Direct North Buttress, Middle Cathedral 5.11 or 5.10 A0

 
Search
Go

Yosemite Valley, California USA

  • Currently 4.0/5
Sort 29 beta reports by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
What is route "beta"?
Submit Beta on this Route
Summary of All Ratings

SuperTopo Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.3)
Your Rating:     (none)
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 40%  (2)
4 star: 60%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Adamame

climber
Santa Cruz
Apr 24, 2012 - 07:27am
 
Just so everyone knows, this route is now on the raptor closure list. I wouldn't normally even worry about it being closed, but things have changed. Check out the official list for more info.
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/climbingclosures.htm

Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Kelly7873

Social climber
Honolulu
Apr 24, 2012 - 06:31am
 
I took that swing about 25 years ago. I thought the easy mantle was the 5.10b (back then it was 5.10b) crux and fell just as I was straightening my leg. It was a pretty long swing, I was thinking I missed the corner when I hit. I screwed my knee up but came back the next week and climbed the EBMC which is what I wanted to do in the first place.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 23, 2012 - 09:50pm
 
> As of 4/22/2012 there are two bolts on pitch 3 - one below the 11a crux move, the other above. The lower bolt is critical to prevent likely a fatal swing into the lower corner. Hope it will stay since reversing the mantel moves below would be difficult.

There has been a bolt right level with the crux mantle hold since the first ascent in 1962. It's well described in all the guidebooks.
Since it was on the FA, it's likely to stay.
When I first did that pitch in 1985 or so, there were two 1/4" bolts right there. My partner and I actually belayed right there, as we both tried the move a couple of times until I got it. At the time, rebolting was haphazard, and people would usually just add a new 1/4" bolt next to an older bolt instead of enlarging the original hole to 3/8".
The original bolt was replaced with 3/8" stainless in 1999 by ASCA folks, and the extra 1/4" was removed.

At some point in the early 90s, the second bolt, above the mantle, was added by someone. It's a Petzl LongLife and would not be easy to remove (but it could be done). This bolt is not necessary, and I don't clip it when I do the route. It also makes it easier to aid past the crux mantle.

There is a lower, easier mantle (5.8/5.9), 8' below the ledge where the crux mantle starts. It's quite reachy to start, and would involve a swinging fall if you came off.

[edit to add:]
 In spring/summer 2012, the upper route is closed for bird nesting, but the first 5 pitches are open.
 The crux mantle hasn't gotten any harder, and it's still 5.10b in the Reid guides. It's rated 5.11 in the supertopo guide. It's a huge hold and not very steep there; not a 5.11 in my opinion.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 23, 2012 - 09:28pm
 
Eric Beck recalls the FFA with Frank Sacherer of the DNB

Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Apr 23, 2012 - 09:21pm
 
The first five or six ascents of this route were done mixed style with pitons. Think about how tricky that must have been. I did the 3rd or 4th free ascent with Will Tyree, I think in 1972. I was way overmatched and barely made it. I came back with my the girlfriend, Janet Wilts, and did the initial pitches. I remember the first few leads as being the hardest 5.7 leads I have ever done, before and since.

Great route.

JL
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Rockcoon

Gym climber
SF Bay Area
Apr 23, 2012 - 09:13pm
 
As of 4/22/2012 there are two bolts on pitch 3 - one below the 11a crux move, the other above. The lower bolt is critical to prevent likely a fatal swing into the lower corner. Hope it will stay since reversing the mantel moves below would be difficult.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 3, 2010 - 01:55pm
 
> is there protection on pitch 3 when you come left out of the dihedral. We did not see any bolt there and that is a very committing mantle with a fall resulting in a pendulum swing back into the corner.

You are correct, there is potential for a swinging fall from the lower 5.9 & 5.8 mantles on p3. If it seems too dangerous, one option would be do to climb higher up the corner to place gear (I'm not sure how hard that would be, probably at least 5.10, or you could aid a couple of moves there; that corner is the original aid line). The follower would have to do something similar to clean your gear.

