East Buttress, Middle Cathedral 5.10c or 5.9 A0

 
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Yosemite Valley, California USA

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SuperTopo Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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Rating Distribution
41 Total Ratings
5 star: 71%  (29)
4 star: 27%  (11)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 2%  (1)
cat t.

Trad climber
CA
Oct 19, 2014 - 06:45pm
 
Clint's rap route is AWESOME and easy to find (even in the dark); it takes a while (since you can do it with one 60m) but you're pretty much guaranteed to not get ropes stuck. The last two raps at least can be combined with a 70. Thanks so much, Clint! Also, definitely recommend the chimney pitches, great fun.
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alina

Trad climber
CA
Jun 11, 2014 - 05:47pm
 
I've done both the chimney variation (stayed left) and the face variation on this one. I definitely enjoyed the chimney climbing a lot more. I did not think the climb deserved "classic" status going right. It's also a great way to avoid the crowds.
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fubar

climber
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   Jun 11, 2014 - 12:29pm
Did this on a hot day last weekend, and moved fast as possible. Started at 6, topped out on P10 at 9:45. Fun route; the rappels took a looong time (an hour and a half at least). I don't know if the Kat Walk descent would have been less hot, but the rappels were brutal in the sun: next time I'd bring approach shoes just to do the raps, and definitely doubles or a 60m pull line. There's a really nice looking bolted face on the rap route, too--if it hadn't been 1000 degrees it'd be worth doing on the way down.

I enjoyed this route, but the climbing felt discontinuous and not as memorable as any other Valley multi pitch I've done, and even the other Cathedral routes (way below Frenzy, Stoner's, DNB). I think the designation as a "Classic" has given it a popularity that isn't on par with the actual climbing.
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birdnerd

Trad climber
California
May 16, 2014 - 12:42pm
 
Awesome!!!!
Thank you, Clint!
I'm going back first week in June and have a new determination to get on it after being embarrassingly shut down on the approach.
This will be incredibly helpful.
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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 16, 2014 - 03:30am
 
Middle Cathedral - East Buttress to Central Pillar of Frenzy approache...
Middle Cathedral - East Buttress to Central Pillar of Frenzy approaches
(click to enlarge)
Credit: xRez / cc
This might help.
The carabiner signs are often missing, so don't depend on finding them.
Sometimes people take them.

The lower carabiner sign is near a high point in the paved Valley Loop trail. If you start to go downhill and get below the Central Pillar of Frenzy, you went too far. (There is supposed to be another carabiner sign below the Central Pillar, where its approach trail leaves the paved trail).

The official approach trail goes slightly left and up a few stone steps to reach a prominent erosion gully, which has various sizes of boulders (some of which are loose).

The upper carabiner sign is in a steep section of the loose erosion gully, and may move if boulders roll down or if there is some rain.
The final section of the East Buttress approach trail traverses west out of the erosion gully to reach the Pedestal.
The key to finding this traverse is to spot the Pedestal from the gully, and start the traverse before you are above the top of the Pedestal.

I prefer using the old/original approach trail, which leaves the erosion gully about 100' from the paved trail. It goes up the west rim of the erosion gully (and sometimes rejoins it). It is also the best way to reach the Kor-Beck. Eventually it goes very close to the Pedestal and does some small switchbacks left of the Pedestal.
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birdnerd

Trad climber
California
May 16, 2014 - 02:01am
 
Hiked around for hours yesterday looking for the start of the route. Saw no carabiner signs. Found one cairn and a tree trunk with some slings on it.
Thoughts? Helpful approach beta?
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Nor Cal

Trad climber
San Mateo
Oct 27, 2013 - 03:59pm
 
We just did this route again and noticed that a few of the nuts on the rap route bolts are loose. Perhaps someone can bring a wrench and tighten them. I did not have a wrench the other day and I wont be on that route any time soon to do the job.
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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 9, 2013 - 01:16am
 

Here is a more detailed overlay of the start of the rap route.

Normally I make a gear belay at the end of the 5.8 corner pitch (10), on a white ledge. Then you could start the next pitch (11) by underclinging right and going up a chimney/groove.

To rappel, you just go 20' left (east) on the white ledge to the first anchor (2 bolts with double ring hangers).

The first rap goes down and to climber's left, to just below a 6' fir tree. Tie off your rappel on your right thigh and grab the flake/ledge where the tree is growing, scramble up 6' (4th class) and stand on the ledge. The next anchor is above the left end of this ledge, at the brink of the steep East Face.
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yosemite 5.9

climber
santa cruz
Jul 8, 2013 - 08:39pm
 
Correction to my post below about where to start the rappel.

At top of pitch ten you can walk a few steps South to the rap station to use as the final belay station, with a directional.

From there, to RAPPEL, there is a tree immediately below you in the way. Swing VERY hard South IMMEDIATELY on rappel to the little Christmas tree, a very, very short rap distance, then a few more feet to the blocks up on the arete. The second rap station is on the other side of the blocks. The third rap station is again a little ways to the South. See the rap photo on this thread.
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D Fred

Trad climber
san francisco, ca
Jun 25, 2013 - 03:47pm
 
p.s. that "really really" loose flake on p8 i mentioned a few weeks ago is finally gone! hopefully it was trundled safely (i had called the yosemite mountain school to let them know)

also, the large loose flake on the top of pitch 8 with 3 "X"s on it (on the right side just before you traverse the hand rail out left) is REALLY REALLY loose. it is leaning against the wall and my partner put his hand on it and almost tipped it over. be super careful since it's directly above the line of the climb. probably needs a controlled trundle to keep the route safe for everyone
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Nor Cal

Trad climber
San Mateo
Jun 18, 2013 - 11:23pm
 
We did this climb a few weeks ago and used the new rap route. Thanks a million.
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yosemite 5.9

climber
santa cruz
Jun 18, 2013 - 05:49pm
 
Thanks for the great rap routing from me too. My guide, Mark, from YMS and I left the car at 6 AM and found one party two pitches above. They allowed us to pass after pitch 8. We were rapped down at 1 and back to the car by 2 PM. I am only a 5.9 crack climber so I don't think we were particularly fast.

This route is full of loose rock beginning on the first pitch. I suggest considering waiting your turn to start by being away from the route.

We took the 5.10a face variation right of the bolted aid portion. This probably saved time. There is a bolt to start the pitch out on the face. You just can't see it. Climb up ten feet, then right ten feet, out on the face to see it. There is a crux fingers lieback on the pitch that needs a small piece like a Metolius purple size 0 cam in a horizontal crack, or possibly even smaller. It can be hard for the follower to remove the pro at this crux. There is also a slippery polished, short, flaring wide crack on pitch 8 or 9 that is best climbed out on the face to the right of the crack as soon as you can, if you take this variation. This variation is definitely exposed face climbing, so you better be a very good 5.10 climber to try it, in my opinion.

At top of pitch ten you can walk a few steps South to the rap station to use as the final belay station, with a directional. From there, to belay, there is a tree immediately below you in the way. Swing VERY hard South IMMEDIATELY on rappel to the little Christmas tree, a very, very short rap distance, then a few more feet to the blocks up on the arete. The second rap station is on the other side of the blocks. The third rap station is again a little ways to the South. See the rap photo on this thread.

After that, we linked rap pitches with two 60 meter ropes, so I can't offer more details. A color printout of the rap route photo on this thread is very helpful. Black and white is pretty worthless.

These comments are solely mine and are not endorsed or approved by YMS in any way.
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D Fred

Trad climber
san francisco, ca
Jun 8, 2013 - 06:40am
 
To Clint and Job... my hat's off to both of you, great job on the rap bolting. I did this climb again yesterday and the raps were flawless from p10. The first bolts took us down to the left just to the edge of the arete, and had to do that short step up through the small pine to get the ledge on the arete for the 2nd rap station, and after that it was smooth sailing without a single hang up. Took about an hour from 1st to last rap.

Also, when pulling the rope on the first rap off p10, THANK YOU for that sling around the flake! Well placed, my heart sank when our rope got sucked right into that flake, but then it glided right over that webbing without any sticking. Nicely done.

Cheers!
 Doug
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Paul B

Big Wall climber
Sheffield, UK
May 21, 2013 - 03:59pm
 
I misread the beta and went to the top of P11 (following the left variation). From here we abbed from the trees and soon found the new rings just up and left of the top of P10 (over a little overlap).

From here down to the pillar and then onto a small stance on the corner. After this we switched back to using both ropes (2x 60m) and all of the ropes pulled with ease. This put us back at the base in no time at all (it HAS to be quicker than the gulley?).

Thanks for the effort of putting these in.

On P3 I misread the topo after seeing the two options, the 5.6 hands must be quite far round to the right as the LH option itself is reasonably far right of the stance.
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D Fred

Trad climber
san francisco, ca
May 20, 2013 - 01:04am
 
Although you could potentially rap from the top of P11 (using trees) I think doing this may endanger parties below you because of the small rocks that are strewn all over the top. Part of the motivation for putting the anchors left of P10 was reducing this rockfall potential.

sold, P10 it is then!
thanks again for the work on this. i'll be back on the climb the first week of june, so i'll give the rap a try then

 doug
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Relic

Social climber
Weenie
May 18, 2013 - 12:15pm
 
Bump for Luke and Kieran
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nouveau

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 17, 2013 - 03:29pm
 
can you rap from the top of pitch 11, or do you need to exit at pitch 10?

Although you could potentially rap from the top of P11 (using trees) I think doing this may endanger parties below you because of the small rocks that are strewn all over the top. Part of the motivation for putting the anchors left of P10 was reducing this rockfall potential.
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D Fred

Trad climber
san francisco, ca
May 16, 2013 - 11:49pm
 
thanks!

one last question about the rap route... can you rap from the top of pitch 11, or do you need to exit at pitch 10? (i kinda like that last little 5.7 gulley pitch)

clint and job, thanks again for putting this rap descent up. we did the gulley descent on tuesday in the rain and it was not incredibly enjoyable... though walking down that gulley between middle and higher is pretty spectacular.


p.s. JvSF, if i remember right, you had a TR linking east butt of middle and serenity/sons in a day... it was a good read and impressive day... sounded exhausting too. strong work
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jvSF

Trad climber
San Francisco
May 16, 2013 - 06:56pm
 
The rap route is pretty straightforward and low risk for getting your rope stuck. The first rap (down and left to the pedestal) is the only spot where you might get your rope stuck as there are quite a few trees and a flake and you are pulling the rope sideways. The rappels are generally so short it is easy to control the rope.
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D Fred

Trad climber
san francisco, ca
May 16, 2013 - 08:38am
 
cheers! thanks for your work on the rap route

we did the route yesterday and would love to avoid that gully next time... though i see a lot of bushes along the rap route, anyone have trouble with ropes getting stuck?

also, the large loose flake on the top of pitch 8 with 3 "X"s on it (on the right side just before you traverse the hand rail out left) is REALLY REALLY loose. it is leaning against the wall and my partner put his hand on it and almost tipped it over. be super careful since it's directly above the line of the climb. probably needs a controlled trundle to keep the route safe for everyone
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Park

