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Looking for info Royal Arches /Direct Crest Jewel linkup and descent.
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By JeffL
From Salt Lake City
May 13, 2014

I've done RA before and plan to simul it as the approach. I'm not familiar with the last traverse pitch after the raps start. I assume it's pretty obvious. For those that have done the link up, how long did the hike from the top of RA to the base of Crest Jewel Direct take? Is the route finding pretty easy?

Most importantly, I hope to reverse the trail to royal arches and take the rap line for the descent as opposed to the north dome gully or the hike out into Tuolumne. Has anyone done this? What is the traverse like to get back to the first rap anchor. Assuming we do it in the fall and there's no water running over the slab.


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By Aturboford
May 13, 2014

The traversing pitch is dry as of last week at least. I haven't done the approach to Crest Jewel but I would assume it's 20-30 min or so. As for getting back to the raps it's completely doable but with the hike back to RA it's probably faster just to do the North Dome Gully descent.


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By Karsten
From Sacramento, CA
May 13, 2014
FA's can be scary.  Photo by DeAngelo

Yes, the traverse is obvious. In my opinion you have not done RA if you haven't done that traverse. Remember people stand straight up and walk across it. Haha, you will probably not. The traverse ends on a pine needle strewn trail. Follow it up to the wall above and traverse a short wet section with underclings leftward to easier terrain.

Once on top, find the trail. It stays fairly close to the edge of the cliff so don't try to go off gaining lots of elevation. After traversing a good ways you will come to open slabs. Gradually make your way up these heading NE aiming for the right skyline of North Dome. As you go the slabs will funnel into the right path. I would say it takes about an hour to get from RA to the start of CG.

To traverse back to RA would be a huge pain and there is no way to get back to the raps unless you reverse the last pitch traverse. Take North Dome gulley. It sucks but is probably the best option .. . unless you shuttle a care up to Tuolumne and can hike the 5 miles or so back out that way. Probably lots of snow up there right now though and ND gulley is snow free.


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By Brian Prince
From morro bay, ca
May 13, 2014
The Seward Highway is really beautiful.

All good beta from Karsten. Except... If you're doing CG direct, you probably don't want to go up the slabs on top of RA. Stay on the trail to get to the notch between the column and North Dome. Then go up a short ways to the start of the direct...

I thought getting back to the trail on top of RA from the top of North Dome to be the hardest part of the whole deal. We ended up bush whacking a lot. Get back to the slabs asap and don't try to hug ND. Once back on the trail, the ND gully descent is pretty well marked and not too bad I think. The raps are a much worse option imo


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By john strand
From southern colo
May 13, 2014

First , it's a really great link up, i have done it twice. The approach over to CJ is mostly pretty easy..a bit of scrambling, espcially getting to the original start. I think 40 minutes from the end traverse of RA.
How about going up and out to Tuolumne road ? Not a bad hike out, no raps, etc and you get to top out North Dome. one rope, minimal gear .


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By Greg Barnes
May 13, 2014
Hanging out with Karin on the summit of Warlock Needle. Photo by Josh Janes.

Don't try to get back to the RA raps after North Dome.

I've done it once, laden down with piles of ropes, bolt replacement gear, piles of old 1/4" bolts, etc. Unless you know exactly where you are going it's sketchy - also sketchy with pulling branches/rocks down on you (and everyone below) - and even then it can be sketchy, particularly if you don't have two 70m ropes (we didn't - some downclimbing was involved to get to the normal top rap station of RA raps). When we did it there was zero gear on top, we had to know where to be and leave long slings around a tree.

We were lazy, we just couldn't hack doing North Dome gully with that much junk - more the off-balance, awkward bulk of lots of old beat up ropes than the weight (also it would have been the second time down the gully in 2 days).

When we got to the bottom I distinctly remember thinking "we should have gone down North Dome Gully again."


