Trip Report
Yosemite Point Buttress, 'Direct' (IV, 5.9+, 14P)
Friday November 9, 2012 3:01pm
If you want a report with pictures, visit my website, since SuperTopo has deprecated displaying photos from off-site.

Fixed cam at the 5.9 crux transition from chimneying to OW climbing on...
Fixed cam at the 5.9 crux transition from chimneying to OW climbing on P3 of Yosemite Point Buttress.
Credit: PellucidWombat

I prepped myself for leading all of the cruxy wide on this climb by sleeping 3 hours, puking up breakfast on the RR of Sunnyside Bench (off-route, don't worry), then eating only 400 calories for the day. Fortunately, like saving the star player for the final inning, while I led the earlier wide pitches that Nic was not happy to lead, Nic finished off by leading the face & rotten pitches I was not happy to lead. All in all, 21 hours car-to-car, so it was either that long, or we were that slow. Either way, we had fun.

Or in a more refined way to put it . . .

YPB, a Yosemite Classic, or Classic Yosemite? I'd say neither, and both. In a way it is classic, but it is NOT a Type I Fun sort of classic that people are accustomed to in Yosemite. There are some brushy sections, and a lot of the rock is loose or exfoliating. It also lacks the elegance of many of the lines in Yosemite, making the routefinding very difficult and the route much more reminiscent of an alpine climb (I have never climbed such an indirect 'direct' variation). However, there are some stellar pitches, the views from the route are wonderful, and it is a good looong rock climb. The approach is also not to be underestimated involves a lot of hiking, cross-country travel, and scrambling or simul-climbing just to reach the base of the first pitch, nearly 2,000 ft above the Valley floor. However, it is Classic Yosemite in that it has lots of burly wide climbing, stout face climbing, some incredible hand cracks, and huge exposure at the end.

I would like to give special thank to Clint Cummins for helping me figure out this route when I was attempting to match the Reid topo to the terrain from recon photos I had taken. Without such help we surely would have gotten even more lost and spent more time climbing in the dark!

Standard Wombat Warning applies to this trip report. For those that want to keep the route mysterious, don't read any further!

I first became intrigued with the route when I stumbled across the topo in the Reid guide. Looking around online, including the SuperTopo forums, I became more interested in the route, but information on the route was still vague. So heading in to this climb, there was still a lot of mystery surrounding the route.

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Yosemite Point Buttress area from Pharoahs Beard Area.

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Yosemite Point Buttress and Lost Arrow Spire seen from Steck-Salathe.

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Yosemite Point Buttress from the top of Lena's Lieback

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Lost Arrow Spire and Yosemite Point Buttress

Nic Risser and I were fired up and ready to go for the route in May of 2012. A few days before our climb, I received an urgent e-mail from my friend Val, asking if I had already or was about to climb YPB, and if I handn't, to e-mail her right away. Hmm, that's strange. I had never even told Val about the climb . . . Also, Val was working with the NPS for determining closures for raptor nesting, so I already knew what this must be about. I was tempted to pretend to not see the e-mail until the next week, but gave in to my conscience and responded.

Val had done a Google search for YPB, and my recon photos for figuring out the route had come up! She had also seen raptors flying right around The Pedestal. The route was slated to be closed that weekend, and we were asked to not go up, even before the closure, as the birds had been sighted. Sigh . . . I had already just lost Arch & Cookie just as I felt ready to venture there, and now this one! So Nic and I waited for Fall . . .

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Yosemite Point Buttress as I think the Reid guide shows, seen from the East (image from

(We completely missed the last half of P13 and all of P14, so the lines for those sections are my best guess. Everything else should be pretty accurate.)

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Yosemite Point Buttress as I think the Reid guide shows, seen from the South (image from

October 20, 2012
At long last Fall had arrived, and mountain temptations were waning, so Nic and I headed to the Valley to give this route a go.

We started the approach at about 5am, and apart from one wrong turn in the dark, managed to pick our way to Sunnyside Bench Regular Route. We soloed most of it, but as we had never done the climb before and it was dark, we somehow got off route near the top. We belayed the final pitch, which had a piton and some bolts (? The SuperTopo topo doesn't show any!), so despite the holdup we were glad to have gotten the rope out. I wasn't feeling too hot with the Pop Tart I ate for breakfast, so my stomache jettisoned it and the pre-climb water chug at the base of this mystery pitch. Not the best way to start a long, sunny route. I learned later that I had also left most of my food for the day back in the bear box.

From atop the RR, there was a well traveled trail that ended near the waterfall at the far left edge of the ledge. It was easy enough to follow the cairns and feint climbers trail from here as we had the early morning light to see by at this point.

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Nic on top of the second tier of Sunnyside Bench on the early approach.

By this time the approach was straightforward, as there was a pretty good climbers trail and cairns marking the way. We picked our way up some cl. 3 ledges and then some cl. 3-4 grassy slabs to gain the top of the Second Tier just as the first morning light let us see see our objective.

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Nearing Lost Arrow Spire.

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Geek Towers. I want to check these out sometime!

Once you are nearly to the base of Lost Arrow Spire, when it looks like you have gone too high for the approach gully to YPB, the brush clears up and you can traverse to the right. There are a few cairns and some sandy traversing and short downclimb bring you to the base of the gully. Some people simul-climb this section, as while the Reid guide calls it class 3, it seems like the consensus is that it is low 5th, or at least sketchy class 3.

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Cl. 4-5 scrambling up the approach.