Trad climber
Reno
May 15, 2013 - 02:12pm
 
The new rappel route on the left side of East Buttress of Middle Cathedral is awesome! Great work Clint and Job. Thanks for making the whole climb/rappel experience that much more enjoyable. It's nice to have 2 options now for the decent, kat walk or rappel route. The new rappel route makes the climb that much more classic!
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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 15, 2013 - 03:38am
 
From the top of the DNB or North Buttress, I prefer to rappel the Ho / Turret / Left Rabbit Ear. But I know that route pretty well. This avoids extra ascending and traversing left on some exposed / low 5th sections of the Kat Walk. Plus it ends at the start of the North Buttress.
Very few people top out on Sacherer-Fredericks, Kor-Beck or Powell-Reed.
It could be used for those, though.
We reached it from the top of Middle Cathedral after hiking up the Spires Gully and around the backside of Higher, etc.
From the Kat Walk, you would descend the upper 3rd/4th class part of the East Buttress (the part between the last 5th class pitch and the Kat Walk). This is right about where the Sacherer-Fredericks ends also.
Then at the top of the last 5th class pitch of East Buttress, you could descend that pitch, but that could endanger parties below because there are often loose stones on that last pitch.
Better is to traverse straight to climbers' left (4th class) to a parallel gully/corner, and make 2 rappels from trees.
This reaches the ledge atop the last 5.8 corner pitch of the EB, and the first rap anchor is on the far left end of the ledge.
As I said above, probably nobody is going to do this for the other routes.
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pvalchev

Social climber
Truckee, CA
May 15, 2013 - 01:53am
 
Personally I think this is amazing, and this alternative descent route may save a life. Bumbling down that gully with multiple parties at the same time is sketchy at best - and early season, it pretty much feels like rolling the dice. Thank you so much for doing this (I will have to check it out next time in the area, looking forward to topo/details on how to get to it; is it easy to find when topping out on the DNB/other routes too?)

Again, thank you for this great contribution!
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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 14, 2013 - 11:12pm
 
Is it legit to add a bolted rappel to such a venerable climb?
The answer probably depends on who you ask.
I was surprised when the Royal Arches Rappel Route appeared, but it has been there for many years now and seems to get used frequently.
It does change the experience, not hiking over and down North Dome Gully. Some people still do that descent, too.

Neither of these rappel routes goes down the path of the climb - they are independent.
So they are different than "adding bolts to an existing climb".

We did not want to add bolts to every belay station of the East Buttress and make that the rap route. That would definitely change the experience of building gear anchors on the East Buttress, and create lots of conflict between people ascending and descending.
We also didn't want the rap route to be easily visible from the East Buttress (like over to the right).

I could list other popular rappel routes which were not originally used:
 Nose (OK, used mostly for bailing from Dolt)
 East Ledges of El Cap (the right side is partly an old route)
 the arete left of Central Pillar of Frenzy (actually a newish route)

and less popular rappel routes
 down from notch behind Lost Arrow Spire (for LA Chimney and LA Direct)
 Coonyard Pinnacle
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LuckyJack

Trad climber
Novato, CA
May 14, 2013 - 10:43pm
 
Is it legit to add a bolted rappel to such a venerable climb? It seems like people would get all traditionalist and chop them or something. They are definitely faster BTW. We did the gully descent and when we came back to the base to pick up a pack the three parties behind us had already topped out and rapped.
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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 14, 2013 - 06:43pm
 
Is there a bolted rap route to the left of the climb somewhere?
Yes. 12 bolted/ringed anchors, down a fairly clean east-facing wall (left around the corner from the East Buttress route).
Rappable with a single 60m rope - no raps longer than 90'.
The first rappel is very diagonal to climber's left, to reach a station at a block on the top of the wall (you actually tie off your ATC and climb up a couple of moves to the anchor). Then mostly straight down. Stances 3 and 4 are small, the others are fairly easy to stand on.
You end up 2 minutes uphill from the start of the climb, so you avoid the Kat Walk / Cathedral Chimney entirely.

Whether it's faster than the Kat Walk / Cathedral Chimney, I'm not sure.
That descent will probably continue to be popular, but the rap route removes most rockfall hazard and the hangup risk is fairly low (if using a single rope; if attempted with 2 ropes, your rope might hang up on trees).
It should at least be useful when there is lots of snow in the Cathedral Chimney.

When we chose locations for the anchors, there were a few instances when there were trees close to the rappel route (3, 5 and 6 on the overlay photo). In these cases we placed the station about level with the tree, but off to the side.
When pulling the rope down from above, if the wind takes it into a tree, it will be just to the side of you and hopefully easy to pull it out. And on the next rappel, the rope is very unlikely to contact the tree.
However, if you tried to rappel with 2 ropes and skipped one of these stations next to a tree, your rope might hang up in the tree, 90' above you.
As jvSF mentions, the first rappel is diagonal, and your rope runs over a flake with trees below. I wrapped an old sling around the notch where the flake contacts the wall, so if your rope goes in there, it should pull over/down smoothly.

Neither descent is 100% safe; you could die on the rap route if you go off the end of your rope, or if your rope hangs up and you can't retrieve it (and a storm or cold night comes in). There is no fast rescue from this route (same as Royal Arches Rappels), because it's not fast to hike to the top. You can be cited (fined) for a rescue ("creating a hazardous situation") in the Valley if you take unusual risks. So this descent option is just one possible choice.

Job Alexander and I placed these anchors over 3 days, finishing on May 4.
This was after doing the Kat Walk / Cathedral Chimney descent a few weeks earlier, with a fair amount of snow / water. And the mangled/missing rap bolts there.
Job just observed that for such a beautiful climb, he felt the descent was fairly ugly and detracted.
I knew I didn't recommend the "Penny Pinnacle rap route", but thought this face might have good potential for a clean rappel route.
Part of my own motivation for considering rappel route alternatives to the Kat Walk / Cathedral Chimney is that my partner and I almost died in there a few years back when a huge boulder came down it.
Bolts and hangers were my own, not ASCA (ASCA are for replacement only).
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LuckyJack

Trad climber
Novato, CA
May 14, 2013 - 06:17pm
 
We climbed this route this weekend, but seemed to be the only ones to come down the gully, though there were at least three parties behind us. Also I noticed rap rings at the top of the tenth pitch, about 15 feet left of the bottom of the final 5.7 gully. Is there a bolted rap route to the left of the climb somewhere?
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czycat

Trad climber
Jackson, WY
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   Oct 15, 2012 - 03:01pm
Regarding the left hand variation on the last pitch, I think the grades are off. The pitch starts of with a 5.7 undercling traverse right into the slippery 5.7 groove. The variation then exists out left in a finger crack (5.8 move) up to a big flake and the tree. Continue up some thin flakes/cracks for about 10 feet, then step left to a right leaning diagonal crack (SuperTopo calls this 5.10a, but more like 5.8). Follow the crack up - feels like 5.7 (I had my feet in the crack, layback). Topo calls it 5.9. I thought this was some of the better climbing on the route, and personally it far more appealing then the slick as snot 5.7 groove!
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crasic

climber
Aug 10, 2012 - 09:20pm
 
Did this climb (5.9A0 50 classics) on August 9th in 95 degree weather. Lots of good sustained climbing at the grade, no easy "filler" pitches, every pitch is 5.7/5.8 with a 5.9 roof crux on P5. Sun exposure on the climb is pretty severe so brings lots of water. We started at the crack of dawn and with 6 liters between the two of us we ran out of water by P8 and mini-epiced the descent in a dehydrated drunken stupor. Bring more than you think you need if you know you are going to take a while doing it.

Although I'm sure its season dependent, every tree on the route (with the exception of the top out) was SWARMING with ants, avoid them like the plague

Pitches 1&2 and 3&4 link very comfortably with a 60m. there is no reason to not link them.

Crux pitch is definitely easier if you are tall, aid portion was fun to do (don't bring aiders), I'm not talented enough to free it, don't clip the last bolt and just used the fixed slings to pendulum over to the roof. The roof crux itself is one move, very well protected. With a fixed pin at the crux and a line of 7 beefy bolts below you, it feels more like a sport climb. Its so well protected even the fledgling 5.9 leader (like me) should give it a go with full confidence, if all hope is lost you can still pull up on the fixed pin.

One of the fixed pitons at the top P7 is gone, but the crack on the left takes medium sized pieces.

Last pitch was kind of a drag compared to the rest of the climb, its super dirty once you get into the 4th class section. There is a 10a variation on the top out that I'm sure is worth doing if you can

Descent was a pain, its only redeeming feature being that its hard to get lost, follow the cairns to the gully. Three raps and then scramble the rest of the way. The heavy rockfall from a few years back is not very evident, but still lots of loose rocks to chuck down at your partner if you aren't careful. The nature of the narrow gully means that anything falling from high above will be channeled directly on your head, so do the raps quickly. Hanger on the first has been replaced it seems (it wasn't flat) and the questionable bent hanger on the last rap is still there, but two other bolts back the thing up.
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Rip

Trad climber
Norman, OK
Jun 8, 2012 - 11:55pm
 
Climbed the EB route on June 4, 2012. Everything went well except the rappels down the descent gully. The beta here was quite helpful, and anyone planning to climb this route should read the entire list of beta. I agree, the topo marking Penny Pinnacle was quite helpful, but finding the rappel gully, Cathedral Chimney, was actually pretty straight forward because someone had marked the descent route from the top of EB to the gully with a series of small cairns.

Warning: The descent route down the gully (as described in Supertopo's Yosemite Valley Free Climbs guide book) has a warning about rock fall. However, it fails to mention the potential for flash-floods in the gully.

We started the rappels in a light mist, but within less than 5 minutes the gully was flooded and extremely dangerous. Water had risen from a mere trickle to knee level within a matter of minutes, soaking my partner who was about 50-75 ft down into the steep narrow section. The water came from the West, from above the chasm between Higher and Middle Cathedral. Remarkably, this all happened before it started to rain hard within the gully itself, indicating that runoff from up high, above the chasm, can quickly flood the descent gully. The roaring water also brought down rocks into the gully, pinning our rappel line. I won't bore you with all the details here, but this caused a miserable 8-hour epic of life-threatening hypothermia and near exhaustion.

Given the layout of this gully, perhaps the risk for flash floods is merely common sense. However, having never seen the actual gully itself, we had no way of knowing that the water from the upper parts of the East side of Higher and Middle Cathedral could eventually funnel directly into this narrow descent gully.

My suggestion is to avoid this gully completely if there is any chance of rain, or consider the Penny Pinnacle descent route instead (although we had difficulty finding it). If anyone has had a similar experience in this gully, please post it.
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Manny

Social climber
tempe
May 29, 2012 - 12:45am
 
Just above the first belay on the 10a fifty crowded variation (pitch 3 of the pitch combination for 70m) is a bread box sized stone on a ledge. Don't pull it off.
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snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
Apr 23, 2012 - 12:43pm
 
no snow
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Falcon16

Trad climber
Kingsburg, ca
Apr 21, 2012 - 11:07pm
 
Anyone know if the descent gully still has snow?
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PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
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   Nov 4, 2011 - 02:01pm
With 70m doubles, you can link nearly all pitches without too much drag:

1&2
3&4
5&6 (unless you're a moron like me and get your thin ropes stuck in the 5.9 finger crack in the roof. Then these are separated :-P)
7&8
9&10 (Just don't stop short after pitch 8 or you will have to simul-climb about 10-15 ft to finish P10.)

