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The Nutcracker Suite (aka Nutcracker)

5.8, Trad, 500 ft, 5 pitches,  Avg: 3.6 from 1,087 votes
FA: Royal and Liz Robbins, 1967
California > Yosemite NP > Yosemite Valley > El Cap Picnic Area > Manure Pile Buttress…
Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


Nutcracker is one of the most popular routes in Yosemite. Rarely can one hike to the climb and not find a number of parties on the route. Having said that, it's an excellent route, with clean cracks, good protection and fine climbing!

P1 (5.7 or 5.9): There are two possible starts. The original, starts up a sort of gully-crack system, heading for a belay above. A 5.9 variation goes up the cool-looking (but seriously slippery!) finger crack that angles right, then up.

P2: Head up a sort of low-angle chimney-crack system and belay above.

P3 (5.4): Step right to gain a nice crack running up the wall. Climb this to a stance below an overhang above.

P4 (5.7): Traverse left across a slab towards a tree, then follow the crack to a belay below the infamous mantle move.

P5 (5.8): Climb up to the corner system above and execute the infamous mantle. Continue above in a nice crack that takes you to a flat summit. My personal feeling is that the reputation of this move is a bit undeserved: The holds are pretty big and it's over quickly. Ankles have been shattered on this pitch, however, so be careful!

Descent: Scramble down off the back-left of the formation and down the gully back to the base.


Nutcracker starts on the right side of Manure Pile Buttess where you'll see a bunch of broken flakes below a tree. Easily identified by the obviously trafficked finger crack to the right of the tree. Look for the crowd.


Standard rack.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Performing the mantel move with correct Beta
[Hide Photo] Performing the mantel move with correct Beta
Manure Summit!
[Hide Photo] Manure Summit!
Toping out after I led all pitches. I think I've successfully converted this boulderer on her first trad climb.
[Hide Photo] Toping out after I led all pitches. I think I've successfully converted this boulderer on her first trad climb.
Best to extend your anchor and belay near the edge to see/hear your second
[Hide Photo] Best to extend your anchor and belay near the edge to see/hear your second
Photo from third pitch
[Hide Photo] Photo from third pitch
"Nutcracker"-1st pitch.<br>
Photo by Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] "Nutcracker"-1st pitch. Photo by Blitzo.
Mike and Tristan from Wyoming at the crux. May 2014
[Hide Photo] Mike and Tristan from Wyoming at the crux. May 2014
[Hide Photo] Nutcracker
Stephanie on the first moves of pitch 3.
[Hide Photo] Stephanie on the first moves of pitch 3.
Pitch 1, 5.8
[Hide Photo] Pitch 1, 5.8
Paul Petersen leading the uber-classic first pitch (5.8) of the Nutcracker. 1980.
[Hide Photo] Paul Petersen leading the uber-classic first pitch (5.8) of the Nutcracker. 1980.
Having fun on the Nutcracker
[Hide Photo] Having fun on the Nutcracker

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

James Schroeder
Fort Collins, CO
[Hide Comment] This is one of my favorite routes of all time... You just can't beat it. Great climbing, great views and generally very well protected. Awesome Sep 22, 2006
[Hide Comment] A good route, but usually too crowded fo my taste. Every time I've done it we were the only ones on it, somehow. Sep 29, 2006
Paul Hunnicutt
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Good route. Nice lieback on the first pitch. The last few pitches were pretty low angle "slab" cracks...ok...Don't fall at the mantel, looks scary but it is a bomber hold once you move your feet up enough. Maybe some pro above it in the crack at your face, but I moved right to the next horizontal. Then you really don't want to fall. Oct 21, 2006
[Hide Comment] Awesome climb!!!!!!!! One of the best I've done! Jun 28, 2007
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
[Hide Comment] I've done this route a couple of times - very enjoyable. I seem to remember P3 being a very long pitch, and being quite short of gear when arriving at the belay stance.