Nic stayed more on the face to the left and found class 4. I went into the corner and found a lot of loose, vegetated crud, and cl. 5 chimneying (chickenwings, stacked feet).

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Nic on cl. 4 terrain approach as the sun rose.

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Sunrise on the YPB approach. My way ended up being dirty cl. 5 in some chimneys and corners.

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Sunrise on Lost Arrow Spire on the scrambling part of the approach to Yosemite Point Buttress.

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Sunrise on Lost Arrow Spire on the scrambling part of the approach to Yosemite Point Buttress. Geek Towers are peeking out of the shadows below.

At last we reached the base. We worked out the first pitch, ate a snack, and suited up. Time to climb!

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YPB seen from the start of P1. 8am. We left the car at 5:30am, so it took us about 2.5 hrs to get here. Bathroom break and getting lost in the dark added some time.

The Pedestal Pitches
The business of P1 is short and not that hard for 5.8. I would call it 5.7. There are some loose & gritty sections, but nothing too bad.

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Nic leading P1.

The pitch ends at a large sand ledge. You have to traverse about 100' across this ledge and down into a gully, and set up a belay in brush or the chimney alcove to start P2.

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Looking down and over to P2. This route is sooo direct . . .

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Looking up the S Face of the Buttress. I wonder why there isn't a variation that goes up one of these lines?

P2 was a great pitch. It starts as a left-side in chimney that pinches you out of the crack and then allows you back inside of more of a squeeze/OW deal. The crack pitches tight again near the top, where I found it best to lieback a bit, turn right side in, and climb the upper part as an OW. Bring your #5 and/or #6 C4 for this. The wide climbing is sustained for about 30m. This pitch should have gone fast, except I had some clusters with my trailed pack getting caught in pro, and I had issue switching sides as the trailed pack held my legs in and I had neglected to flip my gear sling or readjust my rack before I switched side. Oops.

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Climbing the P2 5.8 squeeze-OW.

At the top of the pitch you pass through a slot and down into a corner with a tree for a semi-hanging anchor.

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Cathedral Spires and Rock from the P3 belay.

P3 (5.9) is one of the best pitches on the route. You start by downclimbing about 10 ft to a window sill-like ledge that you shuffle along around a corner. Here it ends with a wide chimney.

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Nic at the P3 belay.

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P3 chimney & OW seen from the start of the hand traverse.

A hand crack forms along the ledge just as it ends at the chimney. I crouched down, shoved in my hands, and lowered onto my arms as I shuffled my jams to turn the corner.

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Reaching the P3 hand traverse. You have to mantel-downclimb onto the ledge and throw in some hand jams as you flip around the corner into a stem & chimney position.

The chimney & crack leaned in a funny way and the chimney was wide, so this transition was awkward and physical, but the jams are bomber. Once stemmed, I got into back-foot chimneying and moved up until I could stand on the hand traverse crack. Because you climb down, around, and back up, it is tricky to protect this part without inducing massive rope drag.

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P3 standing on the hand traverse crack inside the chimney.

I had about 15-20' of gradually narrowing chimneying to reach the first real piece of gear. The chimney is fun and about 5.7. Reminded me a bit of The Remnant, Right.

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P3 chimney, which forces you outside into a 5.9 OW.

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Fixed #4 Camalot atop the P3 chimney. Time to exit!

This part was strange. You have to traverse out of the chimney, then climb back into the crack as it continues about as a 5.9 OW. I clipped the fixed cam, but as I wasn't sure how reliable it was, I backed it up by placing a #3 C4 cam in a constriction a bit higher, from inside the chimney, then clipped the #3 by threading the sling and rope on the outside of the fixed cam.

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Lenticulars of the incoming storm forming over Yosemite. One nice thing about climbing OW is you can free your hands to take photos :-)

The OW was really fun. Good rock, solid moves, and a lot of cam pushing. I was glad to have #5 & #6 cams with me to push along, leaving smaller cams here and there where there were smaller cracks or the crack narrowed before widening again.

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Looking down the P3 5.9 OW. There is a good deal more in the pitch, though.

The only downside with this pitch is the trees above dump massive amounts of leaves into the crack. As you climb up, you are like a leaf blower, spinning out massive flurries of leaves as you go, especially if a nice cooling breeze comes by. I wondered what Nic thought as I was sure he could see lots of the leaves spinning down out of the corner.

The final crux of the route is climbing through tree branches to the belay. Mixed cl. 5 bushwacking with chimney technique was hard to work out elegantly, but at least the belay was comfy.

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Remainder of P3.

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Nic following P3.

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Nic following P3 as the crack transitions into a flare.

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Nic following P3, nearing the tree bypass crux.

According to my notes, the next pitch, rated 5.7 chimney, was supposed to be short and easy. It turned out to be neither.

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Looking up P4.

The start off of the belay was really awkward and felt as hard as the crux moves on P2. This pitch is definitely 5.8.

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Looking down P4, pack in tow.

The chimney difficulty eases after the first body length or two and becomes more like 5.6-5.7.

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More P4 chimneys.

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P4 dirty stemming, then back to more chimneys.

The chimney fades away and it is very tempting to climb into the large corner on the right, but the topos showed that as a feature not to be climbed. The rock gets mungy and gritty here, and I did some stemming between the rotten corner and a thin crack on the face before the chimney resumed.

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P5 chimney-OW. I linked this with P4, and it ended with a large traverse and downclimb. Massive rope drag!

