Regular Route 5.10b

  • Currently 5.0/5

Third Pillar of Dana

Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

Trip Report
Not Another Third Pillar of Dana TR! (GoPro TR)
Saturday February 15, 2014 4:56pm
If you want a report with pictures, visit my website, since SuperTopo has deprecated displaying photos from off-site.

P4 projecting flake on the Third Pillar of Dana. 5.10a fingers pass it...
P4 projecting flake on the Third Pillar of Dana. 5.10a fingers pass it on the left, or a 5.8 squeeze climbs behind it on the right.
Credit: PellucidWombat

After one failed attempt in 2012 and several attempts that never got underway (due to partners, thunderstorms, etc.) at long last I finally got to take a serious crack at Third Pillar of Dana! Steph was a perfect partner for a wonderful climb!

We were up early, on the route early, and got back to the car just as the afternoon rain and lightning started, but we were still able to take our time and enjoy the climb. We got GoPro footage of the entire route for video project fun and celebrated 2 Pi day on top in an unusual way.

The climb felt surprisingly easy to me after the easier grade alpine climbing we had done throughout the week - perhaps due to better beta and immaculate granite? However, the 5.10a lieback near the end gave me trouble. Next time hopefully I can do it better!

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Looking down at Steph sitting on the exposed belay flake.

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P4 projecting flake.

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This is what you brought your offset brassies for. The piton at the 5.10b face crux is gone, but this placement is bomber. It would have been nice to be higher to better protect a fall moving to the side, so I added a blind cam placement a bit higher for my spider web of protection . . .

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Steph following the 5th and final pitch of the Third Pillar of Dana.

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Steph working the 5.9 fingers section on the 5th and final pitch of the Third Pillar of Dana.

There are many more photos of the climb, but I wanted to emphasize the video trip report for this climb. For more pictures and descriptive captions, see the Picasa Album.

GoPro Fun

So as I said, we got GoPro footage of the entire route, and I made a video trip report of the climb. The variations are below. Enjoy!

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On this web page, you must first start the video before the gear icon appears.

Third Pillar of Dana Highlights

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Our video trip report of the climb.

Third Pillar of Dana in Under 15 Min

[Click to View YouTube Video]
An earlier trip report iteration. I don't like it quite as much, but it has the entire route shown in high speed.

Third Pillar of Dana - Moonpies and Recap

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Just pure silliness.

Annotated Photos

Of course I can't let a trip report go by without these.

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The stacked rocks on the left are where you descend. The Third Pillar of Dana tops out on the high point on the right.

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Just after you leave the rib for the chute on the downclimb approach, traverse to this rock on your right. The notch in front leads to the shortcut descent gully, which is shorter and has more solid rock, though is cl. 3 instead of cl. 2.

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Close up of the 5th class portion of P1 of Third Pillar of Dana from the shortcut approach gully.

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Third Pillar of Dana seen from the base. You can see the optional first pitch on the left.

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Top of Third Pillar of Dana.

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Third Pillar of Dana from Tioga Pass Road a few miles up from Mobile Station. This is an extremely high resolution image, so I recommend you click to enlarge it and really enjoy the shot!

Personal Website
 Picasa Album: 2013-06-28 - Third Pillar of Dana w Steph Abegg
 Picasa Album: 2012-07-15 - Third Pillar of Dana Attempt w Stefan

  Trip Report Views: 5,684
About the Author
PellucidWombat is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.


Oakland, CA
  Feb 15, 2014 - 07:43pm PT
Swoooon and schwing every time for this route. Wish I could climb it right now.

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Feb 15, 2014 - 08:07pm PT
Thanks PW . . . hope your knee is feeling better.

  Feb 21, 2014 - 05:17pm PT
Such a beautiful location and climb.

Should be on every man and woman's list .....

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Feb 15, 2014 - 10:27pm PT


Just looking at Steph's GoPro footage,
Damn! That was cool. Really it just has everything.

I'm more than comfortable using stoppers (i.e. since the '70s), but the video highlights that they really are almost always slower and more difficult to clean. I haven't done the route, but is there a choice of going right where you(Steph) went left(edit) and took a fall(?)? That looked difficult.

Steph is from Seattle, right? Proud!

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Feb 15, 2014 - 09:26pm PT
Very nice, again.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
  Feb 15, 2014 - 10:01pm PT
Terrific thread here. Compliments!!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Feb 15, 2014 - 10:15pm PT
Just spectacular! You know how to push the envelope on TRs.
Recently met one of your climbing friends in a Yosemite at the Mtn Room....good time had by all!


Trad climber
  Feb 15, 2014 - 10:24pm PT
She climbs REALLY fast! Hans has got some competition...
Incredible endurance to place, and clean, all that gear...
Yep, that LB at the top is anorexic...especially without girlfingers...
little Z

Trad climber
un cafetal en Naranjo
  Feb 16, 2014 - 12:34am PT
The King Of TRs Appreciation: PellucidWombat

can there be any question who is the King? Long live the King! Long live the Third Pilar!

looks like you had great weather. I remember freezing my ass off there in October.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Feb 16, 2014 - 01:23am PT
haven't done the route, but is there a choice of going right where you(Steph) went left(edit) and took a fall(?)? That looked difficult.