This was one of the first US climbs to be done only with nuts and no pitons (i.e. clean). Hence the name "Nutcracker". Dec 21, 2007
[Hide Comment] I'd call this the ultimate social climb, you get to hang out with cool people at every belay station because it's packed with parties. Despite the waits, I had a great time. :) Apr 14, 2008
Steve R.
Oakland, CA
[Hide Comment] Lucked out with the route empty ahead of us. Good climbing. Great Lieback on the first pitch. Pitch 3 is a stream in the spring (it is spring, right?). The water makes the 5.7 lieback on smooth granite very interesting...

Fun mantle on pitch 5! I think Supertopo overstressed this as a crux. Don't take it too lightly but bomber holds and a little mantling skill get you up and over this fairly easily. Mar 30, 2009
Chris M
Hailey, ID
[Hide Comment] The mantle is over-hyped. A green or yellow alien (can't remember) protects this crux well. Great jugs- just do it. Probably the best 5.8 in the Valley although most of the climbing is really 5.7. Oct 17, 2009
[Hide Comment] Amazing that the legends of the late seventies and early eighties climbed this in under 9 minutes! I tried and couldn't/haven't.(yet) Jan 29, 2010
chulho "charles" chang
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
[Hide Comment] end of march, and pitch 3 is wet.

pitch 1 - 5.9 variation is awesome. Mar 31, 2010
Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
[Hide Comment] Wow, the entire climb is awesome! The first pitch is sustained jamcrack/lieback in a very clean corner. One of the best 5.8 pitches I've climbed. The bulge on pitch 4 and the mantle on pitch 5 were also fun moves, and all the climbing in between was a blast too! We lucked out and had the whole route to ourselves on the first Saturday in June! Jun 7, 2010
Wesley Ashwood
Squamish, BC
[Hide Comment] The climbing is really varied and fun. Definitely worth doing, even if there is a little bit of crowd. I thought the lie back was a little tricky being wet and having no warmup right off the bat. Aug 2, 2010
Dave Alden
Sacramento, CA
  5.8 PG13
[Hide Comment] You would expect to find this route on a much more spectacular formation than the Manure Pile. Although, the route is spectacular with great protection. Feb 28, 2011
aaron hope
Walnut Creek, CA
[Hide Comment] I was nervous about the unprotected Mantel for a while, but didn't need to be. I will agree that you can set some pro at about knee level before you pull the move, but it won't keep you from hitting the slab below. Nevertheless the feet are great and there's a huge jug for you to mantel from. Just get your right foot up and push up. If you totally freak out while pulling the mantel you could back off pretty easily. May 2, 2011
San Jose, CA
[Hide Comment] Tried leading the mantel but backed off. Downclimbed back to belay and then down the gully left to a tree with rap slings on it. From there I headed up and left on easier terrain, then traversed right above the mantel to the top of the buttress. High-gravity day I guess :)

So if you get psyched out by the mantel, there is an escape. May 28, 2011
[Hide Comment] I always heard about the "exposed mantle"... I am not a strong leader and could have done it.
In April, pitch 3 was wet and was by far the crux of the route.
Overall, good quality route! Apr 11, 2012
Scottsdale, az
[Hide Comment] This was one of the first climbs we did with the WSU alpine club in 82. I've been back tree many times and this has been my favorite every time. The mantle is a fun and committing move, but well protected. Apr 19, 2012
Angie C
Mount Vernon, Wa
[Hide Comment] Pitch 1 had some water which was annoying and slippery, but the real water is still a stream running down Pitch 3 (as of April 21). Makes the pitch trickier, for sure.

The main narrativesays the crux mantle is overrated and actually has has good hand holds. I disagree. I suppose that would be true if you were at least 5'10" tall. For people under 5'7", there is not much for the hands. At 5'5", I found this crux to be pretty tough. Apr 23, 2012
Jason Albino
San Francisco, CA
[Hide Comment] IF YOU SPOT A SET OF REVO SUNGLASSES at or near the top of this climb or on the descent trail, please contact me at jason AT jasonalbino DOT com to return them. I stupidly took a nasty tumbling fall down a gully on 4/19/12 after the climb, and would love to get these back to offset the pain of my substantial injuries.

