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Sunnyside Bench Regular Route 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 400'
Original:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a [details]
Page Views: 9,433
Submitted By: Linnea Williams on Oct 4, 2009

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First Pitch of the Regular Route, Sunnyside Bench....

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


Sunnyside Bench, Regular Route is one of the easiest multi-pitch climbs in the Valley. It is an awesome first lead due its varied climbing challenges (bouldering, face, chimney, off-width, corner, traverse) and gear placements (micro-cams to #4 Camalot). It also offers one of the most direct ways to the top of Lower Yosemite Falls. During the early season, watch out for running water on the 1st pitch and on the rappel down.

Pitch 1 (5.2, 80'): From the end of the Class 3 section, rope up and climb into the squeeze chimney. This chimney is pretty narrow and may be hard to manage with a pack. Follow the chimney for 10-15' and go left over the flake. The wide crack on the left of the flake is probably the first spot where you can place gear (a larger cam). Continue up the crack until the big tree on your right. This is your anchor!

Pitch 2 (4, 100'): From the 2nd belay station near the big tree, you will see the obvious gully that goes straight up the formation. DO NOT be tempted to go there. While it is climbable and not very hard, it is not the route you're here to do. It is unaesthetic and not very interesting. Also, early in the season it will have a lot of mungey wet spots. Instead traverse right and up, following obvious cracks. Climbing here is easy, exposed and very enjoyable. After negotiating a couple of headwalls, ledges and bouldering problems (aka "the tricky bouldering problem" in SuperTopo), you'll arrive at the 3rd belay station at another big tree.

Pitch 3 (5.4-5.5, 150'): From the 3rd belay station you can see the first 80 or so feet of the 3rd pitch. At first you'll continue up an easy crack (4th class) to another tree. This will take you to the base of the crux. From here you can either go slightly to the right over 5.4 jugs (unprotected), or continue straight up into the 5.5 crack/corner, which is a bit too wide for hand jams, but still easy going. The well-protected corner is probably a better alternative to the run-out jugs, even though it is a little bit harder. Make sure to extend your placements with slings in this section. Once you handle the crux, you may be surprised to find a steep unprotected face right above you. Don't let it intimidate you and don't go that way, look to your right. You'll see a tiny ledge (1-2" wide) that extends across the face to a small tree. Follow that ledge until you are directly below that tree. If you experience a lot of rope drag, you can set up a belay station here. Follow the 5th class hand-crack above the tree all the way up until the easier ground. Use one of the larger trees for your anchor and enjoy the views!

Descent: A couple of options exist here. You can continue up low-angle slabs for 250-300' until you find the climbers trail. Follow that trail to the right and down climb the gully to get back to the Valley. It will take you anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to get back to the Lower Yosemite Falls trail. Though the trail seems to disappear at times, just keep going and don't lose faith.

Another option will require three rappels down the obvious gully that you can see from your 2nd belay station. The first rappel station is located at the very top of that gully. To find it, look to the left as you finish the route. Bring your own slings to be safe, the ones I saw didn't look very good.


on the left side of Sunnyside Bench, around the corner from Jamcrack, etc.


Regular rack (one #4 cam is helpful but not essential) and some smaller pieces.

Photos of Sunnyside Bench Regular Route Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Middle of the night hoisting my kayak up the route...
Middle of the night hoisting my kayak up the route...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cruzin with dad
Cruzin with dad
Rock Climbing Photo: The entrance to the Regular Route, scramble up the...
The entrance to the Regular Route, scramble up the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the last pitch, with a view of Lost Arr...
Looking up the last pitch, with a view of Lost Arr...
Rock Climbing Photo: Once you exit the gully, start climbing up exposed...
Once you exit the gully, start climbing up exposed...
Rock Climbing Photo: a bit of the view.
a bit of the view.
Rock Climbing Photo: Boysen strolling along.
Boysen strolling along.
Rock Climbing Photo: This route is an excellent way to reach other clim...
This route is an excellent way to reach other clim...
Rock Climbing Photo: The boulder that broke off that now serves as a ni...
The boulder that broke off that now serves as a ni...

