Type: Trad, Alpine, 750 ft, 5 pitches
FA: Greg Vernon, Mike Baca and Hollan Holmes, July 1988
Page Views: 9,259 total · 67/month
Shared By: Dave Daly on Dec 14, 2007
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Pitch 1: (5.8) Follow a line of bolts (8 total) straight up shallow dishes and edges. After the 3rd bolt, the rock becomes more featured but the climbing is just a tad bit steeper. There is a 3 bolt belay (with rap rings) at the end of the pitch (50 meters). NOTE: A fourth bolt is located 2 feet above the belay and should be used for the next pitch opening moves.

Pitch 2: (5.9-, 5 bolts) Head directly above the 1st pitch belay anchors. A few move of 5.9 are encountered in between the 2nd and 3rd bolts. Continue straight up to a small black roof (4th bolt on the lip of the roof) and surmount the roof. Once over, head left and up by following the remaining 2 bolts to the belay station (3 bolts with rap rings). NOTE: There is a set of belay bolts 30 feet below ALN's 2nd pitch belay. This station is the 1st pitch belay of 'Aplodontia' (5.9R).

Pitch 3: (5.8 or 5.9, 1 bolt and pro to 1/2") One can either head straight up to a right facing corner (5.9, pro to 1/2") or head up and right, underneath a bus-sized flake. The first option takes you straight up to the 3rd pitch belay. Both options are short in distance to the belay, but this is the shorter option pitch. The second option goes to a bolt (30 feet from the belay), which protects a 5.8 move, and continues to the right facing corner of the flake. Continue up the flake (5.6, pro: 1/4 to 1"). Once at the top of the flake, head left out onto the open face for 20 more feet to the belay bolts (4 bolts with rap rings.... and an epoxy sealed carabiner?) NOTE: 3 out of 4 bolts at this belay should be considered suspect! One is an old 1/4" rusted buttonhead and the other two are spinners (3/8" buttonheads). Be sure to back up your belay!

Pitch 4: (5.9, 2 bolts with solution pockets for pro) From the belay, traverse right 15 feet along a small foot ledge to access the first bolt. Pass two bolts (5.9) and head toward a black water streak above. Twenty feet past the 2nd bolt., the climbing turns down to 5.5 or 5.6, following solution pockets (recommended Tri-Cam placements.....a few can even be threaded!!). The water streak becomes a bit steeper but good holds abound. Once over the steep section, head up and right to a 3 bolts belay or continue 60 feet further to a 4 bolt belay (rap rings) that falls directly below an easy right facing corner.

Pitch 5: Head up the right facing corner (5.6, pro to 1"), which slants left, to a pine tree with slings (rap rings). 4th class to the summit.

Descent: Walk off the east end of the dome and back down to the parking area or continue up the road, past the spillway and back to the gravel turnout.


'A Little Nukey' is not only a popular Courtright multi-pitch route but the easiest route upon the northwestern face of Power Dome. This dome is located in the Helms Creek Gorge, just below Courtright Road. Additionally, it is the first dome seen on the right when driving into the Courtright area.

There are two ways to approach this route and the dome itself:

1) Park at the PG&E road entrance (gated) just before you get to Courtright Reservoir (a gravel turnout on the side of the road, 200 yards before the reservoir). Hike down the paved road to its terminus. Leave the road and head directly toward Power Dome by going under a large tunnel aquaduct, then up a short rise. Once over the rise, head down small broken terraces to the creek. Cross over the creek on rocks to the base of Power Dome. In the early season or during peak hours, the creek may be difficult to cross. Use caution! Once across, locate a ramp next to the base and head up to the top of the ramp (level at the top). 'A Little Nukey' starts near the top of this ramp.

2) The second choice is to drive past the reservoir spillway/dam and park near the north side of the dome (small turnout on the right side at the left hand turn). From here, head toward the dome directly and then down toward slabs above the creek, requiring assiduous route finding. Initially, one needs to drop midway down to the dome and then traverse a series of ledges and dishes upon its northeastern shoulder to rap anchors (or downclimb 4th class, trending down and right). Refer to this photos: Photo #1 while heading to find the rap anchors. Once at the base, all routes can be accessed via a bit of 3rd class scrambling.


- 60m rope
- (9) draws
- slings w/ biners
- Pro to #1 Camelot (moderate rack).


Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
Cory Harelson   Boise, ID
This route is great fun. There is pro just where you need it. The only scary part is getting to the first bolt via thin moves over what would be an awkward landing if you came off. We approached via the gated road on the opposite side of the drainage. We carried everything we had with us on the climb so that we could walk the road back to the car instead of doing the sketchy 4th class descent. This turned the walkoff into a casual 20 minute stroll. Jul 7, 2009
Marc Squiddo
Mountain View, CA
  5.9 PG13
Marc Squiddo   Mountain View, CA
  5.9 PG13
Done the approach now twice and both times I've avoided rapping and anything sketchy for that matter. Rough directions: Park at the geological exhibit and approach as per the noted rappel. Instead, cut out towards the right (rock left) looking for cairns and aiming for the edge. A couple hundred yards from the car you should hit a sandy ledge which traverses away from Power Dome to allow one to access another ledge system below. Eventually you make it down to lower ledges, cutting back on them towards Power Dome. Perhaps 35-40 mins from the car. The best part is NOT doing this at the end of the day and avoiding walking up the the PG&E road. Savor the beers at the car, 15 mins from the summit. Oct 3, 2011
Kyle Queener
Bishop, California
Kyle Queener   Bishop, California
Instead of ending the third pitch at the 4 bolts way out left another option is to build an anchor while still in the crack which leaves the 4th pitch a straight shot up without any traversing involved. There is a good stance here and is not awkward one bit. We didn't feel like we needed tri-cams on the 4th pitch. We placed a few cams, a nut, and threaded some holes and stayed pretty safe.
The approach from the geological site was definitely the crux of the day. We did the raps with one 60m rope and angled climbers right to a ledge about 95 ft down on the second rap and then walked this 3rd class until a few 5th class downclimb moves which led to a scramble up to the main ledge system. It seems there are numerous approach options, none seem that great. Oct 7, 2013
Eric "Pig" Varley
Nipomo, CA
Eric "Pig" Varley   Nipomo, CA
Kyle, in the King's Canyon guide book, it actually shows the third belay anchor on the giant flake as you describe. I have done the route both ways, and it definitely makes more sense to build a natural anchor at the top of pitch 3 rather than continue up to the bolted anchor.

