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Middle Cathedral Rock
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Unsorted Routes:

Central Pillar of Frenzy 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

   
Type:  Trad, 5 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Jim Bridwell et al. - 1973
Page Views: 28,586
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 2006

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Jeff Crow, Central Pillar of Frenzy

Description 

Central Pillar of Frenzy is a super-popular line up the obvious pillar on the lefthand side of Middle Cathedral's northeast face. There are almost always several parties on, or in line for, this climb because of it's excellent, though perhaps never outstanding, five pitches of sustained crack climbing. The climb is actually nine pitches, but does anyone bother with the last four?

P1: Begin in a right-facing corner on the right side of the pillar. Climb this slick corner to a final difficult move pulling onto the pillar itself. Belay at bolts. This pitch is the crux and is 5.9.

P2: Head left and up a great 5.9 finger crack system to another bolted belay.

P3: Continue up through a 5.8 roof and then up a 5.8 OW to another belay. This pitch and the next are probably the best on the route -- save a bigger cam for above the roof.

P4: Climb sweet twin cracks up to another bolted belay. 5.8.

P5: Continue up one more pitch (beginning with a chimney) of nice cracks to a final belay. 5.9.

Rap with double ropes down across the face (not over the route) to climber's left. Another double rope rappel brings you to an anchor on the left-hand arete of the pillar, over Bircheff-Williams (The Great Wazoo belay). Continue with double rope raps down the left-facing corner on the left side of the pillar.

Do not leave food in your packs -- the bears know.

Protection 

Double set of cams through a 4 inch piece.


Photos of Central Pillar of Frenzy Slideshow Add Photo
Matthew Fienup using all of his 34-inch inseam, on P2 of the Central Pillar. Photo by Linda Patterson.
Matthew Fienup using all of his 34-inch inseam, on...
Jon Graham nears the anchor on the Central Pillar of Frenzy's CLASSIC second pitch. <br /><a href='http://www.EarthworksImagery.com' target='_blank' rel='nofollow' >earthworksimagery.com</a>
Jon Graham nears the anchor on the Central Pillar ...
Matthew Fienup, P2 of the Central Pillar.  Photo by Linda Patterson.
Matthew Fienup, P2 of the Central Pillar. Photo b...
Mark Patterson nears the anchor atop Pitch 3.  The pitch ends with fifty feet of offwidth-ish crack climbing (4-inches wide).  Extra 3.5-4 inch gear allows this section to feel nice and cozy.
Mark Patterson nears the anchor atop Pitch 3. The...
Matt Grieger climbs the spectacular 2nd pitch of Central Pillar of Frenzy, Yosemite.
Matt Grieger climbs the spectacular 2nd pitch of C...
Hillary styling up the beautiful 4th pitch of central pillar of frenzy
Hillary styling up the beautiful 4th pitch of cent...
Kelly Kurtz on Central Pillar of Frenzy (5.8+). Photo by Tony B., 5/09.
Kelly Kurtz on Central Pillar of Frenzy (5.8+). Ph...
Steve killing it
Steve killing it
Mark Patterson displays the fruits of his labor, after completing the Central Pillar of Frenzy.
Mark Patterson displays the fruits of his labor, a...
john schaefer on p1
john schaefer on p1
Jay Bettencourt following the wide section above the roof on the 3rd pitch (Fall, 2002)
Jay Bettencourt following the wide section above t...
Aris doing some serious stretching on the first (or was that the second?) pitch.
Aris doing some serious stretching on the first (o...
The approach in mid-april = snow pile
The approach in mid-april = snow pile
Mustafa following and Yaman leading the awesome 2nd pitch of Central Pillar of Frenzy
Mustafa following and Yaman leading the awesome 2n...
Start of the route, as shot straight-on April 23, 2013.  Jason Albino gearing up for the Lead at the top of the snowfield right below the start.  If you're climbing this in late winter/early spring, this is probably the only spot at the wall base that you'll find snow.
BETA PHOTO: Start of the route, as shot straight-on April 23, ...
Trav cleaning the best pitch of the route.
Trav cleaning the best pitch of the route.
Kelly Kurtz follows up the 3rd pitch of the Central Pillar of Frenzy, 5.8+. Photo by Tony B, 5/09.
Kelly Kurtz follows up the 3rd pitch of the Centra...
Veronica on the outstanding P2
Veronica on the outstanding P2
Central Pillar of Frenzy - looking up at the Pitch 3 roof
BETA PHOTO: Central Pillar of Frenzy - looking up at the Pitch...
Mario and Julio do Brasil
Mario and Julio do Brasil

Comments on Central Pillar of Frenzy Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 3, 2014
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 8, 2006

This route continues past pitch 5, but virtually nobody does this. We once did the next pitch or two, which are pretty nice (one was 10a). Then as I recall the Meyer's topo has a pitch of traversing left, and this looked to be pretty scary so we headed down.
By James M Schroeder
From: Sauk County, WI
Dec 18, 2006

First five pitches are stunning - 5 stars out of 4
By Adam Steel
From: Salt Lake City
Jan 14, 2007

Anybody who tells you that the first pitch is the crux is only trying to snake the 2nd crux (and most stunning) pitch from you.
By Josh Janes
Jan 29, 2007

Post Script on my route description: A week or two after doing this climb I went back to do Stoner's Highway again. My partner and I were several pitches up and I was on the lead when suddenly I heard her yelling, "Oh shit! Oh shit no!" I was already on edge due to the nature of the climbing on Stoner's, and her exclaimations had my heart in my throat... I was actually relieved to find out the commotion was not because of catastrophic anchor failure or something like that, but rather because a mother bear and her cub had just strolled out of the woods in the direction of our packs (which were leaning against the wall at the base of the route). Meanwhile a party of German climbers, eye level with us on Central Pillar, also began shouting as the bears paused to poke around at their packs. I clipped into an anchor and watched helplessly as the bears left the Germans' packs (who quickly stopped yelling), and began sniffing ours. A long minute passed. Suddenly the bears turned around, leaving our packs alone, walked straight back to the Germans' packs, and began violently tearing them apart and eating their contents! I'm not sure what they had in theirs but it must have been better than the sweaty socks and approach shoes in mine. My partner and I breathed a sigh of relief and I chuckled as the Germans' began hurling the only thing they could at the bears: obscentities, unmistakable in any language...
By M.Morley
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Jul 29, 2007

One of the best climbs in the Valley for the grade. Every pitch is a winner.
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Jul 30, 2007

This is a stellar route for the grade/length. However, it can be a bit unpleasant for those with small hands. I did it with my girlfriend a few years ago and she hated it.
By trundlebum
From: Las Vegas NV
Sep 5, 2007

George is corrrect:
The 6th pitch is a .10a right facing layback, well worth doing. The 7th is 5.8/5.9. From here you can continue up. I have never been above here, but Meyers topo shows a .10c lb and thin crack pitch, then a .10d thin pitch. A short bit of .10 face and 4th class gets you onto the Powell/Reed ledges (but why?).
Also there is the possibility of doing a face traverse,
(scary, only one bolt and who knows of the condition?)
From just below the belay on the top of pitch 7, over to the 5th pitch of the Bircheff/Williams route. In turn, at the end of pitch 5 of the Bircheff/williams rt. it joins with the Kor/beck route at it's 6th pitch belay.

For those that wince at the thought of even a .8 valley offwidth (2nd 1/2 of p-3)...
No worries, although it is offwidth size and offwidth technique is needed, the angle is forgiving and the crack is quite featured making the footwork not so pure offwidth.

  • comment to "monomaniac":
If your girlfriend hated this climb, I hope she promptly gave up trad climbing forever and took up knitting.
By M.Morley
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Sep 9, 2007

A minor correction to the Supertopo description: pitch 4 is ~80' (not 100), and pitch 5 is ~160' (not 140). Note the combined length for both pitches is unchanged.
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Oct 1, 2007

Trundlebum wrote: "comment to "monomaniac":
If your girlfriend hated this climb, I hope she promptly gave up trad climbing forever and took up knitting."

Dear god! I hope she doesn't; I'd be SOL! A short memory is a key asset of the Alpine Climber. In this case, a girflriend with a short memory....
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Oct 15, 2007

The second pitch is a beauty no doubt, as is every pitch on this classic. But the 5th stands out in my memory as uncommon, airy, diverse, and super fun. There's nothing striking about it like the splitter on the second, the roof on the third, or the double cracks on the fourth. Don't know, that pitch just had a good flow to it.
By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Oct 30, 2007

Another correction to the SuperTopo description:
when using the standard rappel line (Metolius rap-hangers down Bercheff-Williams), the 3rd rappel is ~140 feet (not 115'). Also, the anchor atop the final rappel is well below the tree (not next to the tree, as shown). Finding these in the dark could be a little dumbfounding given the SuperTopo description.
By armando fimbrez
From: rancho cucamonga
Feb 26, 2008

Very beautiful route. The climbing is fun the view beautiful. El Capitain right across. The first pitch wakes you up right away when you start climbing the route early in the morning. Got lucky and was the first party on the route. After us there were three partys waiting to climb. Get an early start!
By tooTALLtim
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 9, 2008

Absolutely phenomenal route, each pitch on its own is stellar, but five pitches is almost too much to wrap your mind around!
By Ian G.
From: PDX, OR
Apr 16, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

My buddy Mike had already done this route, so he let me have the awesome roof pitch (third pitch). However, he decided we should go "light" so we did the route with one #4. So, I pulled the roof and stared in awe at the 5.8 OW above me. Oh...sh!t. I walked the #4 as far as I could and eventually did a move where I could reach down to walk it any further. Probably ran it out for 25 feet. It's easy climbing, but if you're not comfortable with that much space between you and gear, you might consider two #4's.
By Sheets
From: Livermore, CA
Jul 27, 2009

Some thoughts: p1--burly but not terrible difficult p2 was harder for me. p3 & p4 were the best imo--alas I fixed a #3 camalot under the roof. The OW on p3 is a walk-up, real fun. A bear ransacked my pack at the base so beware.
By John Ely
From: DC
Oct 13, 2009

A fine route. I found a lot of rope drag on the 5th pitch as it gets inside the lower wide cracks. More slings might help; a long pitch which uses lots of gear.
By Cory
From: Boise, ID
May 3, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

This climb was so much fun! Every pitch was steller. We climbed this the 1st week in May and had to chop steps up the hard snow using a sharp stick to get to the base. The first pitch was wet and slick, but the rest were dry. My favorite pitch was the second, with the beautiful steep finger locks. Pitch 3 was really cool too, pulling the roof using good jams. I placed my #4 pretty soon after the roof and then ran it out the rest of the way to the anchors since the OW is pretty secure. I also thought pitch 5 was really good, with several difficult moves between good stances.

There was nobody behind us so we just rapped the route. We got down in 3 double rope rappels. First rappel from P5 to P3, second rappel from P3 to P1, third rappel from P1 to ground and over the snow field. I believe that you could rap the first four pitches with 1 60m rope, but pitch 5 wouldn't make it.
By C. Hill
Jul 5, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Climbed this route with my girlfriend starting at 6pm on July 3, 2010. The first pitch was probably the most awkward, and the second the most physical (and pure awesome!).

To be honest, I found the p3 "offwidth" to be a little disappointing...I have small hands and found this to be mostly a very low angle handcrack with a few fist jams (without any tape whatsoever). You definitely want some wide gear (3.5-4") to protect it, but the crack wavers enough that no chickenwinging was required.
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Oct 12, 2011

As good as 5.9 gets.

First pitch was very wet - which made it even more awkward and slippery! But the gear is good at least. The 5.8 OW is easy. I brought 2x(new)#4 and one #3.5 and it was more than enough, but I happily placed them all. A #3 goes in above the roof before it gets too wide as well.

The SuperTopo rap beta is confusing since there are two rap routes shown. When you look it at, you'd think you rap down the last two pitches of the route and then over the roof and straight down. This is not the case. You rap climber's left about 150' to a stance just up and left of the P3 top belay. Then you do a 110' rap over the giant corner system to somewhat hidden anchors perched on a stance just to the left of the arete - I almost passed these anchors, so be on the lookout. Then two more raps down.
By Michelle Lynn
From: Moab, UT
May 14, 2012

Great route! P2 was my favorite.

I was intimidated by the 5.8 OW section for no reason. If Little John Left is 5.8 OW, IMHO this section is 5.6 or 5.7 fists (even for someone with small hands). It is low angle, narrows toward the back, and has some good feet to rest. Using Andy's recommended gear, it's not scary, it's super fun!
By Jeff Scheuerell
Sep 29, 2012

If you like long pitches, link 1&2 and 3&4.

