The Carson Kodas Arete is a challenging climb with wild exposure on perfect granite. This fine pitch ascends the prominent arete which forms the south west corner of Trapper Dome. This formation is across the road from Trapper Springs campground and is a five minute walk from the car.
The route begins at a bolted belay stance one pitch off the ground on a ledge under the large dihedral to the right of the arete. This spot can be reached by climbing one of several routes leading up to the ledge, or you can hike up the back of the dome and rapell in from anchors across from the arete.
As is obvious from the belay, the route face climbs up and over to the arete. Climbing the arete is airy and exciting, but most climbers will find the crux to be a sequence of face moves encountered after the second bolt.
From the belay, climb up easily and clip the first bolt (A large nut with a long runner can provide optional protection for these opening moves). The next bit, up to the second bolt, is 5.10. The last couple moves to the clipping (drilling) stance require skillful footwork and are probably the worst place on the route to fall. After the second bolt, you traverse left and up, through the crux, arriving at the arete just below a small overhang and the third bolt. While doing the crux you must again climb well away from the pro, but this time your potential fall is safe and clean. The next section ascends the exposed arete. You cannot see the last bolt until you get to it (If you are climbing with double ropes, you can place a decent small wired nut in the patina on the face to the right.) In either case, a couple hard moves over the little roof lead to easier moves above and then - surprise - that 4th bolt. There is no fixed anchor, but excellent nut placements and other things to tie off to are found at the top.
In July 1987, when they put up this route, Ron Carson and Vaino Kodas were two of the best and boldest climbers in the area. Ron's routes on Dome Rock (Carsonoma and Chemotherapy, etc.) are legendary 5.12+ power slabs. By this time he had also led "The Dark Side" (5.12x) on Voodoo Dome, and he would go on to complete the amazing "Titanic" in The Needles with Tony Yaniro and Brett Maurer. Vaino Kodas, one of the Estonians (along with Eve Laeger) of the Power Dome classic "Esto Power", established difficult new routes throughout California at a frenzied pace until moving out of the area a few years ago.
Climbing in traditional style, with the bolts drilled by a climber on the lead, this strong team established a route which stands as a testpiece at it's grade. The exhilaration which comes with a successful ascent of this pitch will leave you wanting more, even if it was a bit scary.
My own experiences with this climb have been varied. I've led it several times. I've also backed off it more than once, either because I wasn't feeling solid or it was too hot. This route is R rated - it's not a death defying stunt, but you could take a real flyer coming off in the wrong place, so use your head. If conditions are good and you're feeling it, do the deed. When you are through the crux and arrive at the arete proper, take a good look around and savor the exposure. It's one of a kind.
If your second is someone you like, you might consider pulling the rope up through the gear and tossing it back down in the clear to TR the traverse.
This is not a good route to try on a warm day in the hot sun.