North Face 5.4

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Eichorn's Pinnacle

Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

Trip Report
Eichorn Pinnacle photo TR. Not dialup safe.
Sunday May 27, 2007 8:50pm
So I decided on a solo daytrip to the meadows yesterday. Easy climbing. North Face of Eichorn Pinnacle followed by the Cathedral Peak summit were on the agenda, and maybe others if conditions permitted.

As I start the hike I look up. Oh my, I wonder if I could find granite to climb a little closer? Too hard for today though...

In a few minutes I glimpse my destination:

Looking around, this one shows conditions on the NW Butt of Tenaya Peak. That would have been a fun way start the approach to the Eichorn Pinnacle. And it looks climbable. The snow streak below the roof midway would push you into doing a friction traverse under the roof. Not exactly hard (at least if everything is dry) but not my choice for a solo. If I'd only worn my brown pants...

And looking back towards Tenaya Lake:

Here's a waterfall, as I follow the Lower Cathedral Lake spillway up:

At this point there were granite slabs to the left of the stream, dirt hiking on the right. If I were backpacking I'd be on the right of the stream here to avoid this crux of the hike. Yes it's slick-as-snot where it's shiny. My approach shoes have stealth rubber, else I would have changed to rock shoes.

Getting somewhere now. Here's where the water exits Lower Cathedral Lake.

And the lake itself. It took me an hour to reach here from the car, and it wasn't a fast pace. I stopped to take lots of pix, and even to delete a lot of old ones from the camera when it filled up. This is a least twice as fast as I could have gotten here on the John Muir Trail at the same pace.

I'm already on Cathedral Peak, and I think into the approach to the pinnacle at this point. the usual way seems to be 3rd class slabs, but I had done plenty of slab hiking, and chose a 4th and some 5th class route to the pinnacle. The crux of that approach was a little harder than the crux of the north face.

My way up doesn't look popular. In 2 separate places I found no-longer-attached-to-anything rap slings with biners. One was an ancient rusty Liberty biner. This stuff had been there a long time!

There was a party of 4 above me. Leader was at the 1st belay when I got there, and the first follower was traversing to it from the side (on belay). The leader was taking 3 beginners out which seems really cool. I think he picked a great route for it.

The move off the belay was committing, and looked improbable for a solo. The rest of the short North Face was fun too. A stellar route for an onsight solo.

I signed the summit register. The only one I got that day. I had forgotten that the Cathedral Peak summit register & associated bolts were removed.

Looked around and took more pix. Here you can see the north & south summits of Matthes Crest past some of the Echo Peaks.

Rapped off the Summit with a long 6.5mm cord, a DMM Bugette, and a long sling for a harness. Used a leg wrap too to add friction, although I've rapped this way without. The bulk of my pack was the rap cord, and it's tempting to leave it behind, but this is one easy route that I'd rather rap than solo downclimb.

From the base of the pinnacle I made my way along the summit ridge to the true Summit. From my perspective here, it looked like the summit block is the skinny spire in the middle. Looked harder than I wanted to climb. The actual summit is the farthest peak.

Looking back at Eichorn Pinnacle.

I was thinking about climbing Coxcomb & the Unicorn afterwards, maybe traversing from the echo peaks. After descending the scree slope on the east of cat peak, I walked towards the echo peaks ridge to scope it out a little closer, but I decided against because of the snow.

Here is the Coxcomb from cat peak. See the cornice on the ridge to the west.

And the Unicorn:

One of many marmots by the base of the SE Butt of cat peak:

After I decided not to climb further, I hiked down the budd creek trail, eventually going to tenaya lake for a nap, before the drive home. By the lake there was beautiful warm sun, and just enough breeze to keep the mosquitos away. Heaven on earth?

  Trip Report Views: 5,197
About the Author
davidji is a social climber from CA.

Standing Strong

Trad climber
snowshoe thompson history trail
  May 27, 2007 - 09:06pm PT
it sounds like you had a gorgeous day. i'm glad to read of it, thank you! the meadows are so pretty at this time of year. it really is a wonderful haven up there. i wish i could see more of the pics but i'm on a dial a ride, so i'm looking forward to viewing them when i'm on a faster connection.



Boulder climber
Institute of Better Bouldering-DirtbagDad Division
  May 28, 2007 - 01:07am PT
Thanks! Beautiful photos and I enjoyed the narrative.


Trad climber
  May 28, 2007 - 11:00am PT
Very nice!

Gary Carpenter

SF Bay Area
  May 28, 2007 - 12:50pm PT

Great photos!!

That's my favorite approach to Cathedral Lakes.

