Southeast Buttress 5.6

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Cathedral Peak

Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

Trip Report
Cathedral Peak- The hard way
Sunday July 27, 2014 5:57pm
I decided to climb Cathedral Peak's easiest route (4th) class the hardest way I could think of:

As I drove away from my home in Mammoth Lakes the sun was just starting to crest over the White mountains
Credit: Mtbphoto

I started off on my bike just across from Tioga Pass at 6:45AM and headed up the pass right away, I have driven up and down Tioga Pass too many time to count, I have also biked and hiked up it once each before. The view never gets old though

Visit on

The shoulder on Tioga Pass is plenty wide for one rider, no close encounters with RVs luckily! The pass was a tough ride, especially with a backpack loaded with shoes and lunch on a little rack behind my bike. Finally made it up and over the pass. I took this photo below as I watched my bike get speed wobbles from the rack behind.

Tuolumne Meadows Tioga Pass
Tuolumne Meadows Tioga Pass
Credit: Mtbphoto

A quick stop at the crowded Tuolumne Grill for some water before I headed to the Cathedral Lakes trailhead and changed into hiking clothes and shoes. I locked my bike up in the forest behind the porta-potis. I started hiking and was already pretty tired, once I hit the Budd lake trail I settled in and never saw the people that started right behind me. I turned around to find Lembert Done sticking out of the forest.

Lembert Dome
Lembert Dome
Credit: Mtbphoto

Finally the objective comes into sight, Cathedral Peak. I have had some knee problems in the past and my knee started to ache, but the pain wasn't bad enough to turn around. The trail steepens, but the trail crews have made some amazing steps through the sand slopes. I managed to get to the backside of Cathedral Peak and pulled on my climbing shoes for the scramble. I had to wait for the first party to summit that day to get off the short double cracks up the summit block. I ended up sharing the summit with a few other people. The view was great, but I was exhausted so I hung out for a while then made the trek back to my hiking shoes.

Visit on

Unfortunately I could see the road winding back up toward Tioga Pass, I still had a long way to go!

Tuolumne Meadows from Cathedral Peak
Tuolumne Meadows from Cathedral Peak
Credit: Mtbphoto

My knee was killing me on the hike back to the trailhead, but I was just hoping it wouldn't hurt when I got on my bike. I was out of water and ready to get back to the grill to refill the bottles. Luckily my knee felt fine pedaling!

Credit: Mtbphoto

The ride back up toward Tioga Pass was hot, super narrow, and I was tired to say the least. A few cars made close passes, but for the most part people were respectful. Some RV went to pass me 1/16th of a mile from the gate and there was stopped traffic in front of me, obviously he was only looking at me and not the stopped cars in front of me. I flashed my expired pass and I was only 12 miles from my truck. I flew down the pass hoping my tires wouldn't blow, hopped into my truck and drove right over to Mono Cone for a nice reward.

Visit on

The whole journey ended up being approx. 47.2 miles and 7,500 feet of gain.

  Trip Report Views: 6,841
About the Author
Mtbphoto is a trad and sport climber from Mammoth Lakes, Ca.


Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
  Jul 27, 2014 - 06:05pm PT
Nice summit pics...Glad you got to the Mono Cone before it blew...rj
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 27, 2014 - 06:08pm PT
Good job!!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Jul 27, 2014 - 06:48pm PT

Makes one appreciate Goran Kropp who cycled from Sweden to Everest and back and climbed it without O2. Carried all his gear! 7000 miles of riding.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jul 27, 2014 - 06:51pm PT
Great job!


Trad climber
No. Tahoe
  Jul 27, 2014 - 07:02pm PT
That's a worthy day.

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
  Jul 27, 2014 - 07:51pm PT
Whew, I got tired just reading all that. And you even had energy to write a trip report afterward. Good show!
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, Bozeman, the ocean, or ?
  Jul 27, 2014 - 08:17pm PT
Holey that ever a wild ride! That was awesome!
E Robinson

Trad climber
Salinas, CA
  Jul 27, 2014 - 08:53pm PT
Nice, and good on the low carbon emissions!

Trad climber
  Jul 28, 2014 - 11:48am PT
That's a damn good day!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
  Jul 28, 2014 - 01:12pm PT
Absolutely awesome. I'm impressed and inspired.

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Jul 28, 2014 - 01:31pm PT
Whenever I see people going down that road on bikes I always think about what would happen if a tire blew. Scary!

Great job with a bad knee.

Oakland, CA
  Jul 28, 2014 - 02:14pm PT
...hoping my tires wouldn't blow...

Heinous though, heinous though, heinous thought.

I get paranoid about even thinking about my tires when I'm on a descent.

Great TR, thanks for posting it!

4 Corners Area
  Jul 28, 2014 - 02:27pm PT
An awesome little alpine triathilon you did there!


Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Jul 28, 2014 - 02:30pm PT
What a great day out. Thanks for sharing. Nice picture of Eichorn and the lake. 7500 in 47 miles is no joke.
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Jul 28, 2014 - 05:40pm PT
Nice. TFPU!!!6!!

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, Ca
Author's Reply  Jul 28, 2014 - 06:17pm PT
Last month I had about 7 flats, only one at a decent speed, but cruising down Tioga Pass trying to be as unaerodynamic as possible and still going 42-45 miles an hour really messes with your mind.
Then you ride the brakes for a while, but I have heard you can heat up your rims so much from braking that the tire will blow.

But not going to lie, I would love to just let it rip down Tioga in a tuck, could easily hit 60-70+ MPH.

Trad climber
  Jul 28, 2014 - 07:16pm PT
Excellent day! That's livin' the life, but I couldn't handle the stress of biking next to the cars.

For the brake problem: what about dragging a small parachute behind you?
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Jul 29, 2014 - 06:23am PT
Cool! I read about one guy who called such outings "Kropping" in honor of the famed extremist.

I'd love to do Tioga before the road opens.


Trad climber
  Jul 29, 2014 - 06:39am PT
How did i not know about Mono Cone...? Nice vert.

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Jul 29, 2014 - 06:45am PT
i like your style, and thank god for bicycles and their low impact, right?
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, Bozeman, the ocean, or ?
  Jul 29, 2014 - 08:30am PT
I have heard you can heat up your rims so much from braking that the tire will blow.
absolutely true. Been there, done that. On a hot day especially.
I've always wondered how bicyclists manage Tioga Road with the big honking RV's extended side view mirrors.

Going down Tioga at your speed....well BIG PUCKER FACTOR for me!

looks easy from here

Santa Cruzish
  Jul 29, 2014 - 09:02pm PT
Just looking at the title I initially assumed that you meant taking the most technically challenging route up Cathedral, but wow!, you really did pick the hard way up it. Looks miserable; I'm sure it was a blast!
Stewart Johnson

Gym climber
top lake
  Oct 17, 2016 - 05:18am PT
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Oct 17, 2016 - 06:49am PT
Nice. At first, this line threw me off:

I started off on my bike just across from Tioga Pass at 6:45AM and headed up the pass right away,

I was thinking you were parked up high, perhaps near Ellery Lake or the lodge. But now! The dude cranked from Lee Vining. Stout outing. Yeah, I've only done a couple of "Kropp's" as I call them--fully human powered ascents. Thanks for sharing.

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