Type: Trad, Alpine, 600 ft, 6 pitches
FA: Gordon Webster, Frank de Saussure and TM Herbert, 1965
Page Views: 21,836 total · 141/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Jul 9, 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


South Crack is a great climb that begins with several pitches of gradually steepening clean 5.8 finger cracks and then finishes with some rather run out 5.7+ slabs to the summit.

Begin at the southernmost foot of the dome, right of the Great White Book. Scramble up 4th class ledges and low angle rock towards the obvious crack/flake system until it becomes necessary to belay. Depending on your comfort level (or willingness to simul), you can eliminate a lot of belays by pushing the approach high. At the end of the cracks you'll find some wandering, unprotected slabs that lead to the summit. It may be best to head relatively straight up (easier), or to link small features (pro).


Standard Rack
Been doing this climb and leading others on it for 30 years. It's one of the best in Tuolumne. Dec 5, 2007
Karl K
Phoenix, AZ
  5.8 R
Karl K   Phoenix, AZ
  5.8 R
Probably my favorite climb in Tuolumne...
With a 60m rope, start with a short pitch to the top of the 5.4 pillar (just before the step right). Now P2 is a single, long 5.8 finger crack pitch to the great ledge.
P3 follows the crack up and right until it peters out.
The traditional route goes up and part the left side of the roof and is 5.7 (runout). I prefer to go up and right on runout 5.5 face (see SuperTopo) and then finish on the easy (and well protected) class 5 & class 4 corner to the top. I think the right variation is much less scary (really only a 20 & 25' runout on 5.5) and makes it possible to avoid a cluster of climbers on the left. Aug 5, 2008
LeeAB Brinckerhoff
LeeAB Brinckerhoff   ABQ, NM  
As good as Nutcracker and just as beautiful a setting. Aug 18, 2008
Rob Davies UK
Cheshire, UK
  5.8 R
Rob Davies UK   Cheshire, UK
  5.8 R
Brilliant. Maybe R at the top but not the scary sort. UK grade VS 4c. May 8, 2009
Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
  5.8 R
Cory Harelson   Boise, ID
  5.8 R
Awesome splitter finger crack. Went up and right after the crack ended. Pretty runout, but not that hard . . . Sep 8, 2009
Oakland, Ca
snowhazed   Oakland, Ca
3 pitches with a 70m rope and a wee bit of simul climbing at the very end on the easy stuff. Jun 29, 2010
Rodger Raubach
  5.8 PG13
Rodger Raubach  
  5.8 PG13
I'd tend more towards a PG13 than an R rating for competent leaders. Jul 20, 2010
Josh Cameron
  5.8 R
Josh Cameron   M.O.A.B.
  5.8 R
Great variation on this climb. Finished with the original finish to the left. Definitely an R rating. The run-out slab climbing was mostly 5.6 with an occassional 5.7 move, but you're a long way above your last piece. Also, if someone told me the finger crack on the first pitch was 5.9, I'd have bought it.

