Circular Staircase TR


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 57 of total 57 in this topic
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 8, 2008 - 09:51pm PT
In his introduction to the article "Exploring The Yosemite Point Couloir" by Dave Brower, in the recently published anthology Ordeal By Piton, Steve Roper writes of this climb:
"...a long climb that has since faded into obscurity. It was never popular; Chuck Pratt and I did it in 1958, without recourse to direct aid, but I know of no other person who has ever done it. This seems a shame, for the outing is an interesting one, full of surprises..."

There are many climbs in Yosemite Valley which I have termed "Roper Obscurities," for those climbs that appear in Roper's encyclopedic 1971 Climber's Guide to Yosemite Valley and in no later guides. There are 158 such climbs spanning the time period from 1869 to 1970 (a year before the publication of the guide).

The original George Meyers topo guide Yosemite Climbs, which was published by Mountain Letters of Modesto California in 1976, was a loose leaf set of large pages subtitled "Topographical Drawings of the Best Rockclimbing Routes in Yosemite Valley," in modern parlance, a select guide; "These (350) climbs were choosen for inclusion on the basis of their beauty, quality, difficulty and popularity." (Thanks again for Bob Harrington for sending me a copy of his original).

The "Yellow Guide" is the predecessor to the modern comprehensive guide many of us use, and in its preface Meyers writes; "A number of climbs, mostly pre-1970 in origin, are not included for lack of reliable data, or are purposefully not described because of their generally unappealing nature. Long bushwacks to climb what today seem like dirty and unchallenging lines are not popular. Many of these neglected routes have not seen second ascents. I refer the interested reader to Roper's guide for more information." Ironically, most of you have never seen a "Yellow Guide," yet it is the archetype for all the topo guides since published. And it is the setter of style and aesthetics now common among climbing visitors to the Valley.

These climbs appear in name in Roper's Camp 4 and in the chapter "The Profound Abyss: 1933-1946" we learn that "Brower and Harris utterly dominated Yosemite climbing in the mid to late 1930s; they went on to establish nine more routes together, including long and involved climbs such as the Yosemite Point Couloir and the Circular Staircase on Sentinel Rock." While you know Brower, you probably don't know Harris so well, indicated most recently by the lack of response to the news of his death in March of 2005 here on SuperTopo. An accomplished person, you can read the UCB in memoriam piece for more biographical information.

Of the climbs of Morgan Harris, you have probably done his most popular, Royal Arches, with the exception of the "Rotten Log Traverse" (you'll have to get Roger to time travel with you back to do that pitch). But you have probably not done any of the others, nor have you heard about them, nor would you learn of their existence in the Reid guide.

But if you travel in the circle of friends that I do, you are up on all the obscurities, and you would know about some marvelously wild places in the Valley not often visited. This is extremely useful when plotting out future climbs, and trying to become familiar with various approaches and descents which live in infamy. One such is the descent from Sentinel Rock, especially after the almost always exhausting first time ascent of the Steck-Salathe. This climb is on the list of climbs that Gary and I will do, and so learning about Sentinel Rock is high on our list of reconnaissance objectives.

And so it was that on Saturday, May 31st that Gary and I found ourselves on the Circular Staircase perhaps the easiest way to circumnavigate Sentinel Rock, taking us by every climb start on the formation, and requiring us to familiarize ourselves with the descent from that formation.

Sentinel Rock -- Circular Staircase

II, 5.8, Dave Brower and Morgan Harris, May 1940. First free ascent by Krehe Ritter and Steve Roper, 1959. From the rope-up spot for the West Face route, work south via either a short rappel or a short 5.7 pitch, to a broad, sloping ledge which shoots across the western side of the rock. Follow this ledge for several hundred feet until approximately 150 feet from its end. The route begins in an easy gully which diagonals up slightly to the right. The 2nd pitch continues up the increasingly difficult gully. After a short distance, curve off right and ascend (5.8) to a large, brush-covered ledge. Walk right a few hundred feet until a gully which leads to the top is reached.
-Steve Roper, Climber's Guide to Yosemite Valley 1971

I know of this route from Eric Gable, he has done the first part to get to another obscurity, The Bannister, and while Gary and I thought we might do this linkup, we ended up reaffirming our initial desire to do reconnaissance... In all, we did 2 short rappels to get to the climb, and a pitch of "technical climbing," all the rest scrambling in the most amazing wilderness.

Here's were we went...

