What is this Middle Cathedral Route?


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Trad climber
Tideswell, England
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 2, 2005 - 04:08am PT
I had my first visit to The Valley in October - unfortunately co-inciding with a very hot spell which sent me scuttling into the shadows!

We did a pitch at the base of Middle Cathedral one day, and wondered what it is - it isn't in any of the guidebooks I have seen.

It follows a line of fixed gear - bolts, the odd peg and some bashies - up a thin wall left of Paradise Lost, before trending right on easier ground to arrive at the second stance on that route.

It seemed very tricky to me - being my first encounter with thin off-vertical Yosemite walls. Indeed I slipped off once from the crux moves at about 30ft, before I spotted an inobvious step left to initiate the sequence.

The next day we went on the magnificent Stoner's Highway - got 7 pitches up before the impending gloom forced a retreat - and my partner commented that without the experience of this mystery pitch the day before, we'd probably not have got up P1 of Stoner's.

I had to agree!

So, can anyone tell me:-

What is the mystery route called?

What grade is it?

Does it continue beyond the first pitch which we did?

Can I get a topo anywhere?




Nov 2, 2005 - 04:08pm PT
three pitch Jim Beyer route name unknown. He rated it 10d but felt more like11a. How about the funky green hangers and funky heads! First pitch felt like the crux to me. Third pitch traverses left and is a little spooky. Don Ried's complete Yosemite guide coming soon I hope - He's done it also and says there is an unfinished fourth pitch.
Skoal ,Al
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 2, 2005 - 04:25pm PT
Apparently done around November 2002. Unfortunately it added bolts to pitches 2 and 3 of Paradise Lost. See Melissa's posts:


Gym climber
Nov 2, 2005 - 05:44pm PT
Wow, I can hardly believe that Beyer (if it was he) would do that, considering how he feels about bolts and all. But shucks, there you have it.

An anchor 30' up? strange.


Somewhat associated, anybody know about the diagonal line of
bolts starting near Stoners?

:- kelly

PS. Clint, what's the cool trick you use to link to a specific post?
Russ Walling

Social climber
Nov 2, 2005 - 05:46pm PT
Where are those damn "Vroom Vroom" guys when you need them?????

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Nov 2, 2005 - 05:56pm PT
Placing bolts on Paradise Lost is just wrong, IMO. The climbing is only 5.8/9 on those first few pitches, but exciting--or it once was. Folks hae no shame. And are you saying this route simply stops a few pitchs up??

How come in all this talkabout Middle Cat. there is never any menion of Black Primo, which was the baddest of all. And that was 30 years ago.

scuffy b

S Cruz
Nov 2, 2005 - 06:12pm PT
I've been meaning to ask about this for a long time.
As I recall, the route was first announced as Black
Primo, then soon after became referred to as Black Rose.
I've never understood why, but speculated that it
was out of some sort of prudishness. Without doing
any actual searching, my memory says that even you
(JL) have recently called it Black Rose on this forum.
I would be glad for anything on this.
Also, what can you say about Jigsaw?
Steve m

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Nov 2, 2005 - 06:41pm PT
Black Primo was at one time a kind of Hash so though this was the original name --named after a black diorite band running through the route. Meyers changed the name to Black Rose, though I never learned why or what Black Rose was--a black wine, I suspect.

Jigsaw--jeeez, I can't remember. Where is it in relation to Freeheelin' and Black Primo??

Wasn't that close to "Orange Peal?" That was a Meyers/Bruce Hawkins project as I remember. Kauk and I went up and did the pitches (I think I was with Kauk--not positive, though). I don't think they ever finished the route, or maybe it just "ended" nowhere in particular. The only thing I remember is a hard traversing pitch down low.

But Jigsaw? Just can't remember what the heck with that route.


Nov 2, 2005 - 06:56pm PT
I went up there Largo on the Black Primo with Kauk once and once with Merry. Ha ha ha I didn't lead the crux pitches as they were way to scary for me. Both times I got dragged up those routes.

