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Zee Tree

5.7, Trad, Sport, 700 ft (212 m), 6 pitches,  Avg: 2.7 from 287 votes
FA: Dan Zimmerlin
California > Yosemite NP > Tuolumne Meadows > Pywiack Dome
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Description

Zee Tree Route is a well-bolted face climb located to the right of the Dike route and ascends an independent line for 3 pitches, after which it joins House Calls and Boche-Dope in a left facing book which leads to the base of the crack pitch of the Dike Route.

The climbing is fairly varied. The first pitch, which is the most interesting, starts at a two bolt anchor just where the angle steepens and ascends a short slightly steep section of knobs (2 bolts with old leeper-style hangers), crosses glacier polish (2 bolts) to a miniature roof. Step over the roof (1 bolt) and pass a small tree growing in a solution pocket (Zee Tree). The pitch originally ended at the tree, but to reduce impact on the fragile tree, the route now passes the tree on the right and ascends (5 bolts) to a comfortable stance and a two bolt anchor. This pitch is a full 165 feet.

The angle slackens above and the climbing eases as well. The second pitch is easy (5.5?) face climbing past 3 bolts to a another two bolt anchor. The final pitch is also easy face climbing , though interesting as the angle varies. It heads up and right past 2 bolts, then straight up and ends in a left facing book. This belay requires gear, medium nuts to medium friends.

To exit, climb up the left facing book and belay near the base of the crack pitch on the Dike Route. Either climb this crack (pro to #4 friend) and rappel the east end of Pywiak, or walk off to the west (not recommended).

Descent options

Option 1: Climb the 5.7 crack on the fourth pitch to the top of the dome and belay your second from the tree. Walk east towards the summit of the dome. Continue over the summit; you should see a large, obvious cairn just beyond a brief 3rd/4th class downslope. Use the anchor by the cairn (see KG's 2021-06-14 photo) to rap ~30 feet. From the base of the rap, walk around to climber's right and northeast(?) down a gully to reach the ground.

Option 2: Skip the fourth pitch and descend climber's right from the base of the 5.7 crack to the west. From the top of the third pitch this looks sketchy and it's unclear why anyone would choose this over Option 1.

Option 3: Skip the fourth pitch and traverse climber's left along the slab (below the intermediate shelf) to find a rap anchor. Rappel requires two 60m ropes.

The route was put up in good style. A mix of eighteen 5/16 and 3/8 inch bolts were placed by hand, on lead, from the ground up, though not in a continuous push. Two others were "filled in" while seconding after leading though originally, to eliminate uncharacteristic runout sections.

Location

Pywiack Dome

Protection

Well Bolted except for the last pitch

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

The route. consider combining (what I have labeled as) P2, P3. was barely able to combine p3 and P4 with a 70 m rope due to bends in rope and drag was awful.
[Hide Photo] The route. consider combining (what I have labeled as) P2, P3. was barely able to combine p3 and P4 with a 70 m rope due to bends in rope and drag was awful.
Closer shot of the 5.7 offwidth/Lieback finish. Michael Malouli nears the top.
[Hide Photo] Closer shot of the 5.7 offwidth/Lieback finish. Michael Malouli nears the top.
Two groups of climbers on Zee Tree on June 9, 2018.
[Hide Photo] Two groups of climbers on Zee Tree on June 9, 2018.
From the second belay on Zee Tree.
[Hide Photo] From the second belay on Zee Tree.
5.7 crack at the end is super fun!
[Hide Photo] 5.7 crack at the end is super fun!
leading p1 on zee tree
[Hide Photo] leading p1 on zee tree
the party of two is where the first bolts are at.  the one below is waiting for the route to open up.
[Hide Photo] the party of two is where the first bolts are at. the one below is waiting for the route to open up.
Gemma on the last pitch of Zee Tree
[Hide Photo] Gemma on the last pitch of Zee Tree
Tristan at the belay top of pitch 2
[Hide Photo] Tristan at the belay top of pitch 2
Climber on the money pitch of Zee Tree
[Hide Photo] Climber on the money pitch of Zee Tree
Line up on Zee Tree
[Hide Photo] Line up on Zee Tree
Taking a little rest while waiting for the line on Zee Tree to subside
[Hide Photo] Taking a little rest while waiting for the line on Zee Tree to subside

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Greg Gavin
SLC, UT
 
[Hide Comment] fun route for those not ready for the mondo bolt spacing on the dike route. the route climbs quickly so it is good to squeeze in after you've already done something harder earlier in the day. not to mention the approach is 2 min. May 3, 2011
J. Albers
Colorado
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Brian,
Hmmm....I'm pretty sure that there are not any 1/4" bolts on Zee. I don't recall there even being any 5/16" bolts (maybe just a couple?). I think most of the bolts on there are 3/8". Perhaps Greg Barnes will see this post and comment, but my recollection is that he told me that those 5/16" rigs that you see all over California are actually pretty truck. That is not to say that the bolts on Zee don't need replacing (though I don't remember being nervous and I am pretty whiny about rusty old buttons), but there are probably many other candidate routes that need the hardware more than Zee does.

