Type: Trad, 700 ft, 6 pitches
FA: Jim Bridwell, Chris Fredericks, Brian Berry and Joe Faint, June 1966
Page Views: 23,944 total · 153/month
Shared By: Anonymous Climber on Jun 15, 2006
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


Braille Book is an awesome route perched way up high at the top of the Cathedral gully. Named for the many knobs that would "allow even a blind many to climb it", this is some fun climbing! An extra bonus to the extremely enjoyable climbing is belaying with a ringside seat to the two Cathedral Spires and Yosemite Valley spread out below you. Although it comes with a bit of a grunt approach, it's well worth the effort for such a nice route. Get up early, this one is popular!

P1) Climb steep and featured wall just right of right-facing corner system. 130'

P2) Jam a crack that heads up and left into the corner. Continue in wide (fist) crack and belay at a small tower with slings. 100'

P3) Climb up crack to right of corner, that dumps you into a slick chimney (watch out tricky move!). Continue up the chimney to belay on small shelf on left at the base of right-arching offwidth crack. Long pitch 185'

P4) Climb right-arching offwidth crack up and right to a shelf. You can continue 20' up to another shelf via a nice and obvious crack. 60'

P5) Climb up face around the corner to the right (tricky!) crossing up and right to gain the top of the buttress above. 90'

P6) Climb up featured face, up and left across the face, headed for the top. Lots of places to go here. Jugs at the top.

Descent: Scramble off the back and then come around to descend gully. Beautiful hike down!


Park on the side of the road (south side) in front of Middle Cathedral Rock. A climbers trail can be accessed from this pullout. Follow the climbers trail all the way up the gully. Approximate time 1.5 hours.

Start climbing on the left side of the base of Higher Cathedral Rock at a right-facing corner system. Watch out that you're not starting up the Book of Job route!


Standard rack; soup to nuts. Don't forget the big stuff!


M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
The approach hike is straightforward but steep, gaining 1600' in elevation from car to the base of the route. Count on a solid hour at a brisk pace.

Pitches 5 & 6 link with a 60m rope (180'). Jun 26, 2007
Wesley Ashwood
Squamish, BC
Wesley Ashwood   Squamish, BC
This is a great route to move into 5.8 territory. The 5.6 and 5.7 sections are steep and well protected with fun features everywhere.

I brought an old BD 3.5 that came in handy a few times, you could probably get away with a 3 but for that extra pro its worth lugging along.

Avoid a backpack, its definitely a nuisance in the chimney as well ad the 5.8 OW which is in a pretty sharp corner.

We linked 5 and 6 together with some nasty rope drag and wind, but everything worked out alright. Oct 26, 2009
Daniel Max Christiansen
Cincinnati, OH
Daniel Max Christiansen   Cincinnati, OH
I would say, and the word around the valley is, that due to the greasyness of the 5.8 OW the rating is fairly sandbaged Jun 18, 2010
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
This climb gets my vote for the best 5.8 around. I did it for the first time in 1982, did it many times after that. The hike to the summit of Higher Cathedral Rock is well worth doing, the view of El Cap is spectacular. I've sometimes lowered down a bight of rope and hauled the pack up the OW section, then left it clipped to some gear while I finished the pitch, just to save the second having to carry the pack up that stretch. Jul 14, 2011
Bonesaw   CA
One of my favorites of all time! Did it on Jan 2nd, 2012. Can be done in four pitches with a 70m rope. Jan 4, 2012
Oakland, CA
thecornyman   Oakland, CA
Second time up so I tried the 10c variation on p4 and it was really good. The final 10a finger section looked dirty so at that pointed you can also stem back to the regular route. Perfect hand jams on slight overhang. Really fun. May 25, 2012
Oakland, CA
Sirius   Oakland, CA
Fun and exposed variation goes out right after traversing around the roof that caps the chimney/corner. Up to a ledge on right-slanting corner, then out right to good hands with lots of air under you feet and an amazing view of the complex, tiger-striped face of Higher's east face.

5-star route, no sandbag at 5.8, bring the #4 if in doubt.

