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Routes in Ellery Bowl

Speed of Life, The T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Type: Trad, 265 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Don Reid and Chris Falkenstein, July 1981
Page Views: 5,528 total · 40/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 2006
Admins: Aron Quiter, Euan Cameron, AWinters, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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This is an obscure but ultra-classic two-pitch climb on the outskirts of Tuolumne Meadows. It sits by itself (actually there are two or three other climbs of lesser quality) far above Ellery Lake which in turn is just a few miles outside of the park along Hwy 120. Park, cross the dam, and hike up the steep, loose slope to the lowest tongue of rock that is usually guarded by a steep patch of ice/snow. Why did you endure this grueling 45 minute slog for just two pitches?

P1: Ascend a beautiful pitch of crisp, white Sierra granite. The crux is bouldery but well protected with a small cam and some wires. Up higher its nice to have a very large cam to protect some wide cracks, but this section is quite easy. A final, wild move around the corner to the right leads up to a bolted belay. 5.10+.

P2: Climb the long, leaning, overhanging splitter via jams and liebacks. Sandbag 5.11b; outstanding!

Two double-rope rappels from nice ASCA hardware gets you back down. Now, hopefully, the question's been answered.


Single set from 0.2 to #4 Camalots, 3 each 0.75's & #3's, wires, a few draws/slings. A #4.5 Camalot (#5 C4) not mandatory but highly recommended. Two ropes. The route is north-facing and can be chilly in the wind.
Bruce Morris
Belmont, CA
Bruce Morris   Belmont, CA
I've heard that there is a nice crack climb that starts above the top of the second pitch of "Speed of Life". Anyone got the particulars? Rating? Jan 7, 2018
Mammoth Lakes, CA
EJoe   Mammoth Lakes, CA
Zac, you'd need to down scramble some pretty exposed 4th/easy 5th to get to the anchors. Just make sure you know their location from above, they're 15+ feet below the upper platform.

Regarding difficulty, I actually found pitch 2 slightly harder than Astroman's enduro corner, mainly because the rests aren't as "restful." Sep 17, 2017
Zac Creager
Lee Vining, CA.
Zac Creager   Lee Vining, CA.
Does anyone know if getting to the top of the second pitch anchors from the descent path is possible if one wanted to rope solo the second pitch? Sep 7, 2017
Bishop, CA
DennisL   Bishop, CA
Fantastic climb and the approach isn't all that heinous: 30-45 minutes.
80m cord gets you all the way down in two raps. Pretty confident a 70m will not make the first rap without shenanigans.
I liked Mark Melvin's rack, though you could certainly skip the triples. Oct 14, 2016
Bruce Morris
Belmont, CA
Bruce Morris   Belmont, CA
snowhazed: How do you advise linking up "Speed of Life" with the "Third Pillar Route"? Climb "Third Pillar" and then descend to "Speed of Life"? How exactly do you do that? It sounds like you could top-out on the "Third Pillar" and then angle down and north into Ellery Bowl instead of descending down Glacier Canyon. Would be nice if you drew a map or something like that. Jul 13, 2016
Oakland, Ca
snowhazed   Oakland, Ca
Avoid the up hill slog by linking up with third pillar- the descent into ellery bowl after topping out third pillar is quite obvious. Helps to have two cars for the aftermath Jun 19, 2015
So good.

Our 70 was pretty far short, I'd encourage you to just bring a tag line. Sep 19, 2014
1. Yes it's that good.
2. We rapped with just a single, pretty-new 70m. First rap got us hanging two feet *above* the ledge at the top of the first pitch, and the second rap to the starting-ledge ended with a couple feet to spare. YMMV with an older rope!
3. Supertopo says glancing sun, but when we did it at the height of summer (June 30th), the first pitch was in the sun from before we started hiking (8AM) until sometime around noon. Second pitch remained shaded. Jul 1, 2014
Ben J.
Beacon, NY
Ben J.   Beacon, NY
The first pitch was really fun, the second pitch was unforgettable and amazing. I thought when I got to the base that there was no chance that hiking up there with a mild hangover was going to be worth it. After climbing it, I think I would do at least 2x the approach to get to something of similar quality. Second pitch doesn't have any single move that is that hard, but it is unnaturally sustained.

We went left early on the approach and dealt with a lot of loose sand. Much of this is unavoidable, but it might be worth a try to stay on the volcanic scree/talus on the right until you are forced to head left. Aug 17, 2013
Mark Melvin   Moab
Nice route, sure. Comparable to the best in Yosemite, like Astroman, or Blues Riff, not quite. Not a sandbag at all with surprising hand jam rests on crux pitch. Can't see doing this with one set of cams though. I'd bring just a few stoppers, handful of micros (very small), then 2 each to #3, one #4, and triple up on .5, .75, and 1. Also, nice hike workout, beautiful place, no one there. Jul 24, 2013
Oakland, Ca
snowhazed   Oakland, Ca
WOW- maybe the best climb at the grade in the meadows? Blues Riff competes to be sure, but......

No problem rapping with a single 70 Jul 21, 2010
Ben Lepesant
Ben Lepesant  
sooo classic. I agree that the 11b is normal for the grade.
The second pitch is one of the best pitches I've ever done. Mar 31, 2009
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
WAY GOOD this climb would be worth an even longer slog. Try to wait though, it can get pretty cold up there.
A total classic anywhere !!!

john Jun 12, 2008
Michael Sokoloff
Spokane, WA
Michael Sokoloff   Spokane, WA
In my top 5 climbs of all time. Amazing crack climbing on immaculate high sierra granite in as scenic a spot as one can imagine. It takes a 45-minute slog to get to the base, but it is well worth the time and energy expended. Other than the altitude factor, I disagree with the assessment that the second pitch is a sandbag at 11b. It did not seem any harder or easier than 11b to me. Jul 11, 2007