At a nice ledge with slings, it was tempting to continue straight up a nice looking 5.8-5.9? OW, but the topo had me looking for a traverse right. I clipped the slings, traversed about 20' over on a ledge, and found thin 5.7 face climbing. This part was trickier to figure out and more runout for the follower than expected. I found an OK cam placement and downclimbed thin 5.7 face for about 20'. I attempted to get in a small C3 cam in the only possible pro placement, but rope drag popped this out, so the follower has no pro for this entire section after cleaning the first piece. From there I traverse about 15' right, and then about 10' back up and right to intersect a corner to set up a belay, hopefully with better fall potential for Nic than if I downclimbed straight down to a ledge below.

Rope drag for the face climbing was horrendous. I suspect it would have been better to not link P4 & P5, but climb P4 to the start of the traverse.

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Looking back on the P5 5.7 traverse and downclimb. There really isn't any pro for a ways.

The ledge below had a large tree with slings. I suspect we should have gone there and began the P6 traverse from there.

Now, this is where it seems a lot of people get lost, and I think we were off-route a bit too. Perhaps Clint can clarify here where we should have gone versus where we wandered, but if I understand where we were aiming for, then I think I worked it out (as shown in the xRez annotated images at the beginning of the report). I'm uncertain here as what we ultimately did really didn't match the topo in any way.

Basically, after the 5.7 traverse right and downclimb at the end of P5, end P5 at the ledge with a large tree. DO NOT ascend the crack above, but instead traverse farther right around the arete, reaching a smaller ledge and a piton in a small crack. From here, climb up a shallow gully and climb over and up beyond several corner systems, taking the easiest line, until you are in the last corner next to the white granite wall. From here climb straight up until rope drag or rope length stops you. There are many belay options.

What we did, in contrast, was we had ended P5 in the crack, and intuition would say to keep climbing up the crack, as although it looked hard, it was clean, protectable, and looked like fun 5.8-5.10. Instead, I climbed partway up until I could take the next crack branching to the right, cutting through the arete (thinking this was the "hand traverse" I had noted on a leaning crack on P6 in the Reid Topo). This was harder than it looked! After rounding the corner and seeing sparse face climbing and a good ledge below, I downclimbed, found the piton, saw the ledge ending about there, so I climbed back up to what looked like a better way to get into the next corner system, and picked my way up and across perhaps two more corner systems before I started climbing straight up again. This wandering cost us some time, and the drag was bad.

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Looking down from P6 on the continuing traverse.

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P6 traversing around more corners. 5.6-5.7.

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Looking down P6.

Rope drag stopped me somewhere near the end of 60m. Nic climbed up to me, and by now I was really dragging. So much wide climbing while hauling a pack had left me worked! Nic was feeling energetic since he had only led P1, so now he led the way. Based off the the xRez photo, we believed we were just short of the large ledge traverse left with the (former) pine tree landmark that used to be visible from the Valley (reports were that rockfall decapitated the tree some years ago). We were maybe 50' lower than the underside of a hanging flake on the great white granite wall to our right, which formed a small roof and had bushes on top (visible in the XRez photo). We saw what looked like a large ledge up and to the left, with a large dead pine tree trunk. This must be it!

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Looking up P7.

Nic climbed up and over to the ledge, but wasn't convinced that we were in the right spot. He continued up to another set of ledges and traversed along. From up there he saw that he should have continued traversing on the ledge, so he downclimbed as he traversed to intersect the route.

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P7 old Big Tree landmark. Looks a little dead now.

I followed along, up occasionally loose & mungy rock, before traversing left about 80-100' and climbing down about 30' and back up about 15' to a large, flat ledge beneath a chimney.

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Half Dome and North Dome from P7.

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Half Dome from P7.

This chimney is the chimney shown in P8 of the Reid Topo. It is about 40' and line with decomposing granite. Although the rock was unpleasant, the chimney was not. Nic made short work leading this, and neither of us needed to trail our packs (as we had on P2, P3, P4, & P5). The chimney is easy and has a lot of features and a nice jam crack inside.

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P8 easy chimney. There is a jam crack inside and it is climbable without trailing the pack. The rock is as rotten as the Rotten Chimney pitch, though.

Atop this chimney the route turns a corner on the left, ending up on a ledge back on the south side of the formation (pitches 3-8 were all on the east side). From here you turn back right and ascend another easy chimney. This one is wide, mostly stemming, and you tunnel behind a large chockstone. The Reid guide shows P8 ending atop this chimney after it slants left, but Nic stopped short, on a ledge to the right of the chimney just after the chockstone. The next bit was all unprotectable squeeze and he didn't quite feel up for leading it. This wasn't a problem, though, as he was nearly out of rope anyways.

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P8 chimney with a chockstone tunnel through. Wee. This chimney was also pretty easy to climb with a pack on.

I linked the remained of what Reid calls P8 to reach P9. Since this was nearly a full rope length, I think someone is cheating when they numbered these pitches. This is another pack-trailing pitch.

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P9 OW-squeeze. There is no pro in this apart from a thin crack out on the face about halfway up. Fortunately it is secure.

I made quick work of the squeeze and began traversing left (west) all the way around the formation to reach the base of the P10 Rotten Chimney, which is formed between the main wall and The Pedestal leaning against it. This traverse is pretty long, maybe 100', and you down climb maybe 40'. It is mostly unprotectable and has some of the worst granite I have ever climbed. You could rip off granite chunks with your hands, willy nilly, and the face was nothing but ball bearings of gritty granite. You could never rub enough off to get smooth surface. The ledges were covered in sand and chunks of granite grit and scree. At least it was no harder than low 5th. This had me wary of what the Rotten Chimney would be like.

