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Routes in Higher Cathedral Spire

East Corner T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Northwest Face T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c A3+ PG13
Regular Route (Higher Cathedral Spire) T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Southeast Face T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Spire it up (first 2 pitches) T 5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c
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Type: Trad, Aid, 1200 ft, 11 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Tom Frost, Royal Robbins 1961
Page Views: 1,455 total · 20/month
Shared By: Eric Foster on Jan 2, 2013
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


Aid Crux is on pitch 7 and can be somewhat intimidating. This route goes directly up the Northwest face and gets very little sun so bring a jacket, it can get a little chilly on this one. The middle pitches of the climb are the hardest and are composed of moderate to hard aid sections (beaks are your friend on this one). Watch out for loose rock as this route does not get done that often. Great Yosemite Wall adventure with likely no lines and a route in the shade when the Valley is a bit warm.

Erik Sloan has a free topo on his website of the climb.


Anchors and bolts replaced in May 2010.
10 beaks-2 each #1, 4 each #2 and #3
3 LA's-1 each #2-4
6 angles-3 each 1/2", 5/8"
3 sawed angles-1 of 5/8", 2 each 3/4"
3 heads, 1 each of #2-4
1 set of nuts
1 set of brassies
3-4 each of .3"-1.25"
2-3 each of 1.5"-3.5"
1-8"(optional for chimney)


How 'bout that Chimney of Horrors? Tell me you replaced the rust stain. Jan 5, 2013
Eric Foster
Chandler/Flagstaff, AZ
  5.8 A3+ PG13
Eric Foster   Chandler/Flagstaff, AZ
  5.8 A3+ PG13
Yes we changed everything out on the chimney of horrors. I was glad to lead the harder aid pitches which Erik squeezed his way up that terrible thing. There were some pretty bad anchors there on this climb and we managed to change them out or back them up with one better bolt. Mar 8, 2015
Bryan G
Bryan G   Yosemite
Some loose stuff on pitch 1 and below the Tower of Rubble (obviously). The rest of the climb is solid. The "A3+ expanding" section on pitch 8 is easy - not really expanding and takes bomber camhooks and 00/000 C3's. The "A2 beaks" before that is the crux and pretty hard. Pitch 7 is also difficult, and I took a 40-footer when a beak popped and I zippered some gear under it. Bring a couple offset TCU's, the grey/purple and purp/blue would have been super useful for a couple tricky placements. Narrow camhooks are a must.

Also there's no way this is a Grade VI. I did it solo in 19 hours car-to-car and this was my first A3 route and I was climbing ridiculously slow on the two crux pitches. It took me slightly longer to solo Ten Days After which is considered a Grade V.

Thanks for replacing the hardware on this route, but I was also wondering if you guys added any bolts in the process? Two or three bolts at every belay seems out of character for a Royal Robbins route, and also the location of the anchors seems "modern" in the sense that they're set up to facilitate clean hauling, while back in the days of webbing harnesses they tended to drill their belays at better stances. Jun 9, 2016
Eric Foster
Chandler/Flagstaff, AZ
  5.8 A3+ PG13
Eric Foster   Chandler/Flagstaff, AZ
  5.8 A3+ PG13
Hey Bryan, due to how long it has been since we replaced the hardware I cannot remember. Erik Sloan did all the rebolting when we were up there and I assisted. He would be the one to ask about the specifics. As far as I can remember though I'm pretty sure we kept all belay stances at the exact same spot. Jan 16, 2018
John Long
Venice, CA
John Long   Venice, CA
As of 10-21/2018, the Northwest Face goes all free at 5.13 (at least), thought the free route ("Blue Collar") takes a separate line after the crux undercling on pitch 5 on the Frost/Robbins line, and adds a direct finish up the headwall (by way of a 5.12 offsize roof pitch, followed by an unprotected body chimney up the summit block). Kevin Jorgessen spent parts of two seasons working this one out before the one-day send a few weeks ago. A super Valley testpiece, featuring every technique and a boatload of physical, burly climbing, ergo, "Blue Collar." Anyone who has ever stood directly beneath the Northwest Face knows this one is full value, steep as shit and intimidating. Oct 31, 2018

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