Elevation: 6,500 ft
GPS: 38.88, -120.288 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 24,193 total · 770/month
Shared By: Ney Grant on Jun 24, 2016 with updates from timmaly
Admins: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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Description

In the land of dikes and cracks at Lover’s Leap and the spires at Sugarloaf and Phantom Spires, this fantastic granite dome has been overlooked for decades. Originally developed in the early 1980s by Bob Branscomb, Don Garret and Ron Vardanega, it has sported rusty ¼” bolts and a heinous bushwack approach until the area was rebolted and the brush cleared by Ney Grant, Betsy Grant and FA Ron Vardanega in 2015.

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
5.6
Central Pillar of Easy
Osprey Crack
Crystallite

5.7
Friction Affliction
Under My Skin
Crystal Blue Persuasion

5.7+ Independence Wall

5.8
Crystal Chute
First pitch of Ice House Roof
Flight of the Centurion

5.9
Crystal Wall Route
Ice House Roof, including Roof

5.10a
More Affliction

5.10a
Crystal Crescent, Sport

5.10c
Yap, 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.

Rappelling Tip
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).

Getting There

6.5.18  NOTE: The two large trees across the road are cut and out of the way.  The road is clear to the end - though some ruts remain from runoff.

The Drive

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.

Seasons

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.

Between you and dome is "the bear trail" so head left and slightly up and pick up the trail. Its called the Bear trail 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.

35 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

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Classic Climbing Routes at Slick Rock Dome

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 5
Crystalite
Sport
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 4
Mom's Rx
Sport
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 5
Central Pillar of Easy
Trad 4 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
 3
Crystal Blue Persuasion
Sport 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
 5
Friction Affliction
Trad 3 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 6
No No Niko
Sport
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
 9
Independence Wall
Sport 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
 4
Crystal Chute
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 3
Flight of the Centurion
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
 3
Crystal Wall Route
Sport 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 7
Ice House Roof
Sport 3 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 6
Slick Slice of Slab
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 5
Slick Rock Slab
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
 4
More Affliction
Trad 3 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 6
Crystal Crescent
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Crystalite Slick Rock Slab
 5
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Sport
Mom's Rx Slick Rock Slab
 4
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Sport
Central Pillar of Easy Crystal Wall Area
 5
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 4 pitches
Crystal Blue Persuasion Crystal Wall Area
 3
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Sport 2 pitches
Friction Affliction Crystal Wall Area
 5
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13 Trad 3 pitches
No No Niko Slick Rock Slab
 6
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Independence Wall Crystal Wall Area
 9
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c Sport 2 pitches
Crystal Chute Crystal Wall Area
 4
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13 Trad 2 pitches
Flight of the Centurion Nap Wall Area
 3
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Crystal Wall Route Crystal Wall Area
 3
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R Sport 2 pitches
Ice House Roof Crystal Wall Area
 7
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport 3 pitches
Slick Slice of Slab Slick Rock Slab
 6
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Slick Rock Slab Slick Rock Slab
 5
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
More Affliction Crystal Wall Area
 4
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13 Trad 3 pitches
Crystal Crescent Nap Wall Area
 6
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Slick Rock Dome »

Weather Averages

High
 
Low
 
Precip
 
Days w Precip
 
Prime Climbing Season
J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
Kelley Gilleran   Sacramento, Ca
So cool! Thanks for all your hard work! Jun 27, 2016
GizzardJones
Rancho Cordova, CA
GizzardJones   Rancho Cordova, CA
WOW oh WOW. right in my backyard all this time. I love it. BIG PROPS to the FA parties in the 80's for the vision to stomp out there and doing ground up in the old school Tuolumne style on this prestine Tahoe granite. Fast forward to 2015/2016 and yet another BIG PROPS to the next generation stewards of maintaining and developing this place. BIG THANK YOU for the trail leading to the base.. we stomped out there wed 7.20.2016 to check it out for our 1st time. Loved everything about it. The approach, the wild climbing, long run outs, big 200'+ pitches, always needed 2 70m ropes, route finding, slabs for daze and nobody around.
But I'll try and not give all the fun away.... '-)
Thanks to the ASCA and The Grants hard work there is new shiny hardware installed on the routes.

Thanks
Gizzard

Jul 21, 2016
Salamanizer suchoski
Janesville Ca.
Salamanizer suchoski   Janesville Ca.  
There's a trail now? That must be nice!!! Was all rattle snakes and bushwhacking last time I was out there. Jul 28, 2016
Hey Ney,
I think you may have mentioned this in the ST thread on slick rock, but do you really need two 70m ropes to rap off some of these climbs? it looks like it from the topo, but wanted to confirm it.

