Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 10 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Sean Jones, Jake Jones. 2002
Page Views: 4,455 total · 67/month
Shared By: Colin Moorhead on Nov 18, 2013
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

12 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick
Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


"Gates" follows a compelling natural line on West Face of the Ribbon Falls Amphitheater. The left wall of the Gates dihedral, when illuminated by the sun, juts out like a glowing blade, begging to be climbed. It is amazing that this obvious line waited so many years before an ascent.

The first ten pitches follow continuous cracks and corners on very high quality granite. All the belay stations are fixed chains, making this part of the climb feel less committing than many similar size Valley routes. Most of the belays are at great stances or full sit down and recline ledges. The setting and positions climbing in the amphitheater are super cool.

The upper 9 pitches are mostly 5.7, and allow you to top out the formation in approximately 2000 ft. of climbing.

Only the first 10 pitches are described here as this will likely be the way that most parties will climb it.

This is an excellent route that should be getting way more traffic. The hard climbing is well protected and short lived, the bulk of the climbing is endless 5.10 hands and fingers corner cracks. Even the mandatory Valley OW pitch is kinda soft and cuddly (kinda). Overall, Gates feels less burly than Astroman and less head spinning than the Crucifix. The 5.10 C1 crowd would find aiding the short cruxes straight forward and would be well rewarded with tons of great 5.10 free climbing.

The only real cons of this route is some grassy cracks and pokey shrubs, this route will only get cleaner and better with more traffic. The route is an absolute sun trap, this was great for our mid November ascent, but it is likely scorching much of the year.

Pitch by pitch.
Lengths are approximate.

Pitch 1. 5.12a, 30m. Start up lower angled cracks to the base of left facing corner. Technical stemming with small foot chips on the left and helpful concavities on the right, protected with two bolts. Finishes up a 5.11 finger crack.

This pitch has been described as "houdini-funk" and rated .12c. We found the crux to be fairly easy to decipher and quite short lived, the kind of .12a that isn't even that bad to warm up on.

Pitch 2. 5.11c, 25m. Starts with a difficult traverse past a bolt, my partner went high, I went low. Continue romping up fun 5.10- fingers and laybacking.

Pitch 3. 5.10c, 35m. Hands gradually widen to off fists, just when things are getting thuggish a miracle crimp rail and single, generous foothold lead around the arete (bolt) to twin hand cracks, do i use the perfect crack on the left or the perfect crack on the right? I'm so confused.

Pitch 4. 5.10a, 30m. Hands and fingers and jugs, so fun!

Pitch 5. 5.10b, 30m. The jungle pitch. More steep cracks of agreeable widths. The trees initially look like they will be a pain in the ass but are easily passed by a chimney in behind. The haul rope had to be passed around the outside of the trees, this minor inconvenience makes a case for not bringing a tag.

Pitch 6. 5.9, 20m. Layback four inch crack up lower angle ramp. This crack is visible from the valley.

Pitch 7. 5.10d, 30m. Climb straight up beautiful corner directly above the belay move right into wide crack that is easier than it looks.

Pitch 8. 5.10d, 30m. Climb past annoying shrub to a ledge. Crank up steep fingers in a corner, fingers morph into the offwidth, the offwidth is negotiated left side in, although overhanging, the subtle flair allows for some chimney style rests and a great two handed crimp gives welcome relief half way. Almost fun!

As previously reported, loose block at the top of this pitch is now gone.

Pitch 9. 5.11a, 40m. Long corner, mostly fingers. Several bulges provide stimulating cruxes, at the last roof step left to the only hanging belay on the route.

Pitch 10. 5.11d, 35m. Wild and steep, this pitch projects you out over the route below. This steep pitch is capped by a bombay chimney and another 5.11 crux of flared fingers and stemming.

We ran out of daylight and didn't get to do pitch 10, the description of this pitch is adapted from Sean Jones AAJ report.

We linked pitches 2-3 and 4-5 with no problems.

This first pitch remains shady much longer than the rest of the route.


Likely due to the recent inclusion of the Gold Wall in the latest Supertopos book, the approach trail is well marked and fairly easy to follow once found. Cut right into the main drainage about 200ft below the Gold Wall. The route is obvious, taking the largest right facing corner on the west facing wall towards the back of the amphitheater, approximately 300ft right of the falls, the first pitch can be identified by a small, left facing corner with two bolts.

On our November ascent, the falls were dry, when the falls are turned on a creek crossing will need to be negotiated, spray from the falls likely soaks the first pitch during high water.

Descent: Seven rappels with two ropes from the top of pitch 10. The rappel follows the route except from the bottom of pitch 9 where you can rappel to a hanging belay on the edge of the giant arete that forms the left wall of the dihedral (anchor for Ecstacy of Gold 5.10 A3), this avoids a potential rope hang up.

It seemed like it might be feasible to rappel the route with one 70m rope using one tree on pitch 8 as an intermediate anchor. Anchor sling and locker was in place on this tree. I didn't have the tape measure out so be careful!


Double set of cams from tips to #4 BD, one #5, standard nuts, no brass required. Leading with a nut tool is helpful for excavating the occasional placement or fingerlock.
Petaluma California
stevecurtis   Petaluma California
Well, I got nine pitches up gates of delirium despite tendonitis. This route is as good as the crucifix, and better than ribbon candy. All the belays are two solid bolts. Climbing is straight forward. Plan on a really nasty off width and a little gardening (pitch 9) Steve Oct 20, 2007
Scotty Nelson
Scotty Nelson   Boulder
Thanks for writing this up, I've always been curious about this climb! Nov 20, 2013
Rad route. Really good place to hang. If you start at first light during June you can do the entire first 10 pitches in the shade. The 10th pitch is protected from the sun if it just starts to hit on the 9th.
The OW seemed very real to me. I've never fallen on it, but it just seems a bit aggro compared to the rest. I'm a softy on those things though. Some of them.

