Trip Report
Lower Cathedral Rock: Gym Climber's Guide to the East Buttress (IV 5.10c)
Friday March 28, 2014 6:52pm
“I can't believe I'm living the best version of my life inside a dream adventure - n4ver fail to try to succeed even if you think your goal is reality inside your own mind, in a dream. Pyramid lasers.”

-Vitaliy M, Jan 2014

A week earlier a few friends simul-climbed EB of Lower Cathedral in two pitches and in two hours. Than they proceeded to simul the East Buttress of Middle and NEB of Higher Cathedral. Likely made it to the pizza deck WAY before dark. So if you are one of those hardcore people, and are not a gym climber like me, you do not need a BD#4 and can skip reading this report altogether! But if you are bored of repeating the same two Valley classics, place EB of Lower Cathedral HIGH on your tick list!

Credit: Vitaliy M.
Lower Cathedral as seen from the North Buttress of Middle. Fissure beck is a left leaning prominent dihedral to the left of the east buttress proper. GNAR!

First two pitches of the climb. HELLA DOPE DUDE!

Christiano climbing pitch 1 (5.8 - full value). PSYCHED!

Reid say 5.8, I say your gf won't like it bro. OG CHIMNEY TRASHIN!

Yo Tacotruck, my bro and I were psyched to send the gnar on the first Sunday of Spring. Usually I like to go big on a Saturday, but da East Buttress seemed simple on paper Reid dropped in 1857. For some reason I forgot that technical ratings in Reid’s guide don’t usually show how sustained, difficult or scary a climb is. Also, the topo suggested there are no bolted cracks or bolted belay stations for convenience, I was hoping it was an error due to it being outdated, and decided to leave the power drill behind. When I climbed the North Buttress of Middle Cathedral pitches that got a 5.9 rating in Reid's felt like a solid 5.10 and the DNB (5.11a R in ST guide) seems like a reasonably simul-climbable hike with a little 5.10b crux per topo. I am not trying to say EB of Lower is a sand-bag central or that it is harder than The Rostrum, but if you are used to Supertopos and are using a Reid guide for the first time, don’t expect the "5.8 chimney” to feel nice and fuzzy like the one on NEB. : ) Since you crushed the Serenity-Sons link up with your girlfriend, don’t think of EB as a step down, this route is worth doing, has incredible views and is one of the best 5.10 multi-pitch routes in the Valley! Even though it is not YET retro-bolted.

Me leading 5.10a fists. Pretty steep! Perma draws would be appreciated. Cam got in a way of my jam at the crux and I had to do a lay-back move. #RAD

I can live with this view...would be sweet to cut a few more handcracks there! #GOBIG! #SPLITTERWEATHER

Christiano looking for bolts at the base of the Fissure Beck...SOME SICK CRUSHING!!

The climb has a 20-120 minute approach, which depends on your fitness and how lost you get bushwhacking through the forest. On the way back we followed the trail all the way down and had much more fun than in the morning. The route takes a natural line up the East Buttress (duh!) by connecting two prominent left facing dihedrals and some wandering terrain up higher. Cristiano destroyed me in Rock Paper Scissors for the second time in two days and took the first pitch, a 5.8 chimney. I was lucky to lose this game since instead of a bit runout pitch one and Fissure Beck I had the two glory 5.10s - 5.10a ‘fists’ pitch and the 5.10c ‘stemming’ crux. Single BD#4 camalot was the largest piece we brought, but for those who want to sew it up BD#6 (BETA ALERT) will make life easier on pitch one and in the Fissure Beck.

Me stemming before the 10c crux. This pitch is no Lunatic Fringe or Catchy! SENDIN!

"Hey where are we? You sure this Reid dude climbed the same route?" WHACK BETA CRUXIN BRO

I can make a banana into a pudding! RAD!

Massive face of Middle Cathedral - only thing that's missing is permadraws. RE$peCT DUDE

The climbing continued to be sustained, interesting and adventurous through both the lower and higher dihedrals. I had a little f-up in the crux section of second pitch, when I placed a cam in a spot for a perfect jam, but a strenuous lie-back move got me over the crux. Cristiano ran the rope for 60 meters and got us to the base of the crux. Even though Fissure Beck is just a 5.9 on the topo, remember, 5.9 used to be the hardest grade that people free climbed! The climbing continued to be challenging and fun! If I was leading, I think it would take a lot longer than it did. Cristiano did not have a piece (or a power drill) to protect the wide undercling but did a great job moving past it with confidence. A few loose rocks were in the way, but easily avoided. While following, I crushed the crap out of the runout climbing, on top rope, and took the 5.10c crux. Possibly because it was intimidating, and I wasn’t great at controlling my fear, I made it look like a 5.12d, at least. The battle started with me trying to chimney a stemming corner, which created some original movement and required me to come up with a way to flip a 180 without flipping upside down on Cristiano’s head. I crawled past a few spots that I thought could be the crux, but hit the real crux like deer in the headlights. "A one move wonder," it was called by some guy on

Pitch after the big ledges was supposed to be super easy, but I found double roofs :)

First of the double roofs with the next one above. Good climbing through them. SICK!

Christiano climbing over a giant hollow flake. MEGAGNAR!

Expecting some decent edges on the face I was frustrated to find nothing where my left foot would stick. After a few half hearted attempts and wasting time on trying to come up with creative moves that were not there, I decided to commit to the one that I thought could be possible. Grabbing a crimp with my left and trying to use a very poor fistjam with my right I moved up. My left foot blew and I was close to taking a HUGE whipper onto a blue alien (BETA ALERT - thank me later, pizza would be appreciated) which was all the way down by my chin! I was gripped. Sharma-like “SSSSAAAAAAH!!!” escaped from my lungs and likely scared the sh#t out of some dudes bolting new lines on Middle Cathedral. This is what TRAD climbing is all about. When I sport climb I am usually intimidated when I have to do the crux without the security of a cam above my bucket. Committed to the sequence I passed the crux to a solid jam. By this point my last piece of rock pro was likely below my feet, and a fall here could be deadly. Terrain above was much easier and compared to the crux, I was moving with a speed of light. Over a big hollow flake and a giant roof, I ended the pitch at a huge ledge above.

Christiano on the summit. SICK SEND BRO!

Thinking about cutting cracks, chiseling and placing perma-draws. Life is good....

NW Face of Middle Cathedral

From there Cristiano took us to a series of big ledges and we moved right and down-climbed a little closer to the prow of the Buttress. Next pitch did not have a rating in the topo, but I found double roofs with a really old piton fixed in the second. The climbing through these roofs seemed difficult from the bottom, but turned out to be fun and secure. Next, Cristiano climbed over a giant hollow white flake (BETA ALERT), some cool chicken heads and death block pulling. We simul climbed a little before switching leads and unroping on easier terrain. We did not try to break speed records and went easy all day but got to the summit in 7 hours after starting the route. Both of us climbed every pitch clean and free. Someone on MP suggests climbing the route in 5 pitches, we did it in 7 or 8 and thought it is much more reasonable for a few gym climbers. The views from the top were breath taking – massive faces of Middle Cathedral and El Capitan showed off thousands of feet of great rock. All ready to be rap bolted for convenience of modern generation. Stovelegs crack looked beautiful and ready for a chiseled continuation to the summit, with perma draws of course, climbing to the top aint slabby! West Face of the Sentinel, NW Face of HD and the Three Brothers looked warm and inviting from the distance. Even though we had multiple hours of daylight left, we did not stay on the summit for much longer than 15 minutes. We wanted to be stunned by this view once again when we come back to chisel a better variation to Beggar’s Buttress! ; )

If you are HARDCORE like my friends who did the route in two hours, some nuts, doubles from green alien to handsize, and the monkeys are sendin! Don't forget to tag the other Cathedrals on the hike to the pizza deck.
Valley Hardmen do it in 5 pitches with some simul climbing. They will "pass the .10a fists and the Fisher Beck without even knowing it." And think of the crux as a one move wonder.
Light like me? Bring doubles from green alien to BD #3. Blue alien protects the crux well and #4 is nice to have. Most likely last of the three Major Cathedral Rocks to tick, so go do it, it is not worse than the other two!
Even lighter? Bring a BD#6 and you should feel secure.
Don't think this is an outing for you? Harden the f.....up
This report was inspired by people who like to whine on the internet about ethics, quote themselves on Facebook and over-exaggerate every little hike they take in the wilderness. Hope you skipped reading it and checked the photos only. If you didn't you wasted a lot of your time!
To understand some of the sarcasm that is hidden (by hidden I mean like in your face) in this report please see the links above and friend request a few outdoor male models on Facebook.
and of course

Disaster meets Glamour - the storm is brewing above Yosemite Canyon. #SPLITTERWEATHERBRO


  Trip Report Views: 5,367
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

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Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Mar 28, 2014 - 06:58pm PT
Way to send the gnar bro's!