Note that P1 and P3 were still a bit wet on 4/19/12, but given the good hand holds didn't preclude climbing (I wiped off my feet a few times after they touched wet spots).

For reference on my review, I'm 6', a 5.7/5.8 leader, and have about 100 pitches of trad under my belt all-time.

P1 is a sustained, somewhat pumpy lieback experience, but the pro is generally very good and much of it can be foot-jammed for partial rests.

P2 is an easy ramp walk-up to a great belay ledge, 5.-

P3 features epic exposure with a great crack system. 1st step right is no problem at all at my height, as you can do it statically. Might feel more adventurous if you are about 5.8 or shorter. Don't expect too many hand jams here, but feet will get in there a lot and the face/crack junction features serve as good hands.

P4/P5 were a bit unclear to me - we just about maxed out P3 with a 60m rope, then I found myself with options of either setting up a tree belay in the mossy face area, or a gear belay at the top of the P3 crack system under a little roof. I chose the latter (which was fine), though if you don't surmount the roof from there, you'll need to execute a sketchy leftward traverse with no pro for a couple moves after the belay (definitely clip your belay anchors beforehand). We went left here because SuperTopo indicated there were both left and right options, and the right option featured 5.8 friction moves over a bulge, which I wasn't excited about at the time.

After this, I lied back the left-facing mossy corner system for a bit before getting up and over the corner back onto the face right. From here, there's a pumpy but well-protected roof move (perhaps this was the famous "mantle"? If so, why was there no clear mention that is was also a roof move in the SuperTopo?) that can be surmounted if you're taller by reaching up on top of the roof for bomber holds on the right. If you're shorter, you may find this roof more exhausting.

After said roof, there were several good belay options, followed by a short romp to the top of the formation.

I'm pretty sure I missed something with the intended P4/P5, as SuperTopo didn't mention a P4/P5 roof move and I'm not sure where exactly the "crux mantle" move was supposed to be. Either way, my route worked and was a blast! Apr 24, 2012
Austin Fisher
Rapid City, SD
[Hide Comment] Started this bad boy around noon and somehow ended up being the only party on the route. I have no idea how it happened, but this is one of my favorite climbs in the valley thus far. Also getting up to the mantle holds proved to be the toughest part of the climb, the mantle itself was waaaay overhyped. Jun 2, 2012
Em Cos
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Don't worry about the mantle. We heard that it was spooky even for tall folks and ridiculous for short folks, so my taller partner took that pitch, got worried and backed off. When we finally sacked up and climbed it, it was one of those "Damn it, that wasn't even hard!" kinda moments. Tiny gear will protect it reasonably well. The holds are great once you get your hands on them, then throw a high step (or heel hook if you're smaller) and it's over.
Have fun! Jul 4, 2012
Climber Ryan
Auburn, CA
[Hide Comment] The 5.9 finger crack start is amazing. Follow it by doing the bolted slab 2nd pitch. Starting with these two pitches and the mantel on the final pitch makes this climb a 4 star. Oct 23, 2012
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] Truly a gem of the route. Every pitch is good.

Did the original start first, and then the finger crack start after walking down. A 70m just allows you to lower/TR after leading the finger crack. A gray X4 was perfect at the cruxy transition into the thin crack. Apr 28, 2014
[Hide Comment] A video of the route showing each pitch is posted at May 30, 2014
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
[Hide Comment] start early or really late in the afternoon

we were first on the route at 9am 6/5/14 and by the time I was leading the 3rd pitch, there was about 4 parties waiting on the huge belay ledge.

Saw a smart couple sleep in and started their day late when we got to the base. They figured starting late in the afternoon was just as smart. Jun 7, 2014
Mike Holley
Boone, NC
[Hide Comment] Beautiful climb and a classic at the grade! Took me a while to get on this thing and I wish I would have done it earlier! Every pitch rules and the exposure and location are stunning! Best done early morning or afternoon because it gets hot hot hot up there in the middle of the day! Sep 12, 2014
Belo Horizonte, MG - BRAZIL
[Hide Comment] I did it yesterday with some friends, in a party of 3. My first climb in the valley, it was definitively the best introduction I could ever have had :-)

