lower yosemite falls amphitheatre


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Trad climber
santa cruz
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 23, 2005 - 10:35pm PT
just wondering why the park service requested the guidebooks not include the lower falls amphitheatre?

Sep 23, 2005 - 10:39pm PT
Who knows, I've never heard this story.

But if it's true, maybe because there's so many good routes in there?

Trad climber
santa cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 23, 2005 - 10:55pm PT
yes, there are tons of wonderful routes but i looked in both mac and reid's guides and no beta. in the supertopo it says that the park service requested specifically not to include the area with some business about preserving the natural character of the area. someone at the crag said something about it being a yosar training area.. someone else said the beta was in the ole roper guidebook.
me want beta! rar yum yum yum

Sep 23, 2005 - 10:59pm PT
yosar training area

What a crock

Beta? Go in there with rope and rack and climb, it's good!

Karl will come later and admonish me and give you nice results.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 24, 2005 - 12:49am PT
It is a nice climbing area, now is the best season for it, and it was removed from the guidebooks. I particularly recommend Ten Years After 10d fingers, Lightweight Guides 10a and Guiding Light 10a. Walt Shipley put up an extension to those routes (which meet at the top) and they are all in an old guidebook.

Word was the park service wanted folks gawking at the falls and not at the climbers. In my experience the tourists like seeing folks climb. In any case, the falls are dry so if you want to climb the Amphitheatre, now wouldn't seem to be a time when it would distract from the the main event Yosemite falls.

Bad Werner, bad!



Gym climber
Sep 24, 2005 - 01:28am PT
There's a bunch of stuff in the ol' Meyers & Reid guide, and a couple routes in the Select. Then there's some new sport type climbs over on the wall to the left of 10 Years After. Killer stuff, fer sure. But shhhhh, it's a secret.

What I like about the 1st Ascent list in the Yos guide is that all the routes are listed, even the ones not detailed in the topos, that's super cool.

:- k

Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Sep 24, 2005 - 01:43am PT
I think it had more to do with the worry of one of the many tourists that are scrambling around underneath (and gawking) being hit by a rock, dropped gear, and more importantly, emulation. They deal with a lot of injuries every year in that area. This area is similar to the Forbidden Wall which naturally was an attraction to Harding and my sixteen year old self in 1975. Climbing over trails and popular tourist attractions has never been encouraged.


Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Sep 24, 2005 - 01:39pm PT
If you go over there, let us know if there is a rattlesnake in "10 years After" again. The last couple of times I went to do that route, I let the snake have it in peace.

Trad climber
Sep 24, 2005 - 02:55pm PT
There's this great 11 a or b there. It starts with 2 bolts before hitting this hands corner/chimney thing. After that you pull over a small roof. It's a great route but I never learned the name of it.

I went there last year and there were about 13-15 people climbing. We just all looked at each other thinking, what are they doing in my secret spot. In other words, it gets quite busy.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Sep 24, 2005 - 02:58pm PT
if it's true, my first guess would be the parking issue in the Lower Falls parking lot.

Trad climber
Santa Barbara
Sep 24, 2005 - 03:05pm PT
Andrew, a route we climbed in August fits your description, and some guy told us it was called "The Dagger" 5.11a. Retro bolted on the face section below the cool corner/chimney thing.

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Sep 24, 2005 - 03:36pm PT
It is the "Black Dagger". And a great climb too.

Trad climber
one pass away from the big ditch
Sep 24, 2005 - 03:56pm PT
what Karl said about the falls is correct. The rumor was that the park service didn't want tourists crying about not getting a good picture of the falls without having some climber in it.

never understood it

The route "Black Out" is really good too. Left of Guiding Light.

Trad climber
santa cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 24, 2005 - 06:17pm PT
thanks for the info, fellas. 10 days after was indeed pretty damn fun, as well as that 5.8 hand crack.. there's a big, right-facing flake to the left of ten days after (actually on the other, right-facing wall) that goes to a bolted anchor that i'm kind of curious about.

