Type: Trad, 4 pitches
FA: Brossman & Stephans - 1974
Page Views: 22,862 total · 154/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 2006
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


On the Lamb is a very unique and classic traverse across the upper face of Lamb Dome. Perhaps the only climb in Tuolumne where 95% of the holds are jugs. What makes it difficult is that occasionally the feet disappear.

The feature appears to be an enormous horizontal dike that has split apart to form an incut crack.

P1: Ascend a 5.0 low angle crack system to a nice ledge at the start of the traverse.

P2: Climb off to the right at 5.4 with minimal gear to the beginning of the crack itself. Stretch the rope out and belay at the best stance you can find.

P3: Traverse right. Save small cams for the crux. Belay after turning the corner into a right-facing dihedral, or stretch the rope further to a better stance.

P4: Continue traversing right and eventually end up on easy terrain leading to the descent. Alternatively, climb the excellent Jailbreak Finish, or reverse the entire traverse for more fun.

Finding the route is somewhat difficult (moreso than most other climbs in the Meadows). It's good to do this climb with someone who's been there before, or allow extra time to locate the start.


Standard rack; include wires and small cams.
Great climb, lots of exposure. Same situation for leader and follower, both subject to pendulum falls. Don't do this one unless both are experienced leaders. My old buddy Bruce Brossman did the FA. They used pins and the crack use to have some fixed gear. All clean now. Very exciting climb!! Dec 5, 2007
Greg DeMatteo
W. Lebanon, NH
Greg DeMatteo   W. Lebanon, NH
Such a unique route. Great name, great exposure. What more do you want? Its a 2 pitch hand-rail! Apr 7, 2008
The route description says traverse right, traverse right. But all of the pictures show everybody leading left. I'm confused...(again)... Apr 23, 2008
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
Adam, my guess is that the pictures make it look like someone is leading left when they are actually following. Due to the nature of the climb (dead-horizontal traversing) leading and following are almost the same, hence why a second might look like they're leading instead of following. Also, some people do climb this right to left.

The start of this route is somewhat hard to find, per experience. The Super Topo beta was good once you locate the appropriate ledge (not so good for finding it, IMO) although the "cave" on the first pitch is more of a hole. Here's a few tips. When beneath the left side of On The Lamb, take a good look at the features leading to the climb, including the starting ledge. It's easy to go too high and be on the wrong ledge (which is what we did the first time). A dead tree was a good marker for us, as well as the correct ledge's relationship to an easy 4th class approach crack and other ledges. I think if you find the right starting ledge, it will go pretty smooth. It was helpful for us to know that we were hiking a ways left before going up a 4th class handcrack in a shallow, left-facing dihedral. On the first pitch, look for what Super Topo describes as a "cave" (really a hole beneath a flake feature) and you can also look for the crack that is traversed on On The Lamb. It's a crack in a dike that horizontally crosses the crack that starts the second pitch. Hopefully that's helpful.

Super great route, a lot of fun. Also fun to link this with Oz/Hobbit Book. Jul 28, 2008
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
susan peplow   Joshua Tree
Agreed that most likely the photos are depicting the second coming across to the belay. I've got photos that I took that look exactly the same.

My partner had done this route 20 years ago so it was my lead - left to right. After getting down and talking to some long time Tuolumne seasonals, we found out that hiking up the back side up the slabs to the tree is probably the best way to go. Apparently, in doing so you climb right to left and then at the end angle up and top off allowing you to easily ascend the back side. You can leave your packs at the trail and don't have to double back at the end of the day.

The route is a must-do! Absolutely fantastic eating gear the whole way! Next time, it's right to left for me.