I'm not a crack climber, so the lieback and crack moves were very hard for me. Jan 26, 2015
Josh C
Somewhere out West
[Hide Comment] No one pitch of this route is anything to write home about (except maybe pitch 4). Yet, as John Steinbeck says, "The sum is greater than the parts." Jan 29, 2015
Jeff Scheuerell
  5.8 PG13
[Hide Comment] You must have forgotten the first pitch and the third pitch, classics. Also the rock on the last pitch is amazing. Jan 30, 2015
[Hide Comment] essential beta: Cedar Wright and Sean Leary sprinting Nutcracker in 5:31.
(starts at 2:28)… Mar 10, 2015
JJ Foley
San Francisco, California
[Hide Comment] Do the 5.9 start.

Better that the 5.8 and in my opinion a bit easier...albeit slightly less secure. Did not think it was overly slick or polished by valley standards. It also has nice variation...starts with fingers with a cool high step for feet and goes all the way up to wide hands.

More fun than original IMHO.
Apr 22, 2015
John Ryan
Poncha Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] I've done this route four times, and it is full value. The 5.9 start is great - only 5.9 I've had to highstep and rock over my foot onto. The 5.8 mantle is like everyone says - stout. At the very least this is a 5.9. I've climbed V3 boulder problems with a mantle topout that felt about the same. A small divet on the left side of the dihedral for a foothold made the mantle much easier. I remembered the pro being solid and able to prevent a fall onto the slab - I climbed it a few days ago and there are a couple good pieces partway up the dihedral leading to the mantle, but I was unable to rig a nut in the slightly higher tiny slot. I'm pretty sure I would have decked if I had fallen. No pro for a few moves after you pull the mantle but it is simple climbing. May 28, 2015
Ed Henicle
Santa Rosa, CA
[Hide Comment] We were happy to have 2 small offset cams for the pin scars and flaring cracks Sep 13, 2015
Max Rausch
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] Did a full moon midnight ascent of this last week for my first time on it! It was 75 out at midnight so we went shirtless and blasted up every pitch. Only needed a headlight for some of the trickier gear placements. I got eaten by red ants on the P2 belay ledge. Made it to summit and cracked some beers at around 1am! The photo is of my buddy leading the 5.8 mantel.
Jun 24, 2016
[Hide Comment] Here's a detailed trip report with photos: goodlooksandcamhooks.wordpr…

Incredible route! Jul 23, 2016
Jux Tolle
Los Angeles, CA
[Hide Comment] Flashed this around a 1200 PM Start: My 2 person team started with the 5.9 variation. We were 2nd in line, but as we moved up we saw we were 4th in line from the 5.7 3rd pitch belay ledge. Waited a couple hours to get moving... Weather was perfect, no breeze in the evening. Warm night for the most part. No clouds.

Pitch 1: 5.9 Finger crack w/excellent smeared right feet, and left toe nubs in the crack. Difficult move is about 10 feet above the standing ledge, then it pushes a hard 4-8m of small +/- 2 finger locks giving way to hand jams and a clean finish. Belay at the Tree, but don't spend too much time there.

Pitch 2: 5.6 Chimney-Esque? Well, I mostly walked up the low angle, then did a lay back for the chimney section. You could get a 3 in under the flake to protect it, or you could just push through 10 ft to some great jugs. I dont think I protected it much other than a .75 about 3m. up... very short.

Pitch 3: 5.7 Hand Crack w/small finger locks and some stemming. Things get a little more vertical here for the 1/2 then you'll reach the belay ledge below the next pitch. Highly exposed, but it's all there. Used lots of c3's 1.s and .75.s if I remember - Otherwise nuts all day.

Sun starting to Set here and the darkness is creeping in.

Pitch 4. Shoot right and around, then back left across a face traverse. There is protection on a crack that shoots up before the traverse.. after the traverse head up thing crack with great feet. I set up a belay under the ledge and before the bulge which reminds me of double cross in JTree. I had some rope drag because I may have over protected the traverse not knowing how it was going to unfold. Also, I didn't see a tree.. maybe I didn't go far enough over.