Apr 30, 2009 - 03:33am PT
On my last trip I climbed a 5.8ish hand crack in the left side of the amphitheatre. It runs straight up the middle of narrow slab with more difficult climbs either side on the adjacent corners, was just one pitch long, and ended at two bolts with rings that you could lower off.

I looked in the routes database, and the only climbs listed in this kind of difficulty range were:

The Green Strip
An Historic Adventure
Lower Yosemite Falls - West Corner

I am not sure if it is any of the above 3, or something else entirely.

Does someone know what the name and grade of this crack is?

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 03:54am PT
Here's a route list (left to right) which may help:

Lower Falls Area - Left

1318. Auntie Gravity 5.11d, M
1319. The Fin 5.11c, 5p, M
1320. The Green Strip 5.9, 3p, M
1321. The Eggplant 5.11?, 3p, was 5.10b A3, free rating?, M
1322. Eclipse 5.10b, 2p, M
1323. Blackout 5.10c, M
1324. Pass-out, F
1325. Azimuth Coordinator, F
1326. Black Wall 5.9 A1, 4p, M
1327. Fawlty Towers 5.10c, 5p, MR, called Moonbow in M, had been done earlier
1328. Dagger 5.11a, MR
1329. Shadow Wall 5.11a, 3p, M, formerly The Carbon Wall
1330. Guiding Light 5.10a, 2p, M
1331. Heaven's Door 5.11b/c, 3p, 1p extension to Guiding Light, AAJ1994
1332. Center Route TR, F
1333. Lightweight Guides 5.10a, MR
1334. Full Stem Ahead 5.11d, 3p, MR
1335. The Podium 5.10d, MR
1336. Thunderbird, 5x, face betw. The Podium & Public Opinion, F
1337. Public Opinion 5.10c, MR
1338. Not What it Seams, face/seam between Public Opinion and An Historic Adv.
1339. Firewater, F
1340. An Historic Adventure 5.9, large RFC just R of Public Opinion, C122
1341. Exciter 5.10a, 4x, gear to 1.5", F
1342. Dangerbird 5.11a, 5x, gear to 1.5", F
1343. Edge of Darkness, F
1344. Edge of Feckness, F
1345. Cisco, F
1346. Pocket Pussy, F
1347. Dark Star 5.10b, MR
1348. Nanbeeb 5.10b, MR
1349. Isoceles Revisited 5.10b, MR
1350. I Saw a Sleaze Revisit, F
1351. Lower Yosemite Falls - West Corner 5.7, loose, dangerous, Ro
1352. Gorge Traverse 5.6, up L side of creek above falls, Ro
1353. Beat the Rap 5.12b, 6x, TCU, face/arete just L of TYA
1354. Ten Years After 5.10d ***, MR, was Lower Yosemite Falls - West Side
1355. Mistfitz 5.11d, MR
1356. Play Misty for Me 5.11, 2p, MR, was Lower Yosemite Falls - West Side
1357. Powerslave 5.11b, MR

Lower Falls Area - Right

1358. Isoceles - Left 5.9, 150', just right of falls, M
1359. Isoceles - Right 5.8, overhang to crack, 150', M
1360. Fight or Flight 5.11d **, 3p, YS, MR, was Lower Yosemite Falls - Right Side
1361. Mean Streak 5.12b **, 16x, YS
1362. Sunnyside Bench - Waterfall Route 5.2, LFC, Ro
1363. Sunnyside Bench - MW Route 5.9, filthy, decomposed, Ro
1364. Just Say Moe, F

F means the route is listed in the FA appendex of the Reid 1994 guide.
MR if the route is on a topo in the Meyers and Reid 1987 guide.
M for topo in Meyers 1982 guide.
YS for Yosemite Select guide.
Ro for Roper 1971 guide.