I turned the last corner, going farther over and down than expected, then walked partway up the chute until I could make a small, 2-piece anchor in the wall on my right. I had read reports of there being no secure anchor here, but mine seemed all right, albeit not the best positioned.

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Sentinel Rock from the base of P10.

By this point it was apparent that we might have trouble ahead. The sun was close to setting, and we still had 5 more pitches to climb to reach the top! As soon as Nic reached me I took off, trailing the pack for the last time. The rotten chimney is a left-side in back-to-foot chimney and there is no pro until you reach the chockstones atop the first step. Still, this was only about 10' up and not too hard - maybe 5.6-5.7, but the rock on the foot side of the chimney is covered in exfoliating flakes. Still not too bad, as with care you could find clear spaces to smear your feet, or if lacking that, scrape away the granite flakes with your toe to make a good foot placement.

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P10 Rotten Chimney. Not that bad really, though there are some really loose bits at the top, but it is secure and easy climbing there.

Above the first tier I had an easy scramble to reach the tunnel through behind The Pedestal, beneath the giant chockstone that the pitch ends on top of.

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Leading the P10 rotten chimney, reaching the tunnel through.

It is inside the chockstone that the truly rotten part of the Rotten Chimney lies. I just stopped caring about kicking down rocks of all sizes at this point. This part was more like 4th to low 5th, though. I took an early exit, which was a mistake. There is a rope-eating notch between the boulders and even with a directional, rope drag was awful, and I had to set up the belay specifically to work with the directional to keep the rope out of the crack. We then had to move the belay down and onto the giant chockstone to properly belay P11.

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P10 Rotten chimney tunnel through. I did not take the squeeze finish, so this is conjecture.

Nic reached the top of P10 just as the last light was fading. This was fortunate, as we were at least able to scope out P11 & P12 in daylight, so we knew what to look for in the dark.

The Headwall Pitches

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P11 at dusk from atop the Pedestal.

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P12 at dusk from atop the Pedestal.

We donned our headlamps and Nic took off. He would lead the last 4 pitches to the rim. Pitch 11 starts hard right off the deck at solid 5.9 as you step off the Pedestal above exposure. Nick had to climb about 10 ft off the ledge before he could get in his first piece, an OK #2 Camalot in a shallow flare, and continued up to the first of many ancient pitons. The first piton is high and to the right, with some long tat on it. From there he worked down and left to another piton, then high to step around the corner to access the 5.9 lieback. Following this section the face climbing definitely felt like 5.9+ to me, and you'd definitely take some good swings if you fell. If the pitons held it would be all right, but I don't know if I'd want to test those pitons!

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Nic leading the P11 5.9 traverse at night.

I watched Nic's headlamp recede into darkness as he rounded the corner and made steady progress up the pitch. He found a solid belay with a nice stance about 15 ft short of the end of the rope.

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Nic leading the P11 5.9 LB at night.

Pitch 11 was mostly clean and very high quality climbing. The old pitons were interesting to see as well. Apart from the first cam, the rest of the 5.9+ face traverse was only protected by the old pitons.

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P11 old piton. First one on the pitch.

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P11 old LA piton. Second one on the pitch, before reaching the lieback crack.

Once in the lieback crack, things still stayed thin. Pitons were still the only protection for the next little bit, but gradually the crack widened to accept gear. Higher up there were still a couple more pitons and even a bolt out on the face to the left. The 'lieback' was sustained 5.9 for maybe the next 50 ft or so before it gradually eased off to 5.8 as it turned more vertical. Although there were a few slightly mungy parts, the pitch was very high quality. A "lieback" is the best way to describe it, but it really was strange, requiring a lot of mixed techniques. Jams, crimps, stems, scums, smears, none of the moves were repetitive and it felt more like a face climb than a crack climb.

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P11 old angle piton.

I had been worried about the P11 & P12 belays as one of the few reports I could find on the route said the P11 belay was poor and exposed, and the P12 belay was a hanging belay on pins. We didn't find anything like this. The P11 belay was off of a good piton and solid gear, at a nice ledge.

However, as best as we could follow the topo and get a good belay, P12 started off at 5.10R before reaching the wonderful hand crack. Nic had to downclimb about 20 ft before doing a very difficult friction traverse around the corner into a wild, wide stem. From there he zipped up the crack about 30 ft before placing his first piece so that I had proper protection to follow the entry. Thanks!

(Looking at some other climbers' photos, it appears you could end P11 early and belay in the bombay chimney beneath the stem. The climb up to the crack looks tricky but probably not nearly as difficult as the face traverse. However, the belay might have been more marginal. I wonder if that is the better way though . . .)

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Nic leading P12 crack. Such a sweet crack!

Once Nic was in the crack with gear, he took off and made short work with the rest of the pitch, only slowing down at the very awkward roof-corner crux at the end. The Reid guide shows the P12 belay here, but with the 60m rope Nic was able to go up a ways further on easy ground to a nice, large ledge and a small gear anchor. I think we made the anchor at the optional belay between P12 & P13 in the Reid guide.

When I followed, I was slow on the face traverse - it was very hard and intimidating to follow. Props to Nic on the great lead! Once I was in the crack, I had a lot of fun. Pitch 12 and Pitch 3 are definitely my favorite pitches of the climb. Pitch 12 had about 150 ft of sustained 5.8-5.9 hand to fist crack climbing.

