Trip Report    

Cathedral Peak / SE Buttress (Yosemite National Park)

The culmination of a week at Yosemite.

  • Mon, Oct 12, 2020
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trail was very well maintained. Rock was beautiful and clean. Nothing is bolted and the descent trail can be hard to find if you don't know where you're going.

  • 0815: Roll out
  • 1000: Start P1
  • 1300: Start P3 chimney
  • 1530: Summit
  • 1600: First party descends
  • 1900: Back to base of climb
  • 2015: Back to cars

With the smoke rolling in we didn't know if this trip would go. Fortunately the smoke cleared enough for the park to open, and thus began a grueling drive down to California (with a stop at Smith Rock along the way).

Since we got to the valley mid-afternoon, we spent the first half-day at Sunnyside Benches, getting a feel for Yosemite grades with a healthy dose of smoke on the side. Day 2 was spent cragging at Daff Dome for some harder practice, and Day 3 was a hike up Mt Conness for acclimatization.  We decided to go for Cathedral Peak on Monday, where the wind would be minimal with no clouds in the forecast (to avoid lightning).

Monday morning we set off at 815 from the parking lot, already behind schedule. Seeing another car with Washington plates pull up beside us, we made haste through the trail before realizing they were going somewhere else. After a short walk we made it to the base of Cathedral Peak in all its granite glory. 


Look at that fine granite.

Julia lead the first two pitches through the sticky granite, reaching the large tree just after 11 am. The pitches were long, almost requiring the entire rope length. 

Pitch 3 had some knobby faces but was generally easy. There is a slinggable rock right of the chimney to belay from.

The views were reminiscent of the Enchantments with its granite obelisks, alpine lakes, and trees turning their colours below. It seemed October was too early in the Sierras though. 


Looking back on the Tuolumne Meadows.

There isn't much else to say about the climb. The rock is sticky, the moves aren't too tricky, and watch out for rope drag. The pitches are long and alot of parties break it down to more than the 5 labeled pitches.

Getting into the chimney was the crux. More difficult with a full rack. The inside has quite a few features though. The belay was again a slinggable rock. 


Chimney is narrow and easier than it seems.

Pitch 5 mozied over some ledged and cracks, which were also not difficult. The rope drag got pretty bad so we built a belay station 50 ft from the summit. From there it was the final splitter crack and some 4th (which feel like 5th) class steps.


Tiny summit. Panic Pillar on left, Eichorn Pinnacle on right.

There was no bolted anchor at the summit so you had to build your own. Since I was leaving my anchor for Mary I lowered Julia and myself down the rock step. We then went over to the trees to eat some leftover pizza while we waited, enjoying the views and the other team climbing Eichorn Pinnacle. 


Eichorn's Pinnacle

Since it was getting dark I tried to go down to find the way out. Turns out many teams rappeled down to the exit notch from a tree sixty feet below the base of the downstep. A free-soloist (turns out, it was Peter Croft) showed us the way out by traversing all the way to Eichorn's Pinnacle and back, but I didn't have the patience to find the path. We followed the Eichorn team to the rocky exit notch while Peter blasted past us, having soloed the Tuolumne Triple in a day. 


Taken by the photoshoot team.

We made it to our bags in due time and make the hike out in the dark, just under 12 hours car to car. Next time we'll be back in summer, when there is more daylight.

All in all, a great day. 

Rest of Pics credits: Julia Syi