French’s Dome is a lone andesite crag located on the flanks of Mt. Hood near the town of Zig Zag, Oregon. Routes range in height from 80ft. to 160ft., and most are well-bolted. The setting is quiet and tranquil, and invokes a feeling of solitude in the old-growth forest. Spectacular views of Mt. Hood abound, and crowds are few.
The climbing is sporty, crimpy, and pumpy.
Due to heavy snowfall this area is strictly a Summer and early Fall crag. The best hours are in the afternoon when the majority of the climbs are in the shade.
To get to French’s Dome take Highway 26 from Portland towards Mt. Hood. In the town of Zig Zag take a left onto Lolo Pass Rd and continue for approximately 6 miles. The dome is not clearly visible from the road, but there is an obvious dirt pullout for parking on the right with a sign. Take the small trail downhill from the parking area to the dome; the majority of the climbs are on the left side of the dome as you're walking down the hill.
Access to French's Dome is not free and unregulated. The trailhead is a Northwest Forest Pass (NWFP)site. Users may purchase a $5 daily pass or a $30 annual pass. 80% of the Northwest Forest Pass revenues go directly back to the ground - maintaining trails and sites like this. NWFP funds were used in 2005 on French's Dome to get engineered drawings and a contract package developed to construct climbing platforms. These climbing platforms will replace the eroded hillsides and user created stop gap measures that are currently on site. The total cost of this project (scheduled to start in Spring of 2006)is over $50,000 so please support the NWFP program as it paid for this work. Your fees will also pay for a porta-potty at the site to reduce the white flowers and worse in the woods around the crag. Volunteers that work on trails on the Mt. Hood Forest receive annual Northwest Forest Passes as recognition awards for 2 days of work. See Forest website for more info. Frenches Dome can be busy when local mountain snow-board and ski camp groups are using it on summer afternoons.
French's just had a ton of work done on the retaining walls and trails. They've really been beefed up, and the whole effort looks awesome. Thanks to anyone out there who put in some hard hours out there!
phillip, I just climbed the route to the right of China Man today. It is called Jackie Chan. I got this info from a guy named phillip - you? I can't rate it because I hang-dogged my way up but the beginning is the hardest part (possibly in the 12a or b range). Now that the retaining walls are in place you can start up one retaining wall for a hard 5.11 climb.
Access alert: Lolo Pass Road is closed about a mile down from the French's Dome parking lot. You'll see a barrier blocking (or partially blocking) the road with a "Road Closed" sign posted. You are allowed to park on the side of the road here and walk the rest of the road up but driving beyond the barrier will result in fines and towing fees. I talked to a Ranger and he said that the road will remain closed until he doesn't have anyone driving beyond the barrier for one month (note: I was told there are cameras in the area). Also, he warned that next year Lolo Pass Road could be permanently closed due to the issue of people traveling by vehicle beyond the signage.
Currently, the road is clear of snow up to the parking lot with no snow around the base of the rock. Hopefully the road will open soon so we can have better access to this area.