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Routes in Yosemite Point

Yosemite Point Buttress T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Type: Trad, 2000 ft, 14 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Allen Steck and Bob Swift, 1952. FFA: Chouinard and Frost, 1960, "direct" variation: Frank Sacherer and Don Telshaw, 1964
Page Views: 2,618 total, 20/month
Shared By: George Bell on Feb 7, 2007
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection Details


This route is long and complex and contains some bad rock, plus a couple of difficult offwidth or chimney pitches. There is not much to recommend it except for a lot of history and great position. This route is in full sun all day and is not recommended in the middle of the summer. It is rated Grade IV but I know several parties who have gotten benighted on this route.

The variation described here is often called "Yosemite Point Buttress Direct", although it is far from direct. I guess the FA line wandered even more! I found this climb frustrating because the typical pitch climbs down 30 feet, goes around a corner, and then ascends some wide crack with lots of potential for rope drag.

The first pitch follows cracks over a bulge (5.8). The rock here is not so great and gives you a taste for what you are in for. Move the belay right and down 100' or so. Now head up a 5.8 chimney to the base of a steep wall.

Pitch 3: here now is one of strangest and most notorious 5.9 pitches in Yosemite Valley (pioneered by the late Galen Rowell, I believe, anybody know?). Follow a ramp down and right some 20-30 feet then hand traverse right around a corner. Here you finally see your nemesis, a flared 4-12 inch crack. Since you just climbed down, you can't put any gear in for some distance (or suffer epic rope drag). To add to your torment, a number of trees on the ledges above yield a bounty of leaves every fall which fill sections of this crack. If this route was done more often it would be cleaner. Recent ascents report a fixed #4 Camalot on this pitch.

An alternative 3rd pitch is to retreat to the belay and follow the equally bizarre OAM variation (Offwidth Avoidance Maneuver). Climb a scrubby tree above the belay to a small roof, and continue up a steep 1-2" crack in the wall above. Before this crack ends, make a difficult face traverse right to the top of the offwidth crack (5.10). This variation avoids all but the last 10' of the offwidth (now fist-sized), but is rated harder than the offwidth. However, it is well protected. If you place a cam as high as possible in the crack it almost gives you a toprope on the traverse.

Your next goal is to reach a large tree about 400 feet higher [rumored to be missing as of 2010]. This tree [was] over 3 feet in diameter and [was] easily visible from outside the visitor center (you did check out the route from here the day before, right?). To reach it requires four pitches, the first follows cracks straight up, then the next few are more wandering in nature as shown in the Reid topo. Anyway, it helps if you realize your eventual target is this tree.

From the big tree head left and up, eventually following an easy chimney. This leads to another famous pitch, the "rotten chimney". This pitch is not particularly hard (5.8?), but the crux is unprotectable. This is to be expected in most 5.8 chimneys but the rock on this one is poor. Make sure the belay anchor is bombproof on this pitch, which is problematic. It may be useful to actually climb down once you see this pitch ahead to find the best possible belay anchor.

The rotten chimney pitch puts you on top of a prominent, sandy, pedestal. The next two pitches are the best on the entire route, for the rock quality is much better. Cross to the west side of the pedestal and move up and left on rounded holds (5.9 hard to protect) to a diagonal crack with many fixed pitons. Eventually move back right and belay on a ledge near several loose blocks.

You now want to move back left into an obvious crack above. Make a tricky move into the start of this crack, which is very wide here. Soon it necks down to perfect handjam size. Jam this excellent crack (5.9). The rock quality deteriorates at the top of this pitch, making a reliable anchor difficult to build.

The last hard pitch is easy technically (5.4), but suffers from bogus sandy rock, which makes it much scarier than the rating indicates. Climb up, then traverse left on a sandy ledge and then continue up, here a funky stake has been driven straight into the rock for protection (probably gone by now). Exercise extreme caution. One more easier pitch ends at the Yosemite Point railing.

For more information and opinions on this route check out this forum post on SuperTopo


Standard rack to #4 Camalot plus at least #5 or #6 Camalot.

Approach and Descent

Gain Sunnyside Bench (via various methods), and traverse to its far left end. Climb a tree there to get past a short steep section off the Bench. Up the gully and slabs towards Lost Arrow Chimney. At a nebulous point where you can see open ground over to the right, head up and right towards the lower/right of 2 corner systems, as pictured in the guidebook (1987 guide p.207, 1994 guide p.155). Solo up this corner system (low class 5) to the crest of the buttress, where the first 5.8 pitch will be directly above you. Allow a couple of hours for this approach [this paragraph is courtesy of Clint Cummins].

A longer alternative approach (almost all on a trail) is to follow the Yosemite Falls trail until you are below the Upper Falls, then head down, cross the creek and do a rising traverse (quite a distance) to join the very end of the standard approach. This is only possible when the creek is low (Fall). We roped up for the gully before the first pitch.

The descent is easy: walk down the trail. Headlamp needed after dark. When we walked down we came across some poor tourists walking down the trail in complete darkness with no light or moon. They were lucky not to walk off a cliff, and were glad to follow us.


Salamanizer suchoski
Vacaville Ca.
Salamanizer suchoski   Vacaville Ca.  
Climbed this route last year. We linked and simuled alot so I think it was only like 5 pitches. Anyway, I didn't find it particularly difficult other than route finding. I felt like an ant desperately trying to claw its way up and out of a litter box the whole time. None of the pitches were all that enjoyable accept for part of one of the headwall pitches and about half the 5.9 O.W. pitch with the stuck cam.

I'd skip this one unless you climb alot in the valley. Then you have to climb it just because it's one of the major features you must do. Otherwise, I'd spend my limited time climbing the many better quality 5.9 adventure routes in the valley. Dec 6, 2011
Bryan G
Bryan G   Yosemite
We attempted this route in late November and there weren't enough hours in the day. We bailed after 5 pitches and got down in the dark. The approach is very long and circuitous. The climbing is wide and burly. My biggest cam was a #4 Camalot and when I go back I am definitely bringing a #5 and probably even a #6. There are a lot of pitches on this climb, and while they are short, it is difficult to link them because of rope drag. YPB seems like a considerable step up from the NEB of Higher, both in terms of length and difficulty.

On a more positive note this seems like a great climb, especially if you enjoy challenging wide cracks and a little adventure. Nov 28, 2011
Nice write up George, however, this climb was posted over three years ago, and only one person has rated it. Why? How could a climb with as much history fall into the darkness of obscurity? Names like Steck, Chouinard, Frost, Sacherer, and Rowell all had a role in shaping this line.

If you have done it, please post up! Oct 31, 2010