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P12 crack. Such a sweet crack!

The final 30 ft before the roof crux was the best, with tight hands (Red Camalot) in a laser cut crack that leaned about 50-60 degrees, requiring an interesting sequence of movements with one foot flagging on the face, one foot in the crack, and your arms twisted around to be jammed in the crack. It was a nice endurance workout.

The roof-corner was mungy and felt more like a bouldering problem to surmount. It was protected nicely by two pitons high and left. After the roof I made quick work getting up to Nic. During the time we were climbing pitches 11 & 12, we heard shouts from the Valley floor. It sounded like someone was shouting my name. Since we knew friends down there who were aware of our plans, we figured our lights high up on the wall were rather conspicuous, so as we climbed on we occasionally shouted and yodeled back.

These last two pitches were definitely 5 star pitches. Despite the darkness and fatigue, we were having a blast. Still, we had the last two pitches left, which we had heard were quit bad . . .

Exit Pitches

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My best deduction of where we went vs. where the Reid topo says to go

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My best deduction of where we went vs. where the Reid topo says to go

I would call Yosemite Point Buttress, 'Direct', a 3-4 star climb if it weren't for the last two pitches. These last two pitches were frightening and really sucked. Perhaps some of this was due to us getting off route in the dark, though. Once again, I'd like to give major props to Nic for leading these!

Nic led off left on a large that pinched down to an extremely exposed, but easy traverse. Class 4, but no pro and very rotten rock. Basically P13 is low 5th, but is somewhat runout due to the rock being too rotten for pro. It also breaks off in your hands, so take care with what you grab. It was quite interesting to break off large chunks of rock and never hear the impact as they sailed off into the darkness. There was also a lot of dirt and sand mixed that blew into your face - I was still finding bits of P13-14 lodged in my nose and ears for the next few days and several rounds of showering.

I suspect after the first traverse left (about 50 ft or so) and short climb up, Nic should have hung a hard right and traversed back that way, but it was hard to tell in the dark with our headlamps. Nic went more straight up and left, and found himself on a 5.10a finger crack at one point. Following this pitch, I followed up a detached flake. After breaking off the edges from some hand jams and stepping on the edge of the flake (resulting in some flailing to catch myself from falling), I really didn't like climbing right up the 4' wide flake as the entire thing vibrated. I was waiting for the entire thing to break off once I was fully bear hugging it. At last the terrain eased and I traversed up a slot and ledge system to the right, reaching Nic at a nice belay at a large pine tree.

The ants here were active and did a good amount of biting as I belayed Nic up the final pitch. He saw a nice long ledge system traversing right and gradually up at class 4, but he wanted off the route NOW! Like an angry beast, he attacked the final 15 ft headwall directly. He made grunting noises on this part even louder than the wide pitches below. I could tell he was struggling to take an unnecessary, direct finish. Since he climbs much harder than me, I was a tad concerned.

"Now Nic, don't forget that I have to follow that thing!" I shouted. He backed off a bit to back up some gear, and renewed his attack. A few more grunts, scrapes, and curses later and finally the rope started moving quickly and then stopped. Now it was my turn. The finish Nic took was very tricky, and perhaps 5.10b (his best assessment. All I can say is it was hard!) A very awkward and off-balance corner in rotten rock led to a sandy, sloping ledge, requiring a funny heel hook & body torque to surmount.

We topped out just before midnight. There we drank the rest of our water, ate the rest of our food, and took a 20 minute nap before heading down the Yosemite Falls trail, which was a mercifully easy descent. We made it into our sleeping bags at Upper Pines at about 3am.

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Obviously we're stoked to be done with the route.

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Nic after climbing Yosemite Point Buttress. We took a 20 min nap before hiking down the Yosemite Falls trail.

We were pretty spent for the next day, so we slept in, gorged and caffeinated ourselves at the Yosemite Lodge, and still found a bit of energy for some more climbing before heading home.

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Nic doing TR laps on The Tube (5.11a).

Start early on this route. Knowing the approach ahead of time helps, but if you don't, just factor in routefinding time. It took us about 2hrs of continuous movement to complete it, including soloing the final few hundred feet. Simul-climbing this section might be preferred by others.

Don't haul packs on this route or it will take you forever. I read that if you try to haul P3, your pack WILL get stuck in the top of the bombay chimney. The route gets sun all day (hot), but also gets a lot of sudden wind (cold), so bring a jacket (one for climbing OW in might be nice) and a lot of water. A large pack for the follower might be problematic in the wide pitches, so I feel like our strategy of climbing with two small, equal-sized packs worked well.

Be familiar with trailing packs on wide and pushing cams for this climb. With the wide, I'd say you should be solid at Valley 5.8-5.9 wide before tackling this climb. None of it felt quite as hard as the hardest bits of the NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral Rock, but there was more of it here, it was tighter, and trailing a pack on lead makes it difficult in different ways. I felt like the wide pitches on this route were very high quality. Nic felt like the 5.9 face sections were hard and thin enough that one should be a solid 5.10a friction & face leader before tackling this climb.

We felt like our rack was just about right for the climb. We brought doubles from 0.3" to 3", and then C4 Camalots of 1x#4, 1x#5 & 1x#6. It was very nice to have the wide cams for the wide pitches. Also, kneepads might be a good idea. We were glad to have ours on.

Personal Website

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About the Author
PellucidWombat is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.


  Nov 9, 2012 - 03:15pm PT
I watched you guys thrashing around up there in the dark.

