Regular Route, Sunnyside Bench 5.4
Avg time to climb route: 1-2 hours
Approach time: 15 minutes
Descent time: 15 minutes
Number of pitches: 3
Height of route: 400'
OverviewThis is one the best 5.4 multi-pitch routes in Yosemite.While mostly low-angle 3rd and 4th class, the climb has a few exposed and well-protected 5.0-5.4 sections. This is an excellent first Yosemite multi-pitch climb
with great views, and a chance to gain significant elevation while getting a feel for the granite. It is also the most direct access to the swimming pools above Lower Yosemite Fall.
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Where to take girls climbing? This was the admittedly sexist question for climbers of a much earlier generation—mine, in fact. Not that we had anything special in mind, of course, but it would be fun to find an easy route, show off a little, and maybe even have a swim at the end. And what better place for this than Sunnyside Bench, with magnificent pools atop it. Even the name was bound to attract the fair sex. Not a “wall,” not a “crack,” but a bench. And presumably a sunny one at that.
No one knows who discovered the pools atop Lower Yosemite Fall, but it could well have been John Muir, known for prowling around this area (he lived for a few years only 150 yards from the waterfall). In any case, the Bench was well known to climbers of the 1930s. A class 4 route a few hundred yards right of the waterfall was the most direct way up, but one could get onto the Bench via an even easier way, much further east.
The route for which Sunnyside is now renowned for was climbed fairly late. Jamcrack was done with a bit of aid by Kim Schmitz and Loyd Price in 1967. Schmitz returned shortly thereafter to free the route—at 5.9—with Jim Madsen.
– Steve Roper
ApproachFrom the Lower Yosemite Fall parking area, 0.3 miles east of Camp 4, walk north on the paved trail toward the fall. Cross the bridge at the base of the fall and continue east along the trail for 100 yards. Stop where the trail nears the rock wall. Move back left (west) along the base for 100 feet to the obvious large gully/corner.
DescentThe descent takes about 30 minutes. From the summit, walk up for 250 feet until you meet a climbers’ trail. Traverse right (east) on the climbers’ trail for about 300 yards just above the steep slabs. Eventually the trail starts to peter out and it is possible to start working your way down to either an open talus field or a drainage. These lead to the Lower Yosemite Fall trail, which is followed back to the start of the route.
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