East Buttress of Lower Cathedral Rock IV 5.10c


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Trad climber
berkeley ca
Topic Author's Original Post - May 15, 2008 - 05:21am PT
I was ready to do the DNB today and when I got to the base there was another party just starting. I really was not in the mood to share a 20pitch route today so I recomended to my friend that me go do the East Buttress of Lower Cathedral Rock. We called a buddy (woke his ass up) for beta and set off. The hike was short and the trail obvious enough (hike along the walking path till you see a faint trail after a bunch of Big Talus/boulders). We headed up till we joined the obvious wash out for the gunsite notch. From here the first pitch is fairly obvious (if not hike down and look for the start of Soul Sacrafice a nut seems to replace the old bolt and there was much chalk).

So following the Reid topo we climbed as follows.

The first pitch goes as represented .8 (don't know what that old bent pin is about, but it is way off route). This pitch is likely the most physical of the whole route.

The second pitch was a fun .10- layback and jam. Go up and past a few trees then left to belay.

The third pitch was the Fissure Beck (.9) which is a sweet OW pitch that really does not demand much OW technique. You armbar and chicken wing with your right while moving your left and right foot up decent sized edges. A tree belay ends the pitch. We had double ropes so this minimized the drag. I was psyched that my friend brought them, and he certainly used em here. You break left then back right in to the Fissure. The bolt on the topo is a pin. You could place a 5 but we didn't have one and my friend felt he did not need one. (Did I mention were a very mortal/average climbers).

The next pitch is shown as 4 and really should be linked with 5 as they are both short. I linked the pitches because my friend led the Fissure Beck and we had heard that this was the crux. I and my friend both found that the .10c pitch was infact the crux, and that it was body english style stemming/edgin/jamming/palming. All beautifully protected by cams stoppers and fixed pins. Not a pumpy thing, more of a technique number for ehhhh 30 feet with the noticeable crux only ten feet long. As you get higher up the pitch it gets consistantly harder. I belayed at a fixed anchor (total crap) and added a few cams. (After this pitch the route lets up a bit and route finding becomes the crux, it is also much less airy)

The next pitch went up to a tree ledge then continued to another tree ledge with a bunch of talus. Go to the top of the talus and belay under a crack with a stuck cam up (15'-30')a ways. Here you can go down and right after bringing up your partner and add another .10- pitch, but bring up your partner first.

I went the .9 way and it had a steep roof break at one point (I could see a stuck cam). What you want to do is head up then break right (next thing you know it is low angle and you are jogging right) on a hand crack (not visible from below) then follow it up to a tree and belay (or continue as I did, simuclimbing bad idea). I am rather sure that you don't want to continue up the corner that ends at an overlap as that appeared to blank out (so break right near a little bush/plant).

Here the route finding became tricky for us. We continued up and slightly left. We ended up 20-30 feet up and right of an oak tree. I think what you want to do is go up then way left on ez ledges to an area of white rock and a layback/splitter and belay at the base. Then go up the white splitter/layback. Our way was 5.9/.10- (at least) and involved thumper flakes and other wild laybacks with 4" pro there was also an inobvoius piton that we clipped (in expando rock I am sure there was no nice ring when that got placed).

Either way you belay at an oak above (and you have to look hard)white rock.

I got antsy and simuclimbed throught the 5.7(8)- 5.5 pitches (not so safe) you could and should belay these pitches from the big trees that present themselves. Note that the climbing is less clean up here than down below as it appears many rappell after doing the lower 5-6 pitches. Go up and slightly left for 200-300 feet (hero jugs and one thin layback). The topo shows three pitches but you could certainly do them in two.

From here go down to the gunsite with occational 30m rappells and slide down some snow. We followed the base of LCR back to the base of the route and picked up our remaining belongings. The whole thing took less than 12 hours and covered 1200 feet(?) of terrain. We moved consistanly but not too fast. So East Buttress Lower Cathedral Rock IV 5.10c a great route worth doing.

We brought doubles up to a number 4 (old school) and I had a few offset cams and stoppers. You could bring a five but it is not necessary.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 15, 2008 - 08:51am PT
Thanks. Good to see that people still do this route. I agree it is worth it. It has some unusual climbing. Back in the later sixties and early seventies, it was supposed to be a very serious route; it had a quasi badass reputation. FA: Powell, Gallwas, D. Wilson 1956, FFA Steve Thompson and Fredericks 65. Meade Hargis and I did it in 1971 and thought it was a good adventure. Routefinding up high is semi-funky, for sure, but typical of the Cathedral Rocks, e.g. NE Buttress HCR. A good classic free climb, ratings as you note are still valid.

