20 Jun 2003

Cathedral Peak

Southeast Buttress (5.6), also Eichorn Pinnacle

June 20, 2003

back to Sierras

From the guidebook, “Cathedral Peak is not only the most striking peak visible from Tuolumne Meadows, it is one of the best 5.6 alpine rock climbs in Tuolumne. Everything about the experience is incredible…”

It was our second time to make the approach, only this time we wouldn’t keep going over another ridge to Matthes Crest. As usual, it was very cold in the morning, and it took some steady uphill hiking to warm up enough to remove gloves and hat. We passed through the “Hall of the Druids,” a place where I couldn’t resist speaking about them and their strange habits. We ran into a party going to Matthes Crest, and chatted about climbs.

We reached the base of the climb and started up. It seems you can go anywhere on the excellent rock. Below is the way we did it. The main feature that disguished this line of pitches from various others is the chimney on pitch 3.

  • P1 Michael 62 m - Face and shallow crack/groove climbing led to a fun 5.6 lieback at midpitch. Climb stayed on the left edge of a shallow buttress. Gear belay.

  • P2 Aidan 55 m - Followed corners and connecting faces to a mediocre belay on a small ledge below a chimney.

  • P3 Michael 55 m - Exciting face climbing led to chimney. Pack attached to harness and hung below waist - very helpful! Chimney was fun, widened at mid-height. Above, face and crack climbing led to an asthetic belay stance on an outcrop.

  • P4 Aidan 40 m - Fun face and crack climbing led to big, sandy belay ledge. All nuts for pro, the route took nuts better as we climbed.

  • P5 Michael 25 m - To summit. A pleasing left-trending crack led to the top of a slab. Face traversing across small towers led to the summit. 2-cam belay on summit. Party of 3 soloists arrived, groaned about going to work later in the day at the Toulomne Lodge.

  • P6 Aidan 30 m - Downclimb of summit block via John Muir’s 4th class route.

Once down from the summit, we scrambled a ridge and slabs down to the notch between Cathedral and it’s sister spire - Eichorn Pinnacle. Aidan led off for a 20 meter very exposed traverse around a corner on the still-cold North Face. He set up a belay at a tiny stance with 1 fixed piton, 2 nuts and a cam.

Aidan led the next pitch too, which began with a steep, exposed step conservatively rated 5.4. Two fixed pitons led right, then back left at an exposed corner. Have I been saying exposed a lot? Well I mean to - that is the main feature of this kind of odd (but excellent) climb. Fun climbing up huge flakes led to the summit.

We admired the view and added our names to the summit register. A 70 foot rappel got us down to the notch where we started. The rope got stuck, but vigorous whipping luckily freed it. Another dream climb complete! There was a crowd by now on Cathedral Peak, but nobody was interested in coming over here. After some lazing about, we scrambled back towards the Cathedral Peak descent route and hiked down to our packs (I think we left them at the base?). Back down through the beautiful Hall of the Druids to the car.

Michael rappelling on Eichorn Pinnacle The Hall of the Druids Aidan on the first pitch Looking down the chimney Climbing on pitch 4 Summit of Cathedral Peak Looking over to Eichorn Pinnacle Aidan and register on Eichorn Pinnacle Michael on Eichorn Pinnacle