Type: Trad, 4 pitches, Grade II
FA: Ken Adