Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 10 pitches
FA: Worrall, Long, Barry, Barton, & Clevenger - 1973
Page Views: 10,779 total · 71/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Aug 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


Stoners' Highway is a unique climb for Yosemite in that it is devoid of continuous crack systems. Instead, it involves high angle slab and face connecting various features for ten sustained and consistant pitches. The climbing is excellent (somewhat reminiscent of Birds of Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park), gear is adequate (expect run outs, but except for the first pitch and one of the upper pitches, nothing is too dangerous at the 5.10 level) and the occasional brand new bolt -- courtesy of the ASCA -- is welcome.

Almost every pitch on this gem checks in at 5.10. The climb begins a few hundred feet right of the Central Pillar of Frenzy and can be rapped with double ropes (every anchor except the first is bolted). The first pitch is the crux both mentally and physically -- checking in at 5.10c with big swing/fall potential. This pitch can be avoided by climbing a 5.7 corner, but we enjoyed climbing it and knowing afterwards that the biggest challenges were behind us... However, without very good judgement and route finding, pitch 6 can be the one to give you, or your belayer, gray hairs.

P1: Climb up the face to a small TCU placement (0.2 Camalot/blue Alien), then up past a bolt and a difficult move. At a second bolt traverse almost straight right to another bolt (crux), then past one more bolt and a ramp. Step around the corner and belay in a significant right-facing dihedral (it is also possible to climb up this dihedral at 5.7, thus avoiding the crux pitch) with less-than-optimal gear.

P2: Climb up to some gear placements, step back down and traverse a long ways left to some more gear in an undercling. Continue left to a long, right-facing corner system. Up this with good gear to a bolted belay.

P3: Traverse left then up to another right-facing corner. Follow this up with good gear to a thin, diagonal flake. Follow this out right to another bolted belay.

P4: Climb up, slightly left, then up again past a bolt or two to another bolted belay.

P5: Climb up to a small crack system, past a pair of good pins, then face climb up past two bolts to a bolted belay.

P6: The scary pitch! Climb up past a bolt, then to a stance at a second bolt, then you must decide: Left or right. Going left initially appears easier, but without a lot of luck/very careful route-finding, you may find yourself doing desparate moves WAY (as in 30+ feet) out from that second bolt. Going right lets you do the difficult moves right by the bolt. Either way you'll gain a long ramp system that rises gently to the left. It is tempting to follow this ramp all the way to the left end where it gets steeper and appears to go up to the belay, but this is a deadend (there is 10 feet of blank rock between the belay and the end of the ramp). Instead, head up a crack/ramp system just before the end of the main one, with an off-balance, poorly protected move to gain a positive finger crack. This crack leads straight up to the bolted belay. This pitch is 5.10 and possibly R at that grade.

P7: Climb up an easy left-facing corner (5.8) -- easily linked with the previous/next pitch.

P8: Climb up and left past a bolt to a gear placement (ignore old bolts that continue up and left!), undercling right and enter a mossy, dirty right-facing flake/crack system. Use long runners early on this pitch.

P9: Climb up past a bolt to two tightly-spaced bolts and some difficult moves. Continue up to a bolted belay.

P10: Continue up easier crack systems & corners to the Powell-Reed Ledges.


SR through a #0.75 Camalot, include RP's and extra little techie cams. Draws, slings. Two ropes to rap the route (from any point).
Las Vegas NV
trundlebum   Las Vegas NV
Although this is a long and somewhat committing route many people do just the first 3 or 4 pitches, and that is well worth it.

On the first pitch, if your second is anything less than confident that they can cruise the moves, a back belay (party of three?) might be wise. For the second, you have to unclip the second bolt and do the crux moves of the pitch staring at a serious whipper (correct use of the term) into the shallow left facing dihedral. If you do fall, just pretend it is practice for the jump over the dihedral, on the pendulum into the "stove Leggs" on the Nose.
In other words a very serious fall can be thwarted with some fast thinking foot work.