The approach can be tricky. Double ropes make the rappel much easier. Once you get down to the creek, the key is to stay low and hug the creek. Make your way through a notch between large boulders (look up at the crazy huge chockstone too). If you travel up instead of through the notch you'll get up on a ledge that accesses the start of Welcome to Courtright (among other routes). The down climb from that ledge is not super fun. Once you pass that ledge system, you'll pass an uphill gully full of vegetation. Make your way to the far side of the vegetation and scramble up a boulder to access a lower ledge system. Follow this ledge down until you find yourself underneath the massive flake on pitch 3.

--Update after climbing on 8/2/14--
I would recommend combining pitches 2 and 3 with a 60m rope. DO NOT go up to the bolted anchors at the top of the flake. This is technically off-route, skips a 5.9 crux through 2 bolts, and adds an awkward traverse. I made an anchor about 1/3 to 1/2 up the flake at a fairly nice stance (.75, 1.0, and 2.0 for the anchor). Also, on pitch 5, instead of following the ramp up and left to the tree, head straight up after traversing under the roof on easy terrain with more solution pockets. This will let you access the top of the from the top of Pitch 4. Otherwise, you can rope up for the summit from the tree, or free solo it, depending on your comfort level. Oct 24, 2013
Kash Dierksheide
Atascadero, California
Kash Dierksheide   Atascadero, California
vimeo.com/96663408 May 28, 2014
J. Albers
  5.9 PG13
J. Albers   Colorado
  5.9 PG13
Great route. In particular, the solution pocket pitch is about as cool a pitch as I have led in a long time. The route is pretty well documented here, but I have a few minor comments.

First, I would agree with Kyle that it makes more sense to build a natural anchor in the flake before the bolts at the end of pitch 3. I set my belay low down at a small foot ledge (lots of gear between 0.75-3 Camalots) so that I could get in a piece of gear to protect the belay before running up the slab to clip the first bolt on the 4th pitch. Second, and this is a minor comment, contrary to what is written in Mr. Daly's description, there is about 40 feet or so of low 5th class climbing before you get to 4th class terrain when leaving the tree belay ledge at the top of the route.

Finally, Mr. Daly mentions in his description that the belay at the top of the 4th pitch has a 3 bolt belay and then another 4 bolt belay 60 feet further right (directly below the 5th pitch corner). This is not quite right. When the solution pockets end, you will reach a nice little ledge with four bolts. Only one of these bolts is solid because the next best bolt is a 1/4" button with an SMC hanger and the other two are utterly rusted 1/4" buttons with Leeper hangers. Fortunately the good bolt is a new bomber 3/8" bolt (looks to be SS). The second set of anchor bolts that are further right (probably only 25 feet, not 60 feet) are classic Sierra 3/8" pound-ins (I think that these are anchors for Dead Rabbit Test). I am usually pretty okay with 3/8" pound-ins, but this pair is particularly beat up looking, so I opted to belay at the 4 bolt nest and then simply clip the second set of anchors as my first gear on the next pitch. If and when I come to do this route again, I will try and remember to bring my hand kit along and add a second good bolt to the primary belay, but if someone else is looking to do some community service, it would certainly be appreciated if that anchor was updated.

Cheers. Sep 9, 2014
Ben Parsons
San Luis Obispo, CA
Ben Parsons   San Luis Obispo, CA
  5.9 PG13
  5.9 PG13
Just climbed this route last Saturday and it was great. The climb seemed like it was made just for people to climb. The belay stances are good, the protection is where you need it, the climbing goes from slab to features to cracks and lie backs, it has everything.

We also went with the natural anchor on the side of the shield. Plenty of spots to place gear and decent feet for the belay stance.

Only one bolt at the top of P4 is any good but if you tie them all together with cordelette it should be fine. That was the only spot where the climb could be improved.

Also pack some sunscreen. We started at 11am and were in full sun the entire time... feeling the burn. Jun 6, 2016
Mike Arechiga
Mike Arechiga   Oakhurst
Climbed A Little Nukey last weekend, I have done this route a ton of times in the past 25 years, its a Courtright mega classic super fun route. Some of the bolts look a bit old, but I still trust them, but I think in the next couple years a number of them will need to be replaced with new ones. I never had a problem going on the anchors on the top of the third pitch and climbing right to the first bolt to start the 4th pitch, but if climbers want to build an anchor on the crack below the anchor on the third pitch anchors then so be it! Has far as getting to the base of the climb of Power Dome, I think it's way faster to hike down to the base on the left sholder on the dome then rapping, lots of rock piles mark the way to the base. It takes me car to car about 2 hours for A Little Nukey, and the awesome part of this climb is your minutes from the lake to take a splash and have a beer at the lake :-). I love the route so much just might have to climb it again next week when I go back to Coutrright :-), Happy climbing Mike A. Jul 29, 2016