Type: Trad, Alpine, 1500 ft, 12 pitches, Grade III
FA: Galen Rowell, Chris Jones, Fred Beckey - October 1970
Page Views: 38,697 total · 242/month
Shared By: Chris Owen on Mar 7, 2006
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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A route on solid rock in a magnificent position.

P1 5.4 Climb up a groove, traverse right to a little wall with large knobs, up this to a large ledge; spike belay belay on the right.

P2 5.6 On the righthand edge of the ledge is a corner formed by a detached block, climb this, then up a crack, traverse right around an overlap, climb a crack and switch right into another crack to reach a small ledge in an alcove. Nut belay.

P3 5.6 Climb the wall on the left of the alcove, traverse right along an easy ledge and gain a ramp of different rock, head right up this for 30ft, then climb a crack (small wire) step left and climb a slab to a ledge. Nut belay.

P4 5.6 Climb a crack, then easily right to a chimney crack, up this to a ledge on the right. Climb a beautiful left-facing corner (50 Classics shows Allen Steck on this) to a thinner crack, up this then step right to a small ledge and nut belay below the Slot Pitch.

P5 5.8 Climb The Slot, good holds on the face to the right to a small ledge running across the face. Belay at a crack on the right with nuts. A magnificent pitch.

P6 5.7 Up the crack, with an awkward move right to gain a ledge below a steep wall. Nut belay on the right.

P7 5.7 From the righthand end of the ledge go over 2 small pinnacles and climb up a steep right facing corner to a semi-hanging belay on nuts. A great pitch.

P8 5.7+ A long intricate pitch. Climb the crack that the corner has become until it peters out, ahead looks hopeless, but step left into another crack, nut, head up and left, aiming for a small pocket in the slab above, this pocket takes a 2.5 Friend. Make a delicate step left to a crack, good pro. Step left up a rib to a ledge (wires in diagonal crack on the right), climb a steep step to a crack (TCU), head up this to a ledge, traverse right to a small spike and nut belay.

P9 5.6 The Furrow Pitch. The face above is deeply furrowed with large holds, head up this, aiming for bushes, good pro to start. Soon the protection becomes sparse, head rightwards to a nook overlooking the recess high on the Dome. Thread belay. An exposed pitch.

P10 5.6 The Dick Long Pitch (see 50 Classics). Traverse left over bushes to a steep flake crack, up this in a magnificent position to a huge ledge with a dead tree. Thread (and possible bivi!!)

P11 5.6 Climb the orange face behind the belay directly to another ledge. Thread. A brilliant finish.

P12 Easy climbing leads to the summit ridge.


Start at a tree beneath a recess to the left of the buttress which holds the climb.

Descend the north ridge to its lowest point and scramble down.


Full rack.
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
Sorry about the detail - I couldn't resist transcribing something that I had written down 20 years ago after I did the climb for the first time. Some of the pitches can probably be combined with a longer rope. I don't claim for one minute to have described the route of original ascent, except perhaps for The Slot Pitch. Mar 7, 2006
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Don't underestimate the subtle route finding on P8. A little lapse of concentration and you could easily be climbing scary runout 5.10. Be sure to take your time to find the path of least resistance. Mar 9, 2006
Adam P.
San Jose, CA
Adam P.   San Jose, CA
It's been a while since I've done this route, but there isn't much beta I can offer in addition to what has already been stated. The Supertopo is spot on for the route and gear. It's a great route and a lot of fun. Apr 18, 2007
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
John Korfmacher   Fort Collins, CO
If the sight of Charlotte Dome as you approach down Bubb's Creek doesn't get you fired up, you should sell your gear and take up knitting instead.

IIRC the anchors on the first two or three pitches were not very good and the pro was kinda minimal. But the moves were easy and the rest of the route is excellent with interesting movement, exposure, and spectacular views every time you look up. This is the kind of adventurous climbing that the Sierra has always been about. Jun 9, 2008
Justin York
Phoenix, AZ
Justin York   Phoenix, AZ
Got stuck at the top for four hours in a torrent of rain, hail, and lightning. Besides that, the climb was great and the position is most excellent. The polished granite walls across the canyon were yosemite-esque, and not a soul in sight.

Used the supertopo which was spot on. Never harder than 5.8 and the pro was good. I found tricams useful in many spots where nothing else would have worked (i.e. small pockets). Therefore, I don't remember the mandatory runouts being bad at all. The rock and the climbing get better as you ascend. Furrows pitch was cool!

