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Routes in Castle Dome

Madirjian's Banana T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c PG13
Southeast Arete T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Type: Trad, Alpine, 1800 ft, 12 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Andre Demirjian (13 years old)
Page Views: 338 total, 21/month
Shared By: Joe Madden El Viejo on Aug 2, 2016
Admins: Chris Owen, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Description

This is a "big wall" climb for kids. I took two beginner climbers, my son Andre (13) and my daughter Jessica (24) to the top of this dome to the west of Castle Dome in Kings Canyon.

The approach involves two days of hiking (13 miles) with an elevation gain of about 2600 feet. Then we climbed roughly 1000 vertical feet on granite slabs with excellent cracks. The angle was easy at first, but as we climbed it got steeper and we needed to work the crack more carefully.

We crossed a section of trees, loose rocks, and dirt before crossing a chasm to push to the summit. It's about 200 feet of climbing in the messy loose stuff, then back to clean granite again.

The last 3-4 pitches (600 feet) went up a clean crack and then fairly vertical climbing to the top of the dome. There are good cracks and rock features everywhere so the climbing is never harder than 5.4. There's some long exposure along the way, as the top of the dome is roughly 1800 feet above the valley floor.

We stopped at the top of the western dome, but if we had started earlier in the morning we could have climbed across the upper valley to the top of Castle Dome.

To return to the valley floor, we rappelled down several times. There were two or three rappels where there was no obvious tree or rock flake to use as an anchor, so I told the kids to downclimb and set an anchor, then I downclimbed. No sweat.

Overall, this is a great climbing experience for young climbers with limited experience, and it's a great place to train the kids to have good climbing habits on a multi-pitch route.

Location

Hike to Castle Dome Meadow from Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. I recommend a two day hike, then camp at Castle Dome Meadow. Start early in the morning so the sun doesn't cook you on this south-facing slab.

The granite slab comes almost to the trail, about 300-400 meters west of Castle Dome Meadow. It's easier to climb the granite than to fight your way through the thorn bushes.

Protection

Take a collection of cams to cover cracks between 3/8" to over 1". We used five cams to build anchors, with one or two trad anchors along each pitch. There are some areas with 50 feet of runout but these are easy spots, so a competent leader can handle it.

There are trees and rock flakes on several pitches which make excellent rappel anchors.

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