Trip Report
Yosemite Falls - The Middle Tier
Tuesday July 6, 2010 9:06am
These are photos from a 2006 trip down the Inner Falls in Yosemite. Below is an overview of the route. We did it in late October, when the falls were dry:

We decided to approach the top of the Inner Falls via the old classic Sunnyside Bench Route 5.0. Jason Price looked back once we were out of the gully that begins the route and snapped these photos of John Forde leading and Lee Burgess following.
Credit: Jason Price
John Forde
John Forde
Credit: Jason Price
Lee Burgess
Lee Burgess
Credit: Jason Price

Yosemite Is beautiful in the Fall:
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price

Once you reach the base of the second tier, don't hike up too close to the base of the Lost Arrow Chimney or you will have to rap down to the bottom of the upper falls.
Credit: Jason Price

Once we reached the bottom of the upper falls, we walked around a bit:
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price

Once you start walking into the Inner Gorge, it doesn't take long before you reach the rappels. The first two are short ones:
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price

Then you reach a double rope, hanging rappel:
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price

And now you really feel like you are deep into it.
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
photo not found
Missing photo ID#160682

There is a point where you will have to rappel or jump into a beautiful pool. We chose to jump:
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: M. Volland

After having fun in the water, you rap from trees on the west side of the falls:
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price

And then scramble to the top of the Lower Falls:
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price
Credit: Jason Price

At this point, you could possibly make a high profile rap into the Lower Falls. We walked off via the Sunny Side Bench Trail.

All in all, it was a great adventure with good friends:
Front to back: John Forde, Jason Price, Marc Volland, and Lee Burgess.
Front to back: John Forde, Jason Price, Marc Volland, and Lee Burgess.
Credit: Jason Price


I would recommend this to any Yosemite obscurity lover. Just take enough webbing and leaver beaners just in case the rappel stations need to be updated. The bolts looked OK. When we did it, we only left one sling at the station with the big free hanging rap. Take two 50m ropes. Have plastic bags for anything you want to keep dry.

Enjoy!
MV
Photos by Jason Price

  Trip Report Views: 10,374
M. Volland
About the Author
M. Volland is a trad climber from Grand Canyon.

Comments
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le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jun 17, 2010 - 11:58am PT
Thanks for posting, looks fun. I think I'll give it a go this next weekend.
M. Volland

Trad climber
Grand Canyon
Author's Reply  Jun 17, 2010 - 09:17pm PT
le_bruce

Give me your address and I'll ship you a snorkle.
Zander

climber
  Jun 17, 2010 - 09:43pm PT
Sweet. I've seen pics of this before and really wanted to do it. Way to get on it.
Zander
David Knopp

Trad climber
CA
  Jun 17, 2010 - 09:59pm PT
le bruce ya made me laugh so hard coffee came outta my nose!
M. Volland

Trad climber
Grand Canyon
Author's Reply  Jun 18, 2010 - 08:22pm PT
When we went out do do this, we were not sure that the rap route even existed. We were happy to see that it did.

The slot in the Tenaya Canyon is a longer day - Starting at the Sunrise trailhead and ending at the Pizza deck, or the Mountain Room Bar if you are Lodge based. However, I had just as much fun in the Inner Falls as in Tenaya Canyon. I would highly recommend them both as non-rest rest day activities.

Also, the 11 mile walk on the non highway side of the river from the end of Incline Road in El Portal to the Briceberg (spelling?) Bridge is one that should be done in early spring. It a good rainy day outing.
Captain...or Skully

climber
  Jun 21, 2010 - 05:26am PT
Yowza.
I used to spend quite a bit of time up there.
Magic place. Thanks.
Prod

Trad climber
  Jun 21, 2010 - 09:16am PT
Looks like a fun afternoon.

Thanks for posting it.

Prod.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jun 21, 2010 - 09:31am PT
That's looks like a fun outing!

Thanks for posting it.
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
  Jun 22, 2010 - 09:24pm PT
Unique, I dig it.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jun 23, 2010 - 11:24am PT
Wow, talk about a breath of fresh air, SWEET!

Thanks.

I've done some swimming in the pools at the base of the upper falls.
Pretty spectacular setting eh?
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 23, 2010 - 03:03pm PT
This is definitely up my alley! Nice stuff, way to have a wonderful day!

Do you have any pics of the jump into the pool?
M. Volland

Trad climber
Grand Canyon
Author's Reply  Jun 23, 2010 - 09:30pm PT
Nut

I do have more pictures of the pool, but they are of my buddy in his underwear. So I'm not going to post it on the net. There are many good photos that I didn't put in however, here is one of them:
Credit: M. Volland
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
  Jun 24, 2010 - 12:02pm PT
Very cool, thanks for posting.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Jun 24, 2010 - 11:34pm PT
Thank you!