Thanks for the write up. I encourage all folks who have an interest to do this route. Sean and company nailed it on this one.

Peace! Nov 20, 2013
2nd OW pitch seemed significantly harder than the first (stellar splitter). Pitch 9 seemed like an 11b with scary chock-stones to me. Wild step across to the belay. Dec 23, 2013
70m rope got us down from the top of pitch 7. The long tree pitch was almost a stretcher, don't try it with chopped ends! Wish I could tell you about the last few.. Mar 23, 2014
Ryan K.  
A bit more approach beta...

After the old road turns sharply left and starts the long straight away heading west, the climbers trail begins about 150 feet up on the right after a boulder. There is an oak tree that fell next to the boulder, and the spot usually has a cairn.

Almost all the way up to the amphitheater, the trail splits, west trail heading to Gold Wall and east trail heading to amphitheater. This split is between a dead cedar tree (burned base with lime green moss) and a car-sized boulder. There is currently a finger shaped rock, two ft tall, at the split.

Please help protect the area by staying on the established trail. Dec 6, 2014
Vlad S
Vlad S  
Awesome route! Climbed it in January with only the 1st pitch in the shade and it was TOO HOT! Unbelievable! It would help out if everyone did their part to remove a bit of grass on their way up or down. This stellar route would be even better without vegetation.

I agree with almost all the rating changes from the topo. First pitch is definitely not 12c. A few moves of insecure stemming followed by a pumpy fingercrack that was the only wet spot on the route - 12a seems legit. For pitches 7, 8 and 9 I would break them down to 10b (wide crack, but not much OW, very mellow), 11a (OW), and 11b weirdness. The 11a OW on pitch 8 was definitely the crux of the route for me, even though it protects really well. That pitch was psyche crushing. The only place where a second #3 is needed is when linking pitches 2 and 3. I think I would either leave it at the 3rd anchor or just run it out a little on those nice handcracks. #5 is only necessary on pitches 7 and 8.

VERY IMPORTANT: if raping with two ropes make sure to extend the knot below the ledge off of pitch 3 anchor before you start. There's a perfect constriction for it to get stuck and monkeying up 190 feet is not fun. Jan 26, 2015
San Francisco
tallmark515   San Francisco
February 2016 condition report:
P1: Soaking, but easy enough to pull through on gear.

P2-3: The ledge off the belay was wet making the traverse harder, linked with P3 (70m rope) which was an amazing and dry pitch. Turning the arete was awesome as were the splitter hand cracks. Both pitches felt about 10b (except the 5.11 traverse).

P4-5: More amazing splitter cracks, mostly hands. Awesome corner. Annoying but fun tree hopping at top of P5. Linking is the way to go (70m rope). 10b

P6-7: A short 5" crack and low angle 5.9 ramp pitch (mostly face climbing, no big cams needed) links well into another 5.10 pitch that is not OW nor is it much more difficult than any of the 5.10 below. Mostly face climbing with the assistance of a 5" crack. Use 70m rope to link.

P8: Jesus, this pitch is nails. A hard finger crack leads to a brutal overhanging OW bulge. Hard hard hard and definetly OW. 5.11

P9: Rock quality takes a turn for the worse on this pitch. Dirty chockstone climbing. It's all there but pretty steep, sustained and a bit disconcerting. The final roof traverse was wet but doable. Hidden crack around the corner at the end of the traverse helps to take the sting out. 5.11a/b

P10: We bailed. Looks steep but we were both still traumatized from P8.

Rap beta: p9 takes 2 ropes. I'd recommend using a single 70m rope for the other raps. It looked like there were lots of opportunities to get your rope stuck.

P1-7 is a great 5.10 C1 outting in an awesome giant corner. Adding p8-10 ups the difficulty significantly. Feb 24, 2016
Mikey Schaefer
Redmond, OR
Mikey Schaefer   Redmond, OR
I did this a couple years ago. Excellent route and deserves to be seeing some traffic! It is definitely a warm area and the sun can be problematic even on a colder day.

Sounds like a lot of people have been bailing before P10. I thought this was the hardest pitch on the route. Pitch 1 felt pretty trivial compared to P10. It is physical pitch that is taxing at the end of the day. Nov 6, 2017
Salt Lake City
CaseyElliott   Salt Lake City
We did this route today, all 10 pitches. P1 seemed like the technical crux but p10 seemed like the redpoint crux. I would daresay that of you don’t do P10 you didn’t do the route because it is such an incredible pitch. Wild exposure, sweet chimney, and actually A kind of real rappel to get off. The OW pitches were rad I would say the harder one would be about 11b. Definitely do P10! Nov 4, 2018
I did a 2nd ascent of this with Jones.
It was a cold day, and I had to pull through on the 1st pitch. Rough warm up!
The rest of the route was amazing.
I don't remember the off-widths being exceptional difficult. Of course Jones told me they were 10c. Difficulty is often a construct of our minds. Had he told me it was 11a ow, I probably would have bailed.
But I do remember glorious crack climbing, and monkeying through trees.
The last pitch (10th) stands out vividly.
Gorgeous, steep, and exposed.
Hero pitch for sure. Mar 1, 2019