Nothing to link w/ P11.

I second the observation about the topo being off on P6. Straight up looked nicer, but I went right on the terrain of least resistance as the topo showed. I ended up placing a cam about 10 ft above the "50 Crowded" belay before zigging far left and up to find the 1 piton on the pitch that I could find, and then zagging back right again to finish.
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gonamok

climber
dont make me come over there
Nov 1, 2011 - 03:25am
 
Did the E. Buttress the first time with Michael Paul in 1978. I led the "bolt ladder" wearing RRs and thought it was 5.10c. We downclimbed the katwalk and the whole chimney without breaking out the rope. Every sling station has a down climb, including a couple thrillers where you lower from a hand jam behind the chockstone to unseen edges beneath, but nothing harder than 5.6.

The second time was in the early 90s with Todd Trimble. We were climbing pretty well at the time and were across the 5.6 traverse in about an hour. Then these crazy romanian alpinists suddenly appeared below us, and acted like they wanted to pass, so we took off. I ran up the next pitch without placing any pro and todd did the same on the pitch after, almost running to stay ahead of the romanians.

On the last 3 pitches we pulled away from them, as it had become USA vs Romania by then. We did full pitch runouts on every pitch from the end of the traverse to the top, finishing the route in under two hours. We never, ever would have done that on our own, shows you what a little competition can do.

We downclimbed all but 2 raps that time, but it was such a pain in the ass that rapping is faster and easier. The 5.10c face pitch seemed easier with sticky rubber on my feet this time. Maybe something has broken on that pitch.
Credit: gonamok
Leading the crux pitch, way back when.
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On-Site Flasher 69

Sport climber
Riverside
Nov 1, 2011 - 02:17am
 
Pythonist: Six hours to climb this route is not seemingly fast, nor is 12 long slings a "light rack". Don't get ahead of yourself sonny.
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Pythonist

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
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   Oct 31, 2011 - 04:47pm
We did a seemingly very quick ascent this past weekend (took 6 hours to climb the route), and I think there's a lot of beta to be updated on this route...

We used 70m rope, and a light rack with 12 extended draws. Started off from Upper Pines at 6:30, walked in from 7, and started climbing just after dawn at 7:30. For a super-classic route, on a Sunday, with perfect weather, we didn't see a single other person the whole day.

Oh, and the approach beta: "Follow the gully to a carabiner sign in the middle of the boulders and another [...] right marking a trail" Neither of those signs are there. The trail right is fairly obvious, assuming your doing the approach in daylight, but pre-dawn it's quite tricky to judge.

Pitch-by-pitch account:
Pitch 1 and 2:
These can be run together easily, providing you don't place gear to give you horrible rope drag on pitch 1. There are plenty of lines to select from on pitch 1 - don't just head back right because the topo says 5.3; I would say climbing direct from the low move right to the 5.5 fingers is a more obvious climb. At the top of 1, place gear, clip the piton, do a single 5.8 move and head for the anchor around the bush.
Pitch 3 and 4:
Running these together is a little harder, and communication and ropework is less obvious. From the belay, move up and right to a ledge, then up the corner via 5.8. The layback moves left around the flake didn't really feel 5.8, so if you're running the pitches together, try not to place gear out at the end of the flake (too much drag). The starting 5.7 layback of pitch 4 was actually one of the harder things on the route - perhaps not really being warm or used to the friction, but the wall right felt very insecure! After the initial corner, the remaining 5.7 is solid. Just keep going until the obvious blank slab!

(As a timing note, yes I was running it out quite a bit, but we were at the start of the crux pitch within an hour of leaving the ground)

Pitch 5:
Definitely a good way to introduce yourself to harder slabs in the Valley - you couldn't ask for better protection. All 9 bolts look brand new, and there is some (slightly suspect) webbing on the ninth, such that you can clip it from the ledge and continue left.

WARNING: I don't know why SuperTopo says "stay right of bolts". There is the only obvious hold on the slab to the right of the third bolt. This hold is not attached well to the slab, and is too far right to clip the third bolt. DO NOT be tempted - I think leaning fully off this hold to make the clip will likely rip it off the wall, resulting in the hold hitting you in the head whilst you bounce horizontally down the slab... The move left to the bolt is desperate, and meant on the first attempt I took a quick swing onto the second bolt. Lowering back to the bottom of the slab is perhaps the answer for any fall - no point in hanging if you're trying to climb it clean.

For me, the easier-looking line is just to the LEFT of the new bolts (perhaps the topo was written for the old ones?). Start up the iron-stained scoops, make a tricky move slight right across the third bolt, the back left and straight up to the ledge. The ledge will be worse than you thought, and results in a thought-provoking mantel. Give your calves a rest, step down and left, then jump for joy at regaining real holds. Try not to place gear on the left in the 5.8 section (which feels remarkably easy after the slab), as that will cause your rope to get caught in the crack over the roof - rope drag for the leader and a harder time keeping the second tight up the slab. Just keep reaching higher over the 5.9 roof, and good finger-locks will appear. The 5.6 finish to the pitch is fine, and the bolts quickly appear.

(That crux pitch took the next hour by itself)

Pitch 6:
The topo makes it look as if moving directly right from the belay is correct... actually, the piton is 10ft above and only slight right of the belay. Continue up and right on nice sloping ledges and flakes to a tougher move (place gear after to be nice to your second).

Pitches 7,8,9,10,11:
All these are as described, and should likely all be done in single pitches... with the caveat that getting stuck in the cracks is not obligatory - there are plenty of face/arete holds to make the climbing interesting. There is currently only a single brand-new blade at the belay at the end of 7, but there are plenty of placements to back it up.

Make sure to move left out of the corner to the great 5.8 flake/crack, and make sure NOT to be tempted leftwards out of the horrible grovel that the final groove provides - it is easy to get yourself into a position you won't get out of!

Somewhere in the middle of pitch 7 or 8 you likely start wondering how many more pitches you have to go... Having done the crux and a lot of fun pitches, enthusiasm waned rather dramatically about here.

As for the descent: from the final pitch, head back around to the right and a very dirty gulley. At the top of this head left and you should find the bivy site. Cairns lead further left (with a few confusing sections to / away from the wall on the right) around to the large descent gulley. The topo from Clint below is still accurate - the first rap has a good bolt and backup chockstone, and the intermediate has a lot of reasonable webbing. The final rap bolts are a little suspect, so we used a backup as the first guy went off, but they held solidly.

Hope that helps some folks, and encourages others - it's a great route, with an incredibly well protected and short crux section. And I don't know many routes that will give you that in addition to 8 pitches of good 5.7/8 climbing.
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Wes & Bridget

Trad climber
Dublin, CA
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   Apr 12, 2011 - 01:20am
We did the climb on April 4th and took the "50 Crowded" variation. The climb was awesome! We went out to the 5.6 hand crack on pitch 3 & it was really cool- the first really exposed part of the climb. There were a few wet patches on a couple of the easier pitches, but everything else was dry. The descent was the crux for us. There was some snow on top, and it took us a while to figure out how to get down. We were a little confused by all of the descent beta. Anything we could have potentially scrambled down looked way too sketchy, so we decided to rappel. For the following, bear in mind that we use the term "trail" loosely (due to the snow at the top)...

To find the rapppels: From the top of the climb, follow the Supertopo descent beta to scramble your way to the "campfire ring". From the "campfire ring", just keep heading to the south towards Higher Cathedral. We had a copy of the rappel topo labelled "Kat Walk and Penny Pinnacle rap route" with us (from a previous post) and it definitely helped. The best landmark to look for is the "100' tree 50' above trail." That tree is pretty much the biggest tree around up there- you can't miss it. Walk along the "trail" towards Higher Cathedral until you get under the big tree. Beneath the giant pine tree, about 30' down a slab from the "trail" is the "double pine at brink". That is where we rappelled from. If you decide to double-rope rappel from the double pine, make sure your knot is over the lip of rock near the anchor so it doesn't get stuck. We took two ropes with us, and it gave us more options rapelling- some of the rappel anchors (especially the ones down in the gulley) leave a lot to be desired. Bring some extra webbing and rap rings just in case. All in all, an incredible route, and we plan on doing it again!
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Annie

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Oct 17, 2010 - 11:44pm
 
WARNING: LOOSE ROCK!

Climbed the ORIGINAL ROUTE on Saturday October 16, 2010.
This post is to warn climbers about a huge loose flake on top of pitch 6 according to the Reid book. In the Supertopo it is the first non- numbered belay on the Original Route. In other words, it is the top of the pitch after the 10c bold ladder pitch. In other other words it is at the top of the first 5.6 chimney. There are two trees growing out of the huge square slot. At a little stance to the right there is a small crack that sounded solid and holds a gray and blue Camelot.

My anchor there consisted of a gray and blue Camelot in that crack equalized with the higher tree. When I led off I pulled on the top of the rock and this HUGE flake cracked at the bottom and nearly pulled off. My cams opened up making me thankful that I had equalized with a tree even though if that whole thing were to fall off we would have been dead anyway.

Anyway- don't touch the thing. I drew an X on it but I think its raining there now. I wouldn't even recommend going up there its so loose and huge and scary.

Be safe people!

Big loose rock.
Big loose rock.
Credit: Annie
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Danholio

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
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   Jul 18, 2010 - 02:05pm
Difficult to find a climb of this length at such a consistently moderate grade in Yosemite. A must do.

Climbed it on July 10. Given the popularity of the route and it being a Saturday, we started the approach in the dark, arriving at the base at 5:30 am. Turns out, we were the only party on the route that day?!? Maybe people were scared off by the heat (forecast for ~90's). With an early start and gaining elevation by the time the sun hits the route, temperatures were actually quite pleasant. So... I would recommend trying this climb with an early start even if its going to be hot.

Some route beta - 1-2 and 3-4 link comfortably with a 60. On P6, start by going up first then traverse right. I started by traversing right and ended up at the bolts for the 50 Crowded Variation! P7 belay is on a comfy ledge but gear is difficult. There's a shiny new piton that can be backed up with C3's/small nuts and a .5 cam to the left. Final pitch is more like 190', not 120'. Both roofs are pretty spicy but well protected.