Loved sitting in the bucket and belaying up my second after the first runout slab. Nov 23, 2011
Awesome climb! Breezy step across on 1st pitch. Splitter finger crack with tons of good spots to rest. Cruiser runouts, though I bet the unaccustomed will be freaked out. I thought the 5.6 runout on the last pitch was spicier than the 5.7 after the roof. Classic stuff... Jun 3, 2012
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
The non-standard start at the very base of the P1 Crack shouldn't be overlooked. It protected okay without especially small gear but that may be improved using a small ball nut or perhaps two. Jul 29, 2012
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
Yes, awesome, and yes, WAY run-out on the friction [5.6-5.7 R or "R/X"?], but at least there IS some friction on the friction, whereas the crack section is getting somewhat polished, although quite protectable [G / PG]. I thought the crack section was pretty solid 5.9 (but I never claim to be very solid on cracks) as it leans right. Aug 26, 2014
Where's Walden
  5.7 PG13
Where's Walden  
  5.7 PG13
Great route. Lots of fun and secure climbing! Sep 2, 2014
Robert Shortt
San Francisco, CA
  5.8 R
Robert Shortt   San Francisco, CA
  5.8 R
Nice fingers on P1&2, but remember it's still just a giant slab climb (including the never-ending 3rd/4th descent). Opted for the "Alternate Finish" to the right after P3 (i.e. looked to the 5.6/5.7R to the left and said NOPE). Still scary IMO to runout 5.5 friction, but then again my big boy pants have yet to arrive in the mail. Sep 21, 2015
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
5.8 R
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
5.8 R
Definitely warrants an R rating for all but the most competent slab climbers (and even then it's still run). Let's put it this way, I climbed Ursula (.10c, trad bolted per the usual Tuolumne standards) on Dozier Dome the day before, and was glad I did when I got to the 5.7 pitch. It's just 5.7, but since it's the Meadows you'll be much more relaxed if you're solid at the grade. Nov 4, 2015
Loved this thing. Wasn't having a great trip - lead head just wasn't consistent at all - but felt great on the first two pitches. Runout friction wasn't too bad after umpteen years practice in South Platte. Dec 23, 2015
Redondo Beach, CA
pkeds   Redondo Beach, CA
I thought this route was pretty overrated. It was 1 good pitch of climbing. Much better in Tuolumne. Feb 20, 2016
J Sundstrom
San Diego, CA
  5.8 R
J Sundstrom   San Diego, CA
  5.8 R
A piece of advice for those doing the 5.5 variation on P4: after going up the easy slab to a small ledge, keep going right. Continuing to go up the water streak will get you into territory much harder than 5.5 with a 35+ft runout. Jun 19, 2016
Colin Szehner
Oakland, Ca
Colin Szehner   Oakland, Ca
Combine pitches one and two for a 200' mega pitch of perfect 5.8 fingers, Awesome! Jun 27, 2016
Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
First time on Stately Pleasure dome. The first pitch is probably the best climbing. The next two pitches continue to the cracks end. Then, you get to the slab climbing on pitch 4, which is where the fun begins. We went left across the slab for the 5.7 version. The next 3 pitches are all slab and deserve the "R" rating. If you don't have much experience on this type of climbing be ready for some excitement. I found the walk off pretty straight forward. I had heard comments that it's super sketchy. If wet there is some dark rock about halfway down that was pretty slick and the crux of the descent. This could be easily rapped from a large tree. Overall I loved the climb and it's totally worth doing. Jul 27, 2016
Bailey Smith
Sacramento, CA
  5.8+ R
Bailey Smith   Sacramento, CA
  5.8+ R
Third three pitches deserve all the stars. Stout finger crack with polished feet let off to some perfect finger and hand jams above. Once the crack ends the fun also follows. Pretty run out. Decent got a little hairy as we got caught in some hail/rail. I recommend vearing to skiers right after the belay tree. Sep 12, 2016
King Tut
Citrus Heights
King Tut   Citrus Heights
Yosemite Classic for the grade. If its not your cup o' tea you are dead to the miracle. Feb 20, 2017
David Stephenson
Mount Wellington, Tasmania
  5.8 R
David Stephenson   Mount Wellington, Tasmania
  5.8 R
Classic route, which I might have done once before in the 70s but it was so long ago I can't remember. This time, with a 70m rope, I combined P1 with most of P2 to belay on a nice ledge. 2 1/2 more pitches on the slabs got us to the walk off. Lovely climbing! Jul 10, 2017
Berkeley + Sunny Slopes, CA
  5.8 R
old5ten   Berkeley + Sunny Slopes, CA
  5.8 R
would not recommend the right exit variation these days, it's really wet... Jul 16, 2017
Josh Cameron
  5.8 R
Josh Cameron   M.O.A.B.
  5.8 R
Yosemitesam is right. The 5.6 friction on the last pitch is waaaay sketchier than the infamous 5.7 runout on pitch 3. One of my favorites in Tuolumne. Sep 30, 2017
John Hayes II
  5.8 R
John Hayes II  
  5.8 R
Excellent climb. To stay on route, locate the right-angling crack from the road. It is approximately 100 yards to the right/east of Great White Book, and above the right side of the bushes there. You climb up easy flakes and stuff, then take a spicier step right to enter the crack. Stay in the crack alllll the way! When the crack literally ends/tapers out to face, you need to runout some face climbing (5.7). I went the path of least resistance basically straight up. I found a nut placement about 30ft up, and then joined a crack another 30ft up and left from there (2"). It gets lower angle and easier. Go towards a tree.

Keep your feet often smearing below the crack, and try to save your pro. I used too much pro and setup an extra belay in the middle of the route. Jun 19, 2018
Andrew Davies
San Francisco, CA
Andrew Davies   San Francisco, CA
If you've got some smaller nuts I recommend taking the direct start right into the crack (starting over the small bulge) rather than doing the step across from the flakes. Felt about 5.9 and seemed pretty similar to the alternate start to nutcracker. The crack thins out enough you can't get your fingers in it but there's enough there for your feet and the pods show up when you need them.

The slab run-outs aren't as spicy as you'd imagine, but I would still recommend being confident on slab at a minimum.

Stellar line! Jul 17, 2018
Jason Kim
Encinitas, CA
Jason Kim   Encinitas, CA
We broke right to avoid the 5.7 R as per the Supertopo book, and it was still pretty scary. The climbing wasn't hard, maybe 5.5 or 5.6 at most, but it was really runout. I've done some runout slab in Tuolumne and Joshua Tree and this was by far the most intense, but maybe I was just having a lousy day. If you're solid on 5.7 slab you will be fine, or if you're into that type of experience (sobbing while on lead, like me). Sep 24, 2018