Stegosaurus Fin 2010
|Date: November 12-14, 2010|
|Distance from Caltech: 180 mi|
|Type: Scrambling, Backpacking|
|Rating: Class 3, Class 4 Summit|
|Approach Distance: 10 miles|
|Route Length: 1 mile of class 3|
Doug, Odin, and Shriharsh set out to climb the very remote and rarely visited Stegosaurus Fin in the Domeland Wilderness. Of the two approach options, we chose the more challenging approach (from the East), requiring a extensive cross-country trekking and fording the South Fork of the Kern.
Getting there was half the fun, as it's a 15+ mile drive on a dirt road, but the road is in decent condition suitable for a low clearance vehicle. The steel gate marking the trailhead was almost impossible to spot at night, and it took a GPS to find the right spot.
The next morning we headed out to summit. Just a few hundred feet down the trail, our target came into view. We followed the old 4WD road for 2.5 miles down to a gate near the Kern. From there it was cross-country for several miles North. We crossed the Kern with icicles on the bank (cold!) and made camp by the river below the ridge leading to the Fin. After a short break, we headed off to summit with daypacks. It was a long scramble with some loose scree, but later a long and enjoyable class 3 climb to the summit ridge. We climbed the East tower and planned the attack on the higher tower to the West, a class 4 route.
The crux move is probably right at the start--a mantle move on a steeply sloping flake with good exposure. We then traversed the "improbable ledge" to the South edge of the tower. Here, the wind suddenly picked up and the exposure was great. The route goes up a class 3 crack to the flat top with good handholds. The final summit block was a little tricky. The exposure was minimal on the side you climb, but all the other faces had great exposure. Once on top, we celebrated, looked in vain for a summit register, then got back to camp just as the sun was going down. We made the uphill climb back to the car the next morning.
Stegosaurus Fin was a very enjoyable peak, and a relatively unknown gem in the Southern Sierras. It's one of the best class 4 summit blocks in all of the Sierras.