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Camping at Cathedral Lakes -> Climbing Southeast Buttress Beta

Original Post
Daniel Shahrin · · San Jose · Joined Oct 2022 · Points: 37

Hey everyone,

Since Tuolumne campgrounds are closed for this year, I decided to base our tuolumne climbing adventures around Cathedral Lakes as our basecamp. I read some threads about how the approach and descent between cathedral peak and the lakes is possible and "cruiser" but no specific information or a gps track, since it is basically cross country scrambling. I want to be as prepared as possible for any challenges we may face on the approach.

Can anyone share some very specific beta for safely getting to the southeast buttress and back from cathedral lakes? I intend to go from 07/26 - 07/28, when hopefully Tioga pass will have opened. 

Thank you in advance for any help.

Ryan Huetter · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 395

It is as chill and straightforward travel as you could get, wrapping around the south side. Dropping back to Cathedral Lakes from Eichorn's is a bit more involved, probably easier just to head back to the base and return that way to camp. 

Daniel Shahrin · · San Jose · Joined Oct 2022 · Points: 37

How many hours should I allocate for the approach to and from the base? And I'm assuming that camping at the Upper lake instead of Lower lake is the way to go, right?

M L · · Sonora, CA · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 165

No disrespect but get a map and some experience navigating in the backcountry. But rule of thumb is 2-3mph not bushwhacking and 30m to 1 hr extra per 1000 feet gain

abandon moderation · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 54

I find Google maps terrain layer often useful. Also the satellite view.

The upper lake is closer - when you're standing there, it'll make sense that you can just look up, see cathedral, and walk towards it.

Andrew Rice · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 11


I'm confident you can figure it out. 
phylp phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 1,097
Daniel Shahrin wrote:

I intend to go from 07/26 - 07/28, when hopefully Tioga pass will have opened. 

It certainly will be interesting to see what the situation will be for climbers in the Meadows this year.  The road may be open for pass thru traffic, but who know what the condition of the pullouts and parking will be, if overnight parking on the roadside will be allowed at the end of July?  Add to that the uncertainty of the snowpack  - I'm hearing reports about various cliffs in the Mammoth Basin that I typically go to, still being inaccessible.  I can't remember where I saw this photo, but I think it was a recent photo of Saddlebag Lake at 10K still being buried in snow.

Given all those uncertainties, it might make more sense to just camp on the east side of Tioga Pass and drive in and do your climbing 1 day at a time - whereever the conditions permit.  I can't even begin to imagine how bad the mosquitoes will be around those high lakes this month. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern California
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