They are really good routes up there on Middle. I believe they get done more than you hear about John. People go there and do them.
scuffy b

S Cruz
Nov 2, 2005 - 06:59pm PT
I think Jigsaw was over by Black Primo.
I never heard much about it as far as its
quality. I think when Vern went to do it
he took a fall onto a blade and partially
tore the eye, according to Virginia. He didn't
say anything but he looked kinda subdued.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 2, 2005 - 07:07pm PT
Werner, indeed they do. Just yesterday the name "Black Primo" came up between two of my friends. I believe they were reminiscing about getting rained on or maybe just getting really cold up there.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Nov 2, 2005 - 07:11pm PT
Hope folks are doing those routes. They can't be that hard by modern standards but I'm sure they're still exciing. On the first ascent, route finding was really a bear on those Middle routes. Often we'd do horrendous climbing and then find an easier way to do the same bit. That was some exciting stuff, and still is I'm sure. If the bolts haen't been replaced on those routes they gotta be deadly.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 3, 2005 - 02:09pm PT
Kelly asked:
> what's the cool trick you use to link to a specific post?

1. Click on [Return to Forum List]

2. Use the "Search the forum: [ ] [go]" item on the top of the list, which is the same as:
For example, put in some text like Paradise Lost (lower/upper case does not matter).

3. This yields a list of links with Date, Thread name (and partial text), and Author. Click on the likely ones until you find the best ones. If one of these direct links is something you want to refer to, Copy/Paste the URL from your "Address" box in your browser to your post, or to a temporary file if you want to Copy/Paste more than one URL.

4. If you find an even better post when you are browsing one of the threads located with the search, to get the direct URL to that post, click on the Author name (on left side of actual post), and then click on "Search for Forum Messages by [author]", and use the posting date to locate the actual link if they post a lot. Or you could look for some unique text in their post and search for that (for example to locate one of Melissa's posts, I searched for "CPoF").

> Somewhat associated, anybody know about the diagonal line of
bolts starting near Stoners?
This sounds like "Pulsating Pustules" in the 1994 and later Reid guides (just right of Stoner's Highway). A bit left is Rainbow Bridge, but that's been in the guides for awhile.
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Nov 3, 2005 - 07:48pm PT
Last month we did Quicksilver which gets two stars in the guidebook. The last pitch still has the original bolts. Pretty scary.

Gym climber
Nov 3, 2005 - 08:26pm PT
Thanks Clint! 'preciate that.

Yeah, when I last did Quicksilver I was all excited to clip nice
shinnies on the 2nd pitch. When my buddy said "You lead" for the 3rd, I cooly said "no prob..."

"Hell, these are the original Leeper's" you could soon hear me srceam. Both of 'em were that way.

But just like eatin' Mooseturd Pie, I gotta say "It's good though!"

Anybody know the status of the Freewheelin' bolts? I'd like to repeat that, but I'ma scared.

:- k
The Warbler

the edge of America
Aug 12, 2017 - 05:16pm PT
I stumbled on this old thread, and it was before I was a contributor here...

Black Primo was a kind of particularly stoney hashish, and the climb has a particularly mind altering character, not to mention hundreds of feet of amazingly featured black diorite which gives way up an otherwise unclimbable swath of offwhite stone.

George Meyers never told me why he renamed it Black Rose, I think it was around the time he began courting his relatively conservative wife to be. Maybe that had something to do with it. He could have taken the name from a Waylon Jennings song, Black Rose, which says : "The devil made me do it the first time, second time I done it on my own, Lord put a handle on a simple handed man and help me leave that Black Rose alone".

It's a damn good Face route, good as they get. Absolutely beautiful rock, an amazing weakness and line with challenging and varied climbing.

Quicksilver gets 2 stars? Now that's funny!


Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Aug 12, 2017 - 10:21pm PT
Middle bump . . . lots of good climbing.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Aug 13, 2017 - 01:42am PT
I was up there around the base of Middle this year and saw a party questing up on Stoners and from what I could hear, they faced the same concerns we did when we first did the route as teenagers BITD: Where does this thing go? Find the line of weakness and it's not bad. Stray, and you're up against it. Still looked pretty adventurous even now. And steeper than I remembered.