Night Fall w/Headlamp - Definitely Awesome Climbing!

Pitch 5: I hopped over the bulge and climbed all the way to the bottom of the crux mantle area. I don't remember much of this, but great feet and stable hands. Definitely enjoyable and exciting in the dark. Feet are really able to smear on the rock from the angle. Set up an anchor at the bottom left of the crux move area. There is a small ledge 3m bottom right diagonal where I through in some 3's and even a 4.

Pitch 6: Set a couple cams in the undercling area, and a couple nuts in the left crux crack pocket. A nice x4 will also fit half way up. High hands, high right foot, stem left, and reach for two left sided nubs, one near and one far and beach yourself on that ledge. Nuts can go in the left side, or skip and move right about 3m of face to the crack.. and it's pretty much clear from there... up another 30m or so.. I was pretty beat, and my partner wanted to lead a pitch early but wasn't up for it.. I set the gear for the crux and her 5.2 60kg frame flew right up it. Its probably the easiest of the 5.8 pitches. Felt easier than the 5.7 earlier.

Descent: Left gully has wrap Rap wring about 10 m down. Rap to the deck, then scramble down.. scramble right when you dont think you can go any further and you'll run into a trail that will take you down some rocks and dirt. It's well defined. From there you can walk home.

We finished this route about 1130 PM in the full moon light. It was one of the best experiences I've had. The descent down can be pretty long 1+ hour so add that in the total climb time. We didn't get back until about 115 or so..

Also, my partner left some of my nuts in the route on 9-17. She didn't have a head lamp and couldnt pull them. Maybe 2-3 if she told me right. please email me at joeytolle at respond here.

Another great Yosemite trip! Sep 19, 2016
Tatiana Cottam
Oakland, CA
[Hide Comment] Offset cams and nuts are really nice to have on this climb, especially on the 5.9 variation.

I am 5'6" and although the roof looks intimidating, the mantel move was not difficult. Stand on the tiny ledge that's in the middle of the roof, reach up on the right to jugs, heel hook and pull. My partner used a yellow (size 8) nut, 0.4 BD cam, and a blue Totem on the mantel roof, which protected against a fall onto the slab well. You can protect the moves right after the roof if you have tiny cams/offsets. Oct 2, 2017
Evan Kirk
[Hide Comment] Great climb. FWW At 6'2"I found the 'mantle' to be v0 mindless pull-up. I thought the moves getting to the mantle were much harder but with great gear. No need to get intimidated by the infamous mantle crux May 8, 2018
Tyler Gates
[Hide Comment] Such a great route.

Maybe I missed it, but I'm surprised that no one has mentioned being able to link Pitch 1 and 2 of the regular start.
With a 70m you can JUST make it to the belay ledge on the top of pitch 2. A little bit of rope drag, but the climbing is easy there and well worth skipping an extra belay. Extended my piece at the crux and then put my next piece at the suggested belay.

We started at 5pm, watched the sunset from the top and had every belay stance to our selves (one party was two pitches ahead of us). May 19, 2018
Christian Hesch
[Hide Comment] As tyler says, linking 1 & 2 is so much nicer, and a no brainer, IMO. Just make sure you flick the rope up and over the corner so it doesn't fall into the crack and drag the heck out of you. I flicked in on a quick morning lap on a saturday, then spaced out the very next afternoon...geez, i'll never do that again! what a PITA. Drag isn't bad as long as you route it over the top instead of the way you climbed through the corner, just don't forget! May 22, 2018
[Hide Comment] .y first climb in Yosemite about 27 yrs ago.I pretty much cruised it
even though I'm short.I found the mantel easy and the cracks mostly a near perfect jams for my small hands
We 2 of us were first on the climb that summer morning
long ago.It was a fine introduction to the valley Oct 24, 2018
[Hide Comment] The FA may have been done without pitons, but certainly many subsequent parties didn't follow the same ethic.

Many of the finger cracks have piton scars in them, but the worst is on the last pitch where there's a line of pin blowouts large enough to walk your feet up in, similar to P1 on Serenity Crack. Oct 29, 2018