Although, linking 2&3 is one of my alltime favorit pitches.
By aaron hope
From: Walnut Creek, CA
Dec 26, 2012

I agree with the comment about the 5.8 offwidth section being MUCH easier than Little John left.
By Lana dude
Apr 29, 2013

P4 Double cracks reminds me of the top of Bishop's Terrace, except it lasts much longer. This was my favorite pitch, partly because it's a bit easier lead and overall the route was near my limit. For a strong 5.10 leader the most satisfying pitches are probably 2 & 3.
By Bernard Van De Walle
May 27, 2013

Don't do this route with a single rope !!!

We almost had an epic after goin with just one 70 meter. (it is not clearly stated on the suprertopo).
Hopefully we managed to find some intermediate rap anchors under the roof on the far right.
By BFK
From: San Francisco
Oct 28, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Nice route, although various sections of awkward jamming (including the entire first pitch and 2nd half of P5) somewhat detract from all the hype this route gets.

Also, you can link P4 & P5 with a 70M (just barely though).
By Max Tepfer
From: Bend, OR
Nov 8, 2013

One #4 is plenty w/bumping. Plenty of #3 placements on the 1st half of the OW. P1 and P2 link nicely as do P3 and P4.
By Rude Boy
From: San Francisco, CA
Nov 25, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

"But the 5th stands out in my memory as uncommon, airy, diverse, and super fun."

I'd agree with this. I remember the 2nd half eating up microcams for good protection and it feeling more like face climbing than crack climbing. Was thrilling with all the exposure :)
Of course the rest of the route is super awesome too!!!
Pitch 6 looked great....gotta go back and climb higher barring an earlier start.
By RNclimber
From: Riverside, Ca
Mar 17, 2014
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

I just did this route on Saturday 3/15/14\, 5 stars out of 4. Each pitch was classic. Favorite pitch was pulling the roof. I suck at offwidth and every comment about it being easy was very true. There's a fixed cam inside that pitch, but make sure to keep a #4 with you after pulling the roof. I walked mine the entire way up and a 3.5 along with it. Save a #2 for the roof itself. I had to down climb because I used both of them lower down.

If I knew I would've have brought a pair of quicklinks/chains with me. The last rap on supertopo beta (left of the route itself, under the roof) are just bolts with old slings/tat with wrap rings. They look pretty sketch. It would be nice if someone replaced those with some good metal.

Did this in 3 raps. top of pitch 5 to top of pitch 4, then to rap bolts described previously at bottom of roof, then to the ground
By benkraft
From: San Francisco, California
Apr 7, 2014

The fixed quadcam in the "offwidth" is pretty brutalized and not structurally sound (unless you sling it as a chock). It has a ~8mm bolted axle -- someone should be a hero and bring a small adjustable wrench and remove it.

Otherwise, great conditions on 4/6/14 (highs around 60). First pitch was wet with a small snowpack, rest of the climb was perfectly clean.
By trying hard
From: Sierra East Side
May 4, 2014

Maybe the best crack climb at 5.9 ever. The first pitch gives you no indication of how mind blowing and fun the next three pitches are. The OW is more like a fist crack. You just stand in the thing perfectly and walk up it, nice break on the toes. Maybe the easiest approach in the valley with and epic view of the captain.
By Jeff Edge
Jul 26, 2014

Just a bunch of perfect cracks I dunno what all the fuss is about... Just kidding, route goes easily in 3 pitches with a 60, having done it this way I couldn't imagine doing it any other. Idk what's up with the supertopo pitch lengths, but 1&2 link and 2&3 link with several feet of rope left over (yes with a 60). I had a little bit of drag at the top of the 2nd pitch, but certainly not enough to complain about. Also, there is a bear box at the base, so there ya go.
By BenZH
From: Flagstaff AZ
Oct 3, 2014

Hey folks, My partner and I climbed there central pillar yesterday. It was lots of fun. On rappel we got our ropes stuck and had to rap past the second rap station. I was able to make it to some anchors, but my partner had to build a anchor and leave three pieces. If any one grabs them it would be super cool to get them back. There is some beer in it for you.
Thanks Ryan
918-645-2317