+1 for plaid pj's

Nor Cal
  Mar 28, 2014 - 06:59pm PT
bump, this is a good route. thanks for posting. the crux pitch is a little awkward and spicy

Trad climber
  Mar 28, 2014 - 07:42pm PT
Thanks for reminding me about the "other" cathedral!
The evolution of the supertopo TR... into sarcasm, parody, a reflection of society's degradation. Very PO-MO.

The Hot Kiss On the End of a Wet Fist
  Mar 28, 2014 - 07:58pm PT
Cool.. Did this with Scott Burk in 1989. I thought it was burly! John Bachar on-sight free soloed it and got a lot of value for the money according to him. Thanks for posting the photos as it brought back a lot of memories..
PSP also PP

Trad climber
  Mar 28, 2014 - 07:59pm PT
Tucker dragged me up that my first week of climbing and scared the sh#t out of me. one rope and no headlamps and down gunsight gully in the dark. Never forget standing on the tree for the belay on the crux pitch.
Flip Flop

Earth Planet, Universe
  Mar 28, 2014 - 08:03pm PT
Is this a climber's forum?

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Mar 28, 2014 - 08:07pm PT
Thanks dudes . . . Way to get some.
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
  Mar 28, 2014 - 08:17pm PT
Hella cool.
Thanks, Vitaliy.

Mountain climber
San Francisco, California
  Mar 28, 2014 - 09:17pm PT
+2 for the p.j.'s! hahaha! sweet send, Sir!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Mar 28, 2014 - 10:16pm PT
nice one V... lower, middle, upper...

in a blur

El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Mar 28, 2014 - 10:28pm PT
My favorite tr of yours, just read captions.


Trad climber
Hustle City
  Mar 28, 2014 - 10:36pm PT

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Mar 28, 2014 - 10:48pm PT
Gneiss & Gnarley! I do enjoy your trip reports.

Can't wait for you & Donini to adventure together! (don't believe anything he says.)

  Mar 28, 2014 - 11:55pm PT
that was fun to read. thanks!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 29, 2014 - 12:48am PT
By the way, the topo we used is not at all bad. It would be pretty difficult to get lost in those two giant dihedrals. Above that one has options most of which are not too difficult, but a bit loose in places. Still fine though. Good route.

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Mar 29, 2014 - 12:52am PT
Yay for trip reports and pajamas!

T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Mar 29, 2014 - 02:13am PT

Trad climber
  Mar 29, 2014 - 04:42am PT
Thanks and sounds like FUN
Nick Zmyewski

Big Wall climber
  Mar 29, 2014 - 09:02am PT
Awesome dude. Somehow you made this sound way more epic than that Ho-Chi-Minh route you did a little while ago. Awesome pants by the way. I can't wait to get out there! In May, I'm coming out for 2 weeks and want to do Salathe. I want to free as many of the 5.10 pitches as I can on the way up.

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Mar 29, 2014 - 01:59pm PT
Well done. That climb is actually one of my favorites...
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Mar 29, 2014 - 03:56pm PT
Way to SHRED the GNAR!!!!
Thanks foe another TR Vittles!!!!

Can you add some bickering political commentary........NOT ;)
Flip Flop

Earth Planet, Universe
  Mar 29, 2014 - 08:36pm PT
Bump for climbing content.
looks easy from here

Ben Lomond, CA
  Mar 29, 2014 - 10:12pm PT
Sick bro! Looks like some heinous jams there. #ILOVEJUGS

Awesome report. The Taco seems to have been super serial lately.