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By kevin deweese
From walnut creek, ca
May 13, 2014
don't throw rocks

Karsten wrote:
To traverse back to RA would be a huge pain and there is no way to get back to the raps unless you reverse the last pitch traverse.


Incorrect. There's an obvious tree above the RA raps that is easy to locate in the daylight. Rap from this tree on the right side of the bush between the tree and the edge of the rock (to help with the pull) and swing to the right once you hit the slabs until you reach the top anchors of the RA raps. This is my prefered descent from Washington Column with a bigwall load (though I only do it at night so I don't get in the way of the freeclimbers).

With a freeclimbing load though, the NDG descent would be preferable and take the same amount of time (the raps would probably take a freeclimbing team a bit longer.


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By vincent L.
From Redwood City
May 13, 2014
First day of school

IMO, It is 45 minutes to CG if you know the way exactly , maybe an hour or more if you are finding it first time .

My only other suggestion is to fly up RA as fast as you can . CG is pretty exposed to the elements ... No where to hide really if it starts pouring.

The crux of the whole day was the bushwack off the top of North Dome back to North Dome gully.


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By mattm
From TX
May 13, 2014
Grande Grotto

I've done the link-up and found the top of RA to get back down. IIRC, the last traverse pitch of RA dumps you into the woods. You do a bit of leftward hiking and scrambling until you eventually "go up" and break out of the brush etc onto the slabs etc below ND. DCJ didn't get put in until a month after we were there (DOH!) so we hiked up to the regular start. I think we marked where the top of the RA trail was with a handkerchief or something, then periodically, as we approached ND on the slabs we'd turn around and sight in land marks to get us back towards the handkerchief. We did this all the way up to ND so we knew pretty much where we had to go. The bushwhack off ND on that side was rough with TONS of mazanita etc. We did get back to the RA raps without too much difficulty though. What I do remember though was getting held up with all the RA late-day parties rapping and that slowed us down a bit.

It CAN be done and it's not that had but ND Gully is probably a bit less of a hassle, esp if RA will be crowded.


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By Rob Dillon
May 14, 2014

Seems like walking to the Tioga road and sticking your thumb out would be the simplest. Keep the rope out.

Those raps kinda go on forever unless you want to bring 2 ropes.


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By David Coley
From UK
May 14, 2014

I've always thought that a cool way to do the link up is to climb RA with light bivi gear. Head over to ND, climb it, bivi the night then walk and hitch out in the morning. Or hitch the other way and do a long route in TM, then hitch back.


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By Rob Dillon
May 14, 2014

We did that once- headed up in the afternoon, slept at the spring, climbed North Dome and came down in the afternoon again. It was a nice outing, relaxed and scenic.


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By Salamanizer
Administrator
From Vacaville Ca.
May 14, 2014

The walk off the top of North Dome is horrific. It takes several hours. Don't second guess yourself, just barrel strait through the bushes all the way to the bottom. You WILL be pissed off the whole way!


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By Karsten
From Sacramento, CA
May 15, 2014
FA's can be scary.  Photo by DeAngelo

Salamanizer wrote:
The walk off the top of North Dome is horrific. It takes several hours. Don't second guess yourself, just barrel strait through the bushes all the way to the bottom. You WILL be pissed off the whole way!


Hilarious and unfortunately pretty true.

I did northdome twice last year and that walkoff back toward ND gulley sucks.


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By Rob P.
From Bay Area
May 15, 2014

I did the RA to CJ Direct recently. From the top of RA, follow the obvious trail to an area above Washington column. Look for another trail that heads into the woods on the right after walking up open slabs. There is a good trail to the direct start, so if you are bushwacking, go back and look for the trail. We took the RA raps back down, and found a nice, easy to follow trail leading from the top of north dome along the skiers right side of the dome down to the trail to the top of RA.


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By JeffL
From Salt Lake City
May 16, 2014

Rob would you recommend this descent? I see others are against it, but my knee has been bothering me going down hill so the nd gully doesn't sound great


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