Ant update - we encountered swarming ants at least 4 times along the way. I found that if you left them alone, they would calm down in a few minutes, making the ant situation manageable. Watch out for ants at the top of the climb. Seems like every tree up there is infested. Anchor from horns and other rock instead of trees.
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noal elkins

climber
Jul 7, 2010 - 04:08pm
 
We climbed it about a month ago and did not encounter any ants. Check out Clint's post a little lower on this page for the gully descent. I printed a copy and it was helpful.
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Sonic

Trad climber
Boulder, Co
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   Jun 1, 2010 - 11:58am
Loved the climb so much last month that I did it again this last weekend! Super classic! If you choose to find the rap rather than going through the gulley, be prepared for very angry red ants!!!! bring two ropes to rap is a must as well! Me and my partner simaled the rap because the ants were getting so bad!
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wessle

Trad climber
Rancho Cordova, CA
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   May 11, 2010 - 02:17pm
My wife and I climbed this route on Saturday (May 1). We found the rout to be super classic with pitch after pitch of interesting and beautiful climbing. We Choose to do the 10a variation for pitch 5 instead of the bolt ladder. The pitch was stout but doable.

After the variation we continued up the 50 crowded variation, passing a guided team of three. (Thanks for letting us climb through guys.) We linked pitches 6 and 7 with only about 10ft. of simulclimbing.

If you choose, you can link pitches 7 and 8 to avoid an uncomfortable belay in the alcove at the top of pitch 7. I advise this.

The Descent was really the crux of the climb. The descent gully still has quite a bit of snow. Most of the snow patches are pretty thick, but I did punch through a couple times. Several secondary rap stations are rigged and we used these to rappel down the snow a little faster.

This route is currently in great shape but there were already ants at the base of the 5.7 Chimney on the last pitch. On the descent the first two rappels are more like canyoneering than climbing because of the constant water that instantly soaks your rope. Also some basic "snow sense" is valuable when descending the snow patches. (I punched through a couple times while rappeling.)

There is no doubt in my mind why this route is considered one of the 50 classics of North America.
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Sonic

Trad climber
Boulder, Co
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   May 6, 2010 - 09:13pm
Climbed the EB last weekend and it was beautiful. Starting looking into the weather about a week before we went and the prediction was rain. But the weekend turned out beautiful and sunny.

We left camp 4 about 545 to head over to the start of the climb. The approach was really easy to find if you have the supertopo book. Just look for the carabiner post sign on the valley loop trail and head up and to the right. You'll eventually hit a gully, (the one you use on the way down.) THe start of the climb is easy to tell because there is a rock outcropping about 10ft from the climb that gives one an excellent view of the valley.

We linked pitches 1&2 and then 3&4 with no problem on our 60m rope. I can say that there were no bees or ants the whole way up, (Only ants on the way down). THe bolt ladder was fun, although a left crimp did break when my partner was leading it. It didnt affect the climb though. You can easily french free through the ladder if you forget your aiders.

The climb was alittle wet. There are enough features on opposing faces to easily make it up if you are a competent 5.9-5.10 leader. If was my first 5.9 lead and I found it not to hard.

The last pitch heads up a gully, which is very wet. The climb goes left out of it though so it shouldnt be a problem. Once you hit the top of the climb keep heading up right through a 4th class scramble. The trail will eventually give you the option of heading left, so follow this towards the upper cathedral rock.

The way down was quite interesting. At first we hiked all the way over to the gully, but it was burried with much snow and ice. On the way over there we heard two mini rock slides going down the gully so we decided to find the raps.

Finding the raps takes some time. The best beta I can give is to print out the topo below on another comment, that thing saved us. Try to orientate yourself so that looking at the 30 foot cliff with the walled bivy rock site further up to your right. Now at this spot, look out towards the valley. There should be a small path through the bushes of mazaneeda. At this point you need to keep heading down. You'll eventually come to some really exposed slab, you have to go down this. We found a tree to rap off of to get down there, just cause its pretty wet. From there you'll find a small double pine that has rap rings on it. It surprisingly holds! I highly recommend bringing two ropes, or extra webbing because the next rap station is on a slinged boulder that has SKETCHY white webbing on it. If you have two ropes, you can rap past this to a huge oak tree. Once your at the oak tree, rap down towards the gully and its a fairly easy walk to the bottom.

As far as gear goes: I have a rack of aliens up to red and grey, a 1.25 1.5 and 3.5 wild country, bd .5 .75 1 2 3 4. Metolius 6, You can easily get away with not bringing the 4, but i placed it like 3 to 4 times so it was worth it.

All in all this is a great route and cant wait to do it again!!!!!
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Sonic

Trad climber
Boulder, Co
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   Apr 29, 2010 - 10:14am
Climbing it this weekend, so a new update will be up soon!
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Tattooed 1

Trad climber
Sebastopol, Ca
Apr 12, 2010 - 06:34pm
 
My guess to both questions is yes. Pretty nasty weather there late yesterday with a bunch of snow. The descent gully is in the shade and cold. There is still a fair amount of snow on Middle.
Tim
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budmiller

Trad climber
California
Apr 12, 2010 - 01:26pm
 
Has anybody tried to run this yet this year? Im thinking about giving it a whirl this weekend, but dont know if a) the routes dry or b) the descent is covered in snow. Any thoughts?
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Vendelkrakker

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Oct 30, 2009 - 06:25pm
 
Climbed this route for the first time last thursday (oct 22). The weather was perfect and there were only 3 parties on the route (we were the first). I tried to free the 5.10c pitch thinking that since I can lead some 5.11 sport climbs and haven't had trouble on slabs in the past that it would be doable, even with a pack on. Boy did I get schooled! It felt more like 11b slab with a pack on and after 3 tries I french freed it to the awesome, yet- by then after flailing just below- challenging 5.9 roof. My partner and I were both of the opinion that this climb has 2 or 3 pitches of 5 star climbing with 3 and 4 star climbing in between, except for the final pitch which ends with 3rd/4th class. However, the views, quality of rock, and overall atmosphere make it an all star climb!

One of the bolts on the first rappel in the gully is missing and the other's bolt hanger has been smashed by rock fall. Someone added black webbing to that anchor, fairly recently from the looks of it and the rappel is safe as of last thursday. Second rappel also suffering from mashed up bolt hangers. We didn't have any replacements otherwise...
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martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
May 12, 2009 - 02:54pm
 
I never rapped the decent. You could down climb and then when you hit the second rap you could burrow around to the left...
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Jay Wood

Trad climber
Land of God-less fools
May 11, 2009 - 11:06pm
 
No bees on original route currently. I think they multiply and get fired up in the Fall, but don't nest in a consistent spot.
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Fungi

Trad climber
Sonora, CA
May 11, 2009 - 09:37pm
 
Please be extremely careful in the descent gully for this route. There is a lot of snow and water causing loose rock to fall very easily.
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Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Apr 6, 2009 - 04:58pm
 
Looks like one of the two descent bolts at the first rap station in the gully has been wiped out over the winter. The other is in good shape and has rings on it.



Kicking steps down 500' of snow in running shoes took a long time.
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drc

Trad climber
Durham, NC
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   Oct 27, 2008 - 06:44pm
Climbed this on Friday.
We were the only party on the route. The weather was beatiful and the climbing really mellow. Not like the other EB across the valley which was mean and angry.
As someone below stated Tolkien is exactly what came to mind on the descent. What an awesome place. The sound of beehives resonating in the chasm added some extra ambiance.
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harmonydoc

Trad climber
Rohnert Park, CA
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   Oct 20, 2008 - 04:31pm
Followed a fast/experienced partner up this yesterday (10/19). Fabulous mostly moderate climbing with killer views! About 5 hours up (linked 1&2/3&4), 1 1/2 hours down at my careful pace. Party before us wandered around lost for over an hour trying to find the descent before my partner pointed them in the right direction, if I had not been with someone who knew where to go I likely would have done the same. It's challenging not to dislodge rocks in loose descent gully. Don't remember being uncomfortable about rap bolts, but since I didn't rig the raps and 2 people had just descended before me probably wasn't looking that closely.
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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 13, 2008 - 02:45pm
 
Here are photos of the descent and rappel anchor bolts from May 2007 (in some years there can be snow here in May):


upper anchor - left hanger a little bent
[4/21/09 update from Brian Biega's forum post - the upper/right hanger is missing - the lower/left bent hanger is still there]


the upper rappel. We had one 60m rope, so my partner rappelled first on a single strand (115').


I rappelled second, on a double strand. The gully and overhang are longer than 30m, so I rappelled 80' to this slung chockstone and did a second 35' rappel to rejoin my partner.


lower anchor - bolts a little rusty, hangers bent.
No hanger on lower 3rd bolt.

Note: you can downclimb this section (with or without a belay) instead of rappelling; it's about 5.4.


This shows the rappels accurately.

I do not recommend the Penny Pinnacle rappel route center/right side of the above topo), since it is slower/longer, it is hard to find, and there is a higher chance of rope hangup.
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Oct 12, 2008 - 01:42pm
just got this not about the descent:

East Buttress Middle Cathedral descent: bolts on the last rappel in the gully were hit by some rocks. They look smashed and rusty and slightly uncomfortable to rap off.
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Ben Emery

Trad climber
Australia via Bay Area via Australia...
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   Sep 29, 2008 - 01:36am
We went up today.

There's a warning sign about the yellowjackets still up at the base, it suggests sticking to the now-standard route listed in Supertopo, staying clear of the original chimney variation.

Sticking to the standard route I only saw the occassional wasp and they certainly didn't bother us any.

Seems a nice time of the year to do it; much of the climb was in the shade from about midday.
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Mazzystr

Gym climber
Homeless...
Sep 28, 2008 - 11:50am
 

has anyone been up this route since Sept 22?

i'll be in the valley next week and i'm thinking of taking my crack fledgling up this route.

i'm wondering the status of those bees.

Thanks!
/Chris C
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brat

climber
formerly El Portal
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   Sep 22, 2008 - 11:01pm
On September 21, while climbing the "50 Crowded Variation," we encountered two Japanese climbers bailing off the original route after receiving hundreds of bee stings in the chimneys. They didn't say which pitch, but as of September '08, there are bees in the chimneys, so beware if doing the original route!!
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Floyd Hayes

Trad climber
Hidden Valley Lake, CA
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   Jul 28, 2008 - 02:14pm
Pitch 5: The best face moves seemed to wander from left to right to left of the bolts, with the hardest being a thin mantle just below and left of the next-to-last bolt, and then a step down and left toward the crack. Seemed much harder than 5.10c (two of us flailed), though the heat and backpack didn't help.

Pitch 6: From the anchor atop pitch 5, SuperTopo shows the right traverse variation going horizontally RIGHT from the belay anchor, then UP to a pin. Indeed there are nice footholds going horizontally right, so I went way out about halfway to the double-bolt anchor on the 50 Crowded Variation, but there was no pro and no easy way up to a pin. From the anchor first go UP, then RIGHT to the obvious pin (visible from the anchor) and easier climbing. There is a small cam/nut placement between the two pins. The "5.8 friction" was more like a lunge to a jug.

Pitch 10: One of my partners missed the "5.8 thin hands" crack (shown in SuperTopo) that forks to the left near the top of the pitch and instead continued leading straight up the shallow dihedral (not shown in SuperTopo) to the wide chimney/groove of pitch 11 (it appeared well traveled, so I suspect this often happens). I had previously led the "5.8 thin hands" crack section (though 23 years earlier!) and wistfully looked at it while struggling up the dihedral. The thin hands crack is definitely easier, less awkward, shorter, and leads to a more comfortable ledge with a tree belay and shade.
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Brendan

Trad climber
Yosemite, CA
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   Jul 15, 2008 - 12:17pm
Fun route, it took the better part of the day to free. We took the origional line up through the 10c face climbing and upper chimney pitches.

