Crest Jewel 5.10a & Crest Jewel Direct 5.10d
About the Climb
North Dome sits up high above the Royal Arches and Washington Column, and just down valley from Tuolumne. Crest Jewel is a unique and fantastic climb that features pitch after pitch of stellar slab climbing on impeccably featured granite. The route starts from the left side of North Dome and is accessed via a tree ramp, about 600’ above the base of the Dome. Make sure to wear pants if you approach from Tuolumne, as it involves a fair bit of meandering and bushwacking around manzanita bushes.
Crest Jewel might be the best long slab climb anywhere, and if you’ve been waiting to find “The” slab route, this is it. The route feels like a 5.9 overall, with just a few 5.10a sections. Even if the crux sections are very well protected with modern bolts, expect some healthy runouts on 5.8 ground.
This is not a sport route, and seeing the next bolt can sometimes be hard with the sun reflecting on the myriad of knobs. Crest Jewel has amazing face climbing on knobs, edges, and glacier polish and is fairly sustained most of the way. Get ready for some technical footwork and thin face moves. With amazing views of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley spread out below you, face climbing doesn’t get any better.
Crest Jewel Direct adds 5 excellent and technical pitches to the already amazing Crest Jewel, pushing the grade to 5.10d. The route begins at a high-point from the very base of the dome and ascends the steep slab located just below Crest Jewel, linking into it for a 15 pitch slab-fest. It is a fun way to make an excellent route even better and if you can climb 5.10 slabs, this is the way to go. You will encounter steep face climbing on razor sharp edges, and the crux is extremely well protected. Like Crest Jewel, climbing Crest Jewel Direct demands a cool head, a long approach and descent, and calves of steel.
Note that this route gets sun all day long and can get extremely hot, and the wind can also blow pretty hard up there. Bring lots of water and be prepared for a long, strenuous day.
Linking Crest Jewel Direct into Crest Jewel already makes for an excellent and long day of climbing. However, if you climb fast you can add even more pitches by starting from the Yosemite Valley. A popular combination consist of first climbing Royal Arches, then combining with Crest Jewel for nearly 30 pitches of stellar climbing. In this case, arrange for a car pick-up at Porcupine trailhead, or descend down the North Dome gully. Make sure that you are familiar with the North Dome Gully descent before attempting this tricky descent, and avoid it in the dark.
The Crest Jewel and Crest Jewel Direct combo is a unique climb because of its length and incredible position. For an easier route in a similar location, try the South Face (5.8) of North Dome, which offers a rewarding mix of crack climbing, friction and liebacking on great rock.