Also, I think that the route description needs to be updated, because there definitely aren't any Leeper hangers at the anchors on Zee any longer.

On a much more sad note, I think that the last time I drove through the Meadows, I thought that I noticed that the namesake tree is missing from the little bowl it was in. Can anyone confirm this? Nov 10, 2011
Brian
North Kingstown, RI
[Hide Comment] They were there in July. Definitely button-heads with Leeper hangers. I wish I took a photo of them. Nov 11, 2011
Brian
North Kingstown, RI
[Hide Comment] J. Albers,

You ever climb this route or are you just guessing about the bolts? I looked on SuperTopo and someone said the same thing I did about the bolts.

From SuperTopo: Posted July 23, 2011 "At the bolts for the top of the third pitch, there are two rusty buttonheads that look like they would tear right out of the rock if the leader fell. Above that, the first bolt is a spinning rusty buttonhead that doesn't inspire a lot of confidence given what the belay bolts are, and the lack of gear above that spinning rusty buttonhead. They should be replaced for the safety of the climb." Nov 11, 2011
J. Albers
Colorado
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Yes Brian, I have climbed Zee at least 3 times over the last 5 years.....and I surely don't remember clipping any old Leeper hangers. There is a big difference between a couple of 5/16" buttons with SMC hangers (even spinners) and a 1/4" bolt with a Leeper hanger. While possible, it is hard for me to believe that I wouldn't remember if the belays were quarters with Leepers. Nov 11, 2011
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
 
[Hide Comment] That's definitely a 1/4" Star Dryvin ( safeclimbing.org/education/…) with a Leeper hanger but I'm surprised they were on Zee Tree as I don't remember any of the anchors being in such bad shape. Nov 12, 2011
J. Albers
Colorado
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Yeah, that is definitely a Leeper, but that is not an anchor bolt from Zee. Is it possible that either: (a) you wandered a bit off route and clipped that thing; or (b) that was an intermediate bolt between two good bolts that during a rebolting effort was just left in place?

I remember the bolts being pretty new and the some of the pictures posted above seem to corroborate my recollection. Moreover, if you look up Zee Tree on the ASCA website you will notice that the bolts on Zee Tree have indeed been upgraded.

safeclimbing.org/areas/cali…

If you read the notes on the ASCA website, it states "Replaced 4 bolts; all others good." I think this precludes the possibility of a StarDryvin with a Leeper hanger on Zee. If looking at the ASCA listing of Zee Tree, notice that there is a route immediately right of Zee Tree where Greg et al. replaced some bolts, but left at least one old bolt alone. Perhaps you wandered onto this route? Nov 12, 2011
Brian
North Kingstown, RI
[Hide Comment] Yes it is possible that I, and the person who posted on SuperTopo, were off route. Although it was pretty much straight under where you traverse over to the off-width corner crack. I go to Tuoulumne every other year. Next time I'm there I'll climb the route again just to take a photo (if they are still there). I saw that ASCA replaced the bolts in 2005. I can't believe that they wouldn't have replaced the ones in question so I can only conclude that I was off route. Although I don't think there are any other routes close by. Nov 14, 2011
W L
NEVADASTAN
  5.7
[Hide Comment] From my recollection of leading the route two years ago all bolts were confidence inspiring back then. Jan 25, 2012
Matt N
CA
  5.7 PG13
[Hide Comment] No leepers on this route.

Only buttonhead I remember (w/ good SMC hanger) that wasn't replaced is the most tightly spaced bolt on the first pitch - didn't expect to see that one so close to the bolt above and below it (which is why they didn't replace it).

