Indian Canyon Ladders


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Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 10, 2010 - 06:12pm PT
(I think these are QITNL's pictures) The ladders have been mentioned in a few ST threads , and I found a short description on SummitPost : "An interesting feature found in the canyon is the presence of a partially buried telecommunications cable that was installed many years ago in the canyon. It lies along the eastern most end of the canyon, exposed in places where it is secured with chains and steel cables to the rock. The most exposed section is found about halfway up the canyon. While it seems a travesty that such a thing was put here in the first place, it must have been a phenomenal engineering effort to place it in such a difficult location. I have no idea if it is still functional or exactly what purpose it serves, but if anyone knows please post some information here."
This might be another project for the FaceLifters . . .


Aug 27, 2010 - 04:41am PT
Hey T H, yeah - those are my pictures. No problem with posting them - that's what they are for - thanks for the credit. I just found this while checking my site.

Last May my pal Hugo and I had a half day to kill. I had an eye on Indian Creek Canyon, turned out he did too. Right out the gate, we found ourselves following this 3-inch phone cable. What the heck?

When it looked like we were going to get cliffed out, those ladders appeared. Bomber! It turned into a real fun, touron-free hike. As well as the phone cable and the ladders, there's often a hand cable running on the walls. Some real nice rock up there, to boot.

The creek was flowing so we had to jump it once or twice. We hit snow and turn-around-time shortly before hitting the trail up on the rim, but the link-up looked liked a snap from where we stopped. And this canyon is a nice means of descent.

The rest of my photos are here:


When I got home I googled around to try to find some history on the tons and tons of cable and how it was installed. Didn't find much. I saw your quote from Summitpost - I think that's Bob Burd. One of the only other references was from Werner on the Wings of Steel Part III thread (BITD when threads with 83 replies were considered long):

"That ladder you're talking about Tom was put in by the utility people to access the telephone cable going up Indian Canyon."

Maybe he knows more. Must have been one hell of a project. Also we wondered what the cable was for? Redundancy? You'd think the primary phone cables would travel to the Valley & Tioga via the roads. I'm still curious.

Hugo and I joked that removing the cable would be totally Facelift. If they give a prize for total weight, bring your saw, head on up! Heck, you could probably ebay the stuff. But remove the cables before the ladders, please!

A) You'll need them to pull the cable out and B) you'd ruin a real nice hike!

On the Quiet tip - Joe
Scott Cole

Trad climber
Sunny California
Aug 27, 2010 - 01:17pm PT
The Indian Canyon "trail" is a neglected classic. It is the only Via Ferratta in Yosemite, and should be left as part of history. For a canyon that basicly starts at the deli it gets very little traffic and is one of the quickest ways to the valley rim. There is some good climbing up there, and some beautiful scenery that is worth the hike, if you are willing to leave the paved trails.

Topic Author's Reply - Aug 27, 2010 - 01:43pm PT
Thanks QITNL . I came down the canyon one time , and went to the base of Lahamite falls and saw wire etc up there . Maybe the ladders will become the de rigueur descent for Royal Arches , Washington Column instead of NDG .

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Aug 27, 2010 - 01:53pm PT
Could you post a map as to where this is? It would be cool to take that instead of the NDG!

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Aug 27, 2010 - 02:23pm PT
This is a job for a truck load of tweekers who like to steal cable. Mariposa's finest will be all over that.

Aug 27, 2010 - 04:36pm PT
I don't have a map, I might be able to cobble something from my GPS dump. But the route-finding is dead easy. Find Indian Creek on any old map and away you go.

Heading up, start at the west side of Church Bowl. You'll find a phone box on your left behind some housing. From there the cable pokes in and out from the ground, it is buried at times but follow the line and it will emerge.

The cable stays on the right (east) side of the creek. Shortly after the ladders, we hit some pools. The might be passable when the creek is dry, but we crossed the creek and continued on the west side for a while.

The canyon narrows as you ascend. Don't stay on the left side for too long - there's a big tree across the creek after a quarter mile or so. Cross back to the right side, scramble up a crumbly hill to return to the east wall. The via ferrata runs along this wall all the way to the bench where we topped out.

Edit: Yes, I agree this is a nice little gem and I'd hate to see it trampled. I'd be happy to delete anything I've posted if anyone feels I've given away too much. Oh yeah, and if you're not a climber, don't even think about following this route: yer gonna die!!! I'd still like to know more about the history of the cables, though.

Social climber
Aug 27, 2010 - 04:47pm PT
Apropos of Silver's post it might be best to NOT make any kind of map for this route but leave it as a gem for the not-too-stupid to find.

Trad climber
Aug 27, 2010 - 04:51pm PT

Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Apr 7, 2011 - 01:36pm PT
Another via ferrata is (was?) Lady Mountain in Zion. It was quite rickety when I did it in the 60s. I may have been removed since then. As I remember it climbs 2000 feet in a little over a mile.

Troy, MT
Apr 7, 2011 - 01:50pm PT
Fun stuff up there. There are some phenomenally good boulders in that canyon too. Some really fun v1-v2 highball aretes. Fun stuff if mosquito free.

Trad climber
Bay Area
Apr 7, 2011 - 02:31pm PT
Cool snake!
Great shot of two people atop what I believe is Arrowhead Spire, not Arrowhead Arete, which runs up the ridge to the right.
I've always wanted to get up Indian Canyon

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Apr 7, 2011 - 07:15pm PT
I traversed above this along the "rim" of the valley (from top of RA over to Yosemite Falls Trail), and loved the general area. Definitely tons of adventure in Yosemite, lacking only for time and imagination to find it.
robert jones

Trad climber
santa cruz,ca
Apr 22, 2012 - 11:21am PT
Just did the via ferrata up Indian Canyon and had a great time. A bit troubling to see all the crap left behind by the Phone Co. folks. Definitely be a good fall cleanup project!

Jun 8, 2016 - 06:47am PT
I made the hike up Indian Canyon yesterday. I left the Valley Loop Trail at the wooden bridge that crosses Indian Creak. Stayed on the right (east) side of the creak the entire way to the rim. The latters are about 1\3 of the way up. When I saw the first latter, I cut back into the actual creak bead and scrambled over boulders to bypass the latter system. After passing the falls, there is a hand cable layed all the way to the top. If you go, be prepared for a lot of bushwhack. I was unable to stop along the way due to the swarming bugs.

Social climber
From the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
May 17, 2018 - 08:12pm PT
Back in the mid-seventies, we climbed Knuckle Buster partway up Indian Canyonprobably the same year as the FA. As I remember, it was a fine, straight-in finger crack that was 5.10b or c. Recommended. The approach up Indian Canyon was a fine introduction to Yosemite's only 'via ferrata'.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
May 17, 2018 - 11:28pm PT
Doh! I had some pics from up at the top... looks like they are lost to the sands of time:

Joe, are you still lurking out there? I think the pics were from your camera.

Trad climber
May 18, 2018 - 01:02am PT
Damn! The ones at the New River Gorge are really impressive. Built with wood!


Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
May 18, 2018 - 06:53am PT
the not-too-stupid

The proud, the few!

Jim Henson's Basement
May 18, 2018 - 07:13am PT
Credit: justthemaid
Another impressive ladder at the New River Gorge^^^ Theres several sets of these getting in and out of steep areas. Didn't see any wood ones though.
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