The light blue line is the approach to the start of the West Face route, then a descent, which we did by rappel, to the rather large ledge. Finding the start is a trick, but we went to the end of the ramp and worked our way back looking for something to fits the description of an "easy gully" in Roper's parlance.

You park at the obvious turn out for the "4-Mile Trail" underneath the north face of Sentinel Rock, and start walking up the trail. At some point you will get to the rather obvious ramp after wandering uphill in the brush.

The ramp is obvious as you emerge out of the bush up against Sentinel Rock, looking up:

You just follow the "trail" which is mostly obvious; and be careful not to slip. Here is Gary on the last bit of scrambling before we come to the Steck-Salathe start:

From under the Steck-Salathe looking west and spy a large pine tree, highest on the ramp, and visible from all aspects, including the valley floor.

That is what we are heading for, the start of our descent. Lots of ants at the base, we just throw the rope around the ample trunk and head down. Gary coming to an intermediate point in a set of oaks.

One more little rap gets us to the bench on the west side of Sentinel Rock. Here Gary coils the rope.

and looking back to the pine tree...

...from below our gully.

Here Gary has the lead, which it turns out is almost all of the route given that we have a 200' long rope, which combines the two pitches.

It is grungy, cleaning necessary to get pro in, vegetated, at the end I find him in a bay bush. I just keep going up, which is not technical, looking for the start of The Banister which I'm pretty sure I spy. I bring Gary up and we discuss options.

We opt to just walk up the gully to get to the descent in the light of day. Neither of us have done the descent. Here is the view west as we climb up the first parts of the gully.

From the floor of the valley to the top of the gully is something like 2800' getting us to around 6800' in the saddle between Sentinel Rock and Sentinel Dome. We crank up there quickly (relative, it is a bushwack as you get high). We then descend angling north to intersect the gully coming down from the North Face areas. The whole of Sentinel Rock forms a fortress with walls on the North, West and South, and a steep gully to the East. Here is a look up to the North once we interesect.

And now we're in the descent... Gary scrambling down with our objective discernable below, the stream.

Much props to those who go up there for the first time and descend in the night. I wouldn't do it having been down in the daytime.

Just past the intersection of the stream at the bottom of the steep gully, Gary emerges from the bush, we still have a long, complicated way to go.

This time of year there is another stream which comes in from a bit more east, I lead us over that stream too, and it was a mistake. Keep working down with the first stream you cross to you immediate left. You'll have to puzzle out lots of down climbing, but going too far right is a mistake. At some point we came across a small sage bush which had been tied off with a 7mm perlon cord, apparently a rappel anchor! on an otherwise downclimbable section, at least in the daylight.

Eventually you cross the stream and continue down looking for the climber's trail you ascended to the ramp. Just take this down to the "4-Mile Trail" and your nearly home. Back at the trail head you can look up and admire the formation.

All in all, it is less than 4 miles, round trip. Click the image for a link to the map.

Under the dwarf maples near The Same Mansion
Jun 8, 2008 - 09:58pm PT
Geez Ed, you keep going and going and going. I always enjoy the trip reports. Keep having fun and keep reporting.


The right side of the tracks but in the wrong town
Jun 8, 2008 - 10:02pm PT
Refraining has been Rescended! Yeah!!!!

Beautiful photos and TR, Ed. Dang that looks like fun!

Jay Wood

Trad climber
Fairfax, CA
Jun 8, 2008 - 10:43pm PT
Super! The satellite map is stunning.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Jun 8, 2008 - 10:48pm PT
Pretty cool, Ed. Thanks for sharing.

(don't delete this one)

Where you want to be
Jun 8, 2008 - 11:13pm PT
I love it, Ed. I'm into the obscurities too, but have never thought others would want to read about them. I realize there are lots of us out there.
Next time I go to the valley, I'm gonna do some sentinel creek stuff.
goatboy smellz

Jun 8, 2008 - 11:28pm PT

Boulder climber
a prissy pit
Jun 8, 2008 - 11:35pm PT
bushwhacks in the valley is where it's at man . i've been looking at a line to get up to the diving board from the front , but like fom the stables area for lack of better illustration . i've done watkin's gulley , ascended the sentinel descent , ahwahnnee ramps and some other stuff . i remember looking down yosemite point coulior from the (trail) top . you guys should do it . and post up the tr of course .

Boulder climber
Redmond, OR
Jun 8, 2008 - 11:44pm PT
SUPER, Ed and thank you for another post we all benefit from via your generous, informing spirit. - Agree with Jay on the ariel view!