The bolt is higher up, at the 5.10b mantle (marked as 5.11 in the supertopo), which is just above a ledge.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
ebk

Trad climber
kennesaw, ga
May 2, 2010 - 10:11pm
 
is there protection on pitch 3 when you come left out of the dihedral. We did not see any bolt there and that is a very committing mantle with a fall resulting in a pendulum swing back into the corner.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
May 14, 2009 - 12:37pm
 
I thought this climb used to be rated 5.10. Has it been upgraded?
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Heffey

Trad climber
Nashville, TN
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Sep 6, 2008 - 10:42am
I climbed the DNB in 1986 with Scott Wayland and we were by no means Yosemite Crack Master Hardmen. We started at dawn and made "the top of the 9th pitch" our lunchtime goal. The first pitch (and the second for that matter)is a bitter breakfast and prepares you for the route right away. The 10b mantle was hard but so well protected that we had no excuse not to attempt to free it. You can rock up on to the one foothold and back down without risk. We reached the top of the 9th around 12:30 and continued to climb as fast as we could. I led the 12th and found it exceptional. The exposure and quality of climbing was perfect. the last four pitches rated 4th, 5.6 to 5.8 all seemed the same to me...sustained and exhausting, but by the time you reach them you have a strong case of summit fever which helps. We reached the catwalk at sunset and found ourselves sitting on the east buttress summit ledge by dark. We ate a couple of oranges and watched the valley traffic until we were bored enough to attempt the higher/middle gulley descent in the dark.

Since then the DNB has remained one of my favorite routes anywhere. This whole DO NOT BOTHER crap is mystifying to me. I have done most of the grade IV and grade V free climbs in the valley and the DNB is right up there. This whining about loose rock, runouts and bad pro tells me that these people should stay in the gym or on Manure Pile. If you want to climb long routes in the Valley you might as well get used to these hazards. I have a serious allergy to chimneys but they are worth the effort. Perhaps the route has changed a great deal since then, valley routes often do, but overall I recommend the DNB to all that enjoy Middle Cathedral face climbing and a full day of serious adventure in the most beautiful climbing spot in the world!
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Nov 1, 2007 - 03:01pm
Scenic Cruise vs. DNB....hmmm.

The DNB is perhaps longer, with more low-end grovelling, and you have to deal with the gully at the end of the day rather than the beginning.

Crux climbing on the Scenic Cruise--the first 6 or so, until after the traverse--is way more sustained crack climbing, consistently in the 5.10 range. You will burn way more calories on this stuff than on the facey cruxes of the DNB. Then, of course, the SC backs off, while the true wrestling is only beginning on the DNB after the 'hard climbing' is over. The Scenic features more secure and protectable climbing in general, with the exception of the peg traverse. Route-finding on either is NBD with the amount of information out there these days.

Either way, you're looking at a real grade V day. I actually climbed both routes in October with the same partner, though a few years apart, and we used every bit of daylight on each.



Other interesting tidbits: both routes saw early, mind-blowing solo ascents by now-deceased Colorado hardmen. Kor, after the FA of the S. Face of N. Chasm View, aka the Cruise (not the Scenic variation) compared his route to the Steck-Salathe. Both have had recent upgrades to the fixed pro, although drilled anchors are few and far between on either.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
clustiere

Trad climber
berkeley ca
Oct 1, 2007 - 01:25pm
 
so how might this compare to say the scenic cruise in the black canyon?
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
climbingbuzz

Trad climber
SF, CA
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   May 24, 2005 - 10:30am
If you like face climbing and chimneys this is a great route. Although a little dirty, even the last couple pitches are cool in their own adventurous way. The only wet section was on P9 on the SuperTopo. The wet rappels in the canyon between higher and middle cathedral were a welcome experience given the warm weather. If you need beta on the Kat walk email me; I have a drawing that might help.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Matt

Trad climber
SF, CA
Jun 14, 2004 - 10:29am
 
we rapped from the 12th pitch on saturday (note: because we were climbing on double ropes we were able to escape for the cost of 3 sewn runners and a biner). we had some trouble determining where to leave the chimney/slot and traverse, and although we still had several hours of light, we felt that we'd lost enough time there that the likelyhood of an epic was significant. kind of a big bummer to get that far and not finish the route because now we'll have to go back someday and climb that scary-ass sh#t again.

there were a few sections of the climb where old fixed gear was your only option and the consequences of a fall would be frightening even if that mank held-up (see previous post).

