A massive 900-foot dome that is home to the California classic "White Punks on Dope." The formation itself is very unique among the other Needles. Vast expanses of featureless rock yield surprisingly few routes despite the formation's size.
Descend from most routes by walking north to where the ridgeline rises and nealry meets the top of the dome. Look for slings around a constriction and make a short rappel to the ground. Descend the eastern slope. If you stay too close to the Dome, you will be forced to make at least one rappel from trees. It is also possible (and longer) to descend the western slope past the start of the route.
Voodoo Dome is approached from the road near Lower Needlrock Creek (aka Pepermint Springs). The approach takes 45-90 minutes and meanders among a perfect 3-dimensional lattice of cairns--no matter where you wander, someone has been there and piled rocks. The approach is dumbfounding until you have it dialed.
To access the trailhead: from Johnsondale (near the M99/M50 junction), take Lower Kern River Road north (aka 22S82, Lloyd Meadow Road). At the turnoff, look for a sign indicating the road for Camp Whitsett Boy Scout Camp which will be passed after 2.6 miles. Park approximately 1.5 miles past Lower Peppermint campground and just past Needlerock Creek, in a large turnout on the right. The trial begins a 100+ yards ahead on the left.
This route was described by Randy Leavitt as, "The best crack at the Needles." Despite this description, the route seems to have fallen into Needles obscurity maybe due to the difficult approach, lack of an updated guidebook, and general difficulty of the climb. However, this route inspires the imagination and those who seek it out will not be disappointed. The Emperor is a pure granite crack climb. As are most Needles routes, it is sustained in nature. The rock is spectacular, the gear is textb...[more]Browse More Classics in CA
Don't make the mistake of parking in the FIRST large turnout on the right. There are several large turnouts 1.5 miles past Lower Peppermint campground, and the correct on is just past the creek. Also, the creek is very small and easy to miss. If you get there at night you'll have to listen really carefully for it.
Corrections and amendments to the above: Approach: park exactly 2.8 miles past Lower Peppermint campground (not "approx. 1.5"). Voodoo Dome parking is 14 mi. from where the Lower Kern River Road leaves the Johnsondale road. The beginning of the trail to Voodoo/White Punks is readily visible -- a cairn, a footpath ascending through light chaparral. (A very wide turnout is 50 yards further on the right (East)). As advertised, it's hard to follow the trail all the way to the Dome; many variations are trod. In any case, the approach is part of the sweaty package.
Descent: looking for the rappel, we found an easy 3rd class ramp/gully off the North side of the dome -- about 50 feet to trees and something like a climbers' trail. From here we trended East and down, crawling/climbing down some deep gullies we might have avoided by keeping more space between our path and the dome.
Driving to the parking area: Park in the third (paved) pullout on the right, which is 2.7 or 2.8 miles past Lower Peppermint campground (two car's odometers got two different readings). There is one big (paved) pullout and one tiny (dirt) pullout on the right in the 200 yards before this pullout (the earlier pullouts are OK to park at too, but they are not quite as close to the start of the trail).
The trail to Voodoo: It is readily visible about 50 yards back toward Lower Peppermint campground (south) and across the road from the third pullout. Look for a cairn on a stump, and a fairly obvious footpath through low shrubs (bear clover) and downed trees. After about 100 yards go straight up a steeper dirt gully. The trail then levels out for a while through more bear clover. This is a use-trail, but it is obvious, especially down low. One quarter mile (or so) up the trail it splits. The left fork stays quite visible and leads right to the base of White Punks. The right fork is slightly harder to follow and leads to the base of the dome to the left of Summer Sojourn. To get to Summer Sojourn and climbs nearby from where the trail gets to the base of the dome, look for a steep gully between rocks leading up and right (some third class). Many trail ducks (aka cairns) help on both forks, especially on the one leading to White Punks.
Descent: It may be possible to rappel, but an easy 3rd class ramp/gully leads off the back side (the northeast side, toward Demon Dome). The ramp/gully is about 60 feet below Voodoo's summit. It leads about 50 feet down to trees. From here, either: 1. Swing way out from the dome and then back around. Do this by moving about 200 feet toward the other needles (northwest) from the end of the third class. Then turn right (northeast) and move down steep, wooded slopes, eventually reaching an obvious series of short, low angle buttresses which are to the right. A very obvious use trail appears around here. Keep the buttresses on the right. At the bottom of the low angle buttresses the trail goes over a low ridge. It then continues down, paralleling the northeast side of Voodoo, but way out from the rock. The use trail eventually curves to the right, directly to the base of a long, low-angle buttress which divides Voodoo's northeast side from it's southeast side. Once past this buttress, a short traverse leads to the Summer Sojourn approach trail; or 2. After the third class section, move out from the dome a little and then traverse back to it's base. Descend along the base to a point near an obvious pinnacle (which is called "The Gremlin"). From near the pinnacle traverse straight out from the dome to a use trail. This is the same use trail as in "1" above.
Suggestion: For full length routes, don't leave a pack at the base. The descent doesn't go back near the base of any of the routes.
I lost a black fleece vest with my headlamp in it and my sunglasses (presumably in the same vicinity)-if anyone happens to find them and reads this, I would love to have them back. Basically, the approach from the bottom is steep as hell, disorienting (because you're buried in the trees) and it's very easy to get off trail. In fact it seems like the trail just ends sometimes. And that's how it happened-an angry tree swiped my stuff without my noticing during one such off-trail bush wack!
By Chris Owen Administrator From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake Mar 31, 2013
We did the climb from the Needles end of fire road camp - passing all of the needles to the dome, then heading down and around to the base. It wasn't too bad, we'd already been at the Needles for a few days so were in the right frame of mind for that particular approach.