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Fairview Dome's West Face

   

  SEVERAL times since 1968, Bob Kamps and I have attempted a new route on the virgin west face of Fairview Dome in Tuolumne Meadows, the glorious Sierra high country above Yosemite. Each time, we retreated after realizing aid would probably be necessary to surmount a twenty-foot overhang dead center on the proposed line. In the past two years, several parties have ventured onto the face (see marked attempts), but have been stopped by bulging roofs or smooth, high-angle rock. In September of 1973, Mike Irwin and I re-climbed the pitches Bob and I had completed several years before, found a way around the enormous roofs and gained the summit. The route proved to be one of the most lengthy and improbable in all of Tuolumne.
    The many granite domes of Tuolumne Meadows are gradually attracting more and more climbers, though the scarcity of routes below 5.8 and the lack of a formal guidebook probably holds back a climbing flood. The Tuolumne Rock Climbing School continues to receive considerable demand for its service. Anticipating the damage to rock such a demand might do, the school now instructs all its enrollees in the use of nuts. New routes continue to be done, mostly of the short and difficult variety. Steve Roper promises a technical guide to the Sierra, including Tuolumne Meadows, amid a growing debate about the tendency for climbing guidebooks to bring excessive crowding to climbing areas. Some climbers are in a sufficient quandary about the effects of reporting to simply remain silent about new routes. Last year, I was party to several new routes in Tuolumne which went unreported, though simple apathy was as much responsible for our silence as any deep seated concern about crowding.
    Mike and I have the fortunate experience of beginning our climb early one morning with no sign of anyone on the dome. Just the tremendous silence of the wall jiggles our stomachs. We have slept on and off the previous night in anticipation of the ascent. I never have butterflies, only a ping pong ball lodged in my solar plexus.



 
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