the face climbing sections have a few height dependent cruxes where falling is not a good option, including the start of the 3rd pitch (leaving the corner that begins at the belay and well before the bolted "crux" move, and the opening section of the 7th or 8th pitch (again, this is where the partner of the last poster broke his ankle), in my case it involved a dynamic move off of a shitty crimp and an off-balance undercling to a semi-blind sloper (you get 2 start variations and both are 5.10R and basically straight off the belay).

i'd suggest double ropes on this route as the gear opportunities wander, and we thought the ST suggested rack was pretty light (maybe if you are on that route to begin with, you shouldn't need much gear anyway? i'd prefer to have the piece i need when i needed it...)


if i go back i will take the folllowing rack:
2 blue aliens
3 green/yellow/red aliens (hell, they are light enough)
2 each .75/#1/#2 cams
2 #3s and a 3-1/2 (or one #3, one 3-1/2, & one #4)
full set of nuts
misc. webbing and a knife
& 1 big bowl of wheaties
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
teacher

Trad climber
czech republic
Mar 5, 2004 - 10:43am
 
I only climbed about 7 or 8 pitches before my friend slipped, fell and got injured (open fracture of his ankle) in 2002. The belay station made out of slings around a rock block and one old piton looked scary but they were sufficient to catch the fall. Then We succesfully rappeled down.

Does anyone know where, what pitch, the tragedy happened in 2001?
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jun 3, 2003 - 01:22pm
Chris McNamara
SuperTopo staff member



Roger Breedlove wrote an awesome article on the history of Middle Cathedral that first appeared in the 1976 edition of Mountain Magazine. You can download the article at the following link

http://www.supertopo.com/images/temp/MiddleCathHistory.pdf

WARNING: this PDF file is 3.3MB large and will take a long time to download on a dial up connection

PS: here are some comments from Roger on photos:
On page 25, I cannot remember who is leading on the first pitch of the Bircheff/Willaims route. It might be Kevin Worrall on the first free ascent (with the rope swing). On 26, Rik Reider is jamming and I am belaying on the Central Pillar. On 27 and 29, George Meyers is climbing on the first ascent of Freewheeling. On page 30, the last, it is the first pitch of Freewheeling. I cannot tell if it is George or me. I know that we all lead the pitch on different days and different tries. Ken Wilson was struck by the run outs on Middle and used this long and narrow picture with the rope showing to illustrated it.


Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Sir Run-it-out

climber
Mill Valley, CA
May 19, 2003 - 11:35am
 
The mantle on the 3rd pitch is protected by two bolts, one just before and one just after the move.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
doug

Intermediate climber
Mill Valley, CA
Oct 30, 2002 - 04:12pm
 
I climbed this route a couple of weeks ago and due to the epic nature of our ascent felt compelled to post a cautionary warning about this climb: the upper half is really shitty and takes a really long time! To get an early start, we fixed the first six pitches of this climb the day before. The climbing was excellent and judging from the Don Reid topo we were going by, it looked like we had successfully surpassed most of the difficult sections. We were very wrong. The remaining 11 pitches were loose, shitty, hard and above all, time consuming. We ended up topping out at sunset and having to suffer a horrible descent in the dark. If you're interested in this one, I personally feel like it woud be best to just do the first 6 pitches and rap off.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Aug 19, 2002 - 11:17am
 

Here's an option for getting down the gully that is probably safer than than surfing the loose stuff and pulling rap lines through it and is easier to find than Penny Pinnacle:

When you get to west edge of the gully before turning right/south to go up to the head of it, there should be a huge tree w/ the trunk growing horizontaly for a ways. If you scoot out the tree like you are riding a horse, you can make and anchor and get some footing on a _very_ exposed somewhat sloping bit of slap to set up your rap.

With TWO 60 meter ropes you can get most of the way down. You may want to tie knots in the end of your rope since you'll be going all the way to the end before you get all the way down and there's not much for them to catch on. (Don't even think about trying it w/ shorter or you'll be lost in space since the rap is pretty much free-hanging to the bottom.) If you stay right under the tree or error on the side of rapping to the south, you'll get down to where you only have abou 20 feet of pretty easy downclimbing (that is still a little scarey b/c everything is so sandy right now.) Since the rap is so steep, there's not much to knock of when you pull the ropes.