Good reminder for all of us at the beginning of summer regarding the potential seriousness of descents in darkness.

Thanks again Ed. I'm entertaining ideas of visiting Yosemite again someday to climb, and your Yosemite postings have been part of the reason. Bruce Adams

Jun 9, 2008 - 12:42am PT
Ed, super cool. Thanks for that one! Great adventure.
Sanjan, I did a route that started from the Yosemite Point Couliar. We had to rap into it and I remember thinking how badass it looked. Technically HARD looking for the folks climbing it due to the slime!
Great things to look forward to Ed, great things to remember Sanjan. Thanks guys.
Bob J.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Jun 9, 2008 - 01:02am PT
Cool Ed! You guys sure do get around.

Stoked OW climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 9, 2008 - 01:05am PT
Damn Ed, you and Gary are adventure machines.

And you just raised the bar on informative trip reports without going all encyclopedic about it. I'll resist the urge to get a GPS, but that's about as close as anything has come to motivating me to get one.

Now there's this big section of interesting looking stuff between Sentinel and Cathedral area that I find myself checking out from belay stations every once in a while. Specifically, theres a huge left-ascending diagonal crack/ramp that splits the middle of a gnarly looking face for hundreds, if not a thousand feet, almost straight across from Lower Brother. Any idea if there's stuff up there climbable by mortals? This would be top of my list of places to just to "see what's up" after I get through my list of classics. Gotta get that roper guide someday.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 9, 2008 - 01:55am PT
Thanks, Ed. Great report. I'd always been interested in The Bannister, so I'm curious about any other information you or others may have. Thanks again.

Jun 9, 2008 - 09:25am PT
another cheer for the satellite map of your day! thanks for sharing the adventure!

Social climber
My Inner Nut
Jun 9, 2008 - 10:05am PT
Sounds like a grand adventure, Ed. Thanks for the TR.

I particularly like the shot of the valley from the notch - nice.

Keep 'em comin'!

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 9, 2008 - 10:25am PT
the view to the west is wonderful from Sentinel Rock's west side...

nutjob - there are many obscure climbs of lower obscurity rating in the section of the Valley between Sentinel Rock and Cathedral Spires. The best known climbs in the "modern era" are single pitch climbs down low, but there are climbs like Pohono Pinnacle which are down infrequently and other climbs which have been lost. There is a small cadre of climbers, obscuristas, who are out there looking for those old routes. Some of those are active in putting up new, bold lines on some of those cliffs too.


Trad climber
Jun 9, 2008 - 01:13pm PT
Hell yeah Ed!!!!!!
I love that Google pic showing where you went. I have never even heard of that route before. Super sweet!

Trad climber
Jun 9, 2008 - 02:05pm PT
Good job Ed, Glad to see you got up there. There are some incredibly beautiful and unique views of the Valley to be seen from that area. -Nut Job- the Left trending ramp you are talking about is probably the 1941 Brower Route on Lost Brother (5.6). It's a good route with some steep chimneys down low, dirt and bush climbing in the midddle, and some creative route finding up high. We did a 10 pitch 5.10b called "Goliath" on the same formation which takes a steeper diagonal line above the Brower route, spliting the face of Lost Brother, and tops out on that formation. -JEleazarian- "The Banister" is a fine route up the side of Sentinel. After getting through the first few pitches of "Circular Staircase" there is a large, obvious chimney above. Aproach it by going up right, through the trees, then diagonal in left on a brushy ramp. There is good climbing in the chimney with some mandatory tree climbing on some very hardy old Oak trees. Up higher, the prefered variation can be a litle hard to pick out but gets better as you get higher. There is a particularly hard move at a pin(the only pin on the route that we saw). Up higher it turns into some hiking/bush wacking, before you take a not so obvious ramp/ledge system that will lead you up left into the notch behind Sentinel - Good Luck - Eric

Trad climber
Jun 10, 2008 - 11:25am PT
Bump for a cool looking adventure.

Right on! ♫♪♫♫♪♫(radical guitar solo ala Bill & Ted)
Carolyn C

Trad climber
the long, long trailer
Jun 10, 2008 - 12:24pm PT
"You just follow the "trail" which is mostly obvious; and be careful not to slip." No truer words has been spoke! Truly a fun approach.

The overhead map is really cool.
Tripod? Swellguy? Halfwit? Smegma?