~Susan Jul 28, 2008
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Is the traverse really as steep as some of the photos suggest (i.e., 80 degrees in this ). Are some of the photos tilted a bit? Jul 29, 2008
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
In the photo you refer to George, my wife is at the crux, where the wall is steepest on the traverse. Overall the traverse is quite steep but it maintains an easy grade because of the ridiculous amount of huge holds. It's a hoot. In that photo, the big holds disappear for the feet and you're on smaller edges but your hands are still on big holds in the crack. Jul 29, 2008
mark kerns
denver, co
mark kerns   denver, co
i did this climb from left to right. there are a couple great approach pitches that you can do if you start on the right side.
1) climb little sheba - 10a hands
2) climb nerve wrack point - .9 face
3) start on the lamb from the right side. the first pitch will be the crux pitch if i remember correctly.
it was a good day.
mk Mar 27, 2009
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Wow, what a cool route.

We did it left-to-right.

Finding the route was pretty straightforward with the SuperTopo, and it would be next to impossible without it IMO. The only part that confused us was the "bushy ledge" on top of the first approach pitch described in the SuperTopo really wasn't very bushy anymore.

P1 - Long easy hand crack groove to ledge system. It may only be fourth class, but most will want a rope.

P2 - Traversing pitch across a blank 5.5 slab to a hollow flake, and then to a corner system. We climbed down and right and then back up to the belay.

P3 - Long pitch. Crux of pitch was first 30' of the traverse in my opinion. We belayed at the bolts which involved downclimbing some. I think many people miss these bolts.

P4 - Crux pitch and I thought it was stout for the grade. My mistake - placing excessive gear to protect the second. It is DAMN pumpy to place a bunch of gear in the crux section. I got more pumped placing gear on this then the corner pitch on OZ. Next time, F-the-second ;) We belayed as described in the SuperTopo and it sucked, next time I'll try belaying about 20' further right than the awkward corner. 150' feet or so.

P5 - A few weird 5.8 moves and then easy to finish. Watch out for the death blocks. 150' or so.

Standard rack, though the hanging belay on P4 is tweaky on cam stams. I had a pink tricam, but it was too big where I belayed. Maybe 20' right as I described above would be better.

Don't even think about doing this route unless both people are solid 5.9 climbers. Your second will absolutely HATE you if they are not comfortable at the grade. Jul 20, 2009
L. Hamilton  
Agreed, the "bushy ledge" you should start traversing from (drawn with three little trees on SuperTopo) isn't bushy anymore. This is confusing because there's an obviously bushier ledge one unpleasant pitch higher that has lured some climbers way off route. Aug 19, 2009
Chris M
Hailey, ID
Chris M   Hailey, ID
Awesome and unique. Crux is for real with no feet so make sure both parties are solid at the grade. Going L to R, on the crux pitch, belay 50' further right than suggested (belay will be at some blocky dark rock with a semi-decent stance- micro cams useful). Never thought the belays were hard on cam stems. Oct 17, 2009
trying hard
Sierra East Side
trying hard   Sierra East Side
This is such a unique climb.

p1. Solo the first pitch of 4th class crack to a small ledge where I would rope up. From here climb up and right past a hole in the rock to the start of a vertical crack.

p2. Go up the vertical crack about 20 feet then start moving right on huge holds in a horizontal crack. Continue right around a corner to a 5.8 steep section, just after that you might see the two bolts below the climb for a belay. Build your anchor in the crack with some good cams, Take into consideration when equalizing and setting pro in the direction of pull.

P3. Go around the corner to a 5.9 section, where the feet are nothing the hands are great! Keep moving right to either a spot to build an anchor or finish the climb. I did this with a 80 meter so this was the last pitch for me.

The walk off is very pleasant and easy. This would be a bomber solo. Props to Bachar

Great link up to OZ from on the lamb as the walk off puts you right in front of OZ, and since your doing OZ you might as well just finish up hobbit book. Great memories on that link up. Aug 6, 2010
Colonel Mustard
Sacramento, CA
Colonel Mustard   Sacramento, CA
Just cool. We were racked for OZ, so I had a lot of easily removable small cams to fire in at the crux for the follower. It's a pumpy climb on your feet and your arms because the position of the footholds (when available) often dictate a locked off arm position. Just keep chuggin and trust the nubbins.