Well, as far as the lower face crux where I went left and Steph went right, I think it might actually be easier to go right. SuperTopo showed going left and I couldn't tell what I would get into going right. A fall might be better protected going right, but going left, it really is just one or two thin moves before you can really get a good hand to pull back on.

On the lieback on P5, I started out going left, but halfway up, when I was placing a nut, I decided to give it an extra good test since the top third looked really tough in ways that I'm not so strong, and a ledge fall from the top could be really bad. I heard the flake groan and the nut popped out, bashing my knuckle open. So all of the blood was from my hand bleeding on the rock as I kept trying to go up left, but losing my nerve just before the point of real commitment (where Steph fell and hit the ledge from rope stretch).

I even tried taking & hanging on a higher piece to rest & be more ready for gunning it, or finding a final better piece, but 3 times after a bit of hanging and a few attempts where I backed off, the flake groaned, the nut popped, and I fell to the ledge. Naturally this didn't help my confidence in gunning it to the top! Seeing the gathering clouds and a party gaining on us below, I opted for the 'screw this, I'm aiding' option to just get it done! I wouldn't dare aid on the lieback flake since it expands and is very funky for placements (really only takes nuts), but the straight-in crack on the right was reliable for gear, so I just threw in some pieces, yarded on them, and stepped in some slings to get up. The crack on the right is steep and thin enough that it would be VERY tough.

Steph is from Seattle, right? Proud!

Technically no, but she's lived there since middle school, apart from a stint at Stanford for undergrad, so she's basically a Washingtonian.

Incredible endurance to place, and clean, all that gear...

And don't forget taking pictures! ;-)

On the lieback above the finger crack on the 5.10b part of P5. Getting into this thing was strange, but fun.

looks like you had great weather. I remember freezing my ass off there in October.

Almost perfect. However the party behind us might have caught some of that afternoon thunderstorm that rolled through. Some good reasons to get on this route very early besides beating the crowds:

1. It gets extremely early morning sunlight
2. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, you can't see them developing very well, and the crux climbing sections are high on the route when you're most likely to catch bad weather.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Feb 16, 2014 - 04:22am PT
You two are both as brilliant climbers and video shooters as TWO full moons in the summer (or in a dry winter).

I myself found a smashed Little Snickers bar in the hallway of Upper Middle tonight coming back from trying to shoot a non-visible (heavy cloud cover tonight) nearly-full moon out on the balcony, over the consumption of which I did not hesitate, but ate immediately I got back in the door.
It was as yummy as this TR is yummy.

Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Feb 17, 2014 - 05:15pm PT
GoPro and climbing are simply not made for one another, it's nauseating. Your pics are great, though.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Feb 18, 2014 - 03:03pm PT
Wondeful TR, Pellucid, have always been a fan of your work...
I did this climb with my main man, John Ferguson, back in the '80's, and our topo had it going at 5.9+/5.10-. Seemed like a lot of hard 10- to me at times, but John led some of the hard pitches that I was happy to follow. Bear in mind that this was a long time ago, I was stronger then, and my brain has since turned to mush so memory not so clear. We also got a very early start and beat the rain and the competition for the climb. Anyhow, i remember 6 pitches, so we must have done that lower alternative below your P1. I remember doing the 5.8 squeeze chimney on P3, but the traverse to the right was 9+ or 10- on our topo. Cool climbing though. On P4 I think we went to the right of that block where you show the 10B finger crack. I do remember all that crack climbing above as being pretty cool. My strongest memory was of that last move, the mantel onto the summit block - maybe the greatest last move on a climb I have ever done. Wonderful stroll down memory lane, thanks for the TR, pics, and video.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Feb 21, 2014 - 01:24pm PT
those are some sweet beta pics.

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Feb 21, 2014 - 01:46pm PT
Mark - Great TR as usual!

One note about shooting GoPro for climbing that I learned by accident. We took a work friend out a couple years ago for his first ever rock climb, and to commemorate it we put a GoPro on his helmet.

We rigged it at the same shooting angle you did for this one, which is basically the same perspective as the climber gets.

While he was flailing up the climb he kept smacking his helmet on the rock trying to look down at his feet, and in so doing, he inadvertently moved the shooting angle of the GoPro to where it was effectively looking down his body instead of straight ahead. Turned out to be a wicked cool angle for shooting rock climbing video (especially in fish-eye mode) because you can actually see all the movements, plus the exposure, etc...

Anyhow, again another great TR... and try out the downward angle GoPro sometime.. its great.. basically you want it pointing down to the point where you just barely see the tip of the helmet in the frame.


Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Feb 21, 2014 - 05:01pm PT
Hey Dustin,

Thanks for the great idea! While pointing straight ahead can be nice to see the handwork and where the climber is going, I thought it was too bad that you couldn't quite tell the climber's body position or footwork as well, or the exposure for that matter.

I'll pass the idea along to Steph since she's the one with the GoPro, and I'm sure she'll play around with that style this summer.

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Feb 21, 2014 - 10:32pm PT
Third Pillar of Dana - Regular Route 5.10b - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
One of the more spectacular lines in Tuolumne.
Photo: Marshall Minobe