This is Charlotte Dome. She is located West of Kearsarge Pass in the Southern Sierra Mountains in California just North East of Lone Pine. This is best approached via Onion Valley trail head. This is a spectacular climb. Many pitches of high quality granite in an awesome setting.
THE HIKE: Just make sure you have your wilderness permit during quota season, otherwise the fine is $70....each person. The final slog up to the pass is this long sweeping switchback. Put your head down and crank. On my first time up the pass some guy with a triathlon t-shirt passed us. I said, 'There is no way this guy is going to blow me away on the trail'. So I hiked at his heals all the way. It was a battle but a great workout! When you reach the top the rewards are worth it. Great views and a nice breeze. The route from here is mostly down hill. After Charlotte Lake you get into the manzanita forest. If you find the trail it's not too bad, if you don't, you wish you could trade your shorts for some chaps. Just before the creek takes a turn down the canyon you will find a great meadow to camp in. This is before the dome itself but the setting is perfect. Filtered lights, walking distance to the stream and a view of the crag.
THE CLIMB: The south face follows the left hand skyline in the picture. The route was filled with great climbing and mental challenges. Long run-outs on easy terrain were encountered throughout. I remember one section of the climb where I kept climbing up and right to get to a crack system. Before I got there, I ran out of rope. I found a groove in the granite face that would accept a #7 stopper and nothing else. I was elated. The other piece for this belay was a butt-jam on the ledge. It was bomber belay ...as long as my partner didn't fall.
|The granite on this face was been carved by water in the most amazing forms. One pitch goes through these "runnels" that resembled vertical slide tubes. I will add some pictures of this at a later time.|
The Summit was quite spacious with a gigantic rectangular block. After one rappel (optional) and an easy walk-off the crag to the north, it was back to camp.
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