I was up on the fall trail recently when it was at its peak sending mist and spray everywhere. It was really interesting to see what that area looks like from another season and another view.
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Jun 25, 2010 - 08:23am PT
One of my favorite ST TR's....really cool outing. Thanks for sharing.
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
  Jun 29, 2010 - 12:42pm PT
great TR. The sunnyside bench route is 5.0? That's right up my alley. I'm gonna try and do this in the fall. Thanks for the great photos and report!

Dave R
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Jun 29, 2010 - 08:24pm PT
outstanding
Mason

Trad climber
Yay Area
  Jun 30, 2010 - 03:38pm PT
That is really cool. There is just no short list of things to do in Yosemite.

Is that in a guidebook somewhere or are there more detailed directions on how to not get oneself killed doing this? That's definitely something I want to check out this fall.
Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
  Jun 30, 2010 - 04:54pm PT
That looks really sweet!
M. Volland

Trad climber
Grand Canyon
Author's Reply  Jul 6, 2010 - 09:07am PT
Inner City-

Here is some info worth checking out before you head up the Sunnyside Bench Regular Route:

http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/Yosemite-Valley-Sunnyside-Bench-Regular-Route

Mason-

This is an in your face obscurity. When we did it, we had just been told by an x-sar employee that rumor had it an old search and rescue rap route ran the duration of the middle tier of Yosemite Falls, and that it may or may not exist. There is no reference in any guidebook that I know of. I've never heard of anyone doing it, but judging by the quality of the rap stations, I would guess that someone does it every other year or so. As it turns out, its a pretty mellow outing. Have fun!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Sep 21, 2010 - 11:05pm PT
Nice report

I think the green roper guide mentions the inner gorge

Gotta do it someday!

Peace

Karl
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Sep 22, 2010 - 10:18pm PT
Yep great route! Yes, you can rap the lower falls, but be very, very, very careful about rapping off the end of the rope... the second rappel station is on a little ledge about 62 meters down (only by rope stretch do you get there). There WAS another rap station a few meters higher, but no ledge to stand on..

LB4USC

Trad climber
Long Beach
  Sep 23, 2010 - 12:33pm PT
Bump for my buddy, Harry
A.J.

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
  Sep 9, 2011 - 10:11am PT
Just got back from a trip where I went through Middle Earth (which is what this route is known as by SAR and Park personnel.) Thanks Marc, for the pics and sideband info!

For those attempting the last rap, I'd recommend a 230' rope and a 230' pull cord (and likely an extra rope, just in case.) I had a 220' (65M) rope with an additional 120' and 100' rope for working ropes/pull cords.

On the final rappel sequence, it looked like my rope was a little short for the lowest middle rap station (though I didn't go down to find out, so it may have made it there with rope stretch.)

There are three midway rap stations. You could likely get away with a 200' primary line if you wanted to rap down to the first mid-wall rap station (doesn't really have a ledge though), and then do another rap to the third station (which has a good ledge), and then finish off.

My 220 easily reached the second mid-wall rap station, and then barely reached the water from there. Fun rap! I'd guess the entire final rap down Lower Yosemite Falls to be around 420' total.

Great canyon overall. Took me around 6 hours car to car, for a solo descent. I had a bit more water than the original trip report. When water is flowing, I'd recommend a wetsuit and a drybag for your gear, as there were some pretty long swims.

Some pics for comparison...
First big rappel, which could be up to the fourth one in the canyon, d...
First big rappel, which could be up to the fourth one in the canyon, depending on your downclimbing skills.
Credit: A.J.
Looking upcanyon, nearing the last rappel.
Looking upcanyon, nearing the last rappel.
Credit: A.J.

Take care and be safe!
A.J.
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
  Sep 9, 2011 - 10:13am PT
WHOA!

Missed this one the first time around!

TFPU!
O.D.

Trad climber
LA LA Land
  Sep 9, 2011 - 10:19am PT
Wow! Cool stuff!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Sep 9, 2011 - 10:23am PT
Wow! I'd hiked to the based of the Upper Fall in the winter of 1967-68, and I was aware of the 5.6 Gorge Traverse, but I've never connected them. Nice TR. Thanks much.

John
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Sep 9, 2011 - 10:26am PT
AJ, that's a pretty spicy adventure to be going down solo with that much water!
A.J.

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
  Sep 9, 2011 - 10:58am PT
Nut,

Yeah, I have to say the water flow made me think for a while, and I definitely considered bailing. Had been wanting to do this trip for around 6 years now, and just recently got done with a 10 day trip of waterfall canyons in CO (one of which I did solo, and several with two people) so I had some very recent experience. As well as I've done several other class C (moving water) canyons previously, as well as a few other solo canyon descents.