I was just going to light you up with some powerful light we have here and I was told not to do it
for fear you guys might start yelling for help and then YOSAR would somehow become responsible.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Nov 9, 2012 - 03:24pm PT
We were totally solid where we were apart from darkness slowing things down a bit. Only thrashing was that last bit of loose rock, but it probably wouldn't have been much better in daylight. Really, a nice night for a headlamp climb.

I wonder what we would have done if you lit us up. Certainly not shout for help, but I wonder whether we would have been more amused or embarrassed.

Half Dome Village
  Nov 9, 2012 - 03:21pm PT
Nice. I tried YPB-D last year in December. We bailed after pitch 5 after getting off-route for the second time and falling way behind schedule. The approach is way burly, and took about twice as long as I thought it would. It's a much harder and longer Grade IV than Steck-Salathe or the NEB of Higher, imo. Good climbing though, I'd like to get back up there and finish it maybe next spring when the days are longer.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Nov 9, 2012 - 03:30pm PT
I would say, if you think you will get benighted before reaching the Rotten Chimney, turn around or you will get hopelessly lost!

From the Rotten Chimney it is pretty straightforward getting to the top in the dark as long as you are comfortable climbing in the dark (I had read a few accounts of this happening to parties on this route). Since we knew this and felt we could make the Pedestal before sunset, we pressed on ready for finishing in the day or night.

Just don't get impatient on the final junky pitches and really look carefully for the best line if you want to stay on route there.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 9, 2012 - 03:42pm PT
I'm tempted to grab the booty #4, but I know it's a long ways up there! :-)
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Nov 9, 2012 - 03:48pm PT
You big bird turd. Now the cat's out of the bag!

Wish there was a way to blow up the Geek Towers. They are so fvcking ugly!

Big broad smile for Yosemite choss!

But a half-hour TR for a 21-hour climb?

Stellar! Proud!

And your photos are the envy of us all, BTW. No wonder you have yor name on them, and thanks for the share of them, very much.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Nov 9, 2012 - 04:07pm PT
I started pasting my name on the online photo copies after I started seeing the photos popping up elsewhere on the web, including some guiding sites. I'm happy to share for free, but it's nice to get credit! (it would be nice to find a more elegant solution. The watermark feature in Picasa is fairly crude).

BTW, I do keep some cats in the bag upon request, if I know ahead of time to keep a secret ;-)

Oh, and Clint, as you can probably see in the photo, the cam doesn't look that badly fixed, so as long as you're there with some time to spare, you could probably get it out easily enough.

  Nov 9, 2012 - 04:16pm PT
I only wanted to light you up for amusement.

The boss said don't do it and then I was bummed ......

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Nov 9, 2012 - 04:49pm PT
Nice! I confess to some jealousy. I've had this on the short list for half a decade, just never managed to bubble up to #1 yet. I think the Wombat guides might eat into supertopo revenue soon.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 9, 2012 - 05:11pm PT
Another first-rate TR, just like I've come to expect from you. Inspired by Bruce Cooke, I'd saved YPB for when the hair on my chest was white (like his was when I knew him in the late 1960's and early '70's.) Now that I'm there, and you posted this, I guess I have no further excuses.

Thanks again for your excellent TR's. Please keep them coming.


Social climber
  Nov 9, 2012 - 05:28pm PT
hey there say, pellucidwombat...

wow, thanks for your trip report...

can't get all the pics, but say, the ROUTE stuff DID show...
i liked that very much... helps folks like me see and understand a
lot better...

*i ususally see and understand by 'creative adventure spirit' alone, :)) well, and the little that i RETAIN from all you that you all share here, about climbing, etc...

and ohhhhhh my, well:

i just loved the werner comments... and the light jokes about the light-joke...


wow, say, i LIKED seeing the:
ad on the side edge, as to conrad anker, etc...


ooooooooooooooops, now that i have shared, well, it seems that
it's GONE:
pet rock, has now taken the ad's place, :O

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Nov 9, 2012 - 06:17pm PT
I hiked up there in the summer of 94, I think. As a skinny Brit I got completely shut down on the 5.9 offwidth you have photographed so elegantly. With no big cams, I didn't have the balls to got outside.

I recall it being a bit crumbly though - you didn't seem to find that?
(perhaps I was scrabbling harder)

In there for over an hour, I thought I'd never get out alive!

It was a long hot hike back down.......

Good job


Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Nov 9, 2012 - 06:51pm PT
Hey Steve,

I found the approach crumbly. P1 was a tad crumbly, and so was the stemming part of P4, and bits on P9-12, and all of P13-14, in various quantities and severity. But for the most part the rock was fine, and in some cases, really nice and clean. The bit of crumbliness here and there is what added to the 'alpine' feel of the route for sure.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  Nov 9, 2012 - 06:56pm PT
Thanks for the nice TR. Too bad you didn't get any Wernerlight.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Nov 9, 2012 - 09:34pm PT
PW! Thank you for sharing the "choss-fest1"

I'm proud of you and Nic!

Great story, with great humor and wonderful photos.

Gym climber
It's not rocket surgery
  Nov 9, 2012 - 10:36pm PT
+++ I only skimmed, and have nothing but admiration.
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Nov 9, 2012 - 11:13pm PT
Wombat TR's are the sh#t. 'Gracias, PellucidWombat!
Dig it. Best choss climbing in the Valley.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 10, 2012 - 12:10am PT
thanks peluci.


