that leads you back right past a small pine tree to a spot above your overlook. (The way up this face is not obvious. You may find moves that are much harder than 5.6.) From here, the climbing is easy, airy, and way fun. Climb up and right over broken rock into a shallow bowl, cross it, then follow the arete that forms the right edge of the bowl. The summit comes suddenly and is a wonderful spot to have lunch, nap, or watch clouds. Descend by scrambling down the south side of the dome to the forest, then head back north to the slabby ridge and retrace your steps to Marmot Dome. Contour around it to the right, then hike back down to the car.
You'll want the following gear: 1 50-60-meter climbing rope, 4 runners (including at least one double-length), nuts to fit 1/4" to 1 1/2" cracks, and your usual harness, jacket, lunch and water.
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