A little beta (if you want it):
I highly suggest the link up of pitches 1-2, and 3-4. Use long runners.

Pitch 5- tightly bolted 10c face. Very slabby.
Pitch 6- flared 5.7 chimney. Fun and physical.
Pitch 7- flared 5.8 chimney. Physical, beautiful and clean. Belay off micro nuts and TCUs at piton. Deeply consider wearing long pants for these two pitches.
Pitch 8- Small cams protect the Factor 2. Head right to OW and stemming. Don't underestimate these previously mentioned pitches.
pitch 9 and 10, trend right to clean dihedral, head left at end of dihedral to tree belay.
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sprout

Trad climber
clovis, ca
Jun 8, 2008 - 09:05pm
 
Did this route yesterday. I'm pretty sure we didn't take the best approach, but still got there by walking the base of the rock. We saw some occasional ants but nothing as described below. The decent is clear of snow except for one small car-sized chunk. The second rappel anchor was soaked and in a dark manky corner. If someone had a little extra cord or webbing, it'd be nice to see that mank beefed up a little (we didn't have any, but lived still the same). A stellar route with great views. I would agree about the belay ledge for the top of 6. If you climb past the bolts, up to near where the piton is shown on the topo (a good sized ledge before the longer lieback) your belay should be much more comfortable.

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Sascha

climber
Oakland, CA
Jun 6, 2008 - 10:57pm
 
Hoping to do this route soon -- how's the ant situation as of June 2008? Anything noteworthy about conditions on the descent?
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tcb

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
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   Apr 29, 2008 - 09:17pm
Did this great route for the third time yesterday, first time on the 10a variation. Several notes:

 Carabiner posts appear to be missing on the approach.

 If you do the 10a variation, you can proceed to link pitches 7 & 8 on the topo. (Possibly you can do this without the variation as well). On pitch 6, climb past the regular 2 bolt belay and keep going until you are nearly out of rope. This is the last ledge before the main cracks/corner of pitch 7. Belay on this ledge on gear -- make sure it is the highest ledge(!). From here it is just under 60m to the top of pitch 8. Save a #1 and #2 cam for the pitch 8 belay, and enjoy skipping the pitch 7 belay, which has always been a bit annoying, both as a stance and as an anchor.


 Still lots of snow in the gully, bit of an adventure to get down. We took several double rope raps to get through the snowfield. If you have good boots and are comfortable on snow, you could kick steps, but there are several impromptu rap stations to get through the snow. Another party did fine with only single rope raps, I think they used a deadman anchor for one of them.

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blake

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
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   Nov 26, 2007 - 03:26am
wow, what a great route. never found any "carabiner posts" on the approach (are those still around?). pulled through the bolts on the 5th pitch. 1/2 and 3/4 link easily with a 60m. probably will only bring up to #3 cams next time. farther than we thought to get from the top of the last pitch to the trail across to the gulley. definitely do not need a second rope for the descent. we did two very short rappels (30' and 40' or so). it was spooky seeing bolts buried by huge rockfall and other bolts smashed in the descent gulley, but otherwise quite a cool spot.

no one else on the route on a beautiful Saturday (Nov 24). ..
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onepitch

Social climber
berkeley CA
Sep 18, 2007 - 02:40pm
 
No ant problems as of 9/17/07. Lot of parties on the route as expected though.
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Oscar

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Aug 27, 2007 - 03:55pm
 
I'm planning to do the E buttress in October, do anybody knows if there is still a plague of ants there?
Thank you
Oscar
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randalms

Trad climber
ca
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   Aug 13, 2007 - 01:10am
Did this climb on August 11, 2007

As mentioned above:
ANT WARNING,
the 3'rd pitch, the polished lie back
variation had MORE ants on it than I have ever seen.
They were covering the little bench area at the bottom
of the lie back crack, some queen ant (or bigger ant
with wings) was crawling around,
and they were POURING out of the crack
where you MUST jam your hands. It was a brief horror
movie experience, as I was worried that my feet would
slip from smearing so many ants and I had to lead it
very quickly, so the ants would not get too far into
my clothes. Rapidly got to a stance above the ants,
about 30 feet up, jam in some pro, then scrape and
smash ants off arms, legs, hair, neck, and continued
to do so for the next HOUR.

Sticky sweet smell of the ants got all over the rope
and our clothes for the rest of the day.

It sounds bad, but really it was over quick, and we were
laughing about it for the rest of the day and probably
for the rest of my life. I'm sure it will make a better
story every time I tell it.

Oh did I mention the ants? The were at least 4 inches long
and had posion tipped jaws, and could leap about 20 feet,
and you had to pry them from your flesh with pliers-Each one,
and there were hundreds of thousands of them.

And let me tell you about the ants- There were several million
of them, each was about 2 feet long, I think they were radioactively mutated. They squirted mustard gas from the tips
of their 14 inch posion stingers-Rapidly we parallel
wired our headlamp batteries thru our digital camera flashes and
(after quickly reprogramming the digital camera bios'es) and
created a Mutant-Radioactive-Formic-Acid-Ant-Death-Beam
which we used to cover our very motivated rapid ascent.

Ants as big as Dinosaurs, and as Vicious as RightWing Talk Radio
Show Guys!

I could go on and on, and probably will.

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summerprophet

Mountain climber
Cali Via Canada
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   Jul 23, 2007 - 10:09am
Climbed this route July 22, 2007.

Just FYI, the incredibly exposed 5.6 handcrack variation (pitch 3 if you are not linking pitches) is crawling with ants.

Also, the descent trail is now very well marked with cairns. Thank you to whoever did the effort.
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Duke-

Trad climber
SF, aka: Dirkastan
Dec 13, 2006 - 11:15pm
 
Chris T. and I did this one, it was one of the best days of my life.
-D
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lizard fiasco

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
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   Oct 21, 2006 - 03:09pm
In order to pass another party, we did the left Original Route variation after pitch 5. I linked P5 to the optional 90' belay station between the 5.7 and 5.8 chimneys, where there's a tree with slings. It's more comfortable to stand above and to the right of the tree, but after placing a couple nuts I discovered the flake there is quite loose--beware of anchoring or laybacking on that flake!

As for the descent, I agree with luca below--we wasted a lot of time looking left too early after the fire ring. Follow the cairns after the ring. No problem rappelling with a 70 meter rope, though it sounds like there are multiple descent routes.
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NinjaChimp

climber
someplace in-between
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   May 1, 2006 - 03:50am
P.S. If your freeing the slab pitch remember to rack your draws on your left side.

Edit: I'm refering to the bolt ladder .10c
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NinjaChimp

climber
someplace in-between
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   May 1, 2006 - 03:48am
Did this on 4-29-06. Started climbing at 7:15 and were the first party on route. As to the missing pin(s) on the right variation pitch 8 belay, I was able to back up the remaining pin with a purple metolius and a TINY nut. More importantly, the decent gully is nasty right now. We were forced to make two double rope raps and one short rap in addition to much slushing around in the snow. One rap was off of a tombstone that I would not have done personaly if I had not seen a much larger person do before me (even still I'm still suprised it held). We had only brought one rope (as per route description) but were fortunate enough to have had a second party a few hours behind us with whom we shared ropes for the descent. Total time climbing: more or less 5.5 hours. Total time spent looking for feasible descent/sleeping while waiting for second party/descending: 5 hours. Time spent in Yosemite this weekend: priceless!
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luca

Trad climber
milano italy
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   Oct 23, 2005 - 03:27am
I did in august with marta, my 12 years daughter. we were alone, beautiful day and beautiful climb. we take the easy variant, and we enjoied it. after there were pitch on pitch of good climbing, not easy, but you can put great pro. pay attention to the descent: from the top of the route walk some minutes towards right on the track (more that specified in the guide) than move left when you feel logic and follow the small path in the dense bush. two rappels, good also with one rope.
luca
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fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Sep 19, 2005 - 04:09pm
 
Great route. ~12 hours climbing and descent for two punters from the east coast.

The 1st new non-mangled nut/bolt on the raps in the gulley is loose and could be spun off by hand. My mini-leatherman snugged it down but be careful or bring a real wrench.

The 2nd to last last belay below the exit gulley on the great ledge has a tree filled with fire-ants. There's a great 1-1.5" crack right behind you that would take bomber gear if you don't like being bitten. Don't touch the tree and they won't bother you.

The first non-bolted belay station (8?) on the right-hand variation is supposed to have two pins according the the topo. Only one remains. Bring a black and blue alien to back it up in the two remaining pin scars. A few creative small nut placements are also up left. And don't fall.

Definitely link 1&2 and 3&4 with 60's. DO the handcrack variation after the P2 belay(5.6 crack around a step to the right). Awesome exposure and easy climbing once in the crack.

-Fear


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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Jun 9, 2005 - 09:52pm
 
a 60m rope works for linking the first 4 pitches also. did it on tuesday. 4th time on this climb and as good as ever. I love crowds... ;-)
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wes

Trad climber
Arizona
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   Jun 6, 2005 - 08:30am
Great route. I climbed it on may 25th 2005. GET ON IT EARLY!! I mean really early. 6:00 is not early. more like 5:00. We took a 70m and linked the first 2 and the second 2. If this route is going to be fairly easy for you and you don't want to get slowed down ( like we did... make sure you are there first)
The climbing was clean and the exposure and views excellent. I thought the last pitch was by far the the most difficult on the route. Can't wait to get back. we carried a double rack from .4-#2 and a # 3 and 3.5. that was more than enough.
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climberweenie

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
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   May 30, 2005 - 12:35pm
Good point about lulling folks into bypassing the raps. The "5.7" was a total guesstimate since I didn't do it, and things always seem to be harder when you're on it than when you're looking at it. Be safe, rap it (dumb to get hurt or die at this point!).
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August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 29, 2005 - 11:30pm
 
On the 5.10a variation, you probably passed the "3 inch crack" on the right. We did the same thing the first time. However, even after we found it the next time, my partner didn't bother stopping to put pro in--by that point, you are past the difficulties.

I've not tried it, but I would think that second rap would be a harder downclimb than 5.7. Not trying to argue, but don't want to see somebody "lulled" into trying it either (then again, it never crossed my mind to downclimb past the first rap either).
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climberweenie

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
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   May 29, 2005 - 12:36am
did the route today 5/28. We started from road ~ 6am, were #2 on route (by 20 seconds because we took scenic route to base by going too far right, then skirting along base of middle cathedral on 4th class). didn't really start climbing til 7ish (not sure of time).

60m rope, linked 1+2, 3+4. Lieback 5.7 fingers around pitches 3-4 was just awesome, and I normally dislike liebacks. Pitch 5, took the 5.10a variation to the right (nice), then up past 3 bolts (all excellent big bolts), then straight up about 30+ feet of unprotected delicate face (of the 5.8 range) to the double bolts! (white circle in supertopo) Where the heck was the 3" crack referenced in supertopo? upper pitches we're graded fairly, but somehow just seemed tougher than they should be by looking at it (totally fun though).