This rap avoids both raps in the gully. There is one more creamed rap bolt over a cave just down the gully, but this section is pretty straightforward to down climb. Alternatively, you can scoot belly/foot-first through a hole in the top of the cave for even easier/less exposed down climbing.

Note: There is a smaller vertically growing tree at the top of the gully w/ a red sling on it at the moment. This is NOT the tree that I'm talking about.

Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jun 7, 2002 - 04:09pm
I posted a photo, topo, and beta for the alternative for the cathedral chimney part of the kat walk descent, thanks to Clint Cummins on my site at

http://member.newsguy.com/~climbing/Eastbuttressoverview.html

If this alternative gets used over time, folks will want to beef up the anchors. There are a few other alternatives that might be better long term solutions if the gully stays bad, we've gotta scout em out before I spew about them..

PEace

Karl
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No


Novice climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 6, 2002 - 11:33am
 
02-209 - Yosemite NP (CA) ? Climbing Rescue

Just before dusk on June 2nd, Yosemite Valley rangers received a report of
a significant rock fall and subsequent shouts for help coming from the
Direct North Buttress route on Middle Cathedral. Using a spotting scope and
a PA system, rangers were able to determine that 33-year-old John Kurth of
Durango, Colorado had been caught in the rock fall and that he was
suffering from neck pain and a possible shoulder dislocation and fractured
elbow. Due to the loose rock in the area and the difficult position of the
climbing party at the base of a long chimney, it was decided that it would
be safest to wait until morning to begin the rescue effort. Kurth's
climbing partner held his arm in traction throughout the night as they
bivvied on a sloping ledge without overnight gear about 1700 feet above the
Valley floor. The following morning, rangers John Dill, Dave Horne, Greg
Lawler and Ed Visnovske and fire helitack personnel Dan Gleason and Shawn
Walters rappelled from the park helicopter to a spire about 300 feet above
the injured climber. Horne was then lowered to Kurth. Working in a tight
area with an abundance of loose rocks, the rescue team raised Horne and
Kurth to the top of the spire. From there, Horne and Kurth were
short-hauled under the park helicopter to El Capitan Meadow near the base
of the wall. Kurth was taken by park ambulance to the Yosemite Medical
Clinic, then flown by air ambulance to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.
After the victim was evacuated, the remaining rescuers and Kurth's partner
were all short-hauled to the meadow. In the aftermath of the recent
climbing incidents on Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood, media interest was
extremely high. The park's Media Relations Office conducted over 30 press
interviews, and the Sacramento ABC affiliate station's helicopter filmed
the short haul. The news footage was shown on ABC stations and on Good
Morning America as "The Picture of the Day." Kurth and his partner, Casey
Shaw, have about 37 years of climbing experience between them. According to
Shaw, Kurth's climbing helmet saved his life. [Todd Bruno, IC/PR, YOSE,
6/4]

Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
joec

Novice climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 29, 2002 - 10:51am
 
A classic long-adventure route. Definitely some spicey technical edging on the lower half of the route but once you get a feel for that type of climbing its not unreasonably scary. The upper chimneys are physical but go fairly quickly once you adopt the right attitude. The supertopo is excellent. This is a must do on the Yosemite long-free circuit. Anyone who pushes the "Do Not Bother" moniker obviously hasn't done the route and is just plain intimidated by the commitment necessary to climb the route in a day. Check the route beta info for the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral as there has been recent rockfall in the Cathedral gulley descent.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
cragNshag

Advanced climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 24, 2002 - 07:24pm
 
In response to the previous post (march 7)...I climbed this route last september That big rock that looks like it slid down a bit (pitch 7)- we face climbed the block not placing any pro on it. We then sank a KB in the whitish rock on the wall just above the block and free climbed past the section without too much difficulty. It will take pro above this section no problem. My partner and I decided to leave the KB in place. We brought a few pins for the purpose of beefing up a couple belays that we thought could be the cause of last season's horrible accident. One belay about 2/3 of the way up didn't take clean gear very well ie. it wouldn't have held a factor 2- and I'm pretty good at frigging together shitty belays.... but it took a good angle. Above the belay is insecure climbing without good pro for a while so I was happy to have the pin in. This is a spectacular route, and all the belays are reasonbly safe (if not bomber) as of september.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Jason M. Smith

