Elevation: 4,000 ft
GPS: 37.717, -119.636 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 197,630 total · 1,088/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Jun 15, 2006 · Updates
Admins: Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Vicki Schwantes, Justin Johnsen
Access Issue: Latest updates on Covid and falcon closures. Details

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.

Descent

Rap Route beta - Supertopo (scroll down page for full color picture of the rap route)

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."

50 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Middle Cathedral Rock

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 21
Pee Pee Pillar Left
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 829
Central Pillar of Frenzy
Trad 5 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 133
Kor-Beck
Trad 13 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
 8
Quicksilver
Trad 4 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 104
Pee Pee Pillar
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
 18
Paradise Lost
Trad 7 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 39
Direct North Buttress (DNB)
Trad 17 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
 7
Freewheelin'
Trad 5 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R
 52
Stoner's Highway
Trad 10 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 20
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Trad 19 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0
 717
East Buttress
Trad, Aid 11 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
 6
Space Babble
Trad 7 pitches
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 32
Bircheff-Williams
Trad 5 pitches
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b R
 21
Border Country
Trad 12 pitches
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c PG13
 5
Father Time
Trad 20 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Pee Pee Pillar Left
 21
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Central Pillar of Frenzy
 829
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 5 pitches
Kor-Beck
 133
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 13 pitches
Quicksilver
 8
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R Trad 4 pitches
Pee Pee Pillar
 104
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Paradise Lost
 18
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13 Trad 7 pitches
Direct North Buttress (DNB)
 39
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 17 pitches
Freewheelin'
 7
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R Trad 5 pitches
Stoner's Highway
 52
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R Trad 10 pitches
Ho Chi Minh Trail
 20
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad 19 pitches
East Buttress
 717
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0 Trad, Aid 11 pitches
Space Babble
 6
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R Trad 7 pitches
Bircheff-Williams
 32
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad 5 pitches
Border Country
 21
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b R Trad 12 pitches
Father Time
 5
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c PG13 Trad 20 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Middle Cathedral Rock »

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