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Selaginella

5.8, Trad, 560 ft (170 m), 4 pitches,  Avg: 3.1 from 290 votes
FA: Wally Reed and Jim Posten, 9/63
California > Yosemite NP > Yosemite Valley > Valley N Side > E Yosemite Fall… > Five Open Books > Second Tier
Access Issue: Latest updates on Covid and falcon closures. Details

Description

Selaginella (5.8) offers liebacks, face climbing, off-width chimney climbing, and good ol' crack climbing. The route is sustained and committing and a real challenge for a 5.8 leader.

P1 - There are 2 potential starts, but the right side is cleaner and more aesthetic. The first pitch is 165' and ascends a series of hand cracks, fist cracks, and off-width cracks. Belay at the stump or continue left and up to the rap station.

P2 - Work your way up using your off-width and chimney skills to a belay about 120' up. Be sure to move left at the ramp!

P3 - Some more awkward climbing leads to a shelf about 110' up on a ledge.

P4 - For the final pitch you'll need an arsenal of skills; including hand cracks, fist cracks, liebacks, and face climbing.

Location

The route starts on the upper ledge above Munginella. Climb any of the lower climbs (Munginella 5.6, Commitment 5.9, The Surprise 5.10a, The Caverns 5.8, Try Again Ledge 5.8, or the Hanging Teeth 5.8). An alternate approach involves skipping the approach climbs by hiking the streambed west of the base using 3rd & 4th Class slabs. For the descent of Selaginella, jump into the stream of tourists working their way down the Yosemite Falls trail.

Protection

1 or 2 sets of nuts and cams up to 5". Bring lots of long slings.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Route overlay for Commitment+Selaginella, a fun link-up. Photo by M. Morley.
[Hide Photo] Route overlay for Commitment+Selaginella, a fun link-up. Photo by M. Morley.
Pitch 3 with the climber doing the traverse, the belay ledge is 4' left of the climber.  Also note that there is another shallow chimney feature formed by a rock outcrop which is right before the traverse.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 3 with the climber doing the traverse, the belay ledge is 4' left of the climber. Also note that there is another shallow chimney feature formed by a rock outcrop which is right before the t…
Climber heading to the top of Pitch 1.  The tree marks the belay ledge.
[Hide Photo] Climber heading to the top of Pitch 1. The tree marks the belay ledge.
Selaginella Pitch 3 Traverse - 2
[Hide Photo] Selaginella Pitch 3 Traverse - 2
Pitch 2. Where the rope disappears is a shallow chimney like feature, above that is a short slabby traverse to the left towards the tree.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 2. Where the rope disappears is a shallow chimney like feature, above that is a short slabby traverse to the left towards the tree.
Gearing up at the base of P1. Big seam in the right facing corner is the opponent.
[Hide Photo] Gearing up at the base of P1. Big seam in the right facing corner is the opponent.
Top of pitch 2 showing the 10' of 5.3 slab and the tree you should be able to see from the bottom of pitch 2.
[Hide Photo] Top of pitch 2 showing the 10' of 5.3 slab and the tree you should be able to see from the bottom of pitch 2.
The not recommended way to end the climb.
[Hide Photo] The not recommended way to end the climb.
The "wild" pitch 3 traverse.  This was pretty easy but is protected only by a bolt about 15 feet behind you horizontally.  Exciting!
[Hide Photo] The "wild" pitch 3 traverse. This was pretty easy but is protected only by a bolt about 15 feet behind you horizontally. Exciting!
Fun but awkward jamming before fun but awkward offwidth on the first pitch.  This pitch was excellent and had a little bit of everything.
[Hide Photo] Fun but awkward jamming before fun but awkward offwidth on the first pitch. This pitch was excellent and had a little bit of everything.
Picture showing Selaginella, which starts from the upper ledge. Pick any of the lower approach climbs (Munginella 5.6, The Caverns 5.8, Hanging Teeth 5.8, etc.) to get to the base.
[Hide Photo] Picture showing Selaginella, which starts from the upper ledge. Pick any of the lower approach climbs (Munginella 5.6, The Caverns 5.8, Hanging Teeth 5.8, etc.) to get to the base.
Belay ledge at the top of pitch 1, notice the webbing on the tree there. We opted to setup an anchor rather than use the tree.
[Hide Photo] Belay ledge at the top of pitch 1, notice the webbing on the tree there. We opted to setup an anchor rather than use the tree.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Steve R.
Oakland, CA
  5.8+
[Hide Comment] Great day of climbing from Commitment to Selaginella! The offwidth sections of Salaginella reminded me why we didn't spend the day on Kor Beck-What a workout.

The exposed traverse is fantastic. Supertopo mislabeled the right-facing flake (as left-facing) at the top of the third pitch after the traverse so don't get confused or concerned that you're in the wrong place.

