Trip Report
2012_06_09 Higher Cathedral Spire + Braille Book linkup
Tuesday September 4, 2012 6:14pm
Another fun day at the crags... I went nuts with the pictures so go get a cup of coffee or take a bathroom break and let it load.

Earlyish start, the familiar view approaching Cathedral Gulley:

Nice moon and rocks at the top of the gulley:

After scrambling up P1 of the regular route on HCS, getting to the business at the start of P2:

I know, we need to work on having more fun out there, not taking it all so seriously:

It's a beautiful pitch, with a specific 5.9 crux early on (here he's above it):

This type of pro encourages one to not fall:

I think I took the path less followed for my version of P3 (I went up and right where the regular climb takes easier ground to the left). Here's looking down it:

It started off as a cool crack line, then suddenly I was a bit strung out on powerful but solid fingertip sideclings or somesuch. I think it was the technical crux for our path. It's been a few months now, I don't remember well. But here's a photo from the side, taken during the rap. It shows the part before the tree in the preceding picture:

The variation seemed not well trodden, but I did reach an official bolted anchor for some different line. le_bruce seems satisfied with my decision:

EDIT 2012-09-18: Looks like this was the A1 pitch on the Steck Route 5.9 A1 (page 271 on 94 Meyers/Reid). Call it 5.10a now.

Nowhere else we'd rather be:

Just be careful if you have a sausage, he tries to attack it! (I'll probably pay for that... err no I didn't really have to pay for it, I just meant... I'll shut up now)

Can't complain about the position (phew! anything to get off the topic of the last position):

Attentive belay at the start of our P4:

Exploring into the unknown out right. Well we don't know it, which is good enough for us:

And we stumble onto this stellar easy dihedral:

Here's a broader perspective of where we are:

Our P5 is a nice short face problem with just enough protection to not worry about dying or serious injury. A couple of bouldery moves, seen from above:

The jug:

If I was cool I would have made an animated gif out of that. But I'm not.

So much fun stuff to do in the valley:

We were just ahead of another party, who coincidentally planned to do the HCS + Braille Book link-up just like us! My first reflex was "oh crap, that's what we get for doing normal supertopo routes" but it turned out to be cool. We were laughing up a storm with these guys, but what with my early onset alzheimer's I can't remember their names for the life of me. Please send me a message if these pics are you!

OK, I know this shady character next to me is le_bruce:

All I remember is this dude is funny, and he does have a name:

This guy too:

The view never gets old (at least not when you see it live):

El Cap and the profile of EB Middle Cath:

Team Comedian after the rap (le_bruce, help me out with some names here):

There was a gratuitous supertopian sighting as well. I've already forgot his name once, been reminded, and forgotten again over a several month period. I'm a little better with numbers than with names, but I'm still a disaster:

Edit: It's ontheedgeandscaredtodeath. Thanks!

Enjoying the scenic traverse over to Braille Book:

We let the other dudes go first, and here's le_bruce chomping up P1:

The rock is really outstanding on Braille Book. Unique among the other climbs I've done in the valley, what with all the flowing knobs, pretty colors, etc. Sort of like polished river stones, but all melted together:

Been there. Done that. But so much more there I haven't done!

Here's our compadre again:

Experimenting with flash to address the high contrast lighting challenges:

And more of that yummy rock!

A little better light balance here:

Now we make some new friends, a couple of studs who did Moratorium the day before, and are taking a rest day hiking up Cathedral Gulley and doing Braille Book:

If you guessed that I forgot their names, you might be right. I do remember this guy is from Colombia and owns a healthcare business there:

le_bruce is having his own fun:

But maybe we're having more?

