Regular Route 5.10b

  • Currently 5.0/5

Third Pillar of Dana

Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

Trip Report
Wedding Anniversary Climb: 3rd Pillar of Dana with Peter Croft (with video)
Saturday October 20, 2012 1:07pm
Betsy and I, as we have gotten a little older, have enjoyed doing longer but more moderate routes like Mt. Whitney, Mt. Conness, Bear Creek Spire, etc. For our wedding anniversary this year we decided to hire a guide to do something in the backcountry, but a little more difficult than normal. Weve really enjoyed reading Peter Crofts guidebooks (love his humor!) and wondered, gee, would it be possible to have Peter lead us up something? It is possible.

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Howie of Sierra Mountain Guides shot and put together this Video of the climb

At first we wanted to do Charlotte Dome, but two or three days was too long. Bets and Sierra Mountain Guides settled on the Third Pillar of Mt. Dana. Betsy was very excited when she told me.

Third Pillar of Dana? 5.10b? Backcountry 5.10b at 10,000 feet? I climb 5.10b on a top rope. Bets is a better climber than I am (although off topic, I might nevertheless mention that I am a better kayaker than her) and I was quite sure she would do fine on the climb. But I started to have visions of being at the bottom of the rope, my arms completely spent, looking up. Peter Croft and my wife would be at the top looking down, saying, You poor, poor, little man. So I slipped in some extra pull ups in my workout and hoped for the best.
Plane in Lee Vining
Plane in Lee Vining
Credit: Ney Grant

We flew our small plane into Lee Vining, camped under the wing, and Peter was nice enough to pick us up at 5:00 am to take us up Tioga Pass to the trailhead. Betsy and I are speedy hikers but as you might imagine, Peter flies across terrain and for some reason logs and large rocks dont seem to exist for him. Wed get to a log together, Id slow down to step over it and hed be gone. Still, we made great time.

Early Morning on the Dana Plateau
Early Morning on the Dana Plateau
Credit: Ney Grant
The climb lived up to its reputation, a super classic, fantastic climb with incredible views of Mono Lake and beyond. Both Betsy and I felt great through the moderate sections and had a lot of fun, but were always thinking about that top crux. It was also fun watching Peter move smoothly up the rock. The crux hand-jam pitch at the top turned out, to my great relief, doable for me, although not without some struggle. Its also one of the most stunning pitches Ive ever done. Wow. And best of all, my male ego remains intact.

Bets on the first 5.10 section
Bets on the first 5.10 section
Credit: Ney Grant
It was also great fun to climb at that speed, since Peter obviously could lead much faster than we normally do. In fact, Peter had told a friend he may or may not be available to get him at 5:00 that evening at the Mammoth airport, but we topped out on the climb at noon, in time for lunch, with only an hour hike out.

Thanks Peter, for a fantastic day out. And Happy Anniversary Bets!

Bets, Peter and Videographer Howie
Bets, Peter and Videographer Howie
Credit: Ney Grant

Howie (with Highway 120 in the background)
Howie (with Highway 120 in the background)
Credit: Ney Grant

  Trip Report Views: 7,964
Ney Grant
About the Author
Ney is a trad climber from Pollock Pines.


Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Oct 20, 2012 - 01:14pm PT
What a memorable anniversary. Thanks for taking us along!

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Oct 20, 2012 - 02:35pm PT
that is pretty cool

Trad climber
  Oct 20, 2012 - 02:47pm PT
Good stuff!

Boulder climber
San Diego
  Oct 20, 2012 - 03:13pm PT
What a great adventure!
Happy anniversary!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 20, 2012 - 04:13pm PT

  Oct 20, 2012 - 05:01pm PT
Nice TR, I gotta do that one someday! Thanks!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 21, 2012 - 09:58am PT
Beautiful rock and route, thanks!
Peter is da man!

Trad climber
Somewhere South Of Heaven
  Oct 21, 2012 - 10:35am PT
Great TR, awesome way to celebrate your anniverary! Thanks for sharing it with us!

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Oct 22, 2012 - 01:57pm PT
how rad...have Croft guide you up a classic route and a video TR to boot. 5 star post!

Social climber
truckee, california
  Oct 23, 2012 - 01:00pm PT
what a sweet way to start my tuesday morning - great TR and what a great experience. i too really enjoy croft's guide books and his passion and enthusiam for mountains in general and the sierra specifically.

btw, my wife and i climbed the regular route or fairview dome for our first anniversary in sept. 2010 - what a great way to celebrate.

Trad climber
Ontario, Canada
  Oct 23, 2012 - 08:36pm PT
So cool, thanks!

Oakland, CA
  Oct 23, 2012 - 08:37pm PT
Great TR - how many years were you celebrating?
Ney Grant

Trad climber
Pollock Pines
Author's Reply  Oct 23, 2012 - 11:04pm PT
Thanks for the comments!

It was our 27th anniversary, so that means 30 years of climbing together, sometimes just a little when our kids where young, and sometimes more. But I feel fortunate that we can both still get out there and enjoy ourselves. (you can see more of our adventures at )

Trad climber
  Oct 24, 2012 - 12:56pm PT
Happy Anniversary, Betsy and Ney!
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Oct 24, 2012 - 01:15pm PT
Awesome guys, Really cool that this came together for you. Happy Anniversary and hope you have many more fun ones like this.
Aki J

Trad climber
Placerville, CA
  Oct 25, 2012 - 12:58am PT
Good climb and great people!
Happy Anniversary!

Trad climber
Pollock Pines, CA
  Oct 25, 2012 - 02:28am PT
Happy Anniversary!
And what a great way to celebrate!

Trad climber
  Oct 25, 2012 - 03:35am PT
Great TR. PC is a top notch human. Way to go guys.
Ney Grant

Trad climber
Pollock Pines
Author's Reply  Oct 26, 2012 - 12:33am PT
Hey, Ron, Aki and Robby! Nice to hear from you guys and thanks for the comments. We'll see you on the ski slopes pretty soon! - Ney

Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Nov 13, 2012 - 08:16pm PT
Happy Aniversery.. More Dana yay

Big Wall climber
Newbury Park
  Nov 14, 2012 - 08:06am PT
Happy anniversary and congrats on the great climb!

Social climber
  Mar 13, 2013 - 11:39am PT
Woah just saw the youtube video linked while watching a hulk video... bump!! And happy anniversary :)

Boulder climber
Institute of Better Bouldering-DirtbagDad Division
  Mar 13, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
That was highly enjoyable... and I picked up a few tips from Peter!

Happy Anniversary!

Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jul 19, 2013 - 10:16pm PT
Great TR and video.
Even though my buddy led that last pitch some 10 years ago (I'm not that good), I got more satisfaction out of that pitch than any.
Thanks for sharing.
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