But Black Primo is another story. Kevin did a great job on-sighting I think it was the 3rd pitch. 5.11 and runout. It's really the on-sighting that makes those routes so exciting - and the ripper you take if you can't dick the thing straight off. As I remember I got the crux 1st try but had to heave pretty hard. And I DO remember that Kevin placed the bolt protecting the crux standing on some mank. Great effort KW. Black Primo was Kevin's idea all along. I just came along as a last-minute recruit.

High times...
The Warbler

the edge of America
Aug 13, 2017 - 08:59am PT
Black Primo has a lot of very cool aspects to it. Top notch stone of all varieties and color from the first to last move sets the stage.

Pitch 1) slightly indirect at the bottom, no protection until you're about 50 ft off the deck, but it's maybe 5.9 climbing. Then you clip two bolts side by side, because the consequences of one's failure on the upcoming 60 ft runout are a concern. The climbing enters the diorite band the route's named for, and is covered with all types of holds and griptape like friction. The right combination of holds yields an easy 5.10 passage to the anchors. After Bridwell followed me up it, on an early effort, he told me I was insane, and that he'd never lead a new Middle face pitch. He can be kind of a drama queen...

Pitch 2) The anchor is also the end of Jigsaw's first pitch, it comes in from the left, and exits left. Black Primo traverses right, then sweeps up to plumb on the 8 to 10 ft wide diorite vein that is the most prominent feature of the route. Easily visible from El Cap Meadow, it winds its way up the steep left side of the North Face Apron, offering a plethora of features leading directly through a section of light grey stone that is probably the largest continuously holdless area of rock that the Cathedral Rocks have to offer. The dike stands slightly proud of the wall, much like a rippled ice flow down a pefectly flat slab. Superb rock, a bolt or two, maybe three for protection, continuous 5.10 climbing leads to the crux, 80 ft off the belay. Here the dike widens and smoothes, leaving you tantalizingly close to a right facing shallow corner, sickle shaped, and hooking into a ledge just a few moves away from good holds. A thick arrow in a horizontal seam, driven upside down, with the spine of the anvil solidly resting on a flat facet protects the thin cruxy moves to the ledge. Your toes work the seam left, and a seemingly blank section remains. That pin looks kinda small in its setting as you look back after the moves. The belay is in the corner.

Pitch 3) Two twin arcing rightfacing shallow corners, also prominent from the Meadow, linked with moderate face climbing, and all protected by gear, offer enjoyable climbing to the belay.

Pitch 4) The wall steepens steadily for 30 ft off the belay, and the rock becomes diorite again. This section offers the crux moves of the route, and the whole vibe of the climb becomes climactic. High off the ground, rising into the zone on Middle where the whole massive rock shifts gears into a nearly vertical fortress of foreboding dark stone. Like on pitch 3, you are tantalizingly close to easier ground, and the huge horizontal ledge system that separates the North Face Slabs from the wall above. The bolt placement Largo describes above is the second one off the belay, just below a clear angle change in the face. The steepest hand drilling I've ever done, it protects the crux perfectly. The stance was a wide stem between two opposing one inch wide mini ramps, which offered a pseudo solid, but calf burning stance, however on the edge of tipping over backward. I was spent after the effort and John made short work of the bouldery sequence. More fun 5.10 leads to a perfect little belay platform, the only one in sight on the slab.

Pitch 4) 5.9, the easiest pitch by far on the route, and oddly I remember it as the best on the climb for a few reasons. The weakness it follows is so obvious, as if created for the climber, the stone so perfect, still steep with chunky sculpted holds, the setting so grand, the air so open, the route so in the bag. The giant, clean and level ledge It suddenly ends on offers a great place to kick back and savor the experience.


from out where the anecdotes roam
Aug 13, 2017 - 09:29am PT
^^^ who knew the written word would make me wanna so bad ... in the midst of this damned decrepitude?
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