Did the approach over Kearsarge pass. Pretty, but long. STAY HIGH on the manzanita slope bushwhack after leaving the trail past the lake. The campsite below charlotte dome's shoulder is superb, but will make you work to get to it! Nov 9, 2009
Spider Savage
Los Angeles, ID
Spider Savage   Los Angeles, ID
The best climb ever.

I was carrying a handmade sketch Chris (author above) gave me but I got off route up there around 6 & 7. Went up too soon instead of to the right. Had some nice hard face climbing but no place to put pro. Took me an hour to build one belay. The rest of the day was great! Mar 16, 2010
Jasmine Kall  
Did this yesterday, don't go down to early on the decent. Keep going till you hit a trail. There was a lovely decaying fixed line down the steep section that helped us, but it won't last much longer.

Saw my first bear also on the way in and a giant rattler! Aug 23, 2010
vanishing spy
  5.8 PG13
vanishing spy  
  5.8 PG13
Great time in the back country. We were the only ones around for miles. We camped at Charlotte Lake due to a late start on the approach day. In retrospect I recommend camping at the lake rather than at the dome. Yes, we had a longer (mostly down hill) approach and a predawn start but I'm thrilled I didn't have to drag my camping gear through the manzanitta or any farther than needed. Plus there are Bear Boxes at the lake.

The climbing was fun but the setting was spectacular. We climbed pitches 1-3 and pitched it out from there. I did find the hole for a #2 on Pitch 8 but also found it committing, run out and wild. I took this pitch too far (60m) into the furrows where it was difficult to find a good belay. The summit was not what I expected from a dome.

Perfect weather. Sep 30, 2011
Justin Tomlinson
Monrovia, CA
Justin Tomlinson   Monrovia, CA
From Steve Roper's "Climber's Guide to the High Sierra" in 1976, after identifying the start of the climb, his route description is, "Ten pitches of cracks, dihedrals, and chickenhead knobs lead to the summit." Jan 28, 2012
super dave
las vegas, nv
super dave   las vegas, nv
If you head left on the upper part of the pitch after the furrow pitch you can climb this cool roof crack out left and up to the same ledge the regular pitch finishes on, fun. Aug 20, 2012
This route is so rad! Hiked in from the East. Long, but way worth it. Supertopo made the cross country directions from Charlotte Lake more convoluted than needed be. We found the climbers trail well marked with cairns and pretty easy to follow. I agree that the Supertopo is right on for route and gear, except consider skipping the #4.

Everyone in our two parties agreed that pitch 8 was the crux of the route and more difficult than the slot. Also, never found any 40ft runouts on the slab pitch. I got in 3 or 4 good pieces. There is a pretty clear path of least resistance on this pitch and I think it would be hard to get into runout 5.10 territory accidentally. The last pitch is one of the best and the summit is simply amazing! Sep 2, 2012
Is this route climbable in winter? November? Oct 27, 2012
WESTERN APPROACH AND DESCENT: Bubb’s Creek Trail crosses two forks of Charlotte Creek, which are about 0.1 mile apart. According to my GPS it’s 7.3 miles from the asphalt at Road’s End to the first fork and an additional 0.1 mile to the second fork. The campsite with a bear locker is just beyond and downhill from the second fork. We camped just before and downhill from the second fork, where there was more shade. The climber’s trail is about 150' west of the first fork and starts under a big Douglas Fir. The start is marked with cairns and branches outlining the first 15 feet. Three of us started hiking in the dark and followed cairns, but the “trail” was indistinct and difficult to follow, and we did a fair amount of bushwhacking. Somehow we lost the cairns about a third of the way up and they suddenly reappeared near the top of the approach. We ascended up a slight ridge between a gully and cliffs to the left and Charlotte Creek on the right, and were never very close to Charlotte Creek. With three of us climbing we were slow, so we descended in the dark and wound up descending closer to Charlotte Creek, never seeing a single cairn! The descent was stressfully steep with scattered short cliffs to our left and right, but below us we always managed to find relatively open class 3-4 gullies or slopes, with occasional bushwhacking short distances between them. We eventually came out within 30 feet of the start of the trail. There are multiple ways to get up and down the steep slopes, so if like us you can’t find a “trail,” don’t stress out!