What a route, worth it just to say you put your hands onto the same holds as the "Kevin, John and Vern". Sep 5, 2007
Brad G  
This thing felt WAY sandbagged. Maybe I was off route or perhaps just having a bad day, but we came down after P.1 May 28, 2009
andrew kulmatiski
logan, ut
andrew kulmatiski   logan, ut
I'm with you. My party and the party after mine both bailed from the second pitch. I've led 11c face in the valley and backed off this. Has a hold fallen off before the bolt on the second pitch? Jun 8, 2009
Brad G  
I just found out we were off route but I'm sure the right way is also a bit stiff. Jun 10, 2009
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
It's old school .10c, which is pretty stiff by most standards. The first pitch is runout, and other pitches you just climb hoping you'll find where the bolt's supposed to be. Also, if you're comparing letter ratings to other places in the Valley like, say, face climbing at Chapel Wall or even the Cascades, it's going to feel very different. Middle Cathedral is kind of its own animal. An awesome route, however. Mar 1, 2010
Randy in Ridgecrest
Inyokern, CA
Randy in Ridgecrest   Inyokern, CA
I did this route in 1982 with my wife Linda, swapping leads. All we had (of course) were Stoppers and a few friends. She had done it before and had the confidence that comes from that. My memory is sustained difficulty, great rock, and all of the pitches were runout. I remember 3 to 5 pieces in a pitch. Yes, the first pitch had the one section, and the upper headwall pitch had a few bolts close enough together that by that time it seemed like a bolt ladder. The anchors were fairly amusing - usually a 1/4" bolt with homemade hanger and a pin.

I'm assuming all the great modern small pro like C3's, Aliens, and offset nuts take some of the sting out of these pitches.

This turned out to be my high mark for committing Valley faceclimbs. Linda went on to do several others like Shaky Flakes and Greasy but Groovy. A long fall at the step across of Free Wheeling toned her boldness down.

BTW, I think some folks get mixed up at the base and get on Pulsing Pustules by mistake, much much harder. May 27, 2012
R Rock  
I just did the first 6 pitches of this route for the first time last weekend. I lead every pitch and found it to be some of the best climbing for the grade that I have done in a long time. A stellar route worthy of the stars.

Getting off the ground was intimidating with the first bolt at about 25 feet off the deck. The crux moves on the traverse were thought provoking but not bad once committed. Once we got going and relaxed the climbing was pure enjoyment. The first 2 belay anchors were decent but not completely retro fitted. Everything else is totally gigged up.
Pitch 6, I would have to agree is the mental business. I ended up going left after the 2nd bolt and I remember having to bust a move to gain the finger crack, but I think I was able to get some gear after the bolt.

Route finding could be tricky. Bring a topo. We were lucky enough that Honnald and partner had just started the route before us so I was able to watch where it went. Not to mention how cool it was to watch the best climber in the world linking pitches with 50-60 foot runouts.

I must do route. Oct 15, 2012
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
Brian Prince   morro bay, ca
Pitch 1 is probably scarier for the follower. On Pitch 2 traverse left pretty much right off the belay. The undercling is a little mossy and it's easier to climb underneath, out of reach of it anyway. Hard/tad spicy at the top of this pitch... right before the bolt.

Pitch 3 has some good crack climbing and some seriously scary flakes at the top... Pitch 4 has some hard but safe slab moves at the top... 5th one is hard right off the belay for a couple moves with no pro til you get in the crack straight above..

We downclimbed after the second bolt on the 6th a few moves and then went over right... up a couple hard moves... then get the ramp. I only followed this pitch so I may be biased... but going right is a lot scarier for the second. Might as well go left if following whatever the leader does cause there's no pro on the ramp.

Did the next easy one and was going to keep going when it started raining. Looked pretty cool, but less traveled beyond. Need 2 ropes but you can skip some on the way down. Good fun.. I'm not that comfortable a face climber and was pretty nervous starting up, but it didn't feel too bad in the end.. so get on it, it's great line. Oct 2, 2014
Bryan G
Bryan G   Yosemite
You can eliminate the swing for the follower on pitch 1 by linking the first two pitches together: After getting a couple pieces in the underside of a flake on "pitch 2", lower down and back-clean the 3rd and 4th bolts on the first pitch, then hand-over-hand back up the rope and finish leading the second pitch.

