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This is one route that you wont ever have to wait in line for. While every day there are dozens of parties climbing all over the outer surface of Yosemite's most iconic crag, only rarely does a team make the adventure into the dark interior of the Cookie. The first couple pitches are not that great, but unique and wild climbing in the enormous chimney above makes it worthwhile. As an added historical trophy, this climb was the first climb done at the Cookie way back in 1958.
One should also note that poison oak grows in the gully/crack system leading up to the chimney, as well as on the descent. I'm only mildly allergic to the stuff. I've gone on many off trail adventures all around the Lower Merced, including a night descent from Elephant Rock sans headlamp. This climb is the only one that's ever left me with a rash.
Pitch 1: Start maybe 30 feet up and left of Catchy. An easy offwidth leads up to a small ledge. To the right is a thin crack variation which goes at 5.11d, or to the left is a short 5.9 offwidth. After that, more scrambling on blocky terrain leads to the big brush-covered ledge that Catchy Corner and Jardines Hand start off of.
Pitch 2: Climb up lots of blocks in a gully to beneath a roof. I think the route is supposed to turn the roof to the left. I went right by mistake. Going right takes you to a big knob out on the arête next to the roof, then a single 5.10 move in a dirty crack to get established above the roof. Either way, the rest of the pitch will involve horrible bushwhacking through substantial poison oak to a belay at a piton below the great chimney.
Pitch 3: A final section of bushwhacking guards the entrance to the chimney. Once youre in the chimney the rest of the route is pretty obvious. Theres actually a good amount of gear to be had in various crack systems and chockstones. Theres also several large steps or ledges. You will need to belay at some point before you make the top.
Pitch 4: Continue up the chimney, near the end you move onto some chockstones with lots of loose sand on them and theyre a little bit scary to navigate. Try to not send anything down on your belayer. A final chockstone roof must be passed to reach the top of the cliff.
To descend, walk off to the left (south-west). There is a pretty good trail once you get to a point above Meat Grinder, but the first part is all bushwhacking with plenty of poison oak.
Pro to 6"
But really you can do this by just walking one #6 Camalot all the way with you on the first pitch, then everything else can be protected with hand size gear or smaller.
From: San Jose
Dec 16, 2013
First pitch really stout for the grade. I think at the time of FA, 5.10 did not exist.
15 feet clean 6 inch OW section is really good to practice hand/fist stack if you go right side in.
Doing Left side in is much easier, because crack is off-set and you can better bridge heal/toe with outside right foot, but in this case you need to change side in the end of ow.