I didn't see anything too dangerous, so I decided to go for it. Definitely higher risk going solo, and I'm well aware of that and accept that risk. Had folks I was traveling with who knew where I was, and kept a watchful eye on things to make sure I knew where any possible exits were (note, there weren't many.) I also played it conservative with the downclimbs; to avoid any injury.

Saw some recent webbing, so I knew it had been descended recently; which also played into the decision. In the end, decided to go; and glad I did. Lots of fun.

Take care,
A.J.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
  Sep 9, 2011 - 11:08am PT
Outstanding bump.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Sep 9, 2011 - 02:43pm PT
Canyoneering in Yosemite! Very cool! TFPU
squishy

Mountain climber
  Sep 9, 2011 - 02:45pm PT
That looks like a lot of fun, I have been up there but didn't know there was a descent route down the falls..
piquaclimber

Trad climber
SEKI
  Sep 9, 2011 - 03:32pm PT
That was really fun! Nice work and thanks for posting.

Brad
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Sep 9, 2011 - 03:42pm PT
Very cool. One of the different but very cool looking adventures. TFPU.
M. Volland

Trad climber
Grand Canyon
Author's Reply  Sep 15, 2011 - 09:35am PT
I remember the water being very cold, and was happy that we reached the swimming section during mid day sunshine.
A.J.

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
  Sep 17, 2011 - 08:09pm PT
Marc,

Water was definitely cold (honestly though, I expected it to be colder since it was flowing so well. Figured it would be snow-melt cold, coming from the pass up above... Must have either a spring contributing to the melt water, or have been warmed a bit on the way down.) Still would recommend a wetsuit for folks if the water is flowing (as it was for me), as the canyon will be quite full. If I remember correctly, there were 5 swims; one that was around 200' long. I didn't use a wetsuit, but since I was solo, was able to keep moving pretty well (and I'm pretty cold tolerant as well.) If there would have been time needed to stand around, definitely would have gotten cold. (The temps were in the 90's during the day, and got down to the 80's when the sun started to go down; so it was pretty warm outside too; which also helped me not need a wetsuit...)

There were several floating disconnects from the rappels; so set your rope length if you can (and/or use a contingency anchor if doing the canyon with flow.) There was only one rappel that I can remember where you are getting hit by the falls though - and that one is dispersed a bit, so it shouldn't have a dangerous boil unless it was really raging.

Fun stuff!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
  Sep 17, 2011 - 08:33pm PT
Bravo, what a grand adventure! Looks like a great group of buddies to do it with. Thanks for sharing! This is my second time through!
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  Sep 18, 2011 - 12:32am PT
Off topic, but this (photo) looks like sucha cool boulder-field. About a 30 minute approach probably.
PeterC

Trad climber
CA
  Jul 19, 2012 - 05:14pm PT
Has anyone gone down the inner gorge yet this year? I'm interested in anchor conditions and whether the flow level is reasonable for a Saturday descent. Thanks in advance...

-Peter
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
  Jul 19, 2012 - 07:04pm PT
cool!
WBraun

climber
  Jul 19, 2012 - 07:14pm PT
Has anyone gone down the inner gorge yet this year?

It's been done every year including this year.

You can also do it by going around around avoiding the water and down climbing a short section or if you're scared rappel.

The anchors are good, as we originally made them better years ago.

If they're bad you die :-)

Maybe ................................
Some Random Guy

climber
  Jul 19, 2012 - 07:47pm PT
awesome...gonna have to check that out it looks fun. a reconnaissance mission for lost arrow direct. thanx for the inspiration.
DM88T

climber
San Juan Bautista, CA
  Jul 19, 2012 - 09:52pm PT
Friday July 13
Credit: DM88T

Credit: DM88T

Credit: DM88T

You'r going to get wet,
...
maybe
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Jul 20, 2012 - 10:22am PT
Nice report of a very cool adventure! All that major energy that usually fills that place was taking a break long enough for you guys to go through and catch the vibes. I remember reading an article some years back about Big Wall climbers going up the face of the falls when they were dry and putting up a route. I think one of the climbers was Rick Sylvester?? I have the article somewhere, anyone see it.........from the 80's maybe??
PeterC

Trad climber
CA
  Jul 20, 2012 - 01:19pm PT
Thanks for the comments, folks. I'll let you know how it goes!
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Jul 22, 2012 - 02:41pm PT
Wow - looks like a blast. Nice report.
PeterC

Trad climber
CA
  Jul 22, 2012 - 03:27pm PT
Did the inner gorge yesterday (Sat, Jul 21st). The flow level is perfect right now - neither stagnant or scary. We found and removed from the 1st long rappel a rope which must have gotten stuck and been abandoned by a previous party. Must be an interesting story there? All the anchors are in good shape. We chose not to rap the lower falls because of the tourist scene. Fun times!
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Jul 22, 2012 - 04:59pm PT
PICS!!!
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
  Jul 25, 2012 - 12:35pm PT
Awesome!

