Correction to Secor, Tehipite Dome

by Steve Eckert
The hike in was pretty uneventful until Crown Creek. If you know RJ Secor personally, please thank him for mentioning this creek in his book! I should also thank Ron Hudson for relating RJ's story in more personal terms. Ron called the stream "life threatening", and he was not exaggerating! It's about 60' wide at the trail crossing, and only about 1.5' deep. It is also paved with round loose rocks in the 6" to 12" size range, and the water flows so fast that it splashed up past my waist!

I took 100' of rope, and used every bit of it. If you've never done a pendulum stream crossing, here's how it works: You tie the rope to a tree near the stream, a full rope length upstream from where you want to cross. You then tie into the rope (as a last resort) and take a little slack in your hands. As you cross, you either travel in an arc or pay out the rope. If you fall, the current pushes you back to the shore you started on like a pendulum returning to center. Note that your rope must be longer than the stream is wide, in order to keep the rope pull more or less opposite the current.

My plan was to just wade, using the rope as security. I changed my mind about a third of the way across. I know enough about streams to turn sideways in order to reduce the width of your body being hit by the current, but in this stream that did not work. I could not keep downstream foot underneath me without pulling a groin muscle! That water was ripping! So I leaned back on the rope and went across facing upstream with water splashing from surface level (near my knees) up past my waist. Scary.

Maybe later in the season this crossing would be more reasonable, but there are frothing whitewater rapids above and below the crossing, so you don't have much time to scramble back to shore if you slip. It's not deep enough to swim, either.

Anyway, after drying out and tensioning the rope over the stream for my return trip, I hiked on up to 8300' on the ridge between Kettle Dome and Tehipite Dome to camp.

There is a good description of the crux move on this so-called third class peak in Secor: "a short class 3 move onto the ridge". Roper has bad advice about the approach (bushwhacking), and calls the ridge itself third class. Secor wins again! Anyway, would someone please define the difference between 3rd and 4th class again? Is it not exposure? If so, this is 4th class! Many register entries bemoaned the lack of a rope (mine included). It's a thousand-foot mistake if you make one. Secor says this is the largest dome in the Sierra (not the highest). You get to do a little lichen-covered sloping ledge before getting to the 20' of 3rd class. There's a great rappel tree just at the top, too! Take at least a little rope.

The information in these pages is provided by interested volunteers and has not been field checked. R.J. Secor, The Mountaineers and the Sierra Club are in no way responsible for the accuracy of any route advice on this web site. Safe climbers must be able to understand the terrain and topography of the area they travel in, and they must make wise route finding choices based on their own knowledge, experience and observations.