Apr 30, 2009 - 04:36am PT
Well it seems from the extra details that what I did wasn't the West Corner (described as loose), and wasn't Historical Adventure (I guess RFC means Right Facing Corner).

Maybe this 5.8 hand crack is the start of something else? Although I didn't notice any signs of a continuation above the bolts atop the pitch I did.

It is a pity I cant find some kind of a topo - that would help me to orient myself in the full list. Anyone have a pic by chance?

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 04:52am PT
Fishy / Pete,

I have done that route you describe. I think it might be a shortened version of The Podium. Clearly the list is in need of more work! :-)
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 10:34am PT
I agree. Tons of great climbing. In fact, something around two or three lineal miles of it--- like 45 routes’ worth. And such a novel location. We used to climb in there as a matter of course back in the sixties. Fun in later season. I remember doing the Black Wall around 1965. Also the Green Strip and the Fin. When it was allowed back then, it was surprising that it was not more popular too although back then there were so few climbers. We were using the Red Roper. The area had not been established like it was later, looking at Clint’s stuff above wow!

But even 45 years ago, tourists would get weird even back then, as Chicken says, kind of a monkey-see-monkey-do phenomenon along with all the other kooky-assed scrambling that goes on in the river boulders anyway. God, being a ranger must really suck a good part of the time unless your area of responsibility was glaciology or botany and you could just hide out doing just that! It would be like herding ants. So in sum, we have more than just this lower amphitheater area on restriction or blackout anyway. We also have Little Yosemite Canyon partly, and the upper falls Peanut area and wall too. All together, it is a serous amount of climbage.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 11:09am PT
The 1987 Meyers & Reid guide has many of those routes. I don't know first hand about the NPS asking guidebook writers to not publicize some areas. The increase of climbers and the increase of tourists might not have mixed well in some areas, like the lower amphitheatre and the Charlie Brown Apron, which the Falls Trail skirts the toe of...

My guess is that in the "off season" you could pretty much climb anywhere, as long as you didn't violate wildlife closure areas. Educated observations by climbers about what is going on in remote, seldom visited corners of the park might even be welcome by the NPS...

Since I posted this picture last year I haven't heard of anyone going up there to climb... nor have I (though I had planned to)... gotta get that granite colored camo outfit ready for a run...

tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 11:49am PT
One thing I noticed in there, is that the white chalk on dark rock leads to a bigger visual impact then other places.

Someone posted a photo of dagger in one of these threads recently, you can see what I'm talking about.

It's a visual thing, that gets washed off for half a year, so it's no big deal, but it might be something to think about.

Also, someone bolted that top rope arete problem by the guiding light climbs, that thing can lead to a ton of chalk on rock as you try to squeeze your way up it.

Actually it was that arete climb that got me thinking about top roping new routes rather then bolting them. Who do those bolts serve?


Apr 30, 2009 - 12:35pm PT
Fishy, that 5.8 crack with the bolted anchor is called "Ranger Crack". The way I heard it, after the area was removed from the guide, Lober and a lackey drove a rig onto the bridge, went up there and powerdrilled those two bolts at night. Kind of a do as I say not as I do sort of thing.
Hence the name.
But it could be a load of bollocks.

I don't see "Ten beers after" that 5.7 right facing corner to the three mantle moves on the face to a bolted anchor that is between ranger crack and the falls...
Anyone else done it?

Ice climber
Candia, NH
Apr 30, 2009 - 12:51pm PT
Could this be "Super Hands"?


This was one of the few climbs I got to do while in Yosemite for my honeymoon in '06. Best hand crack I've ever been on, which isn't saying all that much.

Apr 30, 2009 - 01:04pm PT
That's the one, but everyone I've ever talked to about it, calls it Ranger Crack.
That's because its name is Ranger Crack...which is why they call it that. Because that's its name.

If you look up leftish from just before the anchor, you'll see bolts leading up and left. Anyone climb this continuation?