I led past belay station 9 to a ledge halfway between 9 & 10. great ledge, protection not that great. 60m ropes still not quite long enough to finish pitch 11 to a safe walk-off spot (had a mini pitch at end).

descent is fairly long. After topping, need to wander back and right farther than one would expect if literally interpreting supertopo (maybe 50-75 yards, contouring right, after the summit top-out). Look for the light-colored rock cairns. Then up some fairly exposed 3rd class with lot's of loose dirt etc., til the fire ring area mentioned in supertopo (not a distinct ring, but charred wood was indicative). we headed down and bushwacked for a bit (careful close to edge), then eventually met up with a real trail. After tracking this long enough, you reach a spot where it seems like a rap station would be, but no slings. WRONG! There is a fairly recent treefall, creating a wall of foliage obscuring the real descent trail (back right toward the high point of the awesome canyon between higher and middle cathedral rock. Push through the foliage to stay on the trail, and it becomes very obvious after a few steps. Follow down into small rock scrambling in the canyon (now I know why they call it the bowling alley). Highly recommend hiking boots - NOT TEVA'S (my foot was smashed several times by large sliding rocks, thank goodness for boot padding).

We solo'd past the first rap station, the second one we used (15-20' drop into chimney that widens farther than you can stem, or ~5.7 exposed downclimb), and the last rap we used for 20 feet though could have solo'd this at easy 5th class or 4th class (tuck under the roof and slide along til it's safe to drop farther back in the alcove). The whole canyon was dry except for a small stream near the rap stations (the rope got a bit wet, that's all).

If you have weak joints or are tired/dehydrated, it would be easy to twist an ankle or knee on this descent, so plan accordingly. Route is pretty obvious, can't miss getting back to the road (by daylight at least!). We topped the route @ 1:30pm, I reached the car @ 3:15pm (we took a few vanity photos with El Cap in back from summit, but then I was moving at a pretty good clip, hopping rocks toward the middle and end of the gulley). In the dark, it could take a LONG time to be safe.

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ricardo

Gym climber
San Francisco, CA
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   May 16, 2005 - 01:18pm
Did the route 5/16

With the water flowing down the descent i didn't feel like taking a chance on wether our ropes would reach the bottom of the first 2 rappels. So we used the intermediary station.

Would be great if someone brought some new hardware to put on those slings around the chockstone. The ring on there is pretty thin and rusty. (Its a quicklink)

Replaced the slings on the 3rd rap station, the slings that were there were about 2 years old and had just about abraded through.

The gully seemed more stable right now than a year ago. -- there is a tree perched above the gully across from the katwalk that is barely hanging on.. -- wouldn't want to be there when it goes.
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the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
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   May 16, 2005 - 10:21am
Did the route Saturday 5/14/05.

We started the route at 7AM and were the only party on it until I was getting to the top of pitch 4 then 1 other party showed up.

Perfect T-shirt weather. The only water on the route was on pitch 7 and was easy to avoid.

We bootied 3 nuts, a double length sling, and a locking biner in various places. It's good to be the first party of the day on a moderate classic.

My partner led the 7th pitch as his first lead in Yosemite. We never saw or heard the other party after the 8th pitch, I hope they didn't epic. I did the route once before about 6 years ago, and I forgot how good it is. The climbing and exposure for the rating are top notch.

The raps through the waterfalls on the descent at this time of year weren't bad. I guess the water-flow has slowed down as of late. My pants and shoes got a little wet mostly from water coming off the rope. But it would be easy to slip and dunk your feet completely. The 2nd rap station is tat around a chockstone in the waterfall with a rusty hardware store quicklink. It looked like with a 60M rope from the 1st rap station you can almost skip it but you come up about 10 feet short, a post below says it makes it though so maybe with rope stretch it would be ok.

We made good time on the route, but the descent took us considerably longer than the 1.5 hours the supertopo states as average.
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Phil Winterson

Trad climber
Manhattan Beach, CA
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   Aug 8, 2004 - 01:22am
Did the route in late June, it was fine despite the ominous rockfall warnings posted on the trail. Linked 1-2 and 3-4. The crux had one hard move but the bolt ladder was easy, and the 6th pitch traverse wasn't too runout, you can get a couple aliens in. The hardest pitch is the second to last though, I thought, with some thin finger locks. Had to grovel a bit in the flaring gully/chimney on the last pitch.

On the descent, go right then up, and when you get to the fire ring, go right (as you face the valley) for quite a while. The trail meanders up and down through brush, keep going until it goes down into the enormous gully between middle and higher. You actually hike down into the gully for a bit until you find the first rappel rings. Don't rap off a tree or anything, just keep following the trail. All in all a beautiful route, collosal views the whole way, sustained but no really hard moves, great pro throughout. Climbing time for us middle-aged weekend warriors was 7 hours.
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August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Apr 30, 2004 - 11:58am
 
The east gully descent is in much better shape than I found it a year ago.

The top rap now has two bolts (old and new). The slings on the chock stone have been cleaned up. The last rap now has three bolts (two old with smashed hangers and a new).

I didn't find the descent as precarious as a year ago (not coming down in a heavy rainstorm might have something to do with that). The rocks are a little more consolitdated. However, my partner did dislodge a baseball size rock (with the rope while rapping) that whizzed past his head and mine. Be careful and wearing a helmet is strongly recommended.

I did the 5.6 variation at the start of the third pitch. A little awkward getting into, but a fun, quick, hand crack.

My partner lead the 50 crowded variation. Very good climbing but I thought it was stiff for 10a. After the first bolt, the next couple of pieces are micro cams (blue and green aliens) in a tips lieback/undercling from delicate stances. The mantel is more intimidating than hard. Above that, he got off route to the right. It was fun, 5.9+ climbing up irregular edges, but runout with lichen.

The 10a exit pitch at the top is very good. I thought it was more like 5.9. It did lead to a long dirty gully.
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ThomasKeefer

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Apr 26, 2004 - 10:17am
 
I agree with what CT said about the descent being much better than expected. It is a dream compared to some on the eastside but... One thing that I would add to the topo description about staying on the catwalk is that the topo tells you that when you get to the camp fire ring to go down and left and specifically not up and right. Well about ten minutes into it you come across a well established bivvy site that has a distinct trail that is going down and left. There are a few cairns here pointing you up and right but they dont become visible until you go up and right. This could be dangerous to someone if they had to do the descent in the dark because the down and left trail is very loose and friable and slopes down over the edge. Aside from that, the descent is pretty easy.
One final thing~ the last pitch chimney can be avoided for the most part if you start up it and then work left toward a really tiny sapling growing from a crack. One 5.8 step across move and then you get a really really nice finger crack that is about 5.7 all the way to the top- very nice compared to the chimney IMO.
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ct

climber
CO
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   Apr 25, 2004 - 05:01pm
Climbed the route Sat. 4/24/04. Left the car at 7:00, on the route a few after 7:30 with two parties directly behind us. Early start necessary if you want it to yourself. Also saw two more parties on the route in the afternoon. Excellent warm weather, not too hot. The route is in great condition, not wet anywhere. Topped out at 1:30. The trail to the descent gully at the top is marked well with cairns, look for them at all times. The descent gully is in better condition than I expected. Plenty of loose rock from top to bottom, but all of it can be navigated safely and without dislodging anything if you are careful and precise. No snow at the top, two smallish patches of snow towards the bottom of the gully, but plenty of running water in the base of the gulley where the ropes run. Dry rope a definite plus here as the ropes run through wet sections. The top rap achor is one bolt, manky slings. Second rap achor is a soaking wet chock with 15+ slings wrapped around it. The third anchor is two bolts, two slings on each. The problem here is that the hangars have been flattened by the rockfall, and it is extremely difficult to back up or add new slings to the anchor. Definitely a good idea to bring some cord and a few rings to back up all three raps. After the third rap, long slog down the scree to the bottom. Back to the car by 3. Great route, fantastic day.
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Mar 22, 2004 - 08:46pm
I just got this beta from Zander:

We climbed East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Saturday 3/20/04. We had a
great time on the climb.
We also had a blast on the decent. The gully is like something out of
Tolkien. Its also filled with snow and running water. The snow near the top was
fairly hard so we skirted above it , through the falling water, and scrabbled
down the other side until we had to kick step down to the first rappel station
which is a slung chockstone and a bolt. We did one 200ft. rope rappel through
the V slot and over the edge into the dank alcove where the second rappel
station is a bunch of slings around a moss covered chockstone. The water was
falling and running down the rope so we were pretty wet by this time. We rappelled
over another edge into a hole between the rock and snow. A little scrambling
put us back on the snow to continue the rappel to some rocks on the right side.
We put a sling through a couple of big boulders and rappelled again and then
two more times with some scrambling in between, once at some existing slings
and once on some brush. The wind was blowing cold downhill by then. All and
all it was a great adventure in a wild and beautiful place.
Where not covered with snow the gully is loose and very dirty.
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Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
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   Sep 15, 2003 - 10:26pm
I've been down the Cathedral Gully this year. The loose rock situation has improved on the raps although it's still easy to knock rocks down the gully on your partner or the team below while hiking. Folks who have done the penny pinnacle rap route have told me that they wondered whether it wouldn't have just been better to deal with the usual descent.

The first rap is still off one bolt. It's a beefy one but has been hit by rockfall. Pulling the ropes here no longer knocks down tons of rocks and it's possible to stand out of the way at the bottom of the rap if you combine the two raps by using two ropes.

Pulling the ropes on the third rap poses no risk of knocking down rocks.

Except for the possibiltiy of major rockfall from above (kiss your butt goodbye) this descent is now probably a bit better than Sentinel but far worse than it used to be. If there are other parties going down when you're going down, see if you can work it out to stagger your trips down the gully by 30 minutes or so, or go down together carefully

Peace

karl
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malabarista

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 15, 2003 - 04:25pm
 
Wow, an incredible route! This is the longest free (mostly) route I have done to date...

So many pitches are wonderful but pitches 8
(great crack climbing) and 10 (sustained, sandbagged?) were my favorites. I wish I would have had the guts to free the bolt ladder, I got thru the first three bolts free but then it seemed like the line went right away from the bolts and from there I pulled on draws.

We decided to do the route on the fly and underestimated the time it would take -ended up on the gully descent in the dark by headlamp. The stars were so bright we paused multiple times just to enjoy them.
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Denali

Trad climber
Pleasant Hill
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   Sep 3, 2003 - 05:59pm
We climbed the first 4 pitches of this route on Sat. Aug. 30th 2003 (Labor Day Weekend) and no one else was on the route all day! This is a great route and actually ends up being in the shade most of the day at this time of year. Good protection on each pitch and the rock quality is excellent. We were able to rappel with two 60m ropes from top of 4th pitch to about ten feet from the large pine tree on the first pitch. (Tie a big knot in end of both ropes!). Had to down climb last ten feet to tree. Funny story: We had a bear approach as I was climbing first pitch and had to simul-climb last part to avoid becoming breakfast! Can't wait to do the whole climb.
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smitty

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Ca
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   Aug 16, 2003 - 07:57pm
We did this route in June, and had a wonderful, all-be-it hot, time. I thought this was a really awesome line. The climbing was physical. We freed the bolt ladder (very fun). I don't remember the gully being all that scary. I just remember being tired and having fun conversation on the way down...no epics. The view at the top is worth millions.
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Jun 3, 2003 - 04:23pm
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.