As mentioned, a linkup of On the Lamb, to OZ, to Hobbit Book is a great way to spend a day, I highly recommend it. Aug 3, 2011
Morgan Nutting
Bishop, CA
Morgan Nutting   Bishop, CA
So much better to do this route from Right to Left then back Right again. You get to do the Crux pitch twice, just watch out for parties coming from the opposite direction. Great route! Jun 16, 2012
Jason Albino
San Francisco, CA
Jason Albino   San Francisco, CA
(calling p1 the first traverse pitch, as opposed to the vertical approach from the base of the dome, which we soloed in approach shoes without difficulty...)

Great climb, so unique. We did the more "standard" left-to-right version, though I'd like to try it right-to-left sometime too!

I felt the cruxes were:
  • The final moves of P2: whether you downclimb early or late to the bolted belay, it's delicate there (though not pumpy)
  • The heart of p3: the most blank feet of the entire climb - I was racing the pump clock following this pitch, and so on lead, I think it would deserve a 5.10a rating if one considers the overall difficulty of placing gear while finishing the whole thing cleanly, versus the difficulty of any one move. Can't think of a pumpier 5.9 pitch I've climbed in Tuolumne. A great pitch to test how much you can trust putting your weight on friction feet to abate the forearm pump.
Sep 4, 2015
Brianna Chrisman
Brianna Chrisman   Stanford
To the party (follower was named "Ahnkor") who climbed this ahead of us on 8/26, we have an AMAZING photo of you! Please PM me or email me at brianna.chrisman@gmail.com and I'll send it over.

At the end of the crux pitch (20m after the book and right below the connection to "Jailbreak finish") there is a flake/block above the horizontal crack that is tempting to build a belay in. Do NOT build your belay in this flake. It is super rotten and I could flex it with my hands alone, and weighting a cam in this flake could potentially break it off or at least make your anchor fail. I would even avoid stepping on it as much as you can if you
link to jailbreak finish.

Better to build the anchor in the horizontal crack (a little awkward, flexible stems are probably nice) or downclimb to the large ledge 15 ft below and belay from there (takes large gear). Aug 28, 2017
Josh Lowy
Sacramento, CA
Josh Lowy   Sacramento, CA
Outrageous feature which makes for a stellar climb.
Finding the start was trickier than expected, after finding the ledge with a tree 100' up, continue up the crack on the right side, it will curve over to a bushy ledge which is the belay for the 5.4 bit.
Wanted to try the OtL, Oz, HB linkup but we spent too long finding the start. Finished the other climbs the next day, and am stoked to try the linkup another time!
There is a bolted belay after turning the corner about 15 feet below the crack which is easy to access. For the second traverse belay, we setup in the small corner near the Jailbreak intersection.
Superb overall! Sep 10, 2017
Here are some coordinates:
  • parking - GPS 37.8689092, -119.4289938 - google maps
  • start at base of left side - GPS 37.87116423333333, -119.4244723 - google maps
  • peak of Lamb Dome - GPS 37.86960675, -119.42419413333333 - google maps

I never did find the proper location to traverse over. From reading the comments we assumed it would be impossible to start too low (everybody complained of going to high and then down climbing), but that was wrong. We started traversing right way too early at a tiny tree, and that was just a long, no-gear slab traverse (actually passed over some rap anchors for some other route)...before giving up I headed up 30 feet and found the crack. Anyway, it was a fun route. Oct 13, 2017
I climbed it from Right to Left (consolation prize for too many climbers on Oz)

We decided to top out on the left side and found some easy 5th (probably no harder than 5.5) pitches that weren't terribly runout but might be a little R.

p1. On the last pitch where you start to go down slightly downhill, there is a sea of knobs above you. Head up through them towards the small tree. It's not as runout as it looks, I found 3 pieces of gear between leaving the crack and the tree. From the tree traverse left on the ledge to the larger tree and belay. (not quite a full 70m pitch)

p2. From the larger tree there is a knobby crack just to your left that takes good gear. Follow it to the top, where the easiest way to top out is to leave the cracks protection to the left (full 70m pitch)

These two extra pitches were easy, but enjoyable climbing. Oct 3, 2018