Are there anchors to rap the Lower Falls as well? We're planning to do this soon.
Osprey

climber
  Jul 28, 2012 - 10:31am PT
Cleo says higher up in the comment section that the rap into the lower amphitheater is bolted but use caution about rapping off the ends of your ropes.

We decided against it due to the large flock of gawkers down at the bridge area.
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
  Jul 31, 2012 - 11:05am PT
Very cool route. Been meaning to do this trip for years and finally got in there on Sunday. Just enough water to make a beautiful spray at the base of the upper falls. We had 70 meter ropes which was much more than needed for most of the raps. We rapped the lower Yosemite falls on the east side and the 70 m got us to a big ledge, while those with shorter ropes could stop at a smaller ledge higher up.

Our descent of the lower falls seemed only a minor addition for all the people still swimming in the pool at the base of the lower falls. People on the bridge and trail asked us if we were heading out or coming back.

We were slow getting up there and enjoyed ourselves at the top before starting in. By the time we got to the swims it was after 4 pm and shady. Two of us got pretty cold. The air temp was nice, so we stripped down to bare skin to dry off and warm up after each swim.

While it is super pretty, it is primarily a rappel route with little in the way of interesting canyoneering type downclimbing problems. The few downclimbs were fun and the two jumps were good, but it is just a very short route other than the long rappels which took a lot of time. Next time I will make sure to go in there with midday sun, so I can spend a lot more time swimming around in the pools and enjoying that aspect.

My two partners loved the rappels and were pretty blown away by the whole experience.

The drive back to Fresno was full of excited talk and sharing for awhile, but then faded into stupified tiredness.

Paul
Ratagonia

Social climber
Mt Carmel, Utah
  Aug 4, 2012 - 06:59pm PT
Awesome, thanks Paul.

Anchors (the bolts) in good shape then, I presume. Webbing and rings easily replaceable, bolts quite a bit less so...
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
  Aug 5, 2012 - 07:38pm PT
Hey Tom,

All the bolts look solid. There are a very few smaller bolts and old hangers, but mixed with 3/8 bolts that all look great. Rap rings were mostly thick ones or doubled. I added a sling to one anchor and prudent people might replace some sling or add to it in a couple spots, but nothing was worn. At least one anchor early on was two pins.

In Mr. Volland's original report he suggests rapping from trees on one of the drops, but there were beefy anchors on the same side, at the lip of the falls that put you pretty much into the same landing zone. There was one more nice jump or short rap below the photo with the trees.
Looking directly up at upper Yosemite Falls.  Lost Arrow Spire is visi...
Looking directly up at upper Yosemite Falls. Lost Arrow Spire is visible on the right skyline.
Credit: Paul Martzen
Getting into the meat of the gorge.
Getting into the meat of the gorge.
Credit: Paul Martzen
Don't jump in a sitting position like poor Mr. Souza. The pain of a bu...
Don't jump in a sitting position like poor Mr. Souza. The pain of a butt flop lasts quite a while.
Credit: Paul Martzen
Tammy Tucker

Trad climber
fresno, ca
  Aug 6, 2012 - 02:08pm PT
Thank you so much for the beta. My brothers and I did this route yesterday and it was a blast! It was a little hot on the climbing route, but once we got into the canyon we were able to cool off. All the anchors were in great shape and we were able to get done before dark. We had a 200ft rope but we were not sure that it was enough for the lower falls which by the way had kind of a freaky anchor station. We will return another day to do that part. We did run into a rattlesnake on the way back on the walk off.
Silver

Gym climber
  Aug 6, 2012 - 02:21pm PT
When do the pools turn into stagnent puddles of chunky yuck!

mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Aug 6, 2012 - 03:18pm PT
Jesus, you can't even see where most of Klaus's routes go...

Cool pix, perfect time to hit it up.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Sep 26, 2013 - 10:24am PT
Really enjoyed this trip report. So much that I just got down from there an hour ago what a great trip

The last two raps can be done with 60M ropes. But pay attention which secondary anchor you use.

The 2nd to last pond (last one before the final raps) can be easily bypassed with a short low end 4th class scramble up the cliff just before the rap station then around and down some easy exposed terrain.

Last rap


End of the trip

climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Nov 12, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
bbst and a really fun different type of Yosemite adventure.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Nov 12, 2013 - 01:46pm PT
Yeah! This is cool!!!
del cross

climber
  Nov 12, 2013 - 05:54pm PT




neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Nov 13, 2013 - 03:57am PT
hey there say, m. volland.... wow, this is really really NICE!
will come back and see all the pics, later...

thank you so much for sharing...

(saw this was an older share) wonder if anyone else
also, had recently shared anything similar... ?

would like to see it, too...
:)
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