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Nightingale Arete

5.9+, Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft (303 m), 8 pitches, Grade IV,  Avg: 3.1 from 7 votes
FA: Gary Colliver and Alen Bartlett, July 1981
California > Yosemite NP > Tuolumne Meadows > Cathedral Range > High Sierra Cam… > Vogelsang Peak
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This is the north ridge of the western sub-peak of vogelsang peak.


alpine rack

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

The classic pic. NB approaching the crux on the upper arete.
[Hide Photo] The classic pic. NB approaching the crux on the upper arete.
Nightingale Arete, Vogelsang Peak. Line drawn in as we climbed it.
[Hide Photo] Nightingale Arete, Vogelsang Peak. Line drawn in as we climbed it.
Just below the upper dihedral.
[Hide Photo] Just below the upper dihedral.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Yes! Yes! Yes! This is my favorite obscure Yosemite High Sierra Climb of all time!

FA - Gary Colliver and Alen Bartlett 1981.

When hiking the more direct trail from Vogelsang to Merced Lake, this is the feature most hikers would refer to as "the sharks fin." Very prominent feature leading to the lower west summit of Vogelsang Peak.

To climb the Nightingale Arete, follow the stream out of Vogelsang HSC until it looks like you are at the level where you can contour around Vogelsang Peak. Pass through meadows, forests, and a bitchin boulderfield. When you see the arete, aim for it.(total hike 1mi.from Vogelsang) The climb starts on the left side of this arete (easy 5th class cracks). You will need to pull a couple of moderate moves to gain the class 2 ridge that leads to the 5.9 corner. Jam this short yet vertical corner with striking exposure to gain the upper arete/ridge. Follow this (class 2) as it wraps around to the upper summit.

Put together a standard rack to 3", then thin it out a little, and add some slings.

My thought is grade IV if you are doing it car to car.(16-18mi of hiking?) Grade III if you are doing it Vogelsang to Vogelsang.

Josh, remember the second time we did this? Jason came along to photograph the 5.9 corner, however, his camera was stolen out of his Curry WOB with the film still in it. Major bummer! Feb 17, 2011
[Hide Comment] I just realized that there are many differences in description between Josh's and myself. If you should come across any of these, I would go with Josh's as his memory of such things is much better than mine. I may be a little bit of a sandbagger where Josh would never do that to anyone.

And on our second ascent of the Nightingale Arete, I was on lead and got us pretty off route. So that is proof of my poor memory.

This route is documented in Secor's book The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails. 2nd ed. page 397. Feb 17, 2011
Ryan Gittins
San Diego
[Hide Comment] It sounds like this is a good route from the comments above. Does anybody have anymore info on this? Is it mostly 3rd class with one technical pitch or are there lots of moderate pitches too? If I worked in the valley it would be a no brainer but as a weekend warrior I'm wondering if it should be up there on my list for climbing reasons. Obviously the aesthetics are there. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks. Sep 1, 2015
josh holmes
[Hide Comment] The first buttress is 3-4 pitches, around 5.7-5.8. Pretty easy. I think a fist size cam is nice to have.

The ridge is cruiser, 2-3rd class.

From the notch to the top is another 3-4 pitches, as well as the crux. Mar 22, 2016
[Hide Comment] Super cool-looking feature with some great climbing. We started by 4th-classing up the toe of the buttress and then likely adding a technical pitch to the route. I think the original line starts by traversing in the horizontal vegetated ledges up and left. 5 long pitches led to the ridge, then a long 3rd and 4th class knife-edge ridge (Bartlett "Class 2", ha!) to the upper arete. 3 pitches on the upper arete to summit. Aug 8, 2016
[Hide Comment] We got stormed off the first three pitches late last year and had to leave gear. Anyone find our gear on the way up?

It is 9-10 miles to the base of the climb(GPS).

Sean Aug 8, 2016
Goran Lynch
Oakland, CA
[Hide Comment] We did this 6/11/18. Our rack was a single set of cams sizes blue x4 to blue c4, and a half-set of nuts. This was thin for our long pitch breakdown (3 pitches on the lower buttress, essentially 2 pitches on the upper. A few more pieces or shorter pitches would have made the runouts shorter, though the route isn't really a throw-the-rack-at-it affair.

I misread the beta here and, stupidly, went left on a ledge system on the upper arete just below the 5.9 corner. Some horror-show loose 5.8 climbing ensued up the east face of the upper headwall. On the plus side, I did remove many loose knobs from that variation, so it'll be slightly less horrifying for the next group. I guess this means that we missed the best pitch of the route, which is a shame. That said, I'd give the route 1 star the way we did it, and can't imagine the 50-100 feet of climbing we missed bringing it above 2 stars.

Finally, the descent: we contoured around the main peak of Vogelsang and descended a steepish snow slope to parallel the descent from Vogelsang Pass. Since we had lugged axes and crampons all the way, we at least got to use them. That said, as of now you should be good to either descend the basin west of the route or contour all the way to Vogelsang pass without snow gear. Jun 11, 2018