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Inverted Staircase 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b PG13

Type:  Trad, 9 pitches, 1200', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b PG13 [details]
FA: Glen Denny, Wally Reed July 1962, FFA Bob Kamps, Wally Reed August 1963
Page Views: 2,999
Submitted By: john durr on Jul 25, 2009

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (13)
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BETA PHOTO: Start of Inverted Staircase - looking up to the se...

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


Inverted Staircase is a beautiful obvious line. The climbing is pretty good, but not great. Mostly moderate cracks with two hard pitches.

Pitch 1 & 2 climb cracks just right of the big arch, aim for an obvious small roof in a right facing corner that marks the first belay. Surmount the fun roof then moderate climbing to the corner. 5.8/5.9

Pitch 3 & 4 climb the corner above, moving onto the face midway through pitch three to avoid the chimney then head back to the corner to belay. The next pitch goes up the nice corner to the top right side of the pinnacle. 5.7/5.8

Pitch 5 is thin friction and small hold face. Go down and out right a ways to a bolt. Just past this is 5.10 face with good swing potential for your second. Ascend a loose pillar, I placed several micro-nuts here. The hard face climbing above past two bolts is well protected. 5.10b/c

Pitch 6 is usually wet midway through, but fun liebacking and unclinging is had before the wet and the corner above is stellar. Plan on aiding on a couple cams to pass the wet. 5.10-

Pitch 7 follow this route up and left aiming for a moderate thin double dihedral then belay at a small tree. 5.8

Pitch 8 with a bolt leads straight out right to a easy ramp. 5.10a briefly

Pitch 9 is a little spooky makes a traverse out right past a loose block, a dihedral 5.8 and over an easy roof to 300' of easy ground.


This route is about 200 meters left, (east) of the Regular Route. Find the start by looking for an obvious roof in a right facing dihedral that marks the first belay. This is just a bit right of the huge left facing corner/arch.

To descend, walk to the top then go down the south-southwest buttress, usually marked with a couple cairns. This is steep, long and painful in rock shoes.

This route would be difficult to retreat from without leaving lots of gear.


Bring a standard rack of small stoppers through 4" cam. Emphasis 0.5-2". Micro-nuts can be useful for pitch 5. The 4" cam is pretty handy, but probably not necessary.

Photos of Inverted Staircase Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Inverted staircase slab pitch
Inverted staircase slab pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Inverted staircase undercling pitch
Inverted staircase undercling pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: "Inverted Staircase". Photo by Blitzo.
"Inverted Staircase". Photo by Blitzo.

Comments on Inverted Staircase Add Comment
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By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 7, 2011

Really nice alternate to some of the busier routes on the dome. Definately needs to be done if you are climbing 5.10 slab and undercling and are in Toulome looking for a not busy route.
By Luke Stefurak
From: Seattle, WA
Aug 31, 2011
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13

Fun varied route with a good dose of adventure and more dirt and grass than ideal. Expect spaced protection on many of the pitches. While the climbing is often easy when unprotected a fall could be quite long.

My partner and I were gardening out placements on many of the pitches (especially the first 5). With more traffic this could clean up nicely! We climbed it on 8/28/11 and the route was dry but in the shade until late afternoon.

Slab moves are tricky to rate. I feel something may have broken on P8 (as described above). My partner (leading) and I both took a fall on this pitch, before lowering and doing it clean. We went straight up above the bolt, on poor holds. Perhaps the late afternoon sun made it harder or we went the wrong way.

All bolts have been replaced except the one on the Inverted staircase pitch which can be backed up with a nut or small cam.
By ACassebeer
From: Mojave, CA
Jul 8, 2013

Expect some grassy and dirty cracks, a slimy inverted staircase pitch, and several no-fall-territory pitches. Bring many slings because the route wanders a lot. We brought doubles through #3 BD C4. I would bring only (1) #3 and add a few extra finger sized pieces. All the bolts on the route are in great shape courtesy of the ASCA.

The route was an adventurous experience, but i wouldn't necessarily recommend this route to a friend. Good for someone who has done all the other classics in the area.

By Erik Gearhart
From: Seattle, WA
Aug 19, 2013
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

Agree with comments above. This route is not really one for a fledgling 5.10 leader to jump on as an alternative to the Regular Route--it is a major upgrade in difficulty and risk. That one bolt friction face with the bad traverse for the second was very difficult, actually. RE: the bolts, when I did it, it had Leeper hangers (and a drilled through piton as a bolt hanger in one spot!). Glad to hear they've been replaced. I do not remember the overhanging staircase being wet--I remember awesomely fun jug pulling on that section.
By bob jensen
Aug 25, 2013

Yes, its a tough one compared to others of the grade. No, its not a "classic" as far as cleanliness and ease of line, but....... the route has history!!! Imagine free climbing that shit in the 60's! Yowza. For me, that wass enough to go check it out. This was the first route I did in Tuolumne with a rope.

The staircase is only wet usually in early season, as well as up to a few days after a good rain. Otherwise it will be dry. Wet just adds to the fun. It lets you get a feel for just a moment, of what it was like with no sticky rubber. Kind of lets you know.

I never thought the traverse pitch was scary for the seconder if the leader back cleans which seems easy to do safely. My idea of safety may be fuggled a bit.

Classic in the old school sense. Imagine yourself there in the old days while climbing it in the days of new. It will add a lot of enjoyment to the experience. And besides, the North side of Fairview Dome is awesome.

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