We used the whole rack from 4" down to 00 metolius. May 21, 2009
[Hide Comment] Wally Reed 1963. Enough said - get on it! Oct 30, 2010
thecornyman
Oakland, CA
 
[Hide Comment] 1st pitch was amazing. I did the awkward 5.9 variation to start it. I felt the entire route had a off width feel to it and worked my partner and I. I'd rate everything at the books much higher if it were cleaner and didn't have ants on about every pitch. Sep 6, 2011
Chris I
Fort Collins, CO
  5.8
[Hide Comment] For at least the first pitch, and maybe the 3rd also, I would recommend wearing the rack (if using a gear sling) on the left side of your body. There is a fair bit of grinding on the right side that takes place and it was pretty uncomfortable and annoying having my gear in the way. Feb 1, 2012
Owen McGrath
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Climbed this route on 4/7/12. This was a great intro to long offwidth routes as I've traditionally shied away.

Pitch 1 is the most strenuous, though every wide section is soon met with rests. We brought a #5 camelot, placed it once but IMHO it wasn't really needed. One #4 should do the trick. Pitch 2 has a short bit of off fists, but it's over after 20 feet. The pitch 3 chimney protects well and has hands in the back.

I also made the pitch 3 traverse way harder than it needs to be by climbing way to high. Stay low, using the crystals and hand holds. There's a new bolt, which set back farther back. Use long runners to avoid drag.

Overall, it wasn't the most epic climb I've done, but I'm glad I did it as it opens the skillset to those mandatory OW pitches that come with most valley classics. Apr 18, 2012
old5ten
Sunny Slopes + Berkeley, CA
  5.8
[Hide Comment] have climbed this route several times, including twice in the middle of february (2006 and 2013): dry, no lines, no crowds, led all pitches...

p1 (right var.): felt burly this time around. i'd say it's sustained, physical 5.8 - must be old, fat, and out of shape. awesome fat hands, with some OW, and a bit of awkwardness thrown in. nice break a little over half way up. #2 camalots rock, no need for a #4.

p2: straight up for about 60 feet or so, then step out to the left (nice big step) and angle up the ramp toward the trees. i've previously done the corner variation (under the trees and ear shaped flake), but opted to go straight up past the large triangular flake and then traverse back to the corner at the base of the chimney (sm. stance for belay). this pitch is definitely easier than the first, but less straightforward and has some potential route finding issues for the uninitiated.

p3: up the chimney (5.7-5.8), then up easy ground, underneath a big block/flake to the bolt and pin. the traverse out left is actually technically quite easy, there are big holds for your hands (don't go to high). rope drag can be a huge problem here, especially if you didn't put some long runners on gear placed the last 20'to 30' before the bolt. the traverse puts you on a cheese grater ledge with a couple of options. i've always gone straight up the middle at the rail and sm. flakes, rather than the burly/fat crack to the left. however, beware, falling here means decking. there's a good belay at the sm. tree about 20' up.

p4: go up the crack/shallow corner past a jutting flake (bottom broken off). i thought this was the crux and could easily be called 5.9 in many places. after this section trend up and left, passing a couple short corners (also 5.8). finally, a big traverse to the left and the base of a huge free standing flake. it's possible to wiggle inside or lieback the flake. having done both, i'd have to say the lieback is more pleasing, but also less forgiving if things go wrong. in either case i found this part rather easy (in comparison to the rest of the route).

overall: this is a pretty stout climb for 5.8; i carried a full rack with doubles up to a #3 camalot, one #3.5 and one #4. i placed the #4 once and the # 3.5 a couple of times. did not place any nuts... Feb 17, 2013
Johnny Y
California
 
[Hide Comment] Climbed this a few days ago and there was a VERY LOOSE block halfway up the first pitch. It is about 1' in height and as deep and wide as the crack. One would instinctively grab the jug as there are no convenient jams. We weren't sure how to safely extract the block so be very careful, especially with the two recent deaths on El Cap due to rock fall, this should be taken care of. Jun 10, 2013
Johnny Y
California
 
[Hide Comment] Only time I used the 4" piece was at the second belay anchor, and that was only because I had to build around someone else's anchor, so I think gear up to 3" would suffice Jun 10, 2013
dylan grabowski
Denver
 
[Hide Comment] There's a super thin, and loosening flake right before the off-width on pitch 3, about 40-50 feet below the traverse move. Someone had previously put a big "X" on the flak with chalk, but I'm unsure how often that PSA will be repeated. Watch out, if the hold pulls, it could be a 2ft by 2ft (or larger) chunk that falls toward climbers on the bottom. Oct 26, 2015
[Hide Comment] P1 (right start variation) make sure you move left to the corner! I continued up the crack system until I was even with the tree stump... bad idea. Lots of dirty, awkward, ~5.10 climbing that dead-ends in a un-protected featured face that doesn't connect to the original line. Nov 1, 2015
DesertRat
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] The crux for me was P1 (Right Variation), it wasn't so much difficult, but extremely awkward. Carrying the pack for a group of three made the offwidth slightly less fun.

P2, felt easier than the 5.7 rating that was in the topo.

P3 felt right on (5.8) for the crux move, but again it was really just one awkward move, then the rest was cruiser. We made the mistake of continuing up the 5.7 crack to a different belay ledge. Did an easy traverse to get back on the route at the tree about 15 ft above the regular belay ledge. The alternate belay ledge was comfortable and took gear nicely.

