Helen's Dome Rock Climbing
Routes in Helen's Dome
|A Nice Top Rope TR 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b|
|AWOL (aka Moss Toss) T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c|
|Beam Me Up, Scotty T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a|
|Borderline Boulevard T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b|
|Brave Cowboy T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R|
|Buffalo Soldier T,S 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R|
|Buffalo Tears T 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b PG13|
|Electric Koolaid Acid Test T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R|
|Face Value T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a|
|Fool's Gold T,S 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a|
|Fractured Fairytales S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b|
|Gettin' the Groove S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b|
|On the Bus T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R|
|Pebble Beach T,TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a X|
|Roototop S 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c|
|Spree T,S 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c|
|Sticks 'n' Stones T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a|
|Unknown on South Face T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c|
|Shared By:||Derek Lawrence on Dec 31, 2000|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
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DescriptionHelen's Dome is a large granite formation located west of Cheesman Reservoir. There are actually 4 separate rock formations - Sheep Rock, Helen's Dome, Baby Helen, and Acid Rock. The climbing on Helen's Dome is predominantly face climbing, with feldspar crystals providing welcome relief from pure friction slab climbing. A few crack climbs are found on Helen's Dome, while many of the face climbs have short sections of crack climbing.
The protection on Helen's is mostly from 3/8" bolts. A light standard rack (small wires, TCUs, and cams/hexes up to 2") should provide enough gear to protect the crack sections of the face climbs. A larger rack is necessary for the pure crack climbs. The majority of the climbs on Helen's are 2 pitches long with rap stations at the belays.
Climbers can either rap the route or continue to the top of Helen's on easy, sparsely protected slabs (about 300 feet of 5.2-5.5 depending on the route taken). To descend from the top of Helen's, head right around a large block on top, downclimb a short crack (easier than it looks) and scramble southwest towards Acid Rock until you can easily step down to solid ground. Acid Rock and Baby Helen are uphill and behind Helen's Dome.
The climbs on Acid Rock are both crack and face climbs of exceptional quality. Again, 3/8" bolts provide protection for the face climbing with natural gear needed for the crack climbs. Double rope rappels will get you down. Baby Helen has 3-4 nice climbs (crack/face) on it.
Getting ThereFrom Denver, take US Hwy 285 south to Pine Junction. Turn left on CO Hwy 126 east towards Deckers. Turn right on Forest Road #211 (about 3 miles before Deckers, just past Wigwam Picnic/Campground). This turn is marked by a sign pointing towards Cheesman Reservoir, Molly Gulch Campground, and Lost Valley Ranch. [Note: Molly Gulch Campground has been closed since the Hayman fire. References may have been removed from signage.] Follow signs towards Molly Gulch and Goose Creek Campground. About 1 mile from the former Molly Gulch campground, park in a pullout on the left (sign indicates parking for Sheep Rock climbers). [Note: As of 2011, the sign was no longer there. The pullout is approximately 7.7 miles from the pavement.]
From the Sheep Rock parking area, head south towards the stream. Where the trail branches above the stream, go right towards the former campground. A large log crosses the creek below the former campground. Cross the log and follow the trail along the creek to the right for a few hundred feet and then up the steep hill to the left. The trail then trends right around the top of the ridge to end up at a drainage/valley at the eastern edge of private property (the Lost Valley Ranch). (Note that some branches in the trail go more directly up and over the hill to the same place.) Go left across the drainage and follow a faint trail straight up the hill to the lower right corner of Helen's Dome (as seen from the trail). The trail zigzags up the path of least resistance through a field of huge boulders. One short slab scramble and a chockstoned gully that is passed by climbing the short wall to the left are the only difficulties. At the base of the dome, head down left and across a couple of large rocks to the base of a short crack. Scramble up the crack and face (5.3?) about 30-40 feet to a large shelf with trees which serves as the base for the routes Buffalo Tears to Spree. The approach takes about 30 minutes. The drainage can be followed further east (left) and then up the hill (bushwhack, faint trail) to approach the routes on the left side of Helen's Dome (Moss Toss, etc.).
There are three options to approach Baby Helen's or Acid Rock: 1: climb a route on Helen's and continue to the top. 2: from the point where the trail reaches the base of Helen's Dome, go right up the trail to the base of a HUGE, right-facing corner/slab system with a big tree about 50 feet up the corner. (Locate a bolt about 15 feet up & right from the tree). This corner/slab can be climbed in 4 long pitches (entirely bolted - mostly easy, max 5.7-5.8) or simul-climbed in one LONG pitch as a warm up (bring lots of long runners). 3: continue past the corner to the right (follow 3-4 cairns heading right through a rockfall) and head up and left along a faint trail for several hundred feet. The trail tends to stay close to the Dome. Stray too far right and enter no-man's land. If followed correctly (lucky?), this trail ends up at the walk-off from the top of Helen's Dome. This takes about 45 minutes. This trail also serves as the walk down from Helen's Dome/Acid Rock/Baby Helen's.
Per John Peterson: to approach the right side of the dome (probably anything from Buffalo Tears and right) - hike down to the creek and go upstream - we crossed about 100' up from the spot where you meet the stream, about 18" deep at max. Once you get to the far side, go up until the horse trail. Go right (not up towards the rock). This will curl around left to a trail junction near a fence. Go left up a small stream, and look for a cairn leading up right - there's no real evidence of the trail at this point, but it gets better as you go up. If you get to a huge boulder, you missed by about 50'. Once you start up, there are plenty of cairns. To access routes to the left of Fractured Fairytales, you can climb its first pitch to the ledge where many of the routes start. We found this to be much easier than the trail approaching the left side.
Descent: 1: reverse the trail. Beware that the trail crosses rock which becomes extremely slippery when wet. Take EXTREME caution when descending in the rain. The trail zigzags through a huge boulder field with deep crevices/holes. Get off route and potentially get in BIG trouble. 2: rappel the simul-climb with double ropes (both 60m). I'm not sure if this is any faster. Last time down (in the rain), we walked down faster than a party of 3 who rapped the simul-climb.
Classic Climbing Routes at Helen's Dome
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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