Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dome Rock (9,044 ft.)

UN 9112 (attempt)

2 December, 2010: Both of these 9ers are ranked Teller Co. peaks. To avoid private property access issues, I used the “standard” (longer) route from the east. I started at the Dome Rock State Wildlife Area parking lot on Teller CR 61. It's 2 miles south of the intersection with CO Hwy. 67, right at Mile Marker 6. Perhaps the worst thing about this route is that you hike downstream along Fourmile Creek, which means that the return trip is uphill. Ugh.

The trip in was quick, however. I followed the trail along the creek until it turned south in between the two peaks. What a view! I angled northeastward up the west side of Dome Rock's gentle northern ridge, then turned south and more or less followed the ridge to the base of the north side of the rock. Up to this point, it is all just a Class 1 or 2 hike on trails and through the trees. That all changes upon hitting the dome. It's a HUGE rounded blob of Pikes Peak granite. The south side is a daunting cliff but, fortunately, the north side is more gently sloped.

It's still a challenge, however. The traction is good, and I was able to walk up most of it, although I took “some real care,” in the words of Random Hold. The crux, however, requires using all four limbs; I call it Class 4. It's a narrow, leftward-slanted crack about 30 feet high which connects the last walkable slab section to the more gently sloped top. I stashed my poles at the bottom of it, and spent the next ten minutes or so grabbing tiny projections on the rock, wedging my feet into spaces at the bottom, and pressing out on both sides with my arms to make vertical progress.

Finally, I lifted myself into an exit gully on the right (the overhung side all the way up), and was able to step out onto the walkable slopes just below the summit. The view to the south and southwest is truly amazing. Descending the crack was interesting, but not as difficult as I had been prepared for. I followed the north ridge more or less all the way down to intersect the trail a bit east of where I had left it.

On this trip, I also made an unsuccessful bid for UN 9112. The crux on this one, too, is a crack climb heading south on the east side of the summit ridge. With remaining snow in the crack, however, I found it too dangerous to continue. I made it to within about 200 vertical feet of the summit, and the way ahead seemed clear and relatively easy, but it will have to wait for another day.

RT (excluding the attempt on 9112): 9.2 mi.

Vertical: 2,420 ft.

Time: about 4 hours.

Long life and many peaks!


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