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August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 7, 2003 - 02:45pm
 
Did the East Buttress yesterday. It still had some wet, seeping, spots (and this was before the afternoon rain).
The descent gully is problematic. When the valley drys out (if it ever dries out), and there are a lot of parties coming down, of all different skill levels in scrambling, this gully is going to be a scary place. Besides the problem of knocking loose big rocks, there were several spots where I felt that I was on the verge of starting a more serious rock slide. I would hate to have an experienced scrambling party above me (let alone one less so).
The gully is pretty much free of snow, but the rap bolts need improving. Or as an alternate to drilling/replacing the rap bolts in the gully, it might make more sense to put in a rap line down the north wall of the gully. This way, instead of having to start at the very top of the gully, climbers could rap into the middle of the gully. There would still be loose sections, but there wouldn’t be as many and the number of potential parties above you (dislodging rocks) would also be fewer.
At the very least, I would recommend rapping Melissa’s tree (see above post), although it does not currently have slings on it. But a new rap route even farther to the east, would, I think, reduce accidents.
The original route (go left after the bolt ladder pitch), is a fun place to practice wide crack skills.
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Rafael De Santiago

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
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   Mar 31, 2003 - 07:23pm
We did the East Buttress on March 28. There were only a couple of wet spots which could be easily avoided.
The route is great, very enjoyable. And we were the only party on the route!

The descent was quite a different business because there were still two huge snowfields in the gully.
The bolts for the third rappel are very poorly placed: they're inviting falling rocks to hit them.
It wouldn't be hard to place some bolts in well protected areas and make the descent easier, especially
in winter conditions, or in case of an accident or a rescue operation.
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Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
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   Sep 30, 2002 - 05:22pm
Just did this climb for the first time after the rockfall, but have done it many times before including ropeless. We did it in 7 pitches with a 70 meter rope (but you have to use sparse pro to make it work)

Yes, there are fixed ropes on the raps and I hope folks don't disturb them since pulling rap ropes given the current conditions would rain rocks down. I wouldn't call the stations "restored" though, they are single bolt stations where the hangers have been bent by rockfall. At least they are reasonable sized bolts.

The gully is loaded with unconsolidated scree and rocks. It's way more dangerous than any climb you did to get there by. Maybe a big winter will fix it up a bit. There are no slings on "Mellisa's tree" FYI.

Peace

Karl
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Steve Ansell

Intermediate climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 28, 2002 - 09:24pm
 
We did this route on Sept. 17. The best and longest I have done to date. A fabulous all-day climb!

A couple notes on previous comments and an update on the descent:

1) Linking pitches 1 & 2 will create a lot of rope drag for the leader. However, this provided me with my first leader fall trying to pull the 5.8 roof while fighting the rope.

2) I agree that the last pitch is a bit stiff at 5.4. Never seen a 5.4 where I had to use a finger lock to pull a move; stiff even for this route!

3) We did the descent in the dark and didn't have much problem. Stayed as close to the gully walls as possible. The rap stations were restored and even had fixed ropes on them!
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Ken Zemach

Intermediate climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 20, 2002 - 12:30pm
 
Feedback on Descent: We did this climb on the 31rst of August. My take on the gully is as follows:

Yes, there are a lot of loose rocks. Yes, if you are not ULTRA careful, you'll knock some down. And even then there's the possibility... We were the only people to climb it, so we were the only ones in the gully: no one above, no one below. Since we stayed next to each other, it was, in my opinion, pretty darn safe. The real danger is if you have gumbies above you, or knock rocks on people below you. THEN it is definitely not safe. If there's another party climbing behind you, you may want to arrange for them not to start down the gully until you yell up to them that you're well away from the bottom of the first rap. And, of course, show the same courtesy to those below you.

We had a 60m rope, and were able to do both of the raps as one pitch (total of 2 raps, not three). One 60m rope BARELY finishes the first rap. WATCH YOUR ENDS!

Any questions, feel free to email me.

Ken
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Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
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   Aug 19, 2002 - 02:20pm

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.

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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Jun 20, 2002 - 02:09pm
Here are some photos of the middle Cathedral Gully kindly provided by George Patterson:

<A HREF='http://www.supertopo.com/rockclimbing/gallery.html?r=yomceast&n=2'>http://www.supertopo.com/rockclimbing/gallery.html?r=yomceast&n=2</a>;
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Jun 20, 2002 - 01:42pm
Clint Cummins has a topo for the 'Kat Walk to Penny Pinnacle Rappel Route'. It is better that a stroll through the Cathedral death gully, but needs some improvement at several of the rap stations before I would recommend it for the average climber, high adventure here too. There are 9 rap stations. The topo along with a detailed description of the rappel route is on his web site.

<A HREF='http://www.stanford.edu/~clint/yos/katpen.htm'>http://www.stanford.edu/~clint/yos/katpen.htm</a>
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George

Intermediate climber
Mill Valley, CA
Jun 18, 2002 - 04:36pm
 
As I previously posted, I climbed the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral on June 8th. I brought along a digital camera and took several photos of the gully and the 'Kat Walk and Penny Pinnacle rappel route'. If anyone would like photos, I have emailed them to both Supertopo and Clint Cummins. They will be posted shortly in both places. In the mean time, I can email to anyone who would like to see the gully first hand. Also, I have a photo of the tree for the start of the rappel route to Penny Pinacle from the Kat Walk.
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Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 18, 2002 - 04:33pm
 
To answer Scott about adding rap anchors:

First off, "no way!" to adding rap stations on E Butt MC.

But in general for adding rappel anchors in other places:

The ASCA does not, and will not, assist in the addition of new rappel routes. In CERTAIN cases on routes where fixed anchors exist and have so for long periods of time, we feel it is appropriate to sometimes replace a huge boatload of ugly webbing or slings around deteriorating trees, etc with bolts.

Replacing damaged/missing bolts in the Cathedral gully once it stabilizes is a different matter of course.

Personally, if an appropriate rap route can be found by Karl or Clint or others, I'd applaud its establishment/reinforcement - but the ASCA won't be adding rap routes.

Hope that clarifies things - Greg
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Dan Zimmerlin

Advanced climber
Jun 18, 2002 - 02:02pm
 
Hi,

Below is a posting from a friend of mine who recently did the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral and found the descent wiped out by rockfall leaving it very dangerous.

-DanZ

Hello,

May 25th I climbed the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral with Ron. The
climb was a lot of fun but because the descent had suffered recent
rockfall/landslide(s) and has become pretty dangerous with continuing
rockfall I wanted to give the list a heads up in case anyone had plans to
climb that route this year.

A TR description of the descent just two days after us and even scarier than
our descent can be found here:

http://groups.google.com/groups?as_umsgid=ad0kps%24dlu%241%40usenet.Stanford.EDU

In response to some questions about our descent, I posted to the above
Usenet thread and got some good answers, so the whole thread is worth a
read. To read the whole Usenet thread click on "View: Complete Thread" on
the right hand side.

The same close-call but from the other partner's perspective can be found
here:
http://www.supertopo.com/rockclimbing/route.html?r=yomceast
(look for the posts from Mike Rawdon and Rob B dated May 28th near the
bottom of the page).

A note about the rappell bolts in the descent gully: In the gully, there
was only 1 bolt at each of the 3 places we had to rappell. Both of the upper
rappel station's single bolts looked like they had taken rock hits so you've
got single bolts in a condition you know to be compromised: definitely not a
good situation. But Ron said they were still solid enough and every day they
are holding dozens of parties: despite the rock/landfall lots of people are
going down every day. Still if rock keeps falling, as it did Monday, then
they are probably getting hammered regularly. Ron actually found an entire
bolt and hanger with a biner on it - not sure where it came from as I hadn't
noticed a 2nd bolt hole at any rappell ponit but then again I hadn't looked.
My take on both my own descent and especially Clints TR is that this route
is no longer safe to descend via the gully. Most posters agreed that
Rapping the whole thing is not practical. However there were mixed opinions
as to whether going up and over the summit was feasible/worth it in terms of
time and scambling. Read the thread and make your own decision.

hth,

Adam
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George

Intermediate climber
Jun 10, 2002 - 03:00pm
 
Saturday June 8th. Climbed EB of Middle Cathedral and used the 'Kat Walk and Penny Pinnacle rappel route' as described by Clint Cummins. After evaluating the Cathedral chimney first hand, it was obvious that the rap route was the correct choice. Cathedral chimney is obviously extremely dangerous with lots ( many thousands of tons )of loose rock above on ledges and in the gully. Nothing appears stable. During the rappel, I heard several large rocks roll down the gully and was happy not to be in it.
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Rob

Intermediate climber
Jun 7, 2002 - 07:32pm
 
Thanks for working on that Karl!
Thanks Clint (more excellent work)!
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Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
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   Jun 7, 2002 - 07:07pm
The route with the rescue was the DNB.

I just posted an updated photo, topo, and beta for the 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
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Rob

Intermediate climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 3, 2002 - 04:37pm
 
Found this on SFgate just now. Hmmmm? EB of MC??? Strange though that MC is 5,700 ft above the ground. Jackass media trying to speak to things they know nothing about.


(06-03) 12:46 PDT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) --

Park officials rescued a rock climber dangling from a rock wall about 5,700 feet above the ground Monday, a day after he was injured in a fall.

The man, whose name was not immediately available, suffered a shoulder or elbow injury after he fell several feet or a rock hit him while climbing on Sunday, said park spokesman Scott Gediman.

He was expected to be airlifted to a nearby hospital in Modesto, Gediman said.

The man spent the night on the wall after search crews were unable to get to him. The man was discovered around dusk Sunday after some experienced climbers on the valley floor saw the man was in distress and called park officials, Gediman said.

The man was climbing Cathedral Rocks, a popular, advanced climbing area across from El Capitan.

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Scott Bullock

Novice climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 3, 2002 - 12:54am
 
RE: Rock Fall in Cathedral Gully. I spoke with Scott Cosgrove in the vallye this morning on the phone he informed me that Yosemite Mt School has declared the decent gully off limits and won't be guiding in it until...