Comments on Sunnyside Bench Regular Route Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 14, 2016
By Daniel Carlin
Apr 20, 2016

If you found some Black Diamond cams (green 0.75 and some smaller C3s) on or around the route circa 4/16-4/18, please message me. Thanks!
By England
From: ?
May 10, 2010
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

I don't think there is more than a handful of moves on this route that rates a 5.5. Careful route finding is needed on the fourth pitch, go right at the, "V" slot.
By Devin Shunk
Sep 11, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Strange first pitch on this one. The next two pitches are fun. The walkoff descent is easy to miss and can lead to some interesting downclimbing in spots.
By Rodger Raubach
Mar 15, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Saw a beautiful King Snake right at the base of the climb! I'm glad it's been upgraded to 5.5 from Roper's "5.0."
By Shane Rathbun
From: Mount Shasta, CA
Apr 19, 2011

Took the 5.5 variation, the variation was nice. Offered some nice hands jams but overall didn't really like the route. Would be good for a first lead, has excellent views of the Valley. I would have rather spent my time on a better quality route. The walk off sucks, especially in rock shoes. Rappelling probably sucks too, but if I were to do it again. I would rappel the descent.

By Brian Snider
From: NorCal
Aug 10, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

I give this a 5 star classic ratting if you make the trip to the pools.
Rock Climbing Photo: Lower Yosemite Falls pools
Lower Yosemite Falls pools
Anything less and your missing the point of climbing.
By Canon
Oct 10, 2011

Spectacular route, easy climbing but great views, engaging, and not likely to ever be crowded like every other route in the valley on a warm weekend.
By Aaron Slaven
From: Fresno, CA
Feb 8, 2012
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

It’s funny how 4th class gullies are the most awkward climbing. That would sum up the first 90’ on this climb. Pleasant easy 5th once you leave the gully. Long walk off!
By Colin Schour
From: Big Bear Lake, CA
Apr 30, 2012

Great first Yosemite multi-pitch climb for beginners. The last pitch is fun and exposed, but make sure to traverse right after the jugs. If you start heading up slab and hit a bolt, you're going the wrong way. Hike all the way up to the upper falls and hit the lower falls pools for a truly "Five-star experience."
By Brian Scoggins
From: Laramie, WY
May 19, 2012

The walkoff, especially in its current, early-season state, is a strong counter argument to doing this route. Do you need two ropes to rappel?

Also, the 5.5 variation can add a lot of ropedrag, so sling accordingly.
By agd
Jul 30, 2012

Did this route with my wife on July 28. When looking for a route in the morning on a hot summer day, this is a good choice -- the majority will be shaded, and all the belays have shade.

As for the Pitch 3 5.4 face/jugs climbing variation, contrary to the info there are in fact protection opportunities where it matters -- Yellow TCU fits perfectly in a pin scar. While a tad runout (hardly), you plug the pro before the "crux" move so it feels very safe. I highly recommend going this way -- very fun.

Be careful on the descent because it is quite sketchy. Lots of very loose dirt/leaves/rock that, if you were to slip you would surely be a goner. The descent about two hours in total to get back to the bottom of Sunnyside Bench. To descend in less than an hour would be pretty reckless.
By Michaeld916
From: Sacramento, CA
Nov 5, 2012

Only a couple of "5.5" moves getting to the second belay, "am I supposed to climb this tree?". Not that cool of a route. Would of had fun spending time on something else.
By TacoDelRio
From: All up in yo bidniss.
Feb 28, 2013

A fun solo. Cool views. Dang ants be all up in yo bidniss on the final crack.

If for P3 you go left up a sorta flake ramp thing instead of right to the 5.5 crack or 5.4 face, there is a rapp station with two newish bolts/hangers and rings. This would deposit you in the gully you started up.

The hike out isn't too bad. Then again, it's still technically winter so it may be a bit more bare than usual.

A fun climb I find myself doing on a regular basis to get away from people. Go for it.
By Dann R
From: Hermosa Beach, ca
Apr 12, 2013
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Wow. First route ever in Yosemite. I printed the description and used it. A few tips to description above of 10' to 15' up the chimney. It's not feet. STAY IN THE CHIMNEY for about 100 feet. The tree will be right there. Sling it and bring up your partner. Head out to the exposed rock platform with nice holds and feel your jaw drop at the views of the valley. Head up past the manzanita and do the boulder move. The second tree is right there. Go up the crack with jugs and STOP when the crack ends. Nice foot hold on your right. Place pro in that crack. MOVE TO THE RIGHT. DO NOT GO UP THE EXPOSED AND RUN OUT FACE! It was terrifying. The team in front of us told me that I missed the slight traverse to the right that leads into juggy holds. Whoops. I made it though.
We walked around for a half hour til we found one of the most sketchy trails I have ever seen in me life. If the tallus had slid we would have slid to our deaths. Two old geezers just walked on past but we decided to rope up. Perhaps I have grown too attached to this life....
By Slabspec
May 21, 2013

