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Calaveras Dome

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About Calaveras Dome:

Calaveras Dome and the adjacent Hammer Dome lie in the Central Sierra and are situated along the Mokelumne River, just below Salt Springs Reservoir. Calaveras Dome is approx. 1200ft high. Routes are up to 12 pitches in length, with only one route, Old Smokey 5.9, being easier than 5.10. Classic routes include: War of the Walls 10c, Tsunami 11c, Beacons from Mars 10d, Green Sponge 10b and Silk Road 11b. The east face also has several classic aid lines, from A2 to A4. Shorter routes are available and some top-roping is possible.

Routes on "Cal" Dome and Hammer Dome follow crack systems or are bolt protected slab climbs. Hammer Dome offers shorter and more moderate climbing. Being approx. 600ft high, routes are up to 6 pitches. The classics include: Gemini Cracks 5.8, Smoke Screen 10c, Wings and Stings 5.7, Sea of Holes 10b and Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun 11b/c.

Several smaller walls are in the immediate area providing their own awesome routes. Panic at the Pumps 10a, on Sergeant Rock is one of my personal favorites, it even stays dry in rain!

Brief History: The rock remained untouched until the early seventies. In 1972 one of the most aesthetic lines on Hammer Dome, Gemini Cracks, was climbed. The party used the opportunity to examine the massive "Cal" Dome directly across the river from them. The next year "Green Sponge" was climbed, going at 5.8 A3. It is now a wonderful line at 5.10b. Notable developers were, Jay Smith, Paul Crawford and Jeff Altenburg.

Three primitive USFS camps serve the area. Climbing year round is possible with the base of the domes at 4000ft. Summer time can be exceedingly hot on the exposed faces, but if you know how to work it, shade can be found all day. A cool dip on the river tops it off.

There are no stores in the immediate area. Ham Station provides good burgers and beer however. Cooks Station, 4 miles west of Ham Station, does have some supplies available.

An early guidebook, Climbers Guide to N. America, West Coast, Harlin (Chockstone) is out of print, but can be found. Click here for older hand drawn topos that have been circulating for years.

Nearest town or city: Jackson/Pioneer
Directions: From the west, follow Hwy 88 from Stockton thru Jackson and Pioneer, and continue to Ellis Rd. Drive 13 miles down Ellis Rd. and you are there. From the Sierra House restaurant in Pioneer (good place for breakfast) to Ellis Rd. is approx 26 miles. 4 miles before Ellis Rd. is Ham Station.

When traveling from the east Hwy 88 intersects Hwy 89, which can be accessed from Hwy 395 or South Lake Tahoe.

Winter access is achieved by driving Tiger Creek Rd. out of Pioneer, 2 hrs of winding dirt road and several intersections make description difficult. Two main trails access Cal Dome (better have someone show you where they are). Hammer Dome is accessed by walking along the aqueduct from the east where it crosses under the road.

Latitude, Longitude: 38.49391, -120.21721
Access Issues:
Camping: Yes
When to Climb: Autumn Spring
Quantity of Climbs: Year

Topo Images

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Most Recent Photos (See all 26 photos)

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Forum Discussions (5 posts)

  Subject Author Replies Last Post
No Replies shoes stevecurtis 0 Jun 19 2012, 1:56 AM
With Replies New sport/slab route at Cal Dome right of Old Smokies norushnomore 2 Jun 15 2006, 3:10 AM
With Replies Calaveras Dome access closed drkayak 5 May 02 2005, 9:02 PM
With Replies Camping at calaveras domes wantstoclimb 2 May 28 2004, 1:42 AM
With Replies War of the Walls nvguide 9 Jul 13 2004, 4:07 AM