Rock Climbing in the Mother Lode
The Mother Lode area contains almost unlimited rock climbing opportunities including vertical granite outcrops as well as boulder fields perfect for bouldering. Yosemite is a world-class destination for rock-climbers. Popular areas in Tuolumne include bouldering in Columbia near and in the State Historic Park, Table Mountain, and several in the Stanislaus and Emigrant National Forest.
Calaveras Dome and the adjacent Hammer Dome are popular places to climb along the Mokelumne River, just below Salt Springs Reservoir. With many walls to climb in the area, Calaveras Dome is the tallest at 1200ft. Routes on “Cal” Dome and Hammer Dome follow crack systems or are bolt protected slab climbs. Hammer Dome is 600ft high and offers shorter and more moderate climbing. In the Bear Valley Area north of Arnold near Spicer reservoir there are several rock climbing places. Go with a guide who can show you down unmarked trails to Box Canyon, Spicer Terraces, and Spicer Road Crags off of Spicer Reservoir Road.
Bouldering in the area can be done on School House Boulders behind the Community Center in Bear Valley. Tamarack Boulders, Hells Kitchen, Big Meadow, and Stanislaus River Boulders near the 22 camp site Stanislaus River camp ground.
Yosemite is a world-class destination for rock-climbers. It’s impossible to miss the huge granite walls when you drive through the valley. Given the natural beauty of the surrounding meadows, lakes, and forest, it’s hard to imagine a better place to learn the fundamentals or enjoy them as an expert rock climber! El Capitan, Half Dome and Tuolumne Meadows are the major points of interest with countless other walls, and peaks up to 13,000 feet. Snake Dike on Half Dome is a dramatic moderate climb. You pass two waterfalls and an alpine lake on the trail to the foot of Half Dome, from which you climb 800′ along the southwest face of the rock. This full-day excursion includes a six-mile hike to the base, eight pitches of climbing and a 9-mile descent to the valley floor. It is one of the more popular climbers’ routes in the park.
In the Valley, experts have recommended Swan Slab (behind the Yosemite Lodge next to the main road), Sunnyside Bench and The Church Bowl Area.
A good book on rope climbing in Yosemite is “Yosemite Top Ropes”, available at the Mountaineering store or online. One of the best sources for topographic maps and betas (information about routes) is supertopo.com.
The Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service offers beginner through advanced classes in Yosemite Valley spring through fall, and in Tuolumne Meadows in summer. They are an American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) accredited guide service and a Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) member ski school.
*Photos are of Table Mountain
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