Why aren't there bolts on these climbs?
When you climb at Monkey Island, don't waste your time looking for
bolts, because there aren't any (with the exception of one top anchor).
1) Bolts aren't necessary at Monkey Island.
The climbs can be well protected with clean gear (nuts, cams,
etc). Almost all of these climbs were first climbed on lead,
onsight, from the ground up, using only traditional clean
protection. This is classically viewed as the preferred style of
ascent because it adheres to a minimum impact ethic by leaving the rock
in the same condition that it was found.
2) Monkey Island is a place for novice leaders to practice
traditional clean climbing skills.
There are hundreds of climbs in the Tuolumne region, but surprisingly
few that are appropriate for the novice leader. The unique
nature of the rock on this cliff provides a special opportunity that is
not readily available elsewhere in Tuolumne; the chance to practice
traditional lead climbing at a moderate grade using clean
protection. Leading bolt-protected sport climbs requires a
minimum of leading skills; just follow the bolts and clip them.
Leading at Monkey Island develops a full range of skills necessary to
be a well-rounded leader; route finding, gear placement, creating
a complete protection system, establishing anchors, and assessing rock
If you prefer not to be challenged in these more advanced aspects of
leading, you should probably avoid Monkey Island. There are lots
of other domes in the area that would meet your needs.
3) Bolting is not consistent with a wilderness "leave no
Monkey Island has a distinctly wilderness ambience about it.
Unlike many of the popular Tuolumne domes that are within sight (or
hearing) of highway 120, the Monkey Island cliff has view of only the
wilderness of northern Yosemite. The highway can't be heard and a
tranquil silence prevails. Many climbers enjoy the opportunity to
climb in such beautful natural surroundings. Monkey Island
provides a special opportunity to climb on rock that has suffered few
of the impacts of many popular crags. With little effort here it
is possible to "discover" this cliff as though it had never been
climbed. Some climbers might choose to not read the route
descriptions, pick out their own line up the face, and create their own
"first ascent" experience. By avoiding the use of bolts, the
cliff can remain in this pristine state for those who value and
appreciate this special quality.
You can help minimize climber impacts when you visit Monkey Island:
- Use the grante slabs at the base for a staging area instead of
- Walk on rocks, not duff or vegetation, to avoid soil
- Don't move or stack rocks into windbreaks or benches.
- Don't break tree limbs.
- No fires (they are illegal here anyway).
- Consider using climbing chalk that leaves mimimal or no residue
on the rock (e.g., Metolius Eco Chalk).
- Pack out all evidence of your visit (including adhesive tape and
Monkey Island Home