  Nov 10, 2012 - 01:26am PT
Pellucid Wombat smashes it out of the park again. Thanks a bunch man. Looks like an amazing climb!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Nov 10, 2012 - 09:50am PT

  Nov 10, 2012 - 10:13am PT
Well done Mark!

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Nov 10, 2012 - 10:35am PT
great pics and adventure! Wombat you're gettin' out there

hilarious how playful Werner is, buy the ol' big boss buzz killed the lights. :)

Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
  Nov 10, 2012 - 12:43pm PT
Thanks for the report - delightful as always!

Here's a photo of the top, which you might have missed in the dark. A pretty loose area.

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Nov 10, 2012 - 12:45pm PT
Great pics and report! Having done ypb because you just had to in the early 70's, I still think it is a pretty trashy route.

the last bivy
  Nov 10, 2012 - 12:48pm PT
Nice TR as always, Mark. good for the archive! thanks

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
  Nov 10, 2012 - 01:41pm PT
Nicely done. I was going to do a TR on this route a few years ago but didn't end up getting anywhere near as nice of photos as you got.
I believe I was far too busy picking leaves and grit from my teeth to bother with taking photos.

That approach to the pedestal is way gnarly, not to be underestimated. As soon as I saw the TR, my first thought was "I hope he got a good shot of the thin ledge leading to the 5.9 OW" and you did. That was my favorite pitch by far.

Clint, that cam was there a few years ago as well. Looked old and crusty then.

That OW and two headwall pitches were really good quality climbing. The rest of the route was not so much, especially the last pitch or two. We rapped the L.Arrow notch and were back on the valley floor in two hours. Climbed R.A. to Crest Jewel direct the next day. My feet hurt for a week.

Awesome job guys, that route is a right of passage few are willing to take these days.

Heres a shot of the last pitch. What it looks like in the light tells the story of how crappy it really is.
Best discribed as "an ant despirately trying to claw his way out of a cat litter box".

John M

  Nov 10, 2012 - 01:46pm PT
Wow.. Great report. Thank you! Looks like quite an adventure.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Nov 10, 2012 - 01:49pm PT
Wish I saw the TR before doing the route myself (LONG ago_)

First time I attempted it, we approached wrong and wound up climbing the NIGHTMARE West Arrowhead Chimney cause we got started up that way and couldn't retreat..Loose, loose, loose

next time, found the beginning of the route fine, but probably climbed 5 pitches of it off-route and then, a tiny pitch below the rim, and in the dark, couldn't figure out whether to climb right, left or up. I kept heading off each way and backing down. Finally Right was Right



Random Nobody
  Nov 10, 2012 - 02:14pm PT
so much OW…

Thanks for the pics..


Fantastic TR

Trad climber
  Nov 10, 2012 - 04:38pm PT
So great and one I will do someday

Gym climber
Minkler, CA
  Nov 10, 2012 - 05:17pm PT
Thanks for putting so much work into your TR's! I like the hunt for adventure off the beaten path, TFPU!

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Nov 10, 2012 - 06:13pm PT

This looks like a great adventure. Might get on my list.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Nov 10, 2012 - 06:28pm PT
Excellent TR with nice pics! Well done!
It almost looks worth the approach. ;-)

Unfortunately it did aggravate the PTSD I incurred doing the approach to the regular YPB.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 10, 2012 - 06:37pm PT
Thanks for raising the TRs to a higher level. you make the rest of us look bad....:)

What kinda camera are you shooting with?

thanks bro!

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Nov 11, 2012 - 09:38am PT
Fantasmic TR!

Trad climber
  Nov 11, 2012 - 10:02am PT
Great TR and Photos, thank you! Really good read.

Mountain climber
Ljubljana, Slovenia
  Nov 11, 2012 - 10:58am PT
Looks like a fine climb!

Trad climber
  Nov 11, 2012 - 01:00pm PT
I really enjoy your writeups.

David Wilson

  Nov 11, 2012 - 10:33pm PT
Way to go. My dad and I did this route in 1973 and bivied on the pedestal. I led off ( age 12 ) the next morning on that hard pitch and dad didn't want to continue. We rapped the route and missed what sounds like the best and worst. I need to go back ! Thanks for the TR

Big Wall climber
Newbury Park
  Nov 12, 2012 - 11:25am PT
Spectacular TR. Thanks Pellucid!

  Nov 12, 2012 - 09:10pm PT
Great TR! I have always wanted to do this. I've never talked to anyone who has done it that doesn't have a story or two to tell.
Nicely done.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Nov 13, 2012 - 09:56pm PT
Thanks for the comments and stories, everyone! It is interesting to see the photos of the upper pitches in daylight. We definitely were off route on the last pitch. I'm in Moab right now enjoying some fine sandy/chossy wide in Arches, but when I get back to Berkeley I'll put up a photo of where we went vs. where I think the route goes.

Ezra, the camera I used is a Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS. I've been pretty happy with it, both in regards to the photos and the durability. I have long since cracked the LCD but the screen still works fine.

Sport climber
  Nov 14, 2012 - 02:34pm PT
Many many thanks for this photo trip....I've climbed the Buttress Direct in 1980! and I have only a picture of the OW this carousel is a fantastic back climb for me! Lamberto
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Nov 14, 2012 - 02:45pm PT
Wombat delivers again!

Boulder climber
Institute of Better Bouldering-DirtbagDad Division
  Nov 15, 2012 - 12:26am PT
This is what it's all about. You guys and that route are the real deal. Maybe I'll have to stones someday to go for it. Thanks!


