Type: Trad, 4 pitches
FA: Livesey & Jones - 1975
Page Views: 14,787 total · 96/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Oct 16, 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


The Moratorium is three (sometimes four) pitches of technical and powerful stemming and jamming up a steep, right-facing corner system at the base of El Cap. It serves as a great approach to the classic "East Buttress" as they finish and start within a few meters of one another, but because the climbing is of such a different nature (that is, East Buttress being much easier, wandering, and adventurous), the Moratorium is perhaps better as a stand-alone climb.

The corner is easily identified on Shultz's Ridge. Approach via a short third class scramble in from the right.

P1: Climb up the steep, pumpy 5.10 corner via jams and quite a bit of laybacking. The top gets thin but just when things get desparate, one can step left to a great belay ledge. Belay at bolts. 5.10d.

P2: Step back into the corner (airy), and continue up on fun climbing until an ultra-thin, creative stemming affair at the top. 10d.

P3: Climb up some hollow flakes to a stance a little ways out from the belay. The crux involves steep liebacking and stemming up a seasonally wet crack. Kinda tough 5.11b. Link this pitch into the next one if you're continuing up to the East Buttress, or rap from here with two ropes.

P4: A short 5.9 pitch up flakes and blocks to the top.


Double set of cams with a strong emphasis on small gear (RPs not needed, but bring plenty of TCUs/tiny Aliens). Two ropes if you wish to rap.
m-earle   USA
This climb is a superb intro for valley 5.11 multi-pitch Sep 28, 2007
Mark Hammond
Eldorado Springs, CO
Mark Hammond   Eldorado Springs, CO
Excellent but desperate with the algae/seaweed in the crux tips section. Felt harder than other 5.11's on this trip such as the Rostrum. My experience linking the final 2 pitches would lead me to break them up next time. Nov 19, 2007
Joe Auer  
seemed to me that of the first two 10d pitches, the second one worked me over way more. i felt like i was barely in there for the slappy moves to the anchors. Nov 28, 2007
What a great route! Something to note though: the crux section can be quite wet in the spring (especially after a snowy winter), as it was the first weekend of May this year. When wind blows Horsetail Falls over onto the East Buttress, you might find yourself getting some water spray on the 3rd & 4th pitches :) May 3, 2010
Kurt Swanson
Philadelphia, PA
Kurt Swanson   Philadelphia, PA
The late great John Bachar gives his account of on-sight free soloing the Moratorium (about 25 minutes in):

archive.org/details/complet… Mar 1, 2012
Dmitriy Litvak
Pacifica, CA
Dmitriy Litvak   Pacifica, CA
Pitch 1 belay is more of a rappel. The chains are easy to miss in action. Building gear anchor on one of the small flake ledges in the crack worked better for us. 70m could link 1st 2 pitches for a mega endurance pitch. Haven't tried it yet. Apr 15, 2013
Dmitriy Litvak
Pacifica, CA
Dmitriy Litvak   Pacifica, CA
Do not leave any food or valuables at the base of the climb. The crows have learned to unzip pouches. Took sandwich, TP, sunscreen from me and the lunches from others climbing that day. So beware, you might not find your diamond watch if you leave it there. May 19, 2014
MisterCattell Cattell
South Lake Tahoe, Ca
MisterCattell Cattell   South Lake Tahoe, Ca
Please do this route. Please. Sep 29, 2015
calder davey
calder davey   Bishop
Super fun. Climbed this at night the other day. Watch out for little froggies in those cruxy fingers! Oct 11, 2015
AL .
AL .   UT
This is easily the hardest 511 I've been on in the valley. My initial feelings are that this deserves an 11+, especially if it's being compared to the rostrum. But then, maybe I'm a pussy. Be solid at the grade for this one. Mar 20, 2016
Mike Holley
Boone, NC
Mike Holley   Boone, NC
Spectacular route! First three pitches are the money! Thin "fingers", more like tips, and some serious technical stemming escalate in difficulty as you ascend higher through the pitches. Never thought I would get such a calf burner on a route of this nature. Stiff for its grade in my opinion. Could not help but think of Bachars solo onsight while I was at the crux of the third pitch! Gnar Gnar!! Mar 21, 2016
Jordan Cannon
Bishop, CA
Jordan Cannon   Bishop, CA
Incredible climb that doesn't see that much traffic, go for it! I did it last weekend and each pitch had some wet sections but its' still climbable. Although, the crux moves at the end of the third pitch were much more exciting! Stem it out and imagine you're Peter Croft on Venturi Effect as you fight to the anchor Apr 3, 2016
Mr. Stevens
Boulder, CO
Mr. Stevens   Boulder, CO
Can anyone comment on the sun/shade times for this route in June? Apr 19, 2016
Vlad S
Vlad S  
The corner faces east. It starts to get some shade in the afternoon and will be fully in the shade by 3 pm. Regardless, it will likely be way too hot in June unless you manage to get on it on an unusually cool and windy day. Apr 19, 2016
You can rap the route from the top of pitch 3 with a single 80m rope. Sep 27, 2016
Michael Dom  
I had a double set of cams to #3 and one #4 BD. I would have loved about another set of doubles in the .3 to .5 BD size.

You can also rap this route with a 60 meter. On the first pitch's anchors you can't reach the ground so swing right and you will find a set of anchors which safely gets you down. May 25, 2017
Aaron Formella
Atascadero, CA
  5.11c PG13
Aaron Formella   Atascadero, CA
  5.11c PG13
The 3rd pitch crux seeps soon after rain. It was very wet 2 days after rain in late September. Also was wet in late April.

For shade or sun planning: the right-facing corner system that makes up the entire route begins moving into the shade around 11 am in early Fall (September 23). It moves into the shade a bit after noon in Spring (April 29). You can climb later to be in the shade on a warm day or earlier to climb in the sun in a cool day.

Rack suggestion:
no nuts
Cams: doubles: 0.3 (yellow C3) to #1, singles purple C3, green C3, red C3, #2, #3

p1: it is nice to save 2 x 0.5 cams for the 10a LB section rather than leaving one at the start of the pitch (backclean). Though the 10a LB can be protected with other sizes (0.75, 1), it takes more thought than just slamming in 0.5s. The 10d LB at the end can be sewn up with 2 x red C3s.

p2: to sew up the 10d stem section with gear about only 1.5 to 2 feet apart, it takes a purple C3, red C3, and green C3 (in order).

p3: in order: red C3, yellow C3 or 0.3 Camalot, green C3 to protect crux LB. Sep 27, 2017
Posted a couple photos to help folks stay on the trail to this popular climb.
The approach to Moratorium is super easy. Park in the large paved parking lot just after Ranger Rock (there is a small pullout right at the bend in the road after Ranger Rock, unpaved, but most folks park around the bend at the large pullout with a beautiful meadow. Walk across the road and take a faint trail next to a drainage ditch which leads fifteen feet or so to a better trail that is parallel to the road (Yabo Roof and other boulder problems in this area). Turn right and walk fifty-hundred feet until this path leads into a section of old road (the old road between Ranger Rock and El Cap). Continue toward Ranger Rock for a just a hundred feet or so until you see two small boulders on the left, and the cairns that lead around them up into the forest, and to the base. Allow 35 - 45 minutes. Feb 8, 2018
King Tut
Citrus Heights
King Tut   Citrus Heights
Definitely take small nuts. Don't know what that guy is smokin'....The Corner eats them up. Mar 11, 2018