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Charlotte Dome

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Charlotte Dome  

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 10,690'
Location: 36.7825, -118.48 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 53,595
Administrators: Chris Owen, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Chris Owen on Mar 7, 2006
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Charlotte Dome from the eastern approach. Descent ...


Beautiful dome in the Sierra backcountry. Home to, as RJ Secor called it, "one of the world's finest rock climbs."

Getting There 

Two ways:

1) From Cedar Grove, east up Bubb's Creek trail then cut left (north) on faint-use trail up Charlotte Creek, 7.5 miles 4,500 ft elevation gain.

2) From Onion Valley, over Kearsarge Pass, down to Charlotte Lake, then down to Charlotte Dome, 9.5 miles 3,500 ft elevation gain (on the way out! c2500 ft on the hike in).

You decide which way you want to go. Living in LA I favor the western approach (1); it's all downhill on the way out.

Campsites here are wonderful, in deep forest, and hopefully no one else around. Watch out for bears! Take precautions. Bear cannisters are mandatory on both approaches.

Climbing Season

Weather station 14.9 miles from here

3 Total Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Charlotte Dome:
South Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1500'   
Browse More Classics in Charlotte Dome

Featured Route For Charlotte Dome
Schematic of the route we took in August 1992.

South Face 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c  CA : High Sierra : Charlotte Dome
A route on solid rock in a magnificent position.P1 5.4 Climb up a groove, traverse right to a little wall with large knobs, up this to a large ledge; spike belay belay on the right. P2 5.6 On the righthand edge of the ledge is a corner formed by a detached block, climb this, then up a crack, traverse right around an overlap, climb a crack and switch right into another crack to reach a small ledge in an alcove. Nut belay. P3 5.6 Climb the wall on the left of the alcove, traverse right a...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Charlotte Dome Slideshow Add Photo
The ramp traverse.
BETA PHOTO: The ramp traverse.
Peter Croft's summit registry thoughts.
Peter Croft's summit registry thoughts.
Pulling the small roof on the "slot" pit...
BETA PHOTO: Pulling the small roof on the "slot" pit...
Dawn halfway up the wall
Dawn halfway up the wall
Campsite on the eastern shoulder of Charlotte Dome...
Campsite on the eastern shoulder of Charlotte Dome...
Charlotte Dome at sunset
Charlotte Dome at sunset
topping out the South Face. photo by Tim Richards....
topping out the South Face. photo by Tim Richards....
Charlotte Lake
Charlotte Lake
Summit block.
Summit block.
Nearing the end of the westside approach
Nearing the end of the westside approach

Comments on Charlotte Dome Add Comment
Show which comments
By M.Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Mar 9, 2006
I've only done the Cedar Grove approach, which is steep but straightforward, and 90% on a major hiking trail. When my partner and I did it, we started hiking in from Cedar Grove fairly late in the day (can't remember exactly, maybe around 4 or 5 pm). We bivied at the base of the route that night, climbed it the next day and hiked out the same day, which worked out quite well.
By karl wilcox
From: Cleburne,Texas
Feb 1, 2007
The standard Charlotte route can be very crowded in the present era of tick lists. In my view the best time to climb is Sept. or Oct. Colours are great, and nobody is around. Route finding is key on this route-- in the 1970's it was truly hard to know if one was on route, now Peter Croft's guide book offers much greater certitude. I always camp at the lake with the bear boxes and the ranger station (coming in over Kearsage pass; eastside), as in the late 1970's we lost our food when we camped closer to the dome. I seem to always need a headlamp for the walk back to camp at the lake. With two clients it seems that the route takes about 10 hours from camp to camp (Lake Camp), but in the Fall this means some dark-time walking.
By Bruce Willey
From: Bishop, CA
Jun 10, 2007
From what I hear the bears in the area are on parole, serving time after being "problem bears" in the Valley. We had a big cinnamon-colored bear pick up a fuel canister near our heads, cart it off a few feet away and explode it in its mouth. It was last seen heading for water. Not a pleasant experience for the bear and I offer my apologies for not putting the fuel canister in the bear canister. The next day, after climbing the South Face, we were heading up the valley towards the Charlotte Lake and we ran into what looked exactly like the same bear. He or she stared us down and started walking towards us. Prudently, we started up the manzanita slope. The bear followed us and I picked up a useless tree branch. To be continued...
By Chris Owen
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Oct 14, 2008
Late season is good to avoid the crowds but be prepared for bad weather - got seriously rained on one Labor Day weekend, about halfway up, water just pouring down the rock, freezing cold, bit of an epic.

I often wonder what it would be like in the depths of winter....

Roper's 50 Classic Climbs is also a great resource because it has a few photos on route, helped me a lot when I first did it in the 80's.
By Scott Sinner
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Sep 5, 2012
  • I left a fishing rod in its case at our bivy spot yesterday. If anyone's going to be out there in the near future and could bring it back for me, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks. 717-580-2536
By Chris Owen
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Jul 3, 2014
I've been going to the Sierra for 30 years and i can honestly say I had only one bear problem trip; it was a trip to Charlotte Dome. A small cinnamon bear bugged us twice in the night, shimmying up the tree where we had hung our food and we had to resort to throwing rocks at it, upon which it came right back down the tree, came at 9 then 12. The next day after the climb of the South Face we heard a large branch snap near our camp in the woods, ran into camp to see a huge black bear standing there; we kept running and shouting and it ambled away.

That was back in the early 90's before the canister regulation. Once they issued that i stopped rock climbing in the backcountry, my pack was too heavy and it kinda took all the fun out of it.
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