P4 was stellar!!! The route was worth doing, just for P4. Final flake moves didn't seem to warrant the 5.8 grade. Two of our party avoided the last flake all together by climbing the direct finishing face. Jun 13, 2016
Parker Wrozek
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Going right on pitch 1, while fun, indeed leads to nowhere. Misreading the supertopo was not exactly a smooth move on our part.

That being said it is a pretty burly flaring offwidth (I will not comment on the grade but it was very hard for me) with good protection in the back. We left a 3 nut anchor right at 105'. You can get down with a 60M rope just knot the ends. Oct 25, 2016
Andrew Burton
Seattle, WA
 
[Hide Comment] An Incredible, versatile route that will require all the skills you have if you're new-ish to this grade. One small piece of beta: if you're breaking into 5.8 (like me) and you're relatively new to off-width (like me) you might find yourself sewing up the first pitch and quickly running out of gear. Luckily there's a solid belay ledge about half way up the first pitch, maybe 80-90 feet off the deck. We climbed it with doubles to #3, and I used an equal amount of gear on the first and second half of the first pitch. While it's not ideal and will slow down parties behind you, it's better than finding yourself out of gear high above your last piece, or finishing without any gear for an anchor. Apr 23, 2018
Hillel Posner
Forestville, CA
[Hide Comment] I don't usually comment on ratings as it's very subjective. For Sal. I have to chime in and say it's not a 5.8. Or if it is, Caverns is a 5.7. Superslide is a 5.8, etc. Lots of people say it's "burly" or "sustained" or "physical". All of that is true, but there are also a few moves that are technically harder than the 5.8 roof on Caverns (a popular way to get to the climb). An example that comes to mind is the broken flake on the 4th pitch, or the awkward moves at the end of the 3rd pitch and the last few moves of the 1st pitch. It's amazing to climb both tiers and I highly recommend the climb. The views are fantastic, the first tier is awesome no matter what climb you choose, but know that you need to be a very solid 5.9 leader to have fun on it. It worked me, I had fun, my partners who have lead 5.9 in yosemite struggled in parts. May 1, 2018
Tyler Gates
Redmond, OR
  5.8+
[Hide Comment] This climb was so good! I kind of screwed up the end of Pitch 3 and beginning of pitch 4, but it turned out to be great, and I apparently wasn't the first person to do it.

Single #4 and no #5 is great beta. Doubles .3-3" and single C3's yellow to green. I brought nuts, but probably could've lived without them, or have left the C3's behind.

Pitch 3: I set my belay on top of the little pillar with a bolt and a piton (made belay with bolt and nuts).
Pitch 4: I went directly up on super exposed easy big moves, and then traversed left and down a hand crack to meet up with regular route. You can place one piece in the high point of the traverse and then securely climb up into the dihedral/lieback a bit before placing your next piece. Rope drag was minimal on the final moves. Next time out, I'll try the regular route, but this variation was very airy and exciting. May 19, 2018
Bryan
Minneapolis, MN
 
[Hide Comment] Favorite route from my first trip to Yosemite. Better than Nutcracker by a mile. For the final pitch I topped out straight up the chossy headwall (to the right of the flake) with very poor gear and it was spicy for sure. Would not recommend that finish. Get on this route though. May 25, 2018
Peter J
Econoline, wherever, mostly…
  5.8-
[Hide Comment] varied climbing, but fairly easy/secure for the grade. The HUGE death flake at the top of the last pitch shifts slightly. I recommend climbing up the well featured but unprotected face if this climb isn't at your limit, rather than chimneying/laybacking the flake. I've done both--the flake is sketchy. Nothing too hard on the unprotected face (5.7?) but the final mantle is a little insecure/slopy and you wouldn't want to fall on this. Jul 16, 2018
Anders
Berkeley
[Hide Comment] Did the variation to the right of the 5.9 corner. It starts with a flared shallow offwidth/thin hands section and was indeed tricky. Probably 9+/10-. But really interesting climbing and well protected. There are bolted rap anchors at the top but it would take two ropes to rap to the ground.
Alternatively the second pitch traverse to get back into the corner of the traditional line is really interesting and initially protected by two bolts. Really cool climb although a bit dirty and some crummy rock throughout. Just needs more traffic. If you’re looking for something a little stiffer than usual variation i would highly recommend!
11/18/2018 Nov 29, 2018
Arch Richardson
Grand Junction
  5.8+
[Hide Comment] This climb with The Caverns(8) approach, and Via Aqua(8) to the rim would be a grand adventure at the 5.8 grade (for one with more stamina than myself). Aug 10, 2019
Aaron Price
Los Angeles, CA
 
[Hide Comment] I found the pitch length for 2 and 3 to be wildly off. I have a 70m rope so 1/2 way would be about 115' but neither pitch got even close to the 1/2 mark. I would guess both of them are closer to 100' at most.

Fun climbing would recommend! I found the crux to be the first 10' of pitch 4, some solid moves there. The two traverse moves at the end of pitch 3 were also exciting. Look left as you come out of the shallow chimney to find the traverse, should see a piton to your left. Dec 6, 2019