An example is crystal chute - topo makes it look like you need 2 70m ropes to do two raps, but the length of the climb is only 250 feet. ???

I only have 1 70m. :( Sep 13, 2016
Ney Grant
Pollock Pines, CA
Ney Grant   Pollock Pines, CA
Split Climber,

Yeah, it is kind of confusing. I did mention 70 when it is 70, but often you can rap down on something else. Or walk off. Walking off at least once is recommended as it gives you a tour of the other climbs at the far end of the dome.

In the case of Crystal Chute (fantastic climb), I did put rap chains halfway down and two 70m raps (two 70m ropes) are required. However, from the top you can rap down Friction Affliction in three raps with probably 50m ropes. From the top, looking down, go WAY left and the next chains are at the end of a big roof. The next set are pretty much straight down and hard to miss.

By the way, a good rap technique on the upper slope where it isn't steep is to stack your rope instead of trying to throw it down. Then have your partner feed it to you as you rap. Sep 14, 2016
Thanks Ney.

I'll bring a 60m tagline and tie knots if we rap friction addition as you suggested. will probably just walk off though.

Are the heights on some of these routes off then? I would think crystal chute would be over 400 feet just for two pitches if each pitch is 70m.

Or am I confusing height vs length? Sep 15, 2016
Ney Grant
Pollock Pines, CA
Ney Grant   Pollock Pines, CA
Sorry, I just wasn't paying attention to route height when I was entering the routes into MP. I had put 250 for one of them and just used that for all and was going to go back and fix it, but didn't.

I have now updated all the route height info. Sep 17, 2016
Niko Nakamura   Reno
Great work guys! Had a great time this weekend. Still a ton of snow on the road as of Memorial weekend, we had about a 2 hour hike in. Thank you so much! May 29, 2017
Ney Grant
Pollock Pines, CA
Ney Grant   Pollock Pines, CA
As of June 5th, 2017 the road into Slick Rock Dome is open. Well, open enough. The last 1/4 mile is patches of snow so there is a little longer hike.

The road is rutted from the heavy winter but I made it in a Subaru Outback. A low clearance car may have a tough time.

You can't drive to or across the creek and it is currently an icy knee-high crossing. But there is a log bridge downstream. When walking down the road toward the creek, look for rock cairns on the left (not fire pit rocks). At the cairns, go straight down to the creek and there is a large fallen log that you can walk across. Walk across the log bridge and then go up hill and to the right and you'll hit the road (very rough road) on the other side of the creek. Jun 5, 2017
Was able to drive all the way to the creek in my Rav4. No snow at all. There were only a few spots where the ruts were really bad, but wouldn't recommend driving a lower clearance car. The trail from the creek to dome was easy to follow and well marked with cairns. The "getting there" description on this page was very thorough and will get you there without a problem. Had a fun time exploring 1 pitch routes on Slick Rock Slab and Crystal Wall. Looking forward to going back with a 70m rope and climbing to the top of the dome. Jun 27, 2017
Logan Swartz
San Diego, CA
Logan Swartz   San Diego, CA
With my 2 wheel drive ford escape was able to easily do the stream crossing. Stream at its deepest came to just below the knee.
Ney Grant, thanks for developing the area! We had a great time, climbing camping, and stream crossing with the place to ourselves! Nice work! Jul 9, 2017
Thanks so much to those who refurbished & expanded this area! Also, thanks for the incredibly detailed & accurate approach beta. My SO & I had a great time there today, and are eagerly anticipating returning when it's not so hot... Aug 20, 2017
BruceB
Reno, NV
BruceB   Reno, NV
Much appreciate all the work in redeveloping this area. Had a great weekend of slabby fun. Most of the rock is very good, a couple of areas are really excellent. Sep 18, 2017
Ney Grant
Pollock Pines, CA
Ney Grant   Pollock Pines, CA
Two large trees are down on the road in so right now the area is not accessible. I've contacted USFS and they said they would contact me, hopefully soon, with at least when the road would be opened. I'll post here when opened. May 16, 2018
CDD
CDD  
How big are the trees? I have a chainsaw... Jun 5, 2018
Ney Grant
Pollock Pines, CA
Ney Grant   Pollock Pines, CA
I was contacted yesterday by the forest service. They finally went out to check it out and report that someone has already cut them and it is clear to the end (with some ruts like last year). So its good to go. Jun 5, 2018