PROTECTION: We thought the climb was reasonably well protected, with occasional short runouts but nothing more than 30' on terrain >5.5. We carried two each of the smaller cams and one each of the larger cams, but I wished I had a few more larger cams, which I ran out of on the second 5.8 pitch. The big #4 cam came in handy on both 5.8 pitches, so I was happy to have it.

PITCHES: We closely followed the Supertopo route description. At times it was a bit bewildering but we pretty much stayed on route the entire time, except pitch 1 when our leader led the arete (5.7) left of the standard start. Pitch 4 did not have “poor pro” and I never saw the “5.5 chimney,” which I must have climbed to the left of. On pitch 5 we climbed a corner and face to the left with an exposed and poorly protected traverse (with one tricky 5.7 move) back to the right at the top of the pitch. The flake to the right looked easier and we wondered why Supertopo labeled it as “no.” About two-thirds up pitch 8 I moved right onto the face, which looked easier than the crack and felt like 5.6, running it out about 30' before moving back into the crack and to the miserable belay stance (my companions stayed in the crack). Pitch 9 protected surprisingly well–definitely no 40' runouts. We thought pitch 10 was easy, feeling more like 5.6 than 5.7. Pitch 11 felt harder than 5.4, more like 5.7! We were a bit confused about where to go on pitch 12 and wound up going up cracks between the “gold slab” and “steep gold wall,” which seemed to be the correct route. Above pitch 12 we thought a few moves below the summit ridge felt like class 4 rather than class 3. We also thought a few of the moves during the descent were class 4. Jul 21, 2013
Here's a video with snippets from every pitch. The actual climbing begins at 2:49. Jul 26, 2013
Climbed this route on 6/8/14 - Awesome!
Used the Super Topo description and was able to stay on route.
The description and topo above, by Chris Owen, we both found very confusing.
If descending back to Bubbs Creek the beginning of the climbers trail is challenging to find, prepare for some Schwacking!
Amazing route, rock & setting! Go get it! Jun 10, 2014
Que'bien Thomas
Long Beach, California
Que'bien Thomas   Long Beach, California
This is why we climb.

ULTRA classic climbing and incredible, stupendous, remote setting. Forget route finding! Seriously, overthinking is the only mistake you could make.

The approach across the slabs (from east) was the trickiest bit, but locating that little tree that marks the top of the first pitch calibrates the whole route. Supertopo topo and "going up" accomplish the rest.

Yosemitesam is spot-on. Save a #3 for the top of the OW-ish pitch and reward your hanging belay with some bomber pro. Jun 26, 2015
A few thoughts...

- Did not bring a #4, and there was no real place I really felt I needed it. I'm sure smaller gear would have helped.

- Only had one #3, I felt that was sufficient. I brought two #2, but could have got away with one.

- Belays for the first 4 pitchs aren't great, but it was easy enough that I think it makes sense to simul to the 4th belay.

- Approach from Bubbs Creek, lots of cairn stones that take you no where. I would say follow the creek as much as possible. We bush wacked way too much on approach, on decent we found a trail that was almost at elevation with the start of the route. Maybe someone has better advice then me though?

Furrows pitch was amazing and awesome! Jul 13, 2015
Antonio Caligiuri
Bishop, CA
Antonio Caligiuri   Bishop, CA
Had essentially the same approach/descent experience as Edward. The supertopo beta is confusing, it says to cross the creek 200yds past the lake and you will definitely see the trail end at the creek then pick up on the other side. This eventually lead us to the old packers' fence also mentioned in supertopo but then we never saw a trail again and were crosscountry/bushwhacking all the way to the base, arriving with soaked shoes. On the way back we found the trail immediately from the closer campsite and followed it almost the entire way back to the lake. So here's better beta: when you reach the first meadow (almost immediately past the lake) the trail is going to be on the north (looker's right) side of the meadow. Here you could either just cut across the meadow trying to find the driest path or cross the stream and follow the trail through the woods until it runs out then cut north to find the trail. Either way it is definitely worth taking the time to find this trail. I should also mention that even botching the approach, this route is totally worth it! Jun 17, 2016
King Tut
Citrus Heights
King Tut   Citrus Heights
"Is this route climbable in winter? November?"


