Northeast Buttress 5.9

 
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Higher Cathedral


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Awesome Weekend in Yosemite
Wednesday May 1, 2013 5:27pm
Saturday: NEB of Higher Cathedral and Regular Route (direct var) of Higher Cathedral Spire link up
Sunday: Arrowhead Spire and Arrowhead Arete
Cathedral Spires and Higher Cathedral as seen from El Cap
Cathedral Spires and Higher Cathedral as seen from El Cap
Credit: Vitaliy M.
For more photos go to: http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/05/neb-of-higher-cathedral-rockhigher.html


Me on top of Higher Cathedral. What a view.

Bryan following pitch 3 on Arrohead Arete

On Saturday (April 27th) Bryan and I left the car early and prepared to get our butts kicked by NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral. I know multiple people who had to finish this route in the dark, and even spent the night on top. On the other hand, our experience was completely different. We thought this route was very enjoyable and liked it a lot more than East Buttress of Middle. In addition, we spent an hour checking out the views from the summit, and climbed Regular Route (direct variation) on Higher Cathedral Spire.


Cathedral Spires in the early morning

Bryan linked pitches 4 and traversing pitch 5

Me leading 6th pitch

To give ourselves first place in 'line' we left the car right before dawn. It was a good decision since another party arrived shortly after I started leading. With simul-climbing, I linked pitches one and two. Since I have not used 90% of our rack, I led 3rd pitch (which was one of my favorites) as well. While Bryan linked 4 and 5 I chatted with one of the guys who were following us. He told me it was his second time on route, and first was a 21 hour epic, yikes.


Bryan

Me leading 7th.

Cathedral Spires look really tempting!

Traversing pitch (5th) had cool face climbing on beautiful orange granite. After that I led pitches 6 and 7, both of which were cool. 6th featured some lie backs and a bulge. 7th was supposedly crux pitch of this route which starts from a hand crack and some stemming, continues into a thinner hand crack, pulls a roof and continues into another tight squeeze chimeny. I did not find this pitch hard at all, a bit burly in the squeeze chimney which I could not fit through (if I ever want to do Steck Salathe I need to stop eating cookies?). So I transitioned out to face, passed it and built a belay station above a pretty comfortable stance.


Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls, El Cap and Three Brothers

As I remember, Bryan linked 8 and 9, I took 10th, and Bryan led the last pitch. Pitches 8 and 11 were really good. We finished with original (5.9 mantle/hands/ow? to the left of a giant OW) variation which was recommended by some guys we saw on the approach. I was expecting an easy hand crack but found it to be a lot wider. It even required some technique. After topping out we spent a whole hour checking out the views, eating, drinking, and thinking about what we wanted to do next.


Me leading 5th pitch of Higher Cathedral Spire

Bryan on top of Higher Cathedral Spire

Me on top of HCS

Since summit of Higher Cathedral Spire looked like the coolest thing around we decided to go there and see if we could figure out a way to climb it without a topo. We were in luck since there were a few climbers getting down. They provided us with a topo and an advice to take direct variation. I was glad pitch 2 was Bryan's lead since there was a difficult roof on it. My favorite part of the climb came on pitches 4 and 5 when you get hit with the exposure, great climbing, and see alpine glow on El Cap. The summit was spectacular. It was worth missing pizza, though we did not miss showers ;)


Tip on top op of Arrowhead Spire

Arrowhead Arete

Bryan on a free hanging rappel from the top

We were a bit tired and wanted to do something chill on Sunday. So we picked Arrowhead Spire/Arete. Somehow we overlooked, or ignored that in the guide book it is described as a "huge day." Our day was not huge, but it was sure enjoyable (aside from bushwhacking). Summit of Arrowhead Spire was a fantastic spot. Climbing on Arrowhead Arete was as enjoyable as doing East Buttress of El Cap. Clean and varied from wide cracks, to fingers, hands, and face thrown in. In addition the knife-edge ridge on top of this formation was as cool as Matthes Crest. In addition, I thought the descent gully was original. It contains three rappels over drops that were created by HUGE boulders blocking the top of a slot canyon. These boulders create a sub climate which allows a bunch of flowers and grass to grow right under them.


