|Charlotte Dome starts as a speck on the horizon. With each step it looms larger. Art F on the "trail".|
The camping right close to the dome is unparalleled. Charlotte Dome sits in the convergence of three classic hanging valleys, with more visible across Bubbs Creek. A small creek drains the south side of Mt. Gardiner. Up out of sight, this creek disappears dramatically into a flat sandy zone. Just before the topography plunges to Charlotte Creek, the creek resurfaces in an idyllic oasis immediately adjacent to perfect flat campsites.
|Charlotte Camp's Disney-quality spring. Where are the frolicking gnomes?|
Gardiner's south creek plunges over it's hanging wall to Charlotte Creek, which in turn drops to Bubbs Creek. This leaves Charlotte Dome and the convenient camping perched well above the canyon bottom.
On route, in Art's words, "the rock seems made for climbing". Cracks, holds, friction abound. When the terrain kicks back, the holds get smaller. Where the rock is steeper, the holds are huge. Climbing basically never drops below 5.6 and certainly never rises past 5.8.
|Featured, bomber rock. It's almost like a cliche.|
|Pulling out of the steeps into yet another comfy and exposed belay ledge. About halfway up, Art glances back and involuntary exclaims "We're really f***ing high".|
All in all, Charlotte Dome's a perfect experience. The classic three-day itinerary from the East is head-and-shoulders above any other way to do it. However, there are more ways than one to skin this cat. Other ways I've done the Charlotte Dome thing include, from Road's End on the west (twice, and not recommended...), on skis in April (totally bitchin'!), from a camp at Charlotte Lake (in order to leave time on the exit for a University Peak attempt), and via 6 passes and Sixty Lakes. Be creative, it pays off. Or follow the formula and you won't be disappointed.