Scott and I climbed the E. Butt last Thursday and it was awesome. He pulled me up the route in 3 hours, cardio! We had a blast until we got to the gully.
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Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
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   May 31, 2002 - 08:00pm
I strongly disagree with any suggestion that folks rap this route. I have done this route dozens of times and find that it already has some of the most dangerous rockfall of any popular valley route. Rapping could create even more dangerous situations and increase the cluster that already happens on the route. I took a picture from Taft point of the area and traced the approximate route and posted it on my website as a tool for folks who might want to devise an alternate rap route on the SouthEast corner of the buttress away from other climbers. You can check it out at

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

If the gully has become as dangerous as some very experienced climbers have said (Cummins, Cosgrove and others I hear) then something may have to be developed so nobody gets hurt

Peace

karl
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Jason Boyd

Intermediate climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 31, 2002 - 04:54pm
 
WARNING:
On May 27 at about 5:30 PM there was a major rock fall from the top of Middle Cathedral into the Cathedral gully.
I had just summited the East Butt. and was about to decend when the rock fall occured. The whole gully is now very loose and unstable. It seems as though the rap bolts are still OK (the hanger on the second station has been bent almost flat) Nothing came down on me while decending, however there are tons of loose blocks ready to roll. I would strongly recomend finding alternate meens of decent, maybe the ASCA could put a couple rap bolts on the upper section of the route (pitches 7, 8, & 9, pitches 10 & 11 have good trees) If you do intend on using the gully decent be EXTREMLY careful not to kick down rocks on the heads of climbers below you in the gully.
climb safe, stay tied in.
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joec

Novice climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 29, 2002 - 01:40pm
 
Wow, quite an adventure in the Cathedral gulley. I did this descent in mid-May after climbing the DNB, and though the recent rockfall was obvious, the descent was uneventful. Maybe it helped that we were doing it in pitch-black-night but it didn't seem that bad to me. The descent from the Sentinal is still far looser and sketchier.
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Rob B.

Intermediate climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 28, 2002 - 03:02pm
 
This from a friend who just got back:

"As we reach the end of the Cat walk it becomes quite apparent that a
huge rock slide has come through this area as everything is devastated.
There are rock scars 70ft up the wall. We can hear the party below us
trundling stuff as they go. Clint and I proceed very slowly and
cautiously to avoid sending stuff down on them. Once part way down
the Gully it become apparent that the rock slide came from higher
up the Gully and not from the cliffs. We made it past the 1st rappel
point without any incident except my new rope gettin dirty and wet.
We were at the second rappel I was slowly down climbin and while using
an old fixed line with a 1ft core shot the rock wall was sandy and wet.
I did not trust the rope so I was movin slow. I heard rock. Then more
rock. I suddenly realized this was not little stuff from Clint movin
around. Clint yelled that it was from up above. I started back up
the rope then quickly realized at the bottom of the rappel is a
fairly large cave formed from a huge boulder. I slid down a foot
then jumped. I dove into the cave as stuff started shoot out from
above. It was loud and moving very fast. I was trying to think of
what Clint could possibly be hiding under up there and could not
imagine how he survived that onslaught. After that there was a
brief intermission. I yelled for Clint to come down the rope quick.
He said he was under his pack. In my mind I could see this 20yr old
pack that is smaller than most book bags with a pair of climbin shoes
and a dozen cams in it. I knew it would not protect him from sh#t.
I think it was at this point he yelled it's Big and movin slow. The
loud rumbling was very apparent. I hunkered down in the back of the
cave and covered my ears with my palms. This thing was as loud as
an earthquake and just kept comin. I did not figure there was any
way it could miss him and I did not want to here it. Even with my
palms pressed firmly against my ears this thing was loud. Finally
it barreled over the top and crashed down the scree below.
Hesitantly I stood up the adrenaline was pumpin and my legs shaked
I yelled to see if Clint was ok and to my amazement he reply'd. I
think he was lookin up the canyon cuz I could barely hear him so
I yelled again then I heard him and knew he was ok. After a bit he
came down into the cave we stood there a bit then headed quickly
out. Without having to dodge any other bullets.
In summary it appeared that the major rock fall is less than a month
old. But, the Gully is still active. So if you are goin to do a
route on Middle Cathedral Rock pack an extra rope and rap the East
Buttress. I have not tried it but there are trees and one set of
chains. I think that it would go.
Here's ta sweat and not rock in your eye
des"
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Mike Rawdon

Advanced climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 26, 2002 - 10:54pm
 
Great route, but the descent gully is a death trap of recent rockfall. Climbed it yesterday (5/25/02) and the busted trees at the Ampitheater still had leaves on them. In the gully itself there is no living thing and everything is ready to roll. The two rap bolts we saw had both been hit by rockfall. The upper on the hanger and the lower directly on the bolt. It was nerve wracking and I would never put myself in that situation again.
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Mr Lucky

Novice climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 20, 2002 - 05:17pm
 
pulled up & parked @ 7:20am sunday 5/19/02 & we were the 9th car @ the cathedral rocks parking area. 20 minutes later, when we'd racked up & eaten a bit, there were 10.

what the hell- we're already here, we might as well check it out, right? so we walked up to the the base of the climb just to see...

hmmm- kinda quiet up there-
look- nobody on the ledge-
hey- no bags on the ledge-
nobody on the whole damn climb!
how can this be??

we started climbing in the sun on our own private cliff right in the middle of yosemite valley at ~8:30am on a beautiful sunday in the middle of may!

finally another party joined in the fun once we were up on pitch 6 or 7- there really musta been quite a lineup on the higher spire & the ne butt of higher!

just goes to show- you never know until you go!

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b$

Trad climber
sf
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   Apr 25, 2002 - 01:48pm
If you climb once a week, and are comfortable with placing gear, and trad-leading 5.7-5.8…the East But is still a major challenge! Even though I left it up to WestOzzy to lead the 5.8 roof, 5.9 roof, and the 5.7 flared groove (pitch 9? probably the hardest for me), I was still scared to bejeezus at times! I think I’m an exposure wimp. Nevertheless, this climbed was insanely good!!! Easy approach, consistently challenging, a variety in the type of climbing, and amazing views of El Cap, east up the valley, and the Cathedral c-c-chasm. The descent was wet and wild (watchout for rockfall/slide). Total approach, climbing, and descent time = 10.5 hours. Can someone explain to me how the groove on the last pitch is a 5.4? I thought I was going to slide straight down to hell (okay since it was the valley…heaven)!
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David

Intermediate climber
sf
Apr 18, 2002 - 12:06pm
 
pitches can be linked via a 60M rope: pitches 1 and 2; as well as 3 and 4 were easily linked and really sped things up. 5 and 6 also linked up if the belayer was willing to unclip and walk over 10ft to the start of the bolt ladder.
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Bob

Intermediate climber
sf
Apr 3, 2002 - 06:20pm
 
Tony-- Route in great shape, not wet. Descent wet, long undercut snow/ice sections in gully, wedge between wall and snow, not fun but doable, 1st rap very wet, 3rd class sections of descent very,very loose and unsettled, stay close(bowling alley potential.) We did route, party of three SUN 3/31
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Tony

Intermediate climber
sf
Apr 3, 2002 - 01:44am
 
Has anybody done this route recently? We hope to do it this weekend, but I was wondering what was the condition of the descent in Cathedral Chimney. I suspect it still might have a lot of snow. Maybe May would be a better bet.
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tom

Advanced climber
sf
Feb 9, 2002 - 10:27pm
 
Don't bring aiders for the bolt ladder. You can French Free the sucker easily. The bolts are so close, you can stand in a quickdraw or runner to reach the next one. What the descent, though. Make sure you go high enough before turning left towards the gully that separates Higher from Middle Cathedral rocks.
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Erik

Intermediate climber
sf
Nov 5, 2001 - 02:24pm
 
1. I agree withe Andrew (below) that the descent is easiest described as "Follow the obvious trail with cairns." We made the descent in the dark and had no trouble following the trail and finding the rappels. The
only routefinding trouble we had were at the end of the gully were the topo says "look for the approach trail on the left". At this point there are no cairns and the trail is faint, so maybe due to the dark we first tried to follow the base of the cliff before we realised it was the wrong way and we continued straight down the gully ( with one short rappel ) which soon took us to the two carabiner posts.

Also, I don't know if this has happened frequently enough to warrant a warning. But at the end of the gully we were exposed to a huge rockfall. We only survived by lunging ourselfs behind some rocks. The rock coming down must have been huge because the air was full of dust afterwards.

2. The endless discussion of gradings. I found the upper 5 pitches very stiff. Not as straightforward as the ratings might imply.

3. At least one trip report on the web (i.e Bill and Junes) and one party we met suggests that the traversing 6th pitch is difficult to protect and the second might potentially take huge pendelums if falling. I disagree with this. I found good placements for smaller camming devices, and at the end of the traverse it is possible to step up and place a cam behind a flake to
protect the second.
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Bill Whiteley

Intermediate climber
sf
Jun 25, 2001 - 03:18pm
 
Completed the route on June 14. There were fire ants on the third pitch but other than that it was a great route and good topo. I highly recommend the finger crack variation on the last pitch, and the Hornets must be gone (message below) because I did not encounter any.
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Andrew

Intermediate climber
sf
Jun 19, 2001 - 01:12am
 
Just did this climb on June 16th and it was quite enjoyable. By the way, the Supertopo of it was excellent and helped quite a bit. We didn't follow ALL the belay stances and cut the climb down to about 7 pitches using a 60m rope. The most confusing thing about the entire climb was the decent. The description of it was a bit confusing. It would have been easier to say, "Follow the trail all the way until the end". We spent 30 minutes looking for bolts at the large expanse, right before the gully. We gave up and decided to try and walk down. Lo and behold, we found the bolts.

Oh, and the climb is in the sun until about 3:00. So, wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water.
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bezeee

climber
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   Jun 18, 2001 - 04:41pm
I did this on June 8th when it was hot but not unbearable. Even though the temperature was not extreme I finished 3 liters of water while my partner finished 2 about halfway up. Bring plenty of water!

At the beginning of the 3rd pitch be careful of the biting ants that start to swarm during the stem move. They climbed up my leg and dug right in.

The last pitch is strange and I think it's at least a 5.7. My partner led this pitch an opted to climb onto the face on the left of the gully. This option may involve some harder climbing than the gully but is maybe a little bit easier to protect.

The decent route is very easy to find but long. After you reach the top scramble up and right until you stumble upon a well worn trail. Follow this trail all the way to the end where you'll end up in an amphitheater surrounded by granite walls. Just go down from there where you'll find 3 rap anchors eventually.
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Mike Duzinski

Intermediate climber
May 15, 2001 - 08:58pm
 
I have yet to do the entire climb, and rapped off the 5th pitch. Be very careful if you take this option. After rapping from the 4th pitch chains, after passing bolts with slings and opting for the flake with many slings down a little bit further, I stopped at the flake. When my partner arrived, the flake moved significantly. This beta is from the fall, but if the flake is still there DO NOT use it as a rap anchor. It is extremely dangerous. Other that that the climb is excellent, the first two pitches are not as classic as the next three, but all well worth it.

Enjoy
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Anaphylactic Shock dude

Intermediate climber
Feb 3, 2001 - 11:18pm
 
If you do the left finish to the last pitch (5.10a fingers), don’t belay at the first obvious belay tree, there’s a nasty hornet nest under it - stings all over the place, and they go for the head! That last pitch finger crack is killer!
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Middle Cathedral - East Buttress 5.10c or 5.9 A0 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
East Buttress is one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America
Photo: Chris McNamara
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*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.