Knife Edge ridge - Arrowhead Arete

Great View I am almost used to

Bryan on the knife edge ridge

  Trip Report Views: 2,672
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

Comments
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Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  May 1, 2013 - 05:35pm PT
Good on ya. Lots of stars on those routes, looks like a fun weekend. Question: Why is the guy in the first photo wearing a dress?
Some Random Guy

climber
  May 1, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
^^^ hahahahaha.....i thought more like, sucking in the beer gut huh?

nice linkup
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  May 1, 2013 - 06:13pm PT
Good work boys and thanx for sharing.............

Stevo
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  May 1, 2013 - 06:18pm PT
"Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco." !!!

Because he gets out and climbs so much! Then posts great trip reports with pictures...... Really annoying!

Erik
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  May 1, 2013 - 06:23pm PT
I understand your delight in climbing the NEB of HCR. My favorite route in the Valley. I did it last Oct. for probably the 12th time, at the ripe age of 67. I never get sick of it. Also did Higher Spire the same week, but NOT in the same day.

You guys are ambitious!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 1, 2013 - 06:23pm PT
Awesome V, we all live Vicariously through you!!!!!
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  May 1, 2013 - 07:01pm PT
Great photos and trip report, thank you!
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  May 1, 2013 - 07:35pm PT
Theme of 2013 Vitaliy TR's thus far: lots of climbing makes go fast...


SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  May 1, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
As usual Mike, an incredible time in the Valley and a beautiful share and report. Thanks so much for taking the time to take, then post such a great report.

Susan
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 1, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
Way to go V!!

Higher C Spire is one of my favorite places.

It was my first "big" climb in Yosemite in 77. Every couple years I would drag somebody up it! It was one of my favorites to scare my military buddies too.

NE Butt is tops too eh?

Nice work MEN!
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 1, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
Dude! Glad to see someone is getting out there, gettin' the mileage on great stuff.

NEB HCR is one of my favorites, I feel initimately connected to the upper part of that Cathedral Gulley. Still haven't done Arrowhead Arete or Arrowhead Spire.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  May 1, 2013 - 09:39pm PT
Both NEB and HCSpire were AWESOME. I like climbing in Cathedrals. Loved East Butt of Middle, Kor Beck, and CPoF too. Want to try N buttress of Middle and maybe HCM trail too...but I heard they are closed for peregrine nesting at the moment...



Can't stress enough how amazing Arrowhead Arete was. Had low expectations for it, but it rocked. Two of my friends climbed east buttress of El Cap on Saturday and liked Arrowhead more. Lot's of cool stuff on that route, and the setting is fantastic.

survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 1, 2013 - 09:45pm PT
What? No DNB?

It's also great, and loooong!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  May 1, 2013 - 09:52pm PT
Great stuff, Vitaliy!
Thanks for sharing.
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
  May 1, 2013 - 10:26pm PT
Friggin awesome! Wish I was up to it still. Arrowhead is my favorite. That knife edge summit is more exposed than I remember. The perfect setting, alright!
harryhotdog

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  May 1, 2013 - 10:53pm PT
Somebody put some rocks in this guy's pack. Great effort and report! I thought that route was burly for 5.9 and it seems remote for some reason. Thats why it's such a classic. What's next Vitaliy?
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  May 1, 2013 - 11:01pm PT
Three great, historic routes on a beauful weekend. What's not to like? Great job! Excellent trip report. Thanks much.

John
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 1, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
My favorite kind of TR is a Vitaliy TR.

My wife and I did the Arrowhead Spire a few weeks back, then spent a few hours just taking it all in from that neat summit. Didn't do the Arete but just a good reason to go back.

Heading for NEB this weekend, which'll be my sixth go on it. Definitely in my top 3 routes, probably my favorite.

When do you have the Steck-Sal planned?
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
  May 1, 2013 - 11:43pm PT
Nice sent.

Sounds/looks like an awesome weekend.

Good on ya. Lots of stars on those routes, looks like a fun weekend. Question: Why is the guy in the first photo wearing a dress?


 Had to go back and check… Yup.. that's one of those dress-pant combo deals the sexually frustrated gals used ta wear to Grateful Dead concerts.


Cheers all
Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
  May 2, 2013 - 12:25am PT
Hell yeah. Now that's the stuff! Great TR!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  May 2, 2013 - 12:31am PT
You DO GET AROUND!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 2, 2013 - 01:44am PT
you can check but I believe the raptor closures on the Cathedrals are over...
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  May 2, 2013 - 02:26am PT
Woohoo! The sending continues!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  May 2, 2013 - 02:31am PT
Hey, you guys are in too big a hurry. You KNOW by now that descents usually go fast.