Jun 10, 2008 - 01:28pm PT
I'm the guy that ran into you at the base when you were just getting finished. You 2 looked pretty whipped. I did the SS the next (long)day, and found it (as many do) to be a hard route for the grade. I think this speaks more to my terrible chimney skills than anything else. Nice article. Do you think the CS could be a good scramble/solo or simul climb with a short rope and minimal gear fro those inclined? Would a fall result in death or is it "ledgey" enough to afford some degree of safety. It would be a grand day out, especially if one could move fast. I thought the descent, though long, was very beautiful terrain.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2008 - 03:44pm PT
Aidan, so good to hear that you got up the route... we will too.
As for soloing Circular Staircase, you probably could, but the way we went was pretty slick and the cracks vegetated, it wouldn't be fun, and it would be a long time before anyone found your remains. Lots of opportunity to take a big ride, but once you're in the gully its totally mellow.

Very nice to put associate an avatar with the real thing!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Oct 28, 2008 - 09:36pm PT
I just added this climb to the route database:

Trad climber
novato ca
Oct 29, 2008 - 12:45pm PT
big adventure.. and done in a day
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 29, 2008 - 01:10pm PT
Eddie Hartouni is a proud "GluForPu"

Glutton For Punishment!

I think if him as my canary in the coalmine. Separating the neat from the choss in the great unknown!



Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
May 11, 2009 - 12:53am PT
this really does look kinda cool. wonder if there is snow in the descent still?

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Jun 7, 2010 - 01:53pm PT
Bump for coolness.

FYI, some snow on SS descent as of yesterday, but no raps required.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
Jun 7, 2010 - 04:17pm PT
Thanks for pulling this up. I love this kind of adventure bushwhack.

Anyone ever explore the Staircase Falls trail above Curry? The oldtimers built a trail to Glacier Point up there but I believe they abandoned it by 1900 due to rockfall damage. My info is sketchy. I'd love to know more.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 7, 2010 - 04:25pm PT

You're referring to the Ledge Trail. It starts (or at least started) at Cabin 69 in Curry, if that cabin is still there.

It was never terribly well-maintained, but it was an official trail until WW II.

I have hiked it twice. The lower part (from below to a little past the Glacier Point Terrace start) is gone in rockslides, and there's an exposed but very easy ledge to cross. After that, it's quite easy to follow, although there's plenty of brush, and seasonal snow/ice/water in the upper gully. It is a couple of orders of magnitude easier than the approach to the Sentinel Rock north face.

I thought it was a particularly lovely hike in the fall when the hardwoods turned a beautiful golden color, and there was still a trickle of water on the final gully.

It ends a few hundred yards from the end of the Four Mile Trail. There are signs at the top, and at the Glacier Point Terrace start, warning tourists against trying to follow the trail. To me, they add to its allure.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jun 7, 2010 - 08:01pm PT
We use to carry our clunker bikes up the Ledge Trail and ride down from Glacier Point to the Valley on the road.

Way way pre mountain bike era, closer to the steam era!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 7, 2010 - 08:07pm PT
There are many climbs in Yosemite Valley which I have termed "Roper Obscurities," for those climbs that appear in Roper's encyclopedic 1971 Climber's Guide to Yosemite Valley and in no later guides. There are 158 such climbs spanning the time period from 1869 to 1970 (a year before the publication of the guide).

Very interesting post. Sitting in the Yosemite Cafe over Memorial Day with my partner/boyfriend (Ferretlegger on ST) I asked him why he always preferred and studied his old climbing guide book (Roper) instead of the new one with all the slick colored pics. He practically had tears in his eyes when he said "there are so many climbs in this Valley that aren't in the new guides and they are just going to become lost". Nice to know that others are of ther same mindset and not willing to let those wonderful climbs fade into obscurity.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 8, 2010 - 12:11am PT
Recent rockfall has thoroughly sprayed the bottom half of the ledge trail with debris. Could be quite a mess and as dangerous a rockfall zone as the valley has these days.

(I'm not trying to talk Ed into going there, just sayin'

the ledge trail was a cool adventure a number of years ago, who knows what it's like now? (or maybe you could just skip the approach ledge with it's rockfall debris and go straight up LeConte gully, the official name for the upper half of the ledge trail.



Trad climber
san diego
Jun 8, 2010 - 12:29am PT
Thanks Ed!

"Keep them doggie's rollin, rawhide!!"

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 8, 2010 - 01:36am PT

The "official" Le Conte gully is to the north of Grizzly Peak (Roper Red Guide, p. 129; Roper Green Guide, pp. 182-183), not on Glacier Point, despite the latter's location above the Le Conte Memorial Lodge. If I remember rightly, the Lodge was originally at Happy Isles, but that had to be before the 1960's, since I did my first aid lead on Le Conte Boulder's bolts then.

