Trip Report
North Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock recon TR 6/1/08
Sunday June 22, 2008 6:40pm
North Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock recon TR 6/1/08

Scott (nutjob) and I decided to give this route a try. We could only go on a Sunday and both having to work Monday morning we decided in a fit of rationality that we would not have an epic. The climb is rated 10a in the Reid guide but a friend had told me the first 5.9 section is at least 10b and probably the technical crux. Mr. Baba also said in a thread a while ago that the route was 10b/c. We started climbing at 5:50.

Here’s a picture of the first pitch.
I lead this short pitch. The idea was if it was very easy I would just keep going and we’d simul-climb the first three pitches. P2 and P3 are both rated class 4. However, it was just interesting enough that I set up a quick belay on a tree. Scott soon took off on the P2 and 3, which we did simul.

Here’s a pic somewhere on this part.

Lower Cathedral Rock

Here’s a picture looking up P4. This was a fun and varied 5.7.

There is some beautiful golden rock in this area.

Here’s a picture of P5. there is a long class two ledge that turns upward into some scrappy but fun 5.6. It ends on top of a large pedestal that is large enough for many people could camp on.

We hadn’t been pushing very hard but still we finished the first five pitches in two and a half hours. The next pitch was reported to have the crux lieback. It starts with a small traverse with exposure as you leave the pedestal. At the end of the traverse you climb up to the crux. I didn’t get a picture of this section but the climbing before and after is pretty cool. I aided the lieback section by stepping up in sling a couple of times.
Here’s a picture looking down at Scott on the traverse.

Here’s a picture looking up from the P6 belay.
There are a few 5.9 moves right off the belay that will land you on the belayer if you pop. This definitely makes it more interesting for both climbers. The Roper guide breaks this pitch into two and we found out why. After the 5.9 you are soon swimming in an oak bush for about fifteen or twenty feet and then climb what Roper calls an easy chimney. This “easy” chimney will catch your attention. It also kind of winds around and we got the rope stuck. Scott anchored the rope and I self belayed for a time while he rapped down and cleaned a bunch of pieces. By the time he ascended back up, put me on belay and I cleaned the pitch it was 12:00. We decided to have a leisurely lunch and think things over. We were on huge Tree Ledge.

Here’s a picture of Scott on tree ledge.

We decided to climb one more pitch and then rap. The next pitch goes up and right on some easy flakes to 5.7 lieback. This lieback is steeper and more sustained than the 5.7 liebacks on West Country and P4 of EB of MC. I had a little bit of consternation when I kicked a badly placed piece out and was briefly looking at a 30 foot fall. A better placement was available a little higher, thank God!

Here’s a picture looking up toward the P8 belay.

Partners in climb!

Here’s me rapping this pitch.

The rapping went uneventfully. I had the 7 mil in the pack but the 65 meter single rope rappels worked fine. There are rap station galore. We backed most of them up with new slings. Mr. El Capitan kept his eye on us to make sure we were OK.

Here’s a picture of me about to come back across the traverse to the pedestal.
There is a bolt with a sling you can see above and in front of me on the corner. It’s not needed on the climb up and so was a bit of a mystery but it’s nice to grab on the rappel. Mystery solved. We got back to the car with plenty of daylight. Green enchiladas at El Agave rounded out the day.
See you on the rock.

  Trip Report Views: 2,214
About the Author
Zander is a trad climber from Berkeley.

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Social climber
  Jun 22, 2008 - 10:45pm PT
hey there zander... say, great looking rock pics... thanks for the trip report...

yep, good looking, rock...

A place where Blue is the new Black...
  Jun 22, 2008 - 10:47pm PT
Zander, there were a couple of scenics in there that were downright gorgeous.

And why weren't you wearing your spiffy Hawaiian shirt like Scott? Talk about a camera-magnet. ;-)

Thanks for another great TR.

Oakland, CA
  Jun 23, 2008 - 02:31am PT

Thanks for the cool TR, I enjoyed it. How many more pitches did you have above you from your highpoint?

Only other question I had: you say his name was Nutjob, that does look like Nutjob, he definitely has the fashion sense of Nutjob - but would Nutjob ever really opt out of the epic? Doesn't he opt IN for epics? The man thrives on epics and desperation! The mark of a great partner.


Author's Reply  Jun 23, 2008 - 10:07am PT
Hey Fattrad,
One of my coworkers did the route about then too. She said they had a huge haul bag and bivied on Tree Ledge. It snowed during the night. The next morning she lead the 5.7 lieback above the ledge. She was climbing well so she didn't bang in any pro. Her feet slipped off the icy rock and she took a pretty good wipper. Even though she hurt herself they continued to the top. She said,"It was still fun, sorta."

Hey L,
I've got to get one of those shirts. Maybe some wild lycra pants too. I think I'd climb better.

Le Bruce,
I'm pretty sure nutjob is still recovering from the last epic. As it fades from his memory he'll be ready for another. Or maybe I'm just a bad influence.


Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 24, 2008 - 02:17am PT
Zander, I can be temporarily corrupted into a casual trip, but don't expect that to rub off on me. Lessons learned: stick with Saturdays, they invite epics. Thanks for posting this and preserving some scrap of my poor memory! It really was a fun outing. Perfect medicine for epic recovery, but triggered the jonesy for the next one. And before anyone gives me crap on the aid mitts, those tape gloves have some miles on them and just got a little thicker every trip. They're a little nasty now, but I still use 'em in the gym.

Have no fear Le_Bruce, I've got an epic penciled in for the 4th of July weekend, or maybe the weekend after that. It's got your name all over it, and it's called Hawkman's Revenge!