I'm just stewing that there are no pics of those lovely grottoes underneath those gargantuan chockstones in West Arrowhead Chimney.

How many hundreds of feet of old webbing are there on those rappel trees & anchors by now?

ARE you going for the STeck-Salathe? It's time!

Good cheer!

MFM
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
  May 2, 2013 - 01:14pm PT
Nice work Vitality! The NEB of higher is one of my all time favorites. The monkeys are sending!!Bump for good climbing content!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  May 2, 2013 - 02:54pm PT
I'm just stewing that there are no pics of those lovely grottoes underneath those gargantuan chockstones in West Arrowhead Chimney.

How many hundreds of feet of old webbing are there on those rappel trees & anchors by now?

ARE you going for the STeck-Salathe? It's time!

I took some pictures, but the light wasn't great and they didn't really come out. It was cool to see. Rap stations had a good amount of webbing, most looked safe with safe rap rings.

S/S maybe before I go to Peru, if I have enough time. Would kick my ass I think. But would be worth it.

What? No DNB?

I don't lead 5.11/12s yet. Free climbing DNB is one of my ultimate life goals. Along with Mary's Tears/Crucifix link up.
Survival, have you done DNB? Is it ok for mortals or a bit crazy?

Why is the guy in the first photo wearing a dress?

LOL. One of my friends also asked what was up with that blue tourniquet. That combined with a dress makes you wounder what we did on that summit for an hour huh? :)

What's next?

Something fun I hope. Tioga pass will open soon. Might get out to Eastern Sierra to do a few peaks, hopefully a few FAs before going to Peru. Do more trips to Yosemite. Still have not climbed NW face of Half Dome, Sentinel, Leaning Tower, and Watkins. That Salathe route on HD looks great too. There is a lot more that I want to do, than I actually can do...I guess dreaming is a big part of it.

Thank you all for positive comments!
eKat

Trad climber
  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:40pm PT
BBST!

(As a reminder = BBST = donini for Bump for a Better SuperTopo)
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Nov 12, 2013 - 01:17pm PT
Vitaly's stuff is always worthy of some reading time.

Bump
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
  Nov 13, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
TFPU
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Nov 13, 2013 - 05:09pm PT
Free climbing DNB is one of my ultimate life goals. Along with Mary's Tears/Crucifix link up.
Survival, have you done DNB? Is it ok for mortals or a bit crazy?

Yes V, I have. There sure as hell was no 5.12 on it the way I went!!!

My buddy and I took 7 hours in 1980, which was a fast time back then. In fact, a team that started right on our heels ended up bivying in the chimneys.

So yes, it is totally doable for mere mortals. The pro was tricky in places, and a bit run out in spots too, but nothing you can't handle I'm sure.

Some people don't rank it high on a valley classics list, but to me it was like a huge alpine wall, not a stack of one clean crack after another. It was a highlight for me personally, but I always liked face climbing.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Nov 13, 2013 - 05:50pm PT
Thanks, eKat - I missed this one first time round.

Helluva weekend, Vitaliy! Way to send!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Nov 13, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
Survival, funny to see my question. By now I free climbed the technical crux of DNB along with first 6 pitches when I did Ho Chi Minh trail. Just a few month after I asked too! Back than DNB seemed far out of reach..
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Apr 22, 2014 - 04:53pm PT
Somehow I missed this TR first time around.
I loved Arrowhead Arete BITD. We didn't try Arrowhead Spire due to our anxiety about the Big Day warning. It was mid April, while leading P4 or P5 it started snowing lightly. Just about the time we had figured out how to lower/rapp off the east face it stopped snowing so up we went. Great climb. So seldom done. The arete is truly spectacular, especially looking down the East Arrowhead Chimney to your right and the Left Arrowhead Chimney to your left as you whimper along the knifedge ridge. We did it a cheval in a couple of spots. And the adventurous descent. It Ain't Over Till It's Over!
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Higher Cathedral - Northeast Buttress 5.9 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral is one of the best Grade IV climbs in the Valley.
Photo: Greg Barnes
Other Routes on Higher Cathedral
Higher Cathedral Spire - Regular Route 5.9 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Regular Route, 5.9
Higher Cathedral Spire
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The route winds up the left skyline to the summit. The traditional start is lower on the left.
Higher Cathedral - Braille Book 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Braille Book, 5.8
Higher Cathedral
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