The Sierra Point trail, which was the normal way to get to Le Conte Gully, used to begin at the old watering trough a few hundred yards past the late, great, Happy Isles Bridge, but the bottom of that trail has also suffered from rockslides over the years, and is largely steep and loose.

I haven't ventured up the Ledge Trail since the big rockfall on the west side of the Apron, but rockfall was always an issue on the lower part of the hike. Before that rockfall, it was probably easier to approach via Monday Morning Slab and working west rather than going up the line of the old trail, because the latter was washed (slid?) out within a few hundred vertical feet of its start, and the result was a classic, dirty, loose, slide gully.


Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 8, 2010 - 01:59am PT
Yeah John, I think you're right.

So basically there are two sketchy LeConte gullies in the valley. The unofficial one, from Glacier point, is more famous cause some folks ski it in good conditions

I did the "sierra point" Leconte gully (continuing up instead of cutting right to sierra point) once as an approach to soloing snake dike. It was way scarier than soloing snake dike but I probably didn't try to go the easiest way. Still, it would have been a great snake dike approach if it weren't so dicey. Mabye cutting over to sierra point and climbing the ridge would have been more solid

I should probably try to do something stupid soon to stay in shape cause my climbing calendar for June is kinda sparse.



Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 8, 2010 - 02:57am PT
I should probably try to do something stupid soon to stay in shape cause my climbing calendar for June is kinda sparse.

Me too, Karl, although June's sparseness isn't much I can (or want to) do anything about. My younger daughter graduates for UC Davis this Saturday, and I need to stay in Fresno the Father's Day weekend to assist my older daughter in various ways none of which, sad to say, have anything to do with the mountains. After that, though, watch out!


Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jun 8, 2010 - 03:16am PT
That's the ledge system that diagonals up and right under Firefall wall?

Scoped it out last weekend, cool looking romp.

Way sporty climbing under that huge scare that gave birth to the rockfall I watched while eating pizza on the deck.

Edit: Thanks for the TR ED!

Always a treat to get the lowdown on the forgotten!

Spider Savage

Mountain climber
Jun 8, 2010 - 10:25am PT
JE & Karl, Thanks for the updates. I'm allergic to rockfall, thus have avoided The Apron for the last 20 years. Still, I might try that Ledge Trail if the time is right.

I found the Sierra Point trail a couple years ago. The start is pretty well hidden these days but it seems to get regular use.

Finding and easy way up that east end of the valley to Half Dome has been interesting to me for a long time. It looks like a fun problem.

Indian Canyon behind the village looks like a good slog too. I've heard early Sierra Clubbers used to do that one all the time.

Just love a good bushwhack.
E Robinson

Salinas, CA
Jun 8, 2010 - 11:14am PT
Nice TR makes me wistful for Yosemite climbing. Tried to free the Flue years ago, but rain kept us from freeing a couple of moves at the very end. Sentinel is such a cool stone.

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jun 8, 2010 - 11:39am PT
Thank you for the great adventure write-up and Google-link.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jun 8, 2010 - 01:14pm PT
Another bit of obscura in this area is the lower west face of Sentinel. As far as I know, no one does this any more. I think that Chouinard and Frost did include it on the first ascent. We certainly didn't when we did the WF. I did subsequently get curious and did it. Not very good, quite rotten, maybe a touch of 5.8.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jun 8, 2010 - 02:54pm PT
So very cool. Thanks always for sharing and the momentary, vicarious transport from my desk.

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 8, 2010 - 07:00pm PT
Cirque du Sentinel

First Modern Ascent: Ed and Gary, June, 2008
Right ON!
John Morton

Jun 8, 2010 - 11:03pm PT
In some ways those bushwhacks are the very essence of Yosemite Valley. My first partners and I became climbers by blundering our way up several of those listed in the blue (Voge) guide, which had one chapter on the Valley (it's here:;.

No matter how scuzzy they seem now, these were fabulous adventures. The topic just caused me to remember something I haven't thought of for decades: while climbing the W Face of Lower Brother, Bill Peppin and I stopped upon hearing a thunderous roar. A flotilla of several 2-rotor helicopters appeared and flew up the Valley, slightly below us in altitude. We learned later this was President Kennedy and party.