See you Thursday.

Social climber
Author's Reply  May 28, 2007 - 03:33pm PT
Thanks all!

Welcome back t*r!

Gary, I really appreciate the suggestion. Ever since I camped at the lake with my daughter a few years ago, and noticed how far we had hiked, relative to our distance from the highway, I thought about a more direct approach. How did your climb go?

Here's a shot of cat peak from the south. The angle looks off based on the trees. I tried rotating the image a few degrees but it was disorienting. For anyone who hasn't see Cathedral Peak from that side. Eichorn Pinnacle is to the left.

I also included one of Budd Lake with the Coxcomb above. A lot of snow to cross on the usual approach to Matthes Crest or the Echo Peaks.

John Muir wrote:
...the wonderful mountain called Cathedral Peak is in sight. From every point of view it shows marked individuality. It is a majestic temple of one stone, hewn from living rock, and adorned with spires and pinnacles in regular cathedral style. The dwarf pines on the roof look like mosses. I hope some time to climb it to say my prayers and hear the stone sermons.

And later (after doing the first ascent):
This I may say is the first time I have been at church in


Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
  May 28, 2007 - 08:31pm PT
Nicely done!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 28, 2007 - 08:38pm PT
nice report David... love wandering around back there anytime for any reason

  May 28, 2007 - 10:23pm PT
Thanks David,
Great report. I went that way when my younger son was sixteen. We were in a light rain and we started up slabs to the left way to early. We ended up in these steep deep diagonal troughs, maybe 10 feet across and 15 feet deep. Super cool. We got to the ridge a long way from Cathedral but we just kept going and fooling around. Never did make it to the peak but what a great day. It's just wonderful back there.

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  May 28, 2007 - 11:01pm PT
How is the snow situation on the standard climbers approach to the SE Buttress? Want to go solo this route this season.

Just livin' the dream
  May 28, 2007 - 11:50pm PT
Whoa David! What an excellent TR! Those photos made me homesick for mountains like you wouldn't believe. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us!

Social climber
Author's Reply  May 29, 2007 - 12:18pm PT
Essentially no snow along the usual approach to the SE Buttress.

Did you guys veer off around the dome between Medlicott Dome and the creek? Everywhere you look there's stuff to explore.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  May 29, 2007 - 03:00pm PT
Congrats on a spectacular aventure David, and thanks for sharing it with us.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 1, 2011 - 01:32pm PT
What a classic looking route.

Oakland, CA
  Nov 1, 2011 - 01:41pm PT
...eventually going to tenaya lake for a nap, before the drive home. By the lake there was beautiful warm sun, and just enough breeze to keep the mosquitos away. Heaven on earth?

Yes. Great writing and pics. Love Muir's line about the pines on the rock looking "like mosses."

mike m, cheers to you for bumping all of this excellent content. Had missed most of it the first time around.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Nov 1, 2011 - 01:47pm PT
Looks like Mike M is on the TR bump patrol....not that there's anything wrong with that!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 1, 2011 - 07:32pm PT
Very nice Job!

  Nov 1, 2011 - 11:59pm PT
Woo Hoo! Historic bump.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 2, 2011 - 11:52am PT
I figure rather than complaining about not much climbing content on ST I would do something. Lots of great stories on here. Also proctoring tests all national standardized tests all week gives me a fair bit of time to surf.

Has anyone noticed that there seems to be more climbing threads on the front page as of late regardless of those that I have bumped.

Trad climber
  Aug 2, 2012 - 03:23am PT
nice report headin up there next month and gonna try and definetly gonna get this one done
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Aug 2, 2016 - 07:54am PT
Bump for climbing content
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
  Aug 2, 2016 - 10:07am PT
Boy, that triggered some memories! That's one of my favourite places on earth. Haven't been back for maybe ten years, but now I've just gotta go! Thanks!

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 2, 2016 - 10:32am PT
Seeing your post, Wayne, reminded me of the first time I climbed the two in 1969. We were camping in White Wolf, and spent one day doing Eichorn's, Cathedral, some Echo Peaks and Unicorn. When I got back to Fresno, there was an article in the Fresno Bee about the then-new Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service, and pictures of you climbing Cathedral Peak. Now, 47 years later, I still think of you when I think of one of my favorite places.

Eichorn's Pinnacle - North Face 5.4 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The unreal summit of Eichorn Pinnacle.
Photo: Randy Spurrier
Other Routes on Eichorn's Pinnacle
Eichorn's Pinnacle - West Pillar 5.9 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click for details.
West Pillar, 5.9
Eichorn's Pinnacle
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West Pillar as seen from the base.