Trad climber
Mountain View
  Dec 14, 2012 - 03:40pm PT
Bump for climbing content.

Gym climber
its nice here in the spring
  Dec 14, 2012 - 05:01pm PT
I don't know anything about the Wombat except that he climbs alot (and that he put up a desperate aid route across the street from Casa Z) and I appreciate that! The Wombat is a badass. Edited for bad spelling.
David Wilson

  May 8, 2013 - 02:23pm PT
Did this route on Sunday. Left the car at 8:15 and topped out at 5:15. Lots of loose rock, oatmeal rock, grape nuts rock, kitty litter rock, unprotected traverses, route finding wrinkles......actually more like a high sierra route than the typical yos offerings. About three good pitches in fourteen, but still memorable. Ran into Steck in the gym yesterday - how awesome is it that his FA was 1952. It was a route I had to do, and do just once.

San Jose, CA
  May 8, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
this report is the labor of love,
thanks for your efforts

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  May 13, 2013 - 01:57pm PT
Nice to see that you've learned what Lenticulars mean.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  May 14, 2013 - 03:56pm PT
I've known about lenticular clouds since I was in high school. The mountains are a wonderland of science and history.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 18, 2013 - 05:05am PT
By the way, Rosamond, internet sniping is a pathetic way to bully - and bullying about that is just plain sadistic on your part. I see that you haven't learned what HACE is. Meanwhile, I'm getting on with my life and am embracing a better attitude - except maybe my attitude towards people like you.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Apr 12, 2015 - 09:42am PT
another worthy TR to bump
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Redwood City
  Apr 12, 2015 - 12:35pm PT
damm this TR is excellent on so many levels: Well written, informative , lots of pics ... just superior .
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Apr 12, 2015 - 01:44pm PT
Never read this before! Thanks PW. Looks wide and chossy.. ;)

Half Dome Village
  Nov 1, 2015 - 05:30pm PT
Finally returned to this route almost 4 years after my first attempt. Having a print-out of this photo was super useful and made route finding much easier. Good climb despite some sections of decomposed granite. It took us about 12 hours car-to-car, which is about an hour faster than I did the Harding North Butt on Middle, or 4 hours longer than it took me for the Steck-Salathe.

We were able to make the direct route a little more direct with a couple variations which eliminated pitches and also bypassed the unprotected 5.7 traverse on pitch 5. Midway up pitch 4 (according to Reid topo, or top of pitch 3 according to this TR) immediately after climbing through a tree, it's possible to traverse a few feet right across a small ledge to gain a crack system that leads up to the notch of a little pinnacle. With a 60m I was able to climb all the way to a tree belay on a ledge above this pinnacle from the top of p2. That's 3 topo pitches for the price of one.

From there I climbed straight up the attractive corner crack which looked like 5.10 but ended up being more like 5.9. This ended up being my second favorite pitch on the route (the best of course is the splitter hand crack above the pedestal). From the top of that you can angle up and left until you hit the end of the rope and this is about 2.5 topo pitches in one.


Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Nov 1, 2015 - 06:29pm PT
that was Benwa's Heinous Trama Variation, rated 5.10, that you did (2000ish). Also, pitch 5 (in red) is drawn incorrectly. It traverses lower, close to where you traversed, or possibly the same place you traversed.

This variation may have been climbed prior to Ben's ascent. In 1963, Galen Rowell and Scott Walker climbed directly up to the pine tree (now gone) at the top of pitch 7, on the outside face, probably up the same crack, as it is the only obvious way up that section. They rated it 5.8, which would be an equivalent old school rating. (See Roper Guide, pg# 135).

Nice job climbing the route.

 Eric Gabel
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
  Nov 1, 2015 - 10:05pm PT
Wow -beautiful TR! Thanks so much!

Gary Hemming and I went up Easter of '53 - right side, can't remember exactly where. Bivouaced (unprepared) on the Pedestal, even had a fire but damn near froze, died of thirst next day. Good to see shots of the moves off the Pedestal, which impressed me a lot.

Really great TR!

Gym climber
  Nov 2, 2015 - 07:25am PT
After all the crazy reports, this one opens up the intrigue for me.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Nov 2, 2015 - 09:16am PT
Great report!

Always thought I'd do this someday.

Now, I think not....HA!!!

Trad climber
Menlo Park, CA
  Nov 2, 2015 - 10:42am PT
Awesome, thanks

Monterey, Ca
  Jul 4, 2018 - 02:18pm PT
Thanks for this TR, it was absolutely indespensible to us regarding routefinding. I could not imagine anyone just balls out going for it and succeeding with just the Reid topo.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Jul 5, 2018 - 09:57pm PT
It definitely appears that you acted on an absolutely essential bit of Clint Cummins advice about this route: take two good headlamps. If I weren't so lazy I'd link to the comment where he describes what happened with one bad headlamp. Absolutely hilarious for the office chair reader; must have been awful in the experience.

Proud ascent and the usual great TR. Those old routes with nominally modest ratings are burly.
Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
  Jul 5, 2018 - 10:31pm PT
If memory serves, the top of this route ("Pointe Sacherer") is where we placed the ashes of Frank Sacherer, in 2010.

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
  Jul 6, 2018 - 05:52am PT
That is an awesome trip report. I'm surprised I didn't see this over the past 6 years!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 6, 2018 - 07:11am PT
Nice old school thrash! Beautiful pics and fun commentary.

Oakland, CA
  Jul 9, 2018 - 12:57pm PT
Any route that goes floor to rim is a classic. No exceptions, no debate.