Northwest Buttress, Tenaya Peak 5.5


Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

  • Currently 4.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 5-7 hours
Approach time: 30 minutes
Descent time: 1-1.5 hours
Number of pitches: 14
Height of route: 1500'
Long, sweeping, and spectacular, the Northwest Buttress of Tenaya Peak is an obvious line. Yet, in the past, it has seen almost no traffic because the route appears loose and blocky. In reality, the climbing is supremely clean on amazing, white granite. Unlike the knobby, flaky granite of Cathedral and Matthes, the granite here is slick and cleanly fractured. While the crux moves are 5.5 friction, almost every pitch is 5.0-5.4—not trivial, but not 3rd or 4th class blocks like many other long easier routes.
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Snow can be a problem on this route. Often a snow patch sits in the middle of the route until late June or July, and large slab avalanches have been seen in May. The snow condition is obvious from the road; if there’s any snow on the buttress, wait until later in the season. The snow patch normally sits at the crux of the route, and to bypass it to the right will involve harder climbing on unknown terrain.
The route is popular but even if others are on it there are dozens of ways to pass slower parties during the first half of the route. Do not underestimate the length—the route appears foreshortened while you are on it and that tree that looks like it’s one pitch up may well be four rope lengths ahead!

Getting to the start of the route is straight-forward until the last few hundred feet, where wet conditions, trees, loose rocks, and small cliffs must be negotiated. Unusually good trails,...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

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  • Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows, by Don Reid and Chris Falkenstein.
Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff Last update: July 2, 2017
Tenaya Peak - Northwest Buttress 5.5 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Photo: Greg Barnes
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