Type: Boulder
FA: Ron Kauk, 1978
Page Views: 58,223 total · 380/month
Shared By: Peter Franzen on Jun 21, 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


What can you say about such a classic boulder problem that can possibly do it justice? First sent by Ron Kauk who worked it for over two months in 1978 with fellow hardman John Bachar, this line up the Columbia Boulder stands as a true milestone in modern rock climbing.

People have rated this from V7 to V9, and if you can't mantle it's going to feel downright impossible.

Start on the series of polished opening crimps, fire a right hand up to a good undercling crimp, move the left hand up, and then get ready to fly out to the Lightning Bolt hold with your feet kicking in the air (although if you're over 6ft. or so it can be done as a static move). The bottom moves are powerful but it's the infamous mantle that will throw most suitors back down into the dust. Trust your spotter and believe...


Right in Camp 4. Look for the chalked lightning bolt on the rock. You can't miss it.


Crashpad, spotter
Craig Childre
Lubbock, Texas
Craig Childre   Lubbock, Texas
"In 1980, Jon Frank was the first Oklahoma climber to go to Yosemite Valley. . . The locals were amused to see Oklahoma plates pull into their parking lot, and when Jon opened his mouth the amusement turned to laughter.

"Gol-ly!" said Jon. "Look at those boulders!"

He eventually got to within one or two moves of the top of Midnight Lightning, the most notorious--and visible--boulder problem in Yosemite and one that still has only half a dozen ascents. The snickers subsided." - Oklahoma Rock by Doug Robinson

Part of Oklahoma's climbing history...this is one of the more famous boulder problems...probably due to the fact that it was the first to achieve some respect for their climbers who happily returned later

"But they had left their mark on Yosemite, the climbers' arena. This past spring, Rick McUsic and three of Oklahoma's younger climbers--the next generation--pulled into the climbers' parking lot. Seeing the Oklahoma plates, a few of the normally jaded locals held back respectfully for a few moments, then rushed over to greet the newcomers, eager for news of Duane and the boys." Jan 2, 2008
For ultimate beta on camp 4 check out Corey Rich's Photosynth with national geographic:

with millions of images you can check out the big picture and the tiniest crimp in 3d.

Its pretty cool stuff Dec 2, 2008
Andy Liu
Eastern Sierra
Andy Liu   Eastern Sierra
John Martin
Kearns, UT
John Martin   Kearns, UT
vimeo.com/3107126 Mar 24, 2012
skinny legs and all
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
skinny legs and all   Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
The first female ascent of Midnight Lightning was by Lynn Hill, though she used a toprope to suss the moves, but this was before the days of crashpads as we know them today. Little Lynnie started trying it in 1995 and completed it in 1998. Lisa Rands was the second female to climb the Lightning in the early 2000's. Followed by Angie Payne then Ally Dorey sent in May 2006. I bet this problem has seen less than a dozen female ascents. I think Alex Johnson has done it, as well as Thomisida Pidgeon and perhaps Alex Puccio. Does anyone know of any other females who have done it? Apr 8, 2013
Matt Haig
Bishop, California
Matt Haig   Bishop, California
Nate Flynn
United States
Nate Flynn   United States
I tried this route the last two times in the valley and I can't get off the ground, any tips? Aug 8, 2013
Tyler Alves
Santa Barbara, Ca
Tyler Alves   Santa Barbara, Ca
Just watched the Lynn Hill version of ML and noticed that her feet don't cut on the move to the lightning bolt crimp. So strong!
youtube.com/watch?v=Xfndrk4… May 8, 2017
Aaron Formella
Atascadero, CA
Aaron Formella   Atascadero, CA
Some history from Ron Kauk (FA) and some video beta by David Sjöquist:

Adam Ondra flashing it:

...and...some theme music for inspiration
youtu.be/Nbmu3V2W2T8 Jan 4, 2019