Trad climber
May 15, 2008 - 09:45am PT
Thanks for the TR.
I've checked out the route from below and really want to do it.

Gym climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
May 15, 2008 - 09:50am PT
Thanks for the TR. I had forgotten some of those pitches here and there but your report filled in my memory blanks. One of the toughest on sight free solos I've ever done. Fissure Beck and the 10c dihedral were drawer filling. Great route overall with lots of clean climbing.

cheers, jb

Santa Cruz
May 15, 2008 - 11:20am PT
My buddy Davy and I climbed this route after a night sleeping in a rain filled cave in the boulders. Didn't sleep much. The climbing on this thing felt hard.
Lucho and I were talking about you soloing this thing the other day John. Savage dude.
ian manger

May 15, 2008 - 11:48am PT
"Note that the climbing is less clean up here than down below as it appears many rappell after doing the lower 5-6 pitches."

I did this a while back, and as you say it seemed like all the fight went out of the route higher up. That said, it was a cracking day out so thanks for the reminder..

Trad climber
berkeley ca
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2008 - 12:42pm PT
Bachar, Thats just nuts man. The crux while short was powerfull. Nice send. I knew you soloed alot but to onsite solo that, phew. Have you done it since?


May 15, 2008 - 12:51pm PT
One of the local best bet guys free soloed this route also.

Trad climber
primordial soup
May 15, 2008 - 01:04pm PT
WB- "best bet guys"...?

you definately do not need a big cam.
as i mentioned in another thread, i spaced the #4 at the belay on both pitches where it would have been useful (#1 and the beck OW, tho' i can't call that an OW since you are completely inside it).

also, at 5'5", i chimneyed that 10c pitch, still the most technical chimney climbing i have ever done. my partner was 6'4 and he said stemming it seemed like 5'9".


Trad climber
May 15, 2008 - 01:05pm PT
"I got ansy and simul-climbed.."

Clustiere? Get antsy? Never!!

Nice TR glad you getting out to the Valley. Wish I could be there with you.

*edit* Matt- Best Bet is a window washing service that works in the Valley (or used to). They typically employed dirtbag climbers since it has a flexible schedule, easy work and decent pay.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 15, 2008 - 01:26pm PT
the upper routefinding is exciting. The pitch looks like choss but then you find jams and jugs that are almost hidden.

That crux 10c is kind thin and smeary. Wouldn't want to solo that!



Oakland: what's not to love?
May 15, 2008 - 01:50pm PT

Thanks for the write-up, Clustiere. We're planning on making a run at this line this weekend. You've saved us form having to carry up the #5 - cheers.

hanging by a thread
May 15, 2008 - 03:56pm PT
thanks for the tr

Gym climber
May 15, 2008 - 05:26pm PT
You crawled inside the Fissure Beck!?! Dang!
[The few times I've done it, I've face climbed around the Fissure.]

I got completely lost on this route once...above the crux we didn't go far enough right and I ended up climbing some thin crack (felt 5.11ish). We then mumbled around until it got dark. Unwilling to rap with a single line, we hung out on the huge ledge for the warm evening.

Some beta: Above the Fissure Beck, skip the ledge with the tree and belay at the next small ledge, about 15' up. Much more comfortable! On the 5.6 arching traverse, go completely over to the white rock scar and belay there. Then 3 or so excellent pitches straight up take you to the wonderous summit.

Trad climber
primordial soup
May 15, 2008 - 05:43pm PT
You crawled inside the Fissure Beck!?! Dang!

way back in there too, no big pro at all, it felt really easy, the crux was pulling rope around my legs to clip the ratty, crispy old webbing that was hanging down along the cliff from a pin above, which i couldn't see. exiting that felt at the time like it was about the most serious group of moves in my career. thankfully it wasn't too difficult, save for the deafening sound of the jackhammer in the background.

people stay outside of that?
hmmm, i guess that's how the webbing gets on the pin...

So., CA.
May 15, 2008 - 06:35pm PT
Thank's for the news of the recent ascent success. Been many
years since iv'e climbed there, and I thought I had a route
name confused with Cathedral.

Link East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock IV 5.10c

May 15, 2008 - 07:39pm PT

Trad climber
berkeley ca
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2008 - 08:12pm PT
Nope Talking about LOWER Cathedral. Man they really weren't into cool names back then.
Dogtown Climber

Trad climber
The Idyllwild City dump
May 17, 2008 - 02:05am PT
Thanks, for the TR brings back some good memories.
John Moosie

Suckage California
May 17, 2008 - 08:49pm PT
bump for a trip report. Thanks
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