Um, yea...it ain't exactly Mt. Everest and Novembers can be very dry until the snow starts to fly...But, for example, Kearsage Pass has 40' of snow right now and the west approach maybe only 10'...would be a nice ski in in March/April from the East. If you had your pick of Novembers it could be very nice during the day, expect sub-freezing nights and short days. Feb 21, 2017
Climbed this route on June 4, 2017. The approach from Bubbs Creek is snow free, with some water still running on the upper slabs. The approach from Charlotte Lake, however, is still completely snowed under. The descent is a little complicated by the snow and melt-water conditions on the slabs. We passed by the rappel anchor under the summit block, and down-climbed along the ridge. We were two teams with two ropes, so from there we made three double-rope rappels from sling anchors on rocks or trees to reach safe ground for hiking down to skier's left of the slabs. There's a sow bear with cubs in the lower Charlotte Creek drainage. And, despite what the ranger at the permit station tells you, there is still a bear box at Charlotte Creek. We did not find a summit register. Jun 6, 2017
Steve G
Portland, OR
Steve G   Portland, OR
Climbed on 7/28 from Charlotte's Lake. Mostly snow free though the trail through the valley is wet and marshy. Stay right after the cattle fence until you pick up a cairn trail that leads to a excellent defined trail on the northern hillside. There's also a game trail another 100 yards further up hill. Both lead to the Charlotte Dome camping area. Aug 2, 2017
Steve G
Portland, OR
Steve G   Portland, OR
Such a pleasant and aesthetic route. Very few crowds given the long approach, especially if you climb mid-week. Get an early start!

Approach (via Charlotte Lake): Stay right after the cattle fence until you pick up a cairn trail that leads to a excellent defined trail on the northern hillside. There's also a game trail another 100 yards further up hill. Both lead to the Charlotte Dome camping area. From there cross two streams and head slightly downhill until you see the eastern slabs. We found it was better to cross the slabs higher (parallel to the trees on the slabs). It took us 3 hours to approach from Charlotte Lake to the base of the climb.

Finding the Base: Stay high and follow cairns further than you think you need to. You'll see a small gully on the far left side of a slab section before the South Face gets vertical (see photo below). There was also a helmet hanging from a tree at the base. We managed to stay on route the whole climb after finding the correct start.

Climbing: Simul-climb the first 3.5 pitches if possible, stopping just before the 5.5 chimney at a nice ledge. From there we were able to climb 1.5 pitches to the bottom of the 5th pitch. We then made the mistake of trying to combine pitches 6-7. Rope drag forced us to create a hanging belay on the 7th pitch. We were then out of sync with belay ledges and pitches for 3-4 pitches after that. I'd advise to pitch out each pitch from 6-12.

Gear: We brought 1x .1-.4, 2x .5-3, 1x 4, some offset cams, small-med nuts with 5 double slings and 5 single slings. We used everything and were glad we had it. There were still several instances of wanting to build a belay but not having the right gear left.

Walk-off: Rather straight forward. Scramble on the East side of the North ridge trending down until you reach the trees. There's a well defined trail on just north of the slabs once you hit the trees. Stay left at the bottom of the talus field and find cairns once it starts to level out to head back to the camp.

Water: There's two great streams right next to the climbers campground near the East side of the dome. It's also a great spot to leave behind a bag to grab on the way out.

Bears: Very active and somewhat crazy. The night before we arrived the ranger said one came into the Charlotte Lake area and ate a nalgene bottle, insect repellent and a bottle of soap at mid-day about 10 feet from a group of hikers. I've heard that Yosemite drops off their trouble bears in this area. Aug 2, 2017
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
If you are following the 2013 SuperTopo guide (Second Edition, ISBN 978-0-9833225-3-5), suggest linking pitch six and seven with a 60m. The available gear at the top of pitch six was uninspiring. Sep 11, 2017
Nick Tripp
San Diego, CA
Nick Tripp   San Diego, CA
Stellar climb! If approaching from the west, camp at Charlotte creek - the 2000ft "climber's trail" ascent/descent is brutal with full packs.

Climbed this with a buddy in early August 2017.

Saturday: Hiked in 8mi from the west with full 50lb packs, all the way up the poor "climber's trail" (which we lost early on), racing a thunderstorm to "bivy" (in a tent) at the base. We intended to cook a backpacker's pantry Katmandu Curry meal; I forgot the matches, but we needed the calories so we ate it cold. Life Beta: don't forget the matches. unless you LOVE the crunchy unhydrated lentils & cold raw herbs.