Fun route, take the first pitch - its the most exciting, rest is cruiser. On the third pitch, I recommend clipping the first bolt, then heading up the black streak - easy, secure climbing and more enjoyable than going up right past the second bolt. Jul 4, 2012
Rob Davies UK
Cheshire, UK
  5.7
[Hide Comment] A much saner way to the top of the dome than Dike Route! 5.7 for the P1 slab is typical for Tuolumne grades but to me it seemed much harder than the 5.7 finishing crack. In UK grades I'd give the latter pitch HS 4b but P1 HVS 5a/b. Sep 12, 2012
[Hide Comment] Go to the right of the black streak, otherwise you'll miss 2 bolts and have a fun runout. Jul 9, 2013
Billy Shin
Inglewood, ca
[Hide Comment] The walk off, which are well marked by cairns actually goes to the FRONT and a bit climbers left of zee tree, ending near the tiny-sometimes-dry-creek at the base.

Having done both the rappell and walk off, I am going to say the walk off is faster and easier. May 3, 2016
[Hide Comment] We couldn't found the start of the climb. Part of the reason was because the base still was covered in now. But the supertopo guidebook shows a tree about halfway up in the topo. There is a prominent tree halfway up and the climb is called "Zee Tree", so we went over there to look for the start of the climb and never found it. After some fun wandering around on low angle slab for a while looking for bolts, we gave up. On the way back to the car, we finally realized where it was, and that "tree" on the topo was in reality just a small bush. Jun 9, 2016
[Hide Comment] We were here on Saturday, June 18, 2016, and simply could not find the bolts.

I feel fairly certain that we were in the right place (not like the poster just above), and we climbed up and down the start several times.

I hate to say it but it really felt like the bolts have been removed, but of course someone who has definitely done it before should confirm. Jun 21, 2016
Adrian Johnson
Oakland, CA
[Hide Comment] Climbed on June 25. All the bolts are still there. They are just hard to find.

I've climbed the route before and pretty much knew where the route starts and goes and still had trouble finding the bolts. I wasn't able to see them until I was basically on them. The beta photo helps. Jun 27, 2016
[Hide Comment] I climbed this route the same day as Adrian, and yes, the first bolts were definitely tricky to find. Hope this photo helps as well:

Single climber around the first anchor, and two climbers at the second anchor.


The single climber is by the first anchor, and the other two climbers are at the second anchor.

Also, we walked past the slings a couple times while looking for the rap route. Walk NE and go down a bit and look for a big tree with slings. Then it's one steep rappel (We used a 70 and were able to land at another tree.) Then we were in for a short scramble down, and a sharp left through some bushes along the dome led to a pretty clear climbers trail around the dome and through the talus! Jun 27, 2016
pdao
Sacramento
[Hide Comment] Rap slings were in the most NE corner possible of Pywiack. Walk in that direction until you can clearly see Medlicott and Dozier Dome in the distance. Supertopo said there was 4th class downclimbing but it was a nice walk off. Sep 26, 2016
walmongr
Gilbert AZ
 
[Hide Comment] Fun route, with an easy approach.. The start bolts are a little hard to find just where it gets steep and you are thinking it might be a little dangerous to go higher they appear. Hardest part for us was finding the correct decent. we ended up going to the Very N.E part of the dome and found a small tree with some old tat on it (we replaced it 6/16) an easy single rappel 60M rope deposited us right near the trail down the slope back to the road. A group appeared from further South of us and had used a descent further S/W (correct descent??). Mar 2, 2017
Tatiana APD
Sacramento, CA
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Bolts at bottom for first pitch had tat on it when we climbed this route a couple days ago, which really helped to find the start. A common occurrence on this route is to not see your next bolt until you continue climbing or when it's right in front of you.
The beginning 3-4 moves off the bottom of the first pitch are surprisingly spicy. This route is worth doing because of the first pitch and last pitch of Dike Route.
Build your anchor at the top of pitch 4 before doing the traverse to the left. Placements are much better there than those you'll find at the base of the crack.
For the descent, keep going climber's left until you reach the edge of the dome and see a cairn, then look behind you, to your right. You'll see the tat to rap off of. Sep 4, 2017
Jason Kim
Encinitas, CA
 
[Hide Comment] We linked the first two pitches with a 70 m rope. Belay was from the obvious ledge about 30' up the 3rd class slab. Climb the 4th class first pitch - no pro so just keep moving toward the anchor and don't look down! Clip the anchor and then go from bolt to bolt til you reach the 2nd anchor, which will be out of view until you are almost there, to your right. Grade felt on par with Joshua Tree slab, but different and perhaps less confidence inspiring! The rock is more featured, but also a bit polished. Sep 11, 2017
[Hide Comment] Someone left a death triangle on the first anchor. The webbing was reasonably new too. I took it down and replaced it with another sling that's not going to kill people if they rap on it. Jun 24, 2018
Kr P
 
[Hide Comment] Make sure you bring an 80m for repelling if you do it as a sport route, also it's only possible to do 2 pitches without gear. Sep 7, 2019
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
 
