Tag Archives: French’s Dome

Climbing at French’s Dome – full ropes and everything!


Saturday, 18-July-2020


Today, the goal was to get some rock under my hands.


Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve climbed? I don’t, actually. I mean, I’d bouldered recently, but actual roped, vertical, leading? I… couldn’t tell you. I think Sarah and I did the first three pitches of Beacon at some point in the last year, maybe?

It’s bad, man. I shouldn’t let myself go that long.


Thankfully, French’s Dome is nearby. I met Bri at her place in the morning, we packed the car, and got ourselves moving. Sticking to the new theme of the year, we weren’t particularly rushed… but we did get going at a pretty reasonable time, since French’s is definitely a popular area.

The trailhead was packed. Like, seriously packed.

I’m a good driver, thank you very much, and I know how to park my car. But this… well, parking was creative today. With some spotting though, I was able to wedge myself in pretty safely, and was even able to check with the drivers of nearby cars to make sure they didn’t mind me coming in so close. With everything good, we headed in.

And got a beautiful surprise – even with a packed trailhead, very few of the routes had people on them! And all the routes that I was hoping to climb? All of them were open!

Continued birthday luck, I guess.



We pulled out our gear, and set up shop:

  • Giant’s Direct – 5.5, Sport – Fun climb, not bad at all
  • Balloon Knot – 5.9, Sport – I think we did this one? I don’t remember it being 5.9-level difficulty, but this is the only route I can find in any of the guides, and it looks exactly like what we climbed. Maybe we did a variant?
  • Tin Man / Tin Tangle – 5.8, Sport – This was really fun too, though the fact that the guidebook lists both names is a little confusing.
  • Alpha – 5.8, Sport – Fun!
  • Straw Man – 5.7, Sport – Also fun!
  • Giant’s Staircase – 5.6, Sport, 2 pitches – We summitted! This was fun and easy, and a great way to get up to the top of the dome. With snacks, of course!


It was a good day. We got more climbs in than I’d hoped for, and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I’d feared. I was definitely pretty weak, and did run into some mental walls while above the bolts in a few places… but you know what? That’s fine. It’s expected, and I felt good.

That’s the fun of climbing, right? Breaking through walls, being strong, and enjoying the rock!

A long staycation on July 4th – Bouldering at French’s Dome


So my company was hit pretty hard by COVID-19, and instituted a 10% furlough program. Reduced pay, but balanced by various furlough days scattered throughout the year… primarily around holidays. July 4th was one of those, which meant that I had Thursday through Monday off from work – the 2nd through the 6th. Five full days for adventure!

My original plan was to drive out to City of Rocks in Idaho. I reserved a campsite maybe two weeks beforehand, and started planning out what to bring, and what route to take.

But… It’s a 10 hour drive, shortest route. 11, by the route I was thinking of taking. And that doesn’t include stops for gas, food, and the stretch breaks that I’d absolutely need on a trip that long. I kept trying to talk myself into it, but in the end I just talked myself out of the trip.

I canceled the reservations, and put together a new plan. A staycation, full of relaxation, organizing my new apartment, and re-aquainting myself with the Pacific Northwest…



Monday, 06-July-2020


Monday dawned brighter and earlier than I would have liked. I’d had a heck of a time falling asleep the night before, and getting up and mobile was particularly challenging… as it tends to be after four days of vacation and eating lots of great food. But I mobilized, got showered, and started packing myself up for the days adventure!

The night before, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d went through the various guidebooks that I have and picked out the adventure of the day. I wouldn’t be going back to the Garden, but instead heading East, to a volcanic remnant on the slopes of Hood called French’s Dome.


I’d heard about the Dome before, from a few different people, but for some reason had never actually made the trip out to climb it. It’s not like it’s far, either… turns out, it was the closest of the various options! A fact that definitely contributed to choosing it.

I had another happy breakfast of avocado english muffins and seared ham, finished packing up the car, and headed into the great wild… after stopping at the post office and REI for some quick errands.


But I made it with tons of daylight to spare, and started in with my bouldering pad and trad gear. Not that I expected to be doing any roped climbing, of course, but it had been so long since I’d placed gear that I figured a refresher course was absolutely in order… if only to remind myself that I do feel confident placing gear in rocks.


Well, first off, French’s Dome is beautiful, and beautifully close to the road. Seriously, it was less than 5min walk. Downhill, even. The drive itself wasn’t bad either, but was still just a bit over an hour. Combine those two, and I think I may have a new favorite after-work climbing place here in Oregon! Which… is kind of sad, comparing it to Hammond Pond in terms of distance, or Quincy Quarries in terms of variation of routes…



But you know what? Gift horses and mouths, as the saying goes, and I was just happy to have found a fun area!

I set up the crash pad, and started working the starts of a few routes. French’s is actually set up nearly perfectly for long bouldering, because the pinnacle is up on a steep slope, which has been terraced to avoid erosion. Because of that, I could get 50ft bouldering lines in, while staying less than 8 feet off the ground! I couldn’t bring my crashpad with me the whole way, which stunk, but it was still a really awesome chance to work on my footwork and endurance.


I stayed later than I had planned, only leaving when the mosquitos started coming out and my stomach was reminding me that I hadn’t brought quite enough snacks.

I’ll be back soon, I promise.