This thread has the first mention I've seen of a repeat of The Bannister, left of the Circular Staircase. This was a project cooked up by Dick Long, a cheerful and zany character I met at the Sierra RCS sessions at the Berkeley boulders. Much later I realized he was a ringer, having the FA of El Cap E Butt, early attempts on Half Dome etc. He was returning to climbing after a hiatus to have kids. I had the privilege of joining him, Danny Tavistock and another guy to do the Bannister. Dick also took us along to pay a visit to Wayne Merry in his ranger quarters in El Portal.

Long of course went on to do early ascents of El Cap, and the still unrepeated Hummingbird Ridge on Logan. And as an orthopedic surgeon, the incredible restoration of Al Steck's ankles, shattered in a fall in Africa.


Dec 16, 2010 - 03:34am PT
I remember one 4th of July night, riding in the bed of a pick-up, looking at the approach ramps - a big bonfire very high on the slope.

Dec 16, 2010 - 10:50am PT

Thanks for posting. As I've said before T.R.'s rule rants suck.



Social climber
Truckee, CA
May 16, 2014 - 12:45pm PT

Trad climber
Nevada City
May 18, 2014 - 12:52am PT

Big Wall climber
May 18, 2014 - 11:30am PT
I know this is an old TR, but despite the description and google images i'm confused about which saddle you guys summited in. Sentinel descent gully? The next one back between sentinel and the spires? Or between all that and sentinel dome as your description says? Just wondering because I've always wanted to do this and thought it was supposed to end up at sentinel summit/saddle behind it/normal descent gully. Also, if you were further back amongst the spires perhaps the best descent would be down(or up) the giant trail that is 5 minutes/100yards from the summits of those spires. Cool area!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 18, 2014 - 12:24pm PT
sentinel summit/saddle behind it/normal descent gully?

there is a "saddle point" formed by the Sentinel Rock summit and the Valley Rim (as the high points) and the descent gully and the Circular Staircase gully (as the low points)

Credit: Ed Hartouni

there was the suggestion that we find an easy passage up to the rim as an alternative to the walk down the descent gully, but various other projects has that on hold right now... but we wouldn't object to someone else doing that..

Big Wall climber
May 18, 2014 - 05:41pm PT
That's quite an oversimplification. You went down the standard sentinel rock descent? As if doing the steck-salathe? Was just hard to tell from the line drawn in the picture...looked like you were one gully further back. I've been in the area before and so far as i can tell there are threeish "saddles": The one right behind sentinel rock that you end up in descending from steck salathe etc., another one above that but in front of the two spires above sentinel, and the one between the spires and the trail below sentinel dome...anyhoo...just curious where this circular staircase dumps you out...thanks.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 18, 2014 - 06:33pm PT
I doubt that you'd go to that part of the saddle, as you point out, Sentinel Rock is a more complex summit than a single high point. These all tend to join together as you descend to the "descent gully" side of the saddle.

I'm not sure it has any bearing on Circular Staircase, which has two raps and two pitches of technical climbing, all the rest being Class 3 or 4... it doesn't top out on any of the summits. The Banister tops out on yet another part of Sentinel Rock, and you wander down probably similar to the Steck-Salathe but probably different in details, eventually joining up with all descents.


Somewhere out there
May 18, 2014 - 07:32pm PT
Right on... Ed


Big Wall climber
May 18, 2014 - 08:35pm PT
Cool, thanks. Sounds like you did end up further back towards the rim than I'd previously envisioned Circular Staircase going. I hope to check it out someday. Surprising that Bannister doesn't end up on the summit either. Based on the green book description I'd always imagined the Staircase going to the standard descent gully saddle and the Bannister going to the the far right side of the west face. Thanks for the details on some historic passages.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
May 19, 2014 - 02:55am PT
When we did the Circular Staircase, we went down the usual Sentinel descent, although we literally slogged up manzanita and other things that didn't feel so much like rock climbing for hours after doing a couple of 5th class pitches at the start, so we might not have been "on route" near the "summit".
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 19, 2014 - 11:05am PT
that sounds like what we did Melissa...

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
May 19, 2014 - 11:38am PT
In thinking about it moreI sort of remember fins that weren't totally trivial to find a non-5th way around and needing to keep working up, so maybe there was a way to keep shooting through, but since it was getting dark, and we knew the standard descent, we wanted to get there. I could be making it up, but I remember getting to the place that is like the tunnel under manzanita that you go to right when you drop off the usual summit of the sentinel. I'll have to ask the one with the photographic memory for these things.
Messages 1 - 57 of total 57 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews