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Middle Cathedral Rock

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Bircheff-Williams T 
Border Country T 
Bottom Feeder T 
Cat Dancing T 
Central Pillar of Frenzy T 
Desperate for Doughnuts T 
Direct North Buttress (DNB) T 
East Buttress T 
Ennui T 
Exodus T 
Father Time T 
Flakes, The T 
Freewheelin' T 
Ho Chi Minh Trail T 
Home Run T 
Kor-Beck T 
North Buttress T 
Paradise Lost T 
Pee Pee Pillar T 
Quicksilver T 
Rainbow bridge S 
Ramer S 
Spank Your Monkey T 
Stoner's Highway T 
Stupid Pet Tricks T 
Tapestry T 
Tears of Joy T 
Walk of Life T 

Middle Cathedral Rock  


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 4,000'
Location: 37.7165, -119.6363 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 189,206
Administrators: M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jun 15, 2006
Forecast:
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39-50°F
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41-56°F
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42-60°F
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44-63°F
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50-71°F
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48-71°F
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Description 

Anywhere else in the world, a rock formation the size and quality of Middle Cathedral Rock would be a full-on climbing area in it's own right. It has the unfortunate problem of residing right across the road from THE ROCK (El Capitan), however. Still, Middle Cathedral has some excellent, long free routes on it that are well worth checking out. The most popular route on MCR is probably The East Buttress (5.9 A0 or 10c), included in the 50 Classic Climbs of North America. The next most trafficed route is probably Central Pillar of Frenzy (5.9), a nice crack line to the right of the East Butt (most parties climb five pitches and then rappel).

Warning: Some rockfall has occurred on MCR in the area of the Direct North Buttress (DNB) route and in the descent gully. Ask around for the latest scoop and watch your head!

Getting There 

Middle Cathedral Rock is the (surprise!) middle of the three Cathedral Rocks, found just south across the valley from El Capitan.

Bryan G. adds descent beta from the summit of Middle Cathedral: "There are several potential ways to get down from the top of Middle. The option which looked the best to us is as follows:
Begin by hiking downhill towards Higher Cathedral Rock. Heavy bushwhacking will be encountered. By staying near the left edge of the ridge (above Cathedral Gully) and with careful route finding we were able to make it down to the notch without too much difficulty. From here you scramble up 3rd class ledges and ramps with only minor bushwhacking until you're nearly to the summit of HCR. Then you can simply walk east and pick up the well-established descent trail which leads into the Spires Gully. **Don't try avoid scrambling up HCR by contouring east too soon or you'll encounter a ridge of 5th class rock blocking your path.

A couple other descent options mentioned in the Reid guide include:

-Descending slabs to the northeast to gain the Katwalk. Depending on the number of rappels required, this option could either be great or terrible, I don't know. It probably involves some fairly complex route finding in any case.

- Descending to the Middle-Higher notch, then hiking southwest toward Bridalveil Creek before contouring into the Gunsight. I'm pretty sure this is an ungodly bushwhack. Don't even think about it."

Climbing Season



Weather station 3.6 miles from here

28 Total Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',14],['2 Stars',8],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',2],['5.9',4],['5.10',17],['5.11',3],['5.12',1],['5.13',1],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Middle Cathedral Rock:
Kor-Beck   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 6 pitches, 600'   
Central Pillar of Frenzy   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 5 pitches   
Quicksilver   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R     Trad, 4 pitches, 600'   
Pee Pee Pillar   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 95'   
Cat Dancing   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   
North Buttress   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 18 pitches, 2000'   
Direct North Buttress (DNB)   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 17 pitches, 1700'   
Freewheelin'   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R     Trad, 5 pitches, 600'   
Ramer   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 140'   
Ho Chi Minh Trail   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 19 pitches, 2000'   
Stoner's Highway   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R     Trad, 10 pitches, 1000'   
East Buttress   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 11 pitches, 1100'   
Bircheff-Williams   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 5 pitches, 500'   
Border Country   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b R     Trad, 12 pitches, 1800'   
Browse More Classics in Middle Cathedral Rock

Featured Route For Middle Cathedral Rock
Arin past the P5 bolt ladder on the cruiser 5.7 li...

East Buttress 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b  CA : Yosemite National Park : ... : Middle Cathedral Rock
Fantastic moderate put up in 1954 by Batso and friends. The East Butt of Middle is a mandatory route for those looking to bag one of the fifty classics or for people just looking to get some great views of El Cap from across the valley. Mostly 5.6-5.8, this route ascends the springtime shadow line on the buttress. With an A0 section on the 5th pitch that can be climbed at 10c (slabby but well protected), this route offers a few variations above for those wanting to climb it numerous times or f...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Middle Cathedral Rock Slideshow Add Photo
Morning fog, Middle and Lower Cathedral Rock.
Morning fog, Middle and Lower Cathedral Rock.
The view of the Captain from high on the Central P...
The view of the Captain from high on the Central P...
Middle Cathedral
Middle Cathedral
Cathedral Rocks. Photo by Blitzo.
BETA PHOTO: Cathedral Rocks. Photo by Blitzo.
John Bachar bouldering at the base of Middle Cathe...
John Bachar bouldering at the base of Middle Cathe...
A couple relaxing in ElCap meadow with Middle Cath...
A couple relaxing in ElCap meadow with Middle Cath...
Middle Cathedral from a thousand feet up El Cap
Middle Cathedral from a thousand feet up El Cap
Some nice looking rock
Some nice looking rock
Cathedral Rocks
Cathedral Rocks

Comments on Middle Cathedral Rock Add Comment
Show which comments
By Bryan G
From: Yosemite
Oct 20, 2014
To descend from the summit of Middle Cathedral

There are several potential ways to get down from the top of Middle. The option which looked the best to us is as follows:
Begin by hiking downhill towards Higher Cathedral Rock. Heavy bushwhacking will be encountered. By staying near the left edge of the ridge (above Cathedral Gully) and with careful route finding we were able to make it down to the notch without too much difficulty. From here you scramble up 3rd class ledges and ramps with only minor bushwhacking until you're nearly to the summit of HCR. Then you can simply walk east and pick up the well-established descent trail which leads into the Spires Gully. **Don't try avoid scrambling up HCR by contouring east too soon or you'll encounter a ridge of 5th class rock blocking your path.

A couple other descent options mentioned in the Reid guide include:

-Descending slabs to the northeast to gain the Katwalk. Depending on the number of rappels required, this option could either be great or terrible, I don't know. It probably involves some fairly complex route finding in any case.

- Descending to the Middle-Higher notch, then hiking southwest toward Bridalveil Creek before contouring into the Gunsight. I'm pretty sure this is an ungodly bushwhack. Don't even think about it.
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