Slick Rock Dome Rock Climbing
|GPS:||38.88, -120.288 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Ney Grant on Jun 24, 2016|
Aron Quiter, Lurker, M Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
History (Admin Only): Salamanizer suchoski approved "Getting There" Jun 24, 2019 View all 3
M Morley approved "Getting There" Jul 1, 2019
Salamanizer suchoski approved "Getting There" Dec 18, 2019
The dome is somewhat low angle (most of the climbs gradually get easier as ascend) and there are about 30 routes mainly moderate ranging from 5.6 to 5.10c. There is potential for harder climbs, they just haven't been put up yet.
Here is a link to: Trip Report on Rebolting / Rediscovery of Slick Rock Dome
Recommended Climbs at Slick Rock Dome
For us (we rebolted the old routes and added many new ones), the best climbs that best represent the sublime face climbing on near-perfect granite plus some flake and roof climbing are
1.Crystal Wall Route, 5.9(R)
2.Ice House Roof, 5.9
3.Independence Wall, 5.8
4.Crystal Chute, 5.8
5.Under My Skin, 5.7
6.Crystal Crescent, 5.10 a/b
By the way, these climbs are located in the Crystal Basin if you were wondering about the names.
Recommended Climbs by Grade
Central Pillar of Easy
Under My Skin
Crystal Blue Persuasion
5.7+ Independence Wall
First pitch of Ice House Roof
Flight of the Centurion
Crystal Wall Route
Ice House Roof, including Roof
Crystal Crescent, Sport
A day of Sport Climbing at the Dome
When hiking in you first hit the dome at the Slick Rock Slab sport climbing area. There are two 5.6s, a 5.7, two 5.8s and one 5.10 sport climbs ending at sport anchors. The best sport climb of the dome however is 1/4 mile up the dome base trail to the other end of the dome: Crystal Crescent, a sustained 5.10 climb up fantastic granite. The first pitch of Independence Wall, 5.7+ can also be done with one 70M rope with a lower-off.
If you bring two ropes (still only quickdraws) you can also do longer one-pitch climbs like Under My Skin 5.7, Urethra 5.7, first pitch of Ice House Roof 5.8, and the stellar Crystal Wall Route 5.9R.
The upper pitches typically end on low-angle slab. Throwing the rope down for a rap usually results in a messy pile of rope 20 feet down. A better way is to stack both ropes at the top of the rap and pull rope off the top of each stack as you rap, with your partner feeding rope. Or carry the rope and feed as you go.
Cell phone service is spotty at trailhead but great at the dome (AT&T anyway).
Take Ice House Road off Highway 50 and drive 14.5 miles to the signed Picket Pen Road on the right. Picket Pen road is a combination of broken pavement, dirt and gravel. A high clearance vehicle isn't required but a low one will probably have issues. We do fine in a Subaru. Drive 3 miles and take a right hand turn uphill on broken pavement. Note there is a paved road at one mile on the right. Don’t take that. Don’t take any more turns and at about 8.5 miles you’ll get to Big Silver Creek. Park before the creek, or if you have sufficient clearance, 4WD, the right flows and the right vehicle cross it and park on the other side at the end of the road. The road becomes 4WD and ends a hundred yards or so past the creek so no big deal either way.
Camping / Bouldering / Hiking
There is undeveloped camping allowed all along Picket Pen road with some good sites in the first 3 miles. After 3 miles there are few established sites, but you can just pick a side road and camp anywhere. There is an established camp site just past the creek crossing. If the bugs are bad you can drive a bit less or a bit further and camp away from the creek and it is still a short walk to the dome. You can pick up a fire permit at the visitor center just off Ice House Road on the way in.
You pass the Ice House Resort and store on Ice House road on the way in on Ice House Road. In addition to a basic campground store, it also has a café/bar serving burgers and, well, maybe just burgers.
For a nice hike you can hike the base trail along the bottom of the climbs, then scramble up the north side to the top of the dome. There is a very nice trail leading off the northeast side of the dome - look for it on the saddle between Slick Rock and higher terrain to the east. You can visit some nice wildflower meadows late spring into summer by taking the trail east until past the first big ridge to the north. Then drop down north via an open easily hikeable gulley to the first meadow (and a dirt road). The trails in this area are likely horse trails eventually leading to the private ranch at Pearl Lake owned by the local Veerkamp family.
There is at least one boulder with two jam cracks if you walk past the two broken-top trees on the approach to the dome.
The elevation of the dome is about 6,500 feet, although it feels lower because there is little shade and the huge expanse of granite tends to heat things up. In other words, it can get really hot out there. Spring and fall are good, while during summer it is best to climb in the morning on hot days. Picket Pen road closes due to snow in the winter.
The Approach to the Dome
After trial and error going many different ways (in the beginning, we'd climb the back of the dome and rap down to avoid the bushwack) there is now a very nice trail to the climbs. The approach takes about 30 minutes.
Walk on the road past the faded red “No Motor Vehicles” post as Picket Pen road deteriorates and turns into a path, stepping over small downed trees as you go. The faint road/path heads to a small grassy opening, with a large downed reddish pine tree on the left. Head left and step around the trunk of this tree, then right and continue on a tangential path to the dome on a rocky trail through a broken forest, staying to the left of bushes (as opposed to heading directly toward the dome to the right). Your goal is a bushy clearing with two broken-top trees. Once at the front edge of the clearing, slant DOWN to the right and you’ll see a creek with a sea of Alder trees that you’ve been cleverly avoiding. Continue downstream a short ways until the Alders cease, then step across the creek on two orange steeping stones and you’ll see granite, the toe of the dome, directly ahead.
Head left and pick up the "the bear trail", so named because it was a trail with bear scat on it before we ever made it a human trail. The trail continues between the creek and the granite until you come to a open area with massive boulders and downed trees. The bear trail is marked there with a cairn where you leave it. Look for cairns and up a little higher look for a dry granite boulder wash tumbling down through the bushes. Head directly up the wash until bushes block your path, then look for a cleared trail.
Follow the trail up and left, with a few cairns showing the way. There are interesting granite formations and low angle slabs straight up, but that isn't where you are going, you'll need to move left and up. You'll finally get a good view of the Crystal Wall area and a few more minutes you'll be at the climbs.
Scramble onto the granite at Slick Rock Slabs, the sport climbing area. If you are moving on, move up about 30 feet then step/slide back down on the base trail. About a minute further around the corner you'll reach the Crystal Wall area.
The walk down the dome
It is a safe, easy walk-off to walk left across the brow of the dome (and beneath the large crown) and to walk northwest down the edge of the far side to the Nap Wall area climbs. It has been pruned and is not a bush-whack. You can walk off the southeast too, but that is a bushwhack unless you know the way, and it isn't obvious. It is best to just walk off the far side.
The Climbs and "Local Ethics"
Note that the multipitch climbs on the main wall were all done ground-up and the original 1980s routes are slightly or very runout, although the runout sections are typically on easier rock as the slope eases. The newer routes, also done ground-up, are a little less runout because of the use of a power drill vs. the hand drilling done in the 1980s. Or because the 1980 guys were just plain more burly. Both I think.
The one-pitch sport climbs on each end of the dome with sport anchors were bolted on rappel.
Thus the "local ethic" seems to be ground-up climbing on the main walls where the climbs are longer and rap-bolting / sport climbs on each end where the climbs are naturally shorter, one-pitch climbs.
Classic Climbing Routes at Slick Rock Dome
Days w Precip