Sunday Dawn-2pm: filled with pitch after pitch of stunning climbing! We did it in 9 pitches with a 70m rope.

An easy walkoff led to our 2hr brutal off-trail slog - ignore tales of the descent being west of the route, go down the way you came up.

Sunday 7pm- Monday 1am: After stopping to refill from the creek, 7.5 downhill miles and a few hours stretched between us and greasy In-N-Out burgers. We must have averaged around 4mph on the way back and floored it once we got back to the car, but by god we got our burgers!

Monday 1am - 4am: Complete the drive back to the Bay area in time for a sleepy day at work!

Absolutely the most physically demanding weekend I have ever had. Sep 19, 2017
Andrew Holman
  5.8+ PG13
Andrew Holman  
  5.8+ PG13
We found all the beta to be pretty poor (no one gives the lengths of the pitches, we ended up breaking some pitches in two). Sure-footed route-finding is the best beta for this route. Expect lots of pitches to look unprotectable and then...magically hold secret pro. It is very difficult to bail once you start getting above the 3rd pitch, so keep that in mind! Dec 11, 2017
Mike dF
Mike dF  
Wonderful route in a pristine, isolated setting.

On the approach from the East, it is difficult to find the primo camping area, which is roughly the elevation of the bottom of the descent slabs. We found it helpful to pin the location on a topo app, and then use that to find our way once in the vicinity. If you reach the creek closest to the dome and are too low, it is likely easiest to boulder hop up or near the creek until the terrain flattens, then to cut right to find the camp. Supertopo's "mega cairn" either doesn't exist or is not all that mega. We didn't encounter any bears, but there is evidence of their activity in the camp (claw marks on a tree near a cushy cooking boulder).

Route finding is nebulous for pitches 2-4, but not bad thereafter. The best (uncomplicated) way to make it to the top of pitch 4 is to identify the slot pitch from the ground by reference to the photos on this page, and use that as a benchmark by which to gauge the guidebook description.

We brought a set of nuts, black-brown tricams, a .2, doubles from .3 to 2 (inclusive), a 3, and a 4. We found the 4 useful, placing it on half of the pitches, including the two crux pitches. If climbing the route again, we would only omit the brown tricam, one of the .3s, and one of the 2s. Aug 27, 2018
Kyle McCrohan
Brier, WA
Kyle McCrohan   Brier, WA
Did this back in early July as a two day trip, camping at Charlotte Lake. There's been some bad avalanches on the approach from Charlotte Lake, knocking out the climber's trail and making it even worse. I'd recommend stopping at the ranger station at Charlotte Lake for beta on the approach trail. Expect possibly 2 hours to the base of the route and 2 hours back. There's easily 3x the net elevation change because the trail goes up and down. After going through the drift fence, follow cairns through avy debri on the north side for a while before crossing a wooded meadow, where the trail becomes more defined.

The climb itself is amazing, best alpine rock I've ever encountered (expect maybe in the Cirque of Towers). The Furrows pitch is alone worth trekking in for. We carried cams .4-3, tricams, and nuts. Tricams were very useful in the more runout slabby sections. Large cams were a little thin on the second 5.8 pitch, but got us through. I wouldn't carry any more this far in. We did about 8 pitches with a 60 m rope, often simuling a tiny bit to reach better gear stances. Route finding is no trouble as long as you spot the slot from down low. Sep 13, 2018
Big Bear City, CA
beantown   Big Bear City, CA
Climbed this on 9/22/18. The supertopo guide is spot on! East side approach - We found the carin trail further down past the packer fence/camp no problem, and then it turns into an easy to follow trail all the way to the junction of the trail to the campsite or down to the climb. You defiantly want to take your time and find the trail. Didn't see any recent avalanche debris, nothing to worry about. Trail to the campsite was easy to follow but faint in a few spots, it takes you right to the camp and spring. We found the approach to the climb and descent without any issues. The climb itself was great, and we were able to follow the supertopo topo without any issues, we had no photos of the route. We did it in 11 pitches. had the whole place to ourselves and we did not encounter any bears. Gear: .1-.2 x1; .3-2 x2; 3-4 x1, set of nuts, set of tricams. All cams were useful, didn't place any tricams on pitch 9 and no scary runouts - good pro out left. Sep 24, 2018