Berkeley, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 02:06pm PT
My first time to the Lower Yos Falls amphitheater I went nuts... hopped on the first good looking hand-crack on lead with no guidebook, and had a drawn-out drama about halfway up Lightweight Guides when I was a marginal 5.9 climber. Full Elvis leg splayed out on the dihedral stem, shaky arms trying everything on the rack to get a piece in, then blowing it for a 20-25 foot fall (my first) and stopping about 10 feet or less off the ground. All in front of my wife and non-climber friends. Good times.

As Ed said, the 87 Meyers/Reid guide has a very clear diagram and routes of the area.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 02:47pm PT
I've done the Carbon Wall and the Yosemite Falls West Side route in my hammering days, which were wonderful climbs. I've also done the Waterfall route, and that was the one where I felt like the Pied Piper. It's almost all fourth class, and it's possible for tourists to get quite high off the ground.

I think the visual impact goes beyond chalk, though. The rock there is covered with dark lichens. If we ended up scraping that the way we have on, say Serenity Crack or Bishop's Terrace, the impact could be quite severe, indeed. . . but's the climbing's so good, and now off the beaten (climber's) path.

I haven't climbed there since the Reid guides said the NPS asked not to describe it, and I wonder how infrequently we could ascend and not end up destroying the lichens.


Apr 30, 2009 - 03:29pm PT
Image reposted from another thread of climber on the dagger:


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 03:47pm PT
oh, oh man that looks GOOD

Apr 30, 2009 - 04:36pm PT
Thanks all - that is certainly the one. I also heard someone tentatively mention the words "Ranger Crack" now that you mention it - but they were very unsure if it was real or not. I didn't get any of the Lober story though - could it be just wild enough to be true?

Thanks also for the pics!




Trad climber
San Francisco
Sep 9, 2013 - 12:22am PT
Thanks guys for All of the information. It is 4 years down the road, and I am pursuing more info on the Amphitheater. It is September again. Only one couple, in from LA, were on the 5.8 hand crack this Sunday.

The park has now paved a road almost all the way to the back. I cannot imagine that climbers would effect the circus like atmosphere that prevails here, too much. It is definitely not pristine wilderness.


Big Wall climber
South of the Mason Dixon line
Sep 9, 2013 - 01:23am PT
All solid trad climbing to bolts, as I remember, rap stations/belays fixed. We set up a top rope on Ten years after and Dave Shulz, soloed up about 100 feet wandering around the wall, then grabbed the TR and hand over hand down climbed it. Dave later led Blackout a solid black climb, good pro.

People there that day besides Dave: Mike Paul and Dmitri Barton were there, Howard Chapman and "Too Strong Dave." Ten Years after parallels a couple other climbs up good, slightly water polished face/crack climbing. It seems like it is in the shade. I don't remember seeing any tourists at all. Had a great time there, even burned one.

Edit: Above timeline 1985. Went back to same area soon after and climbed "Auntie Gravity." One really nice face and crack climb with an exciting 30' run out right after the crack ends.
Ed H

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
Sep 29, 2015 - 12:41pm PT
We climbed in the Amphitheater last weekend - great shady spot on a hot September day. We did (left to right) Ranger Crack/Superhands 5.8, Guiding Light P1 (10a), Lightweight Guides (10a), Unknown Arete (10a?), Unknown Crack (5.6). Lots to explore in there. Bring the 87 Meyers/Reid guide and a rope gun!

Superhands/Ranger Crack 5.8
Superhands/Ranger Crack 5.8
Credit: Ed H

Unknown Crack 5.6
Unknown Crack 5.6
Credit: Ed H

View from Unknown Arete 10a?
View from Unknown Arete 10a?
Credit: Ed H

Monument Manor
Sep 29, 2015 - 01:43pm PT
Don't forget about Meet Your Maker right of Auntie Gravity...3 pitches, 12a **
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