[Hide Comment] A fun route though a few comments. The starting belay bolts are fairly high up and some might find them a bit too spicy to reach. Not really sure why the FAs chose to place them so high, but no stack of bones at the base. Just a heads up. Also, belay at the second pair of bolts on the second pitch. The first pair has rap links. However, if you belay there you won’t be able to reach the base of the corner and better gear placements at the start of the third pitch. Finally, the rap is not hard to find. Just walk toward Medlicott and Dozier and scramble downward and the anchors will be pretty easy to find. Jul 31, 2020
John Clark
Reno, NV
  5.7
[Hide Comment] Start finding tip: Look for a little bush in a big dish/hole about a rope length up, that's the "Zee Tree" on the topo. Aug 24, 2020
Bob Harrington
Bishop, CA
 
[Hide Comment] There indeed is a 1/4” Rawl bolt on the 5.7 pitch. Weirdly, it has a Metolius hanger. There’s also a 5/16” buttonhead with an SMC hanger. Oct 2, 2020
[Hide Comment] Great route! We were confused by the descent beta on this page and fortunately met another party that pointed us in the right direction. Here's my understanding of the options:

Option 1 (we did this): Climb the 5.7 crack on the fourth pitch to the top of the dome and belay your second from the tree. Walk east towards the summit of the dome. Continue over the summit; you should see a large, obvious cairn just beyond a brief 3rd/4th class downslope. Use the anchor by the cairn (see KG's 2021-06-14 photo) to rap ~30 feet. From the base of the rap, walk around to climber's right and northeast(?) down a gully to reach the ground.

Option 2: Skip the fourth pitch and descend climber's right from the base of the 5.7 crack to the west. We didn't try this--it is my interpretation of the route description above. From the top of the third pitch this looked sketchy and it's unclear why anyone would choose this over option 1.

Option 3 (from user Dillbag as noted in the route description) Skip the fourth pitch and traverse climber's left along the slab (below the intermediate shelf) to find a rap anchor. Rappel requires two 60m ropes. Jun 28, 2021
[Hide Comment] 9 bolts to the first anchor.
P2 and P3 can be linked with a 70m rope. It's a short distance from P3 to the bottom of the final crack. Follow option 1 descent instructions Sep 22, 2021
Preston Trager
San Ramon. CA
  5.8 PG13
[Hide Comment] Just summited on opening day (7/22/23) All bolts are in great condition, not hard to find, no snow. Could not find the last 2 bolts at the top (when you have to use pro to make belay station) but that pitch was not hard (5.6-) The last pitch was not easy (the crack) which is all pro (3-4.5) I would bring 3-4 cams or nuts around this size as we did not bring enough.

Decent took us about 30 mins to find though once you find it, you will say that was easy. (once you summit head northeast like everyone says, you will see a small-ish tree with a whole bunch of slings around it (I put a new one up, its purple) Jul 24, 2023
Adhithyan Sakthivelu
Stanford, CA
 
[Hide Comment] There was a summit log in a talenti ice cream box which was all wet. It needs to be transferred to a wet proof box. Jul 27, 2023
Big Abraham
Yosemite Valley
[Hide Comment] the hanging belay at the base of the vertical offwidth crack takes 2/3/4 cams Aug 2, 2023
John F Kim
San Jose, CA
  5.7 PG13
[Hide Comment] Fun climb. The hardest part was starting the first pitch right after the 2-bolt belay station--for about 3 moves the slab is steeper, the knobs are small, and the feet are slippery. Then you get better friction and lower angle for easier climbing. On the 3rd pitch, 1st bolt is straight up but 2nd bolt is up and right then trad gear after that. For last pitch (crack) I placed mix of #2, #3 and #4 Camalots and I would have placed a #5 near the top if I'd had one. After finishing the vertical crack it turns into a sloping ledge above the same crack--traverse left then go up easy runout slab to the tree (or don't traverse left if you want more of a challenge). For descent we walked north over the top, scrambled down a little and the rap station was behind us to our right, consisting of web, retied sling, and 2 cords around pillar with 2 aluminum rap rings. Short rappel on east side, move climber's right then scramble down steep gully on the west side and later hike down talus to reach creek then walk left (counter-clockwise) around the base to get back to the start. Not sure where the rap tree is -- probably a little farther to the northeast than the rap station we used. Jun 17, 2024
[Hide Comment] The nut on the 2nd to last bolt on the first pitch was very loose as of 6/22/24. I did my best to tighten it down with my fingers, but would've been more effective with a proper tool. Jun 23, 2024