We will find what's left of my camera, I will post photographic evidence of our first debacle, and we will shine triumphantly as the most glorious idiots to blaze the lower brother that day. It's a damn good time to be alive. Price of gasoline and questionable Pakistani judicial decisions to bar popular leaders from parliament be damned.

edit for L: I've got plenty more where that shirt came from!

edit for Zander: lycra? That just reminds me of leg warmers and jazzercize (I wasn't in the climbing world yet).

edit for Le_Bruce: you must pledge to bring the most atrocious eyesores that qualify as clothing, and my duds will still most surely pummel your eyeballs and claim easy victory. The electric salmon and puce gauntlet is thrown.

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  Feb 24, 2009 - 12:19pm PT
Bump for a cool TR on an interesting climb!


Trad climber
berkeley ca
  May 6, 2009 - 04:07pm PT
Sweet looks cool! I am thinking about trying this next month.


Trad climber
Fresno CA
  May 6, 2009 - 05:01pm PT
Thanks for bumping. I was only on the climb once, in 1974 on the July 4 weekend. We'd driven up from LA, had very little sleep, a lot of heat, and were ready to sack out on the top of the Right Hand Rabit Ear (the pedestal to which Zander refers, low on the route). We opted for the Meadows for the rest of the weekend. I wonder if 35 years is too long between attempts?

August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
  May 6, 2009 - 05:13pm PT
I thought this was a pretty fun route and I have always been a little suprised it doesn't get much traffic. The first few pitches have a bit of scrambling/bush wacking, but it is not too bad (would hate to have a haul bag) and the pitches above are great. There is a little dirt/loose rock (more traffic would help clean it up), but the climbing is great.

Super short approach. The descent is longer. We climbed up and over higher, which is a bit of a trudge, but it is pretty straight forward (at least if you have already done Braile book or NEB). I think this is better than the catwalk. Which besides being a bit/loose scary knocks rocks down on the parties on Central Pillar.
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  May 6, 2009 - 05:22pm PT
Good TR! Missed it on its first lap around the Taco.

This route might have been my first multipitch climb in the Valley..... and my first leads maybe ever.... partner took a fall at the 5.9 lieback above the "rabbit ear" thingy and dislocated his shoulder, though it went back in pretty quick. I got to lead all the rest of the pitches. If I recall, the descent was pretty hit and miss and we got back down pretty late. Finding the start of the route burned an hour or more too. Good route!
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  May 6, 2009 - 06:00pm PT
Great climb.

I too thought that the lie back pitch down low was harder then 5.9.

If I remember, you lie back to the left, have to pinch the arete, then swing to the right around the arete to throw your hip into a squeeze. It was pretty wild, the way I did it.

The 10a up higher took some pepper too, if I remember.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  May 6, 2009 - 08:12pm PT
I also missed this it's first time - Very fun. Thanks for reviving!
dee ee

Mountain climber
Of THIS World (Planet Earth)
  May 6, 2009 - 08:46pm PT
I did this route in '79 with SH and we had a great adventure. It rained hard but briefly and I had to do some aid on one pitch while the rock was wet when we were pretty far up.

Author's Reply  May 6, 2009 - 10:27pm PT
What squirrel dug up this nut!
Three things.
It is so cool up there.
I dream and plan about how to lead free that "5.9"
I'm going up there again this year.
(whatever that means, but i like it)

Trad climber
Hustle City
  May 7, 2009 - 12:27am PT
Bumpity BumP!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  May 7, 2009 - 01:29am PT
First time I did the route, I fell upside down and backwards a long ways on the crux thin corner/face pitch up high. Then had to relead it...

When I went back a second time, that pitch still got my attention



  May 7, 2009 - 01:16pm PT
I've done this route three times and its been a different adventure every time. Big route!
Thanks for the pics.
Bob J.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  May 7, 2009 - 01:23pm PT
I think it would be a good route to do three times. It's big for sure, but it's pretty fast.

When I went, we took the cat walk off, a real adventure for sure.

I'm thinking over the top might be fun too.

Bob, on that 5.9 lieback, does my description above sound right?
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
  May 7, 2009 - 01:52pm PT
Yea, I think over the top is the way to come down. I thought it was going to seem like a big deal, but it only took about 20 minutes from the top of north buttress to get to the saddle between higher and the valley rim. From that point, it is the same descent as NEB, which isn't too big of deal either (at least if you know where to leave the boulders and pick up the forest trail).

The catwalk is more direct, but I doubt it saves that much time (not to mention that the catwalk gives you another chance to bite the Big One). And I've been at the base of Central when parties have come across the catwalk, not fun...).

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 7, 2009 - 02:18pm PT
Duuuuuude. I had forgotten the details of this trip, the report was just enough to bring it back :)

Zander man, I'm hankerin' for adventure again.

Le_bruce, you're gonna serve me up a big heaping plate of it next week on Hawkman's Revenge! Yippeee! (only a year late). I am ready to fly like an angry ninja snortin' angel dust.

Revisiting North Butt of Middle is high on my list of day-long outings that I'd like for this summer (along with YPB, Arrowhead Arete, Geek Tower Center, The Peanut, and revisiting an old adventure near Via Aqua )

Trad climber
  May 7, 2009 - 08:01pm PT
Bob your 5.9 description sounds correct. I did it several years ago with a mini haul bag and took two days. It was fun and in the shade and definately not crowded. We didn't see anybody in two days. The 5.8 near the top is a bit awkward.

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 2, 2011 - 01:06pm PT
Zander, when are we hopping back on this bad boy? It's been long enough that I mostly forgot whatever were the hard parts, and it's all just a gentle warm glow in retrospect.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 30, 2011 - 11:38pm PT
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