Hidden outside the southern boundries of Yosemite National Park, Gray Eagle Dome is one of many collective domes that makes up the Shuteye Ridge area. The landscape surrounding it makes up the Mammoth Pool region. Gray Eagle is situated along the western section of Shuteye Ridge. This formation is truly a diamond in the rough and boasts of steep slab and face climbing...littered with knobs and chickenheads! Shuteye Ridge itself is a rogue climbers paradise and is just starting to be tapped for it's many hidden treasures that no modern climber would ever imagine!! The region itself still has many domes and features along the landscape that have never received the touch of a climbers hand. The area is know for it's high quality, bullet-hard granite which features knobs, chickenheads, and flakes. Remote yet accessable, the views from Gray Eagle and the remaining ridgeline looks upon the Sierra Crest. Many of the domes rise up to almost a 1000' high, boasting of superb steep slab climbing and amazing knob pulling. As for the skyward ramparts and cliff faces, many are straight vertical and some overhanging walls are adorned with a few surprise caves at the base. Unlike Yosemite Valley, the granite is highly featured and unpolished. Within close proximity of Gray Eagle are the following domes and walls: Queensthrone, Talon, High Eagle, Aerie, Shangri La, 557's Dome, Cat Nap, Electric Eagle, Bastion, Minerva, Dreamscape, South Eagle Beak, North Eagle Beak, Red Eagle,Fallen Eagle, Eggs, Chiquito Dome, Rock Creek, Incinerator, Big Sleep, Voodoo Child, Crocodile Rock. Locals have been boasting that Shuteye is the next "backcountry sport climbing" area. Whether you go there to justify that statement, Shuteye Ridge has great diversity and many wonders to offer.
From either L.A. or the Bay area, take Hwy 99 to Fresno. Once there, take Hwy 41 north (like you're heading to Yosemite's south entrance) and drive 27 miles. Then take Rd 200 (on the right hand side of Hwy 41N) and drive 17 miles to the town of North Fork. Once in North Fork, bear right as you drive through the town and connect to Minaret Rd (Rd 4S00). Follow Minaret Rd for approximately 31 miles. Be on the look out for a small logging spur that departs the road on the left hand side, marked "Shuteye Ridge Trailhead, 1 MI". This steep, dirt "road" is rutted and may require a sturdy vehicle or 4x4. During spring conditions, it is best to leave the vehicle near Minaret Rd. and hike in. Otherwise, drive up the spur for approx. .7 miles until a felled tree is encountered. Turn left and up a steep section of another spur. This spur ends about 100 yards uphill at a level section. Park here. Looking westward, one will spot part of the ridgeline for Shuteye. The views back east look into the Mammoth Pool and offer amazing views, making this place even more special.
From the "parking area", head west into a stand of trees. A faint trail can be picked up once you're on the other side this stand. This trail may be tough to follow, especially in spring. The trail wanders up and toward the ridge. Several ducks have been placed to ensure the trail is followed. One will see by now, left to right, Red Eagle, Gray Eagle, and Electric Eagle formations. At one point, the trail intersects a creek. Follow this creek upward for about 200 yards, then cross over to its right side. This may be a tough core during spring conditions while the creek may be flowing heavily. Once on the other side, scramble up some broken slabs, continuing to head directly at the formations. The trail starts up once again and wind upward through the woods. The trail will finally end at Gray Eagle's base. There, in front of the trail, is a buttress with a long crack soaring upward. This crack and face route is called 'Wing Feather' (5.8, 3 pitches).
To the left of this buttress is a steep recess gully. At the top of this gully are anchors for rappelling off Gray Eagle. A word of caution, each rappel station (3 total) either require a single 70 meter rope or two ropes tied together in order to make the rappels. Several of these are hanging belays. Make sure you tie a knot in your ropes before rapplling this route!
Water is available thoughout the year on either side of the formation at individual creeklettes. Approach time 40-45 minutes.
This is National Forest land and camping can be done about anywhere around Shuteye Ridge. Ensure a fire permit is picked up before creating an campfires. Several spots can be found along the right section of Gray Eagle that are level. Camping here is extremely adventagous since the water sources are nearby. Otherwise, camp at the clear where the parking area is and ensure you bring you're own water.