Edit: This is not a PG-13 route, and none of the anchors on this route are sketchy if you do 'em right. Jun 11, 2012
Good time, there was a lot of easier face climbing that was pretty damn run out especially the 2nd pitch. Bring a #4 for piece of mind. Also 2 #3 camalots helped for piece of mind. I also found my C3s were handy. There was a lot of fixed gear that I clipped but never tested them. Also the pitons on the crux chimney was welcome, otherwise the chimney would have been more dangerous. I still thought it was a PG-13 route. I was also tired from climbing the week before though. Jul 6, 2012
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
Brian Prince   morro bay, ca
I've climbed this twice over two years or so and I still think the crux pitch is harder than anything on the Northeast Buttress. And if you don't bring bigger gear it will sure be scarier too. When I think of the two now, therefore, this one makes me uhhhh way more nervous. Even though the NEB is way longer, I'd say it's way more doable as far as the climbing and pro go. Seriously, one should bring a 4 or 5 if there's any doubt. It's just for the one spot but I'm sure it could probably be used elsewhere Oct 15, 2012
Las Vegas and Sierra Eastside
Xtine   Las Vegas and Sierra Eastside
Great climb at the start of a cold day...I just wanted to warm though: I got stung up pretty nicely by a swarm of yellow jackets that my partner accidentally riled up in the brush as we were hiking off. It was where you hike up an obvious trail right after topping out and it parts faintly to the left or right. We took the left - which included passing through the brush that the hornets reside in. Additionally, later I learned of a girl that was stung up two weeks ago on the same hike off after climbing Book of Job. Be warned! Oct 15, 2012
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
Regarding the location of the climb, the best place to park is NOT on South Side Drive in front of Middle Cathedral Rock. There are quite a few climber's trails here, most of them leading to various routes on Middle Cathedral Rock. Park on El Capitan Drive, the cross over from North Side Drive to South Side Drive. Walk down to the 3 way intersection of El Capitan Drive and South Side Drive, and there's a very obvious climber's trail at the west end of the intersection. This leads to what is probably the most efficient line up the Spires Gully.There are a few too many climber's trails leading into the Spires Gully, so keeping as much traffic as possible on this trail should minimize our impact on the area. May 13, 2013
Rude Boy
San Francisco, CA
Rude Boy   San Francisco, CA
The approach description in the previous post is spot on. You will gain a large obvious trail that heads up the gully between Higher Cathedral Rock and The Spires. Use this trail for any routes on Higher Cathedral Rock or Spire. I lead the first four pitches and there was a good amount of runout on some of the face parts and the large gear I plugged into the corner system was questionable at times. The fourth crux pitch felt 5.9 to me but I was kinda tired and not using the best technique at the moment. I was able to get good gear in the corner on the fourth pitch though (two #4 and one #5 Camalot). I was not able to clip the lower fixed pin on pitch 4 because my Black Diamond OZ carabiner would not fit through the eyelet of the pin. Started late and climbed the last pitch in the dark sans head lamp. FUN! That made the route live up to it's name, literally. Easy to get down off of Higher in the dark. You have to go south toward Hanging Valley until it almost cliffs out and then trend south east. It is not harder than class 2 so if you run into cliffs you are going the wrong way. Eventually you wrap around (keep trending left) and then are north east facing. Now follow the obvious trail all the way down the gully and back to the road (same one you came up on). Micro nuts would have been good for some of the belays but we got by without. The belay at the top of pitch 3 was sketchy. The rest are all pretty solid. May 20, 2013
Luke Mehall
Durango, Colorado
Luke Mehall   Durango, Colorado
Def. plenty of chimney action on this one, I was happy to have an old 4.5 camalot with me (equivalent to modern #5 camalot).

Old school 1960s Jim Bridwell route! proud line done way before cams. props. Jun 7, 2013
One of the first ascensionist' name is incorrect. Brian Betty is actually Brian Berry. Jan 11, 2014
Ed Henicle
Santa Rosa, CA
Ed Henicle   Santa Rosa, CA
We took 2 #4's, and a #5 to protect the wide sections, and a few small cams for the thin cracks - great day in the Valley Sep 13, 2015
Tatiana Cottam
Oakland, CA
Tatiana Cottam   Oakland, CA
Climbed this on April 30, 2016 and there are 2 very loose blocks/pieces on pitches 2 and 3 (or maybe 2 and 4?). Also, make sure you're not going up the descent gully (depicted) on the approach. ;)

May 3, 2016
Dropped an approach shoe from my pack from the belay just below the right arching off width (p4). Message me if found (thanks!).

Did this route in 4 pitches with a 70 m. Pitch 1 to the slings on the vertically aligned pitons. This used the whole rope. Then pitch 2 to the base of the right arching off width. P3 was the standard p4, the right arching off width. Then 5 and 6 (our p4) could be linked to the top, on great easy climbing. Jun 8, 2016
Alex Wyvill  
Detailed trip report of our ascent can be found at goodlooksandcamhooks.wordpr… Jul 23, 2016
Oak Park, CA
Sean   Oak Park, CA
P4 10c variation is wild fantastic fun. the frontfacing roof directly above that finish goes at 5.9 or so, with dangling airy exposure. P6 up the daunting steep face via the improbable line of happy jugs also awesome cool Sep 17, 2016
Bruno Beltran
Stanford, CA
Bruno Beltran   Stanford, CA
Man, what an adventurous day. I had twice hiked up to this climb previously only for a partner to realize they'd forgotten something important (shoes, then rope), so last weekend was dubbed Revenge on Braille Book.

The first pitch was kinda hollow sounding and loose, but the second/third pitches were righteous fun, and there's even chockstones to sling at a couple of the cruxes if you need to pull through. Did the 5.10c handcrack variation, which I would highly recommend. I placed more gear on that mini pitch than the rest of the climb combined I think, and the airy finish out climbers left is a *must* do.

I brought a #4 and a #5, and my friend's team brought two #4's. At the end of the day, we both thought that we would have been better off with the other's rack. Don't forget thin nuts if you want to protect the chimney at the end of the third pitch. It's not super hard, but a slip would definitely end in a broken back if you don't use the thin seam going up the left wall of the chimney for gear. May 29, 2017
Berkeley, CA
rafael   Berkeley, CA
dunno about being a good first 5.8, if you are already solid on yosemite wide 5.7 then yeah. The cruz OW/stem will be a real eye opener if you havent been on much yose wide before haha. I'd say brail book is significantly harder than nutcracker or bishops terrace, in terms of protection, technique and approach. The crux sections are also longer, and there are more of them than on BT and NC. Apr 30, 2018
Poom Wattanapan
Los Angeles, CA
Poom Wattanapan   Los Angeles, CA
Great classic route. Unfortunately got caught in storm after topping and had to make a rushed descent. Wasn't able to make it back to the base to grab some gear. If anyone happened to pick up a Patagonia Ascensionist 25L backpack with a guide book in it, please DM me. It would be greatly appreciated. Great route, fun moves, the approach is long and well worth it if 5.8+ is your speed. Be conscious of time, the descent can be kinda tricky. May 14, 2018
Hobo Greg
My Van
Hobo Greg   My Van
Now that's a 5.8. Steep, excellent, awesome. May 31, 2018