This is one of the best 5.10's in Yosemite. Very clean rock and many enjoyable cruxes to solve. A bit spicy here and there, but never dangerous (just bring some micro cams, and make sure the leader goes right on pitch 6). Most people rap from the top of pitch 9. Oct 20, 2014
Oliver Abbitt
Santa Paula, California
Oliver Abbitt   Santa Paula, California
Fantastic climb! It's runout but never on 5.10 ground. The crux of pitch one is very insecure but is definitely the hardest move on the route. My partner fell on it and took the swing following and got a bit scraped but I wouldn't call it R. Pitch 1 belay
is fixed with pitons and nuts. You can almost rappel the whole thing (minus last 5.9) with a 70m but pitch 8 is about 37 meters. Next time I would bring a tag line and biner block for that one rappel and then not have to bring two ropes. Apr 7, 2015
Are there bolts for the belay after the first pitch? The Reid guide has them, but I didn't see them from the base. From the comments it seems there are not. Aug 18, 2016
Vlad S
Vlad S  
There's some junk for the 1st pitch anchor (like an old pin and nuts) that can be backed up with small gear - Oliver mentioned it above. No bolts. You won't see it from the base as it's in a small R-facing corner and it's better to skip that anchor anyway and link pitches.

By the way, all the talk about the 1st bolt being very high off the ground makes me wonder if people look around for natural pro. I remember placing a bomber green alien 2/3 way up to the firs bolt, which made it not even run out at all and that's one of the easiest places on the whole route. Aug 18, 2016
Where's Walden
  5.10c R
Where's Walden  
  5.10c R
I lead to the top of p8 today linking p1+p2, p4+p5 and P6+p7. I skipped the p1 tat anchor and extended the bolt nearby with a double length. We rapped from the top of pitch 8 with a 70m rope. From top of p8 we rapped single strand using our long slings to retrieve the rope. The rest of the raps were clean. Oct 21, 2016
William Buchanan
Seattle, WA
  5.11- R
William Buchanan   Seattle, WA
  5.11- R
P1 and P6 are scary, but this is consistently runout...each pitch has a runout face section of 20-30 feet. Glad I had a rope gun to follow behind, as my head was just not there. All in all fantastic face climbing, with some easy crack features as sweet relief. I don't think a few more bolts would have ruined the aesthetic of the climb. It's so thin and wandering that even when rappelling down, it's hard to trace the line you just climbed.

The face is a mix of perfectly sticky granite, and slick stuff that feels the same when you put your foot on it, until it slips off without warning. Makes it exciting.

Bouldery start...don't be daunted by the first bolt 30 feet off the ground, as there's a bomber 0.2 cam 10 feet before the first bolt. Follow Bryan's advice about linking P1 & P2 w/ backclean & undercling swing protection for the follower. On p6, I suggest that the follower take the airy 10c traverse out left, as it's quite fun. I pulled off a 12" flake from the start of P8, and it seems rarely traveled, with P9 is covered in grass, so we turned around. We rapped from P8 with a single 70, but used a tagline from P2 to the ground, as P1 anchor wasn't a great station. May 8, 2018
Travis McClinchey
Squamish, BC
  5.10+ R
Travis McClinchey   Squamish, BC
  5.10+ R
Did this route a couple days ago. Really good climb! You definitely want to be solid at the grade, including the follower. There are several instances on the route (not just the first pitch) where the second is exposed to a large swing fall, albeit clean.

I thought finding the start very tricky. Maybe it was the lighting, but spotting the bolts took us a long time. I uploaded a photo of the start of the route to help with this.
Bryan G's beta to join P1/P2, then back-clean is really helpful for the follower. Someone mentioned that the follower is exposed to hitting a left-lacing corner for this swing, but I think this is bad beta and confusing. The swing appears smooth and safe, just very big.

If rappelling with a 70m, be careful on P6 - it is a stretcher. We brought a 40ft cordelette to pull the rope on P8, which worked well. We did this from the P2 anchor to the ground too, but needed to extend the 40ft cordelette with 20 ft of slings, etc.

I personally thought the hardest moves were on P2 above a bomber black alien, but to each their own. I found P6 disappointingly easy and not run out (relatively for the route) if you down climb slightly and traverse right, then up - though ill advised for the follower as it is a massive swing potential.

As for a rack, I think singles of micro size to a BD #1 and a couple extra different-brand micro cams were good. I never placed a nut on whole route. A black alien was bomber in a few spots. The BD #1 could be optional, but I thought it was good to have this cam right below the mini-crux move towards the end of P6 as the alternative is an undercamed BD #0.75 and a dodgy micro cam. Oct 28, 2018