Intermediate climber
Yosemite, Ca
Mar 7, 2002 - 03:54pm
 
I worked in Yosemite Valley during the summer of '98. During that time I climbed the first 12 pitches to the DNB. Around pitch seven my partner and I found that the pitch had slid down the wall about four feet-or so it had seemed. We did a variation around this to the right and proceeded to climb the next five pitches. In reading the other accounts of the DNB I guess some climbers died on the route from anchor failure. After rapping back to the ground my partner and I tried to spread the news of the possible rockfall but soon forgot and continued on with our summer. I am writing this as an inquery about the accident that fallowed. I hope that our lack of urgency to tell the climbing community in Yosemite about the rockfall did not allow for any accidents that would be otherwise avoided. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Jason
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Greg

Advanced climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 14, 2001 - 08:08am
 
The DNB supertopo should have the crux on pitch 3 as 5.11
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Nov 7, 2001 - 03:23pm
The biggest challenge of the DNB is deciphering the line. The Reid topo is typical in that while the route description itself is adequate, it tells you nothing of the huge features nearby that help you get oriented. Bring some big gear, too- there's plenty of wideness up high, and they're not 'gimme' pitches.
The other factor, for us, was apprehension. Knowing of the party that ripped their belay and died certainly had us spooked- at every belay, we asked ourselves "was this the one???" We decided to climb the DNB in mid-october, which lent the additional adventure of short days to the project. By the time we got over worrying about our anchors, it was time to worry about getting off in the light. And having been twice across the Kat Walk this year, I don't think I'll ever be comfortable hanging out at the base of Middle Rock in the evening again...
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Todd Snyder

Advanced climber
sawatch choss
Sep 12, 2001 - 11:11pm
 
This route was the scene of a tragic accident this summer in which two climbers fell to their deaths.

Today, the DNB is not closed nor is there any evidence of the accident. I climned the DNB about 2 weeks after the accident and found it to be uneventful.

The route is definitely worth doing. Lots of challenge and continuous pitches of chimneys. Clean for the most part and very adventurous! Enjoy.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Mike Ousley

Advanced climber
sawatch choss
Sep 10, 2001 - 08:09pm
 
The DNB has been possibly misrepresented by the local moniker "Do Not Bother". The route is certainly worth doing, and contains testy face and crack climbing en mass. Like many older routes, the pitches are predominantly short, and using the abundant natural pro, one can easily create belay stations where needed when running the rope out. Careful routefinding is essential; circuitous variations right of the wide crack on Thirsty Spire exist, are fun and protect reasonably. As with any thousand-plus foot expanse of Yosemite granite, loose rock can be found - being first on the route is key for both mental comfort and avoiding epic-bound parties. Be sure to head up high and left to the Katwalk and stay high generally ALL THE WAY around the formation to the gully (followed by a couple of short raps into the gully proper). Between the end of the 5th class and before the Katwalk, don't be lulled into the blocky downward freeway that dead ends at the U-shaped bowl - it's a frequent epic site.
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jun 1, 2001 - 06:46am
ANCHOR CONDITIONS

The following anchor conditions are provided by <A HREF='http://www.safeclimbing.org/'> The American Safe Climbing Assn.</a> Please support the ASCA. so that they can continue to replace dangerous anchor bolts on classic climbs throughout the United States. Find out how to help at <A HREF='http://www.safeclimbing.org/help.html'>www.safeclimbing.org</a>

 - - - - - - - - - - - - -

DNB - 5 bolts replaced by ASCA on 9/99

All protection and anchor bolts are now 3/8" (but most anchors take natural gear.)
Was this beta helpful to you? Yes | No
Middle Cathedral - Direct North Buttress 5.11 or 5.10 A0 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
DNB follows a direct and intimidating line up the North Buttress.
Photo: Chris McNamara
Submit Beta on this Route
 
*What is "Route Beta"?
It's climber slang for information or tips on a route as in, "what's the beta on that route?" As a service to fellow climbers we ask SuperTopo guidebook users to post tips and updates to this website if they have relevant information to share after a climb.