Central Pillar of Frenzy, Middle Cathedral 5.9
Avg time to climb route: 4-6 hours
Approach time: 15 minutes
Descent time: 1-1.5 hours
Number of pitches: 5
Height of route: 550'
OverviewRising from the heart of Middle Cathedral Rock, Central Pillar of Frenzy is one of most popular 5.9 crack climbs in Yosemite. The route offers five pitches of excellent jamming with everything from fingers and stems to fist cracks and chimneys. The views of El Capitan (climbers are often visible) and the gentle emerald oxbows of the Merced River are spectacular. The protection is solid and straightforward.
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HistoryAlthough Frenzy is a great name in itself, this route can be even better appreciated if one knows a little alpine history. On the Italian side of Mont Blanc lie some huge and intimidating buttresses, one of which is called the Central Pillar of Frêney—for a short while the hardest climb in the Alps. It’s admittedly a bit of a jump from Frêney to Frenzy, and from the Alps to the Valley, but that’s the way the name came about, courtesy of Jim Bridwell, a fellow with a consuming passion for the history of climbing.
Middle Cathedral Rock’s beautiful northeast face has many fine routes, but if you want to learn crack climbing, Frenzy is the place to go. Bridwell is responsible for this classic, and in 1973 he, Roger Breedlove, and Ed Barry did the first eight pitches. Two years later Bridwell returned with John Long and Billy Westbay to finish the route.
The route is famous now for its first five pitches, all of which involve 5.8 and 5.9 cracks. Liebacks, fist cracks, hand cracks, squeeze chimneys—you name it, you’ve got it.
– Steve Roper
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