Southeast Buttress, Cathedral Peak 5.6


Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Google Maps Overview
View Larger Map Size

The GPS coordinates for this route are shown below. See the GPS Marker Legend at right for details on each marker. Click on the Marker to see the actual GPS coordinates.

Park on the side of Highway 120 at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead. Follow the John Muir Trail for about 8 minutes. The trail will bend right, ascend 30 granite steps and then cut left. After 200 feet, find a well-traveled, 3-foot-wide, sandy climbersí trail that heads off left (about 15 feet before a stone runoff diverter and often blocked by logs so that tourists stay on the John Muir Trail). Follow this trail, most of which parallels Budd Creek, for about 45 minutes (1.5 miles) until the trail cuts right up a slope. The trail continues and gradually becomes more and more faint, at which point itís obvious how to walk cross-country up to the base of the Southeast Buttress and the start of the climbing.

From the summit, downclimb without a rope or downlead the final 20 feet. While this section is only 4th class, most will want a belay. The first climber should place pieces of pro intended to catch downward falls and clip them to the rope. Then the second will downclimb on lead, belayed by the first. You will be downclimbing the original line of ascent done by John Muir (without a rope and in heavy boots) in 1869.

From below the summit, move away from the climbing route on 3rd class. Once on a big ledge, traverse 15 feet down right, then down LEFT for 150 feet on 3rd class ledges, then work back right on 4th class ledges and slabs. From the base of the ledges and slabs, walk north to a ridge. Walk the ridge for 100 feet and then drop down (3rd class) to heavily used sandy trails and hike back down to the base. Walk out the way you came in.

Cathedral Peak - Southeast Buttress 5.6 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
One of the finest routes in Tuolumne Meadows.
Photo: Greg Barnes