Exhibit 127 showing my packless hydration strategy. next slide please:

This climb just keeps on being beautiful, and in a few spots I was caught off guard how challenging it was. I don't know if this was one of them. Before:


I think the intent of this picture is looking back to show where I went wrong (or shall we just say differently?) and ended up in another variation:

I just had to see what was around the corner, and the view did not disappoint:

Looking almost straight down though it's hard to tell with the wide angle:

This is the "why the heck did you go that way?" face:

But he checks it out when he comes up, and I think in the end he was fine with it. Much better to have air under foot than a cruiser slab finish anyways:

And there he's got the bugger tamed:

I haven't been the other way so I can't really compare, but I think this should be the regular way:

Higher Cathedral Rock is big:

After the traverse into the crack, it's solid enough for me to get fancy with self-portraits:

The tree from another perspective:

Running up the final slabs:


Just looking at that chocolaty rock makes me drool:

Nice views of Cloud's Rest:

And some other peaks that many of you can easily name, but I can't:

I think we cruised over from here to the summit of HCS while we were in the neighborhood. When you've gone that far, you kind of have to:

Looking west to the backside of Leaning Tower:

Every time I end up in this place I feel like it's a reunion with an old friend:

Portraits of our heroes:

And then I start to get mushy and take pictures of everything in sight (even more than the rest of the day):

Congratulations, you have reached the end:

  Trip Report Views: 2,258
About the Author
nutjob is a climber from Berkeley, CA.

Some people call me the space cowboy yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
'Cause I speak of the pompetous of love

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Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:18pm PT
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:29pm PT
Thought Braille Book was a very nice climb when I did it. Have not done the spire, but want to! NE buttress of higher cathedral scares me however. Maybe later in the fall when temps are a bit cooler. That would be a sickening link up. Thanks for sharing.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:27pm PT
Sweet pics, thanks for posting another good TR!!!!
the Fet

  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:32pm PT
And then I start to get mushy and take pictures of everything in sight (even more than the rest of the day):

Haha! Awesome TR.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:34pm PT
nice one

  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:34pm PT
Looks like fun being had!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:52pm PT
Very nice and enjoyable TR proving lots of photos works!

It is so fun and easy to get OR on HCS, amazing as it seems to some. (I've done it.)

NJ, seriously, take a pencil & notebook on your climbs!

Lloyd Price told me and Mathis one day that he climbed the OW on the summit block ov HCS and had stick matches in his shirt pocket that flamed up as he wriggled up. Phew!

The Hot Kiss On the End of a Wet Fist
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:55pm PT
Thanks for taking me back to the "Book" It's been a long time. Great photos.

"And some other peaks that many of you can easily name, but I can't"

from left to right:

Echp Peaks and Echo Ridge
Matthers Crest

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Sep 4, 2012 - 07:00pm PT
Holy Sweet Awesomeness!!

That Higher Spire is pretty hard to beat eh? That was one of my first "Big" climbs in Yosemite, in 77 I think. I love the position up there so much that I've taken numerous people up it too!

Great link-up, and thanks for putting this up!

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  Sep 18, 2012 - 03:19pm PT
Update on the mystery pitch that went out right where the regular route went left on Higher Cathedral Spire. It appears that it was the A1 pitch on the Steck Route (5.9 A1) as seen on page 271 of the '94/'98 Meyers/Reid guide. Call it 5.9+ or .10a now for any future guidebook updates.

Edit: Ontheedgeandscaredtodeath, duly noted and updated :)

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Sep 18, 2012 - 02:12pm PT
Wonderful TR of two great climbs. Thanks for taking the roads less traveled. I'm too conventional, I guess, so you showed me some hitherto unknown territory.

Well done, on rock and on ST.

Mouse, that story of the OW is priceless (so to speak)!


Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
  Sep 18, 2012 - 02:32pm PT
Nice! Missed this one the first time around. I was the gratuitous supertopoian siting!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Dec 3, 2015 - 08:25pm PT
Self-bumpage for fun and climbing content :D

Trad climber
  Dec 4, 2015 - 07:57am PT
we went the same way on p4 to P5.
seems to be the way to go.
killer 5.7 exposure short pitch to P6

i believe the var from P4-P5 goes left and is a 10+

nice job.

steller link up!

Woody the Beaver

Trad climber
Soldier, Idaho
  Dec 4, 2015 - 08:25am PT
No anchors for a slack line between HCR and the Spire? Odd.

  Dec 4, 2015 - 08:55am PT
bump for climbing and my first Yosemite climb.

  Dec 4, 2015 - 09:16am PT
Great TR, thanks for the bump. There's also this amusing comment from back in 2012:
NE buttress of higher cathedral scares me however. Maybe later in the fall...

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Dec 4, 2015 - 10:42am PT
Our little Vittles is all growed up! (said with tongue in cheek and while wiping a little tear from the corner of my eye)
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