Trad climber
Shawangunks, New York
  Mar 29, 2014 - 10:18pm PT
Vitaly crushes almost as well as he writes. Vitaly and Bisharat are the only two climbing writers I look forward to reading.


Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
  Mar 29, 2014 - 10:56pm PT

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Mar 29, 2014 - 11:01pm PT
You NEVER cease to amaze me.
Thanks again for a wonderful TR and pics.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
  Mar 30, 2014 - 10:07am PT
I like your style.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Mar 30, 2014 - 11:27am PT
Well done.

#SickSend #Rad #Woot!

Trad climber
Sunnyvale, CA
  Mar 30, 2014 - 11:51am PT
"Don't think this is an outing for you? Harden the f.....up"

let's not forget to attribute the second sentence above to the appropriate Australian philosopher/thinker:


Social climber
Southern Arizona
  Mar 30, 2014 - 12:04pm PT
Nice read. Just gym climbers? (Yeah, sure.)


Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Mar 30, 2014 - 12:14pm PT
Nice work. I think I need to start infusing more hyperbole and exclamation points into my climbing.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 31, 2014 - 04:14am PT
Wow thank you for so many positive responses. I was afraid people would not get my humor (as usual). Glad you guys liked it! A few more should come soon too. Lately I had a lot of stories to share haha.

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Mar 31, 2014 - 05:17am PT
this tr makes me want to climb with you- or at least go fix some perma draws. sendin

  Mar 31, 2014 - 11:44am PT




  Mar 31, 2014 - 11:53am PT



Stevee B

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
  Mar 31, 2014 - 01:05pm PT
Shred that nature breh. Totally killed that nature breh. Ripped it.
Nice TR, V. Digging the blog!
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
  Mar 31, 2014 - 02:05pm PT
I was afraid people would not get my humor (as usual).

This was humorous?
Crap, now I'll have to read it all over again!

Thanks, Vitaliy. You rock.

Oakland, CA
  Mar 31, 2014 - 02:50pm PT
Putting your banana in a ziplock? Pffft light duty, ziplock = aid, pocket or go home, pocket paste 4 life.

Seriously though, feck yeah on the TR. Did you eyeball Soul Sacrifice while you were over there????? OMG looks stout better dump the pj's and Prana up.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 31, 2014 - 03:05pm PT
Yeah I think we did see Soul Sacrifice on the descent on the way down. Looked clean and steep. Might have to make my way up there sometime.
David D.

Trad climber
  Mar 31, 2014 - 03:08pm PT
V, you write consistently stellar trip reports and take beautiful pictures. Your progress and dedication is inspiring to watch. But, this TR right here might just be one of your best works yet. BRAVO. #boltedcracks #gymclimbing #softman

Social climber
San Francisco
  Mar 31, 2014 - 04:38pm PT
Sweet report dood! I guess I just need to go crush serenity/sons with my girlfriend. I knew I was missing something on my road from plastic prince to yosemite hardman. By the way, when I climbed this route, I ended up going a few feet right of the pitch with double roofs off the big ledge. There is a nice hidden splitter there that's covered in lichen. It joins the pitch you climbed just above the roofs via a horizontal crack traverse. As far as I remember neither of those options matched the Reid topo. So, which one of you is the f***er wearing pajamas? (-;

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Mar 31, 2014 - 06:23pm PT
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
  Mar 31, 2014 - 06:29pm PT
So I looked again. It turns out there was a Sarcasm Warning right there, but I didn't notice the first time.
Damn fine print!!

Social climber
  Mar 31, 2014 - 06:43pm PT
Guys. I bow to your kick-assness. Great TR. What's a hash tag????

Social climber
  Mar 31, 2014 - 07:25pm PT
Ahhhhh s...... I forgot the badump bump




Trad climber
Chatsworth, California
  Mar 31, 2014 - 08:45pm PT
Two Wild and Crazy Guys!

Oakland, CA
  Mar 7, 2016 - 02:06pm PT

Trad climber
  Mar 7, 2016 - 02:16pm PT
Thanks for the bump. I enjoyed this report very much. Will definitely be studying all the beta alerts when the time comes.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 7, 2016 - 03:21pm PT
Wish you went on diet #BROHAN!
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  May 4, 2016 - 10:57am PT
Bump for another great TR
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