Type: Trad, 800 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Mayhew et al, 1989
Page Views: 687 total · 8/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Feb 13, 2012
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

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Access Issue: Access is via PRIVATE land and may be CLOSED! Details
Access Issue: There is no public access road provided by the BLM to the Coyote Mountains Wilderness Area. Details

Description

This unique route climbs the prominent left-diagonaling corner system on the west side of Elephant Dome, roughly in the vicinity of the west-side rap route. It has only seen a few ascents despite being put up over 20 years ago. Scary, runout, and loose in places, it also has some excellent climbing. In particular, the crux 4th pitch is sustained, well-protected and probably one of the best pitches in the canyon. The first pitch is classic Mendoza exfoliating face climbing with 6 bolts and just a couple gear placements for a full ropelength. It will keep your full attention from the first move off the ground all the way to the belay.

See topo for full description. The topo is mostly accurate, although the first rappel length is incorrect (see below), and on pitch 2 it's better to continue to the large ledge for the belay.

Edit: I am adding a pitch by pitch description from memory six-plus years later (2018) because someone pointed out to me the topo and description that I uploaded is hard to read, and I don't have a higher-res copy. I have it in a word doc but can't seem to get it uploaded in a readable version. Feel free to contact me (or better, Jeff himself) for the word doc. The description below should be adequate to get you up the route, though, as long as you can locate the start.

P1: Difficult moves off the ground lead to six bolts with a couple of gear placements for about 150 feet, trending up and left & staying left of the main corner. Good, sustained climbing but loose in places. Belay at a stance with a bolt from the bolt and hand-sized gear in the corner/roof just above. 5.9+ PG-13, 150'.

P2: Move left and around the corner then continue up the main corner system, then move left onto the face when feasible. The original belay was at a bolt backed up with stoppers but it is better to continue up and left to a large ledge to a natural belay. 5.8, 150'.

P3: Move up and left away from the main corner, then back right after about 100 feet to a belay ledge with two bolts just left of the main corner where the left-lean is less pronounced. This pitch is very easy but has virtually no gear and the hardest moves are probably pulling onto the belay ledge. 5.2 X, 110'.

P4: A great pitch, even though there is some scaly rock (would clean up with traffic). Move up and left from the belay, then back right into the corner on easy, but runnout climbing. Continue up the sustained 5.10 corner past four bolts (one of which is an old two-bolt belay) and ample gear placements to a two-bolt belay with good bolts where the hard climbing ends. 5.10d, 140'.

P5 & P6. There are two options here. Continue up the left-leaning corner system for two more pitches until the corner fades and the angle eases, then traverse right to the saddle and head to the summit of the dome, if desired. Another, more direct option moves out on the face to the right for a 100' pitch of fun 5.7 face climbing ended where the west-side rap begins. From here, a third class gully leads to the saddle and optional trip to the summit.

Descend either down the east gully (described elsewhere--walk/scramble down to 3 low-angle single rope raps) or do the west rappel descent in the vicinity of the route as follows: (1) rappel 100' from the bottom of the gully to the two-bolt anchor at the top of the crux pitch; (2) rappel (two ropes) to an anchor above and left of the large belay ledge atop P2 (NOT to the anchor at the top of P3); (3) rappel (two ropes) to the ground).

The route gets sun starting early afternoon. The hard (and best) climbing is over after the first 4 pitches, so one strategy would be to rap from chains at that point and combine it with something else to maximize sun or shade depending on the temps. Another option if you can figure it out is to rap in and just climb from the crux 4th pitch on up, after finishing another route on Elephant Dome. But the best option is to do the whole route :)

Location

Follow the approach to Table Dome, but just before the dome, break off right following cairns that lead toward the right side of Roof Wall. Just below that, a not very obvious series of cairns leads over to the very steep backside of Elephant Dome. Follow the wall until below the obvious left-diagonaling system (see topo). This is a little ways uphill from a steep line of bolts (the start of "Colin Goes to Colorado, 5.10 A3". The first pitch follows bolts up the face to the left of the large corner system rather than climbing in the actual corner.

Descent is the west-side rap (2 ropes). NOTE ONE SIGNIFICANT ERROR ON THE TOPO: THE FIRST RAP HAS BEEN MOVED AND IS NOW 100' INSTEAD OF 70'.
Note also that if you didn't leave anything at the base, you could leave the second rope at home and do the east-side descent, making for a faster trip back to the car.

Protection

We brought a single set of cams from 0 tcu to 4 friend, nuts, rps, and some tri-cams. This was perfect. There are some lead bolts so some draws are nice in addition to the usual arsenal of slings. The bolts are over 20 years old and could use an upgrade, particularly on pitch one, but they seemed to be in decent shape for their age; on the crux pitch good gear is generally available near the bolts.

Photos

Bill Lundeen
Lee Vining, CA
 
Bill Lundeen   Lee Vining, CA
 
Quite surprised no one has commented on this obscure, good route. I did it at least 15 years ago and always figured I'd do it again (yes--its that good). The first pitch was rather crumbly then but has probably cleaned up nicely now (due to all the traffic it gets!). Awesome crux (solid at 10+) that protects well in the slanting crack system. Go do it! Dec 31, 2016
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
  5.10d
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
  5.10d
That's cool to hear from someone else who has climbed this other than Jeff!

On the first pitch I stepped up onto the first foothold of the route and it promptly blew, sending me sprawling backward onto my belayer in a cloud of dried leaves and dirt. Then, high up I found myself 15 or 20 feet out from a bolt on 5.9 climbing, I saw a beautiful chickenhead and scampered toward it, only to have it come off in my hand when I grabbed it. Narrowly avoided the big cheese-grating whipper. So, uh, yeah, it's cleaned up a bit :) Feb 10, 2017