Did this route yesterday for the first time. Was initially questioning whether the route was worthwhile considering its supposed lack of challenge and some of the comments about the descent. I have had my share of epic descents (e.g. North Dome Gully - sometimes you find it easily then, a few years later - "where the hell is it?"). The pitches are short but the route was fun, with some route finding challenge. We had no problem following the instructions in the guide book about the descent. Just ascend more or less straight up until a narrow but well trod climbers trail is encountered. Follow the trail east - take your time. The trail does get a bit faint in spots but is easy to follow. After a few hundred yards or so you should be able to see the maintenance yards or stables below you. You will also see below you a rockfall/wash or drainage. Do not go directly down the drainage. Continue following the trail a bit further, it will gradually start to descend and then doubles back toward the drainage. Then the trail serpentines (some boulder-hopping) down the drainage to the ground depositing you behind the stables. The descent took 40 minutes.
By Jason Schmidt
From: Ghent, MN
Aug 9, 2013

other descent option: since you should go swim in the falls anyway you can rappel from the falls area. In the above photo (Brian's) you will see a fixed line that you can follow to the edge of the cliff. There are 3 rappel stations on the cliff. You can reach the first with two 60m ropes, and you can do another single rope rappel to the 3rd rappel station, or possibly go to the ground(unconfirmed). The lowest station is further to the side and makes it easier to avoid landing in the water at the base. I have got to the lowest station with two 60m ropes (they almost reach, but don't), but it required some shenanigans and could be a great way to kill yourself in front of a bunch of families taking pictures on the bridge if you don't have experience and are out on one of your first climbs. Two 70m ropes will get you down in 2 rappels easy(confirmed while doing middle earth). This option does not exist in spring or during periods of higher water. there are no chains, so extra material to back up the threaded bolts may be useful if they look sketch.
By Boriss
From: Sacramento
Mar 9, 2015

Climbed it today.

1st pitch is super easy. Avoid the loose looking boulder at the top by doing some chimney moves next to it and then going over to the left ramp.

2nd pitch is easy 4th. Next time i would solo it. Ends at a ledge with anchor opportunities (or continue up to one of the trees and belay).

3rd pitch is the best, it follows a 5.5 corner (a few stem moves) and finishes with a really cool and easy, but also exposed, traverse to another tree. If rope drag is bad or there are parties above you then make a belay here. However the belay is not very comfortable and your kinda hanging/standing on a small ledge.

Finish of by climbing easy low 5th class cracks to the top of some slabs.

Descend: climb exposed slabs (be careful, they're easy but a slip could be fatal in some spots) to the top and find a climbers trail heading right. This trail is covered in brush. Follow this trial until you reach an obvious gully. You will pass many drop offs with trails heading over to them but these drops aren't your exit points. Scramble down the gully to the main trail, turn right, and head back to the falls.

You can also rappel instead of hiking around but we did not do this option.

Gear: I had a set of nuts (4-10), a set of cams (.3-4) with doubles of .75-3, this was more than enough to get to the top comfortably. Ditch the quick draws and bring around 10 or so slings.
By kswissto
Sep 21, 2015

The descent was really sketchy - probably a combination of overuse, erosion, and drought. We roped up a few times - not because we were uncomfortable with the close, steep dropoffs - but because the loose dirt was unpredictable and small slides were happening all around us. In the future I'll be looking for the rappels on this route. Or rapping the route from trees. This is one instance in which rappelling may actually be safer than hiking.

There are newish looking bolts that have been banged in (read: unusable) at the top of the last pitch. So we ended up going all the way to the top.

Not sure this route is good for a new leader as it requires savvy when protecting (a lot of loose rock, a lot of dangerous placements that may look good) and route finding. A wandering route with plenty of opportunity to create rope drag. Also, the 5.0 slab at the top is sketchy because it is incredibly dirty and isn't protectable. Be very comfortable climbing slab when topping out on this route.

Do the 5.5 variation (left-facing corner/crack system) for more pro and lots of fun! Felt right at home for this Gunks climber.

PS - SuperTopo forums have more info on the descent. Read it before doing it. I wish I did.
By Steven Higdon
From: Portland, OR
Apr 14, 2016

I did this climb for the first time over Spring Break, and while the exposure was a blast, the stream running down the first pitch made for some sketchy placements.

From the top of the route, try to veer right relatively soon to find the hiker trail back down, as the route beta we had led us up to the bottom off the slam beside the pools, and as a result a loose dirt and rock slide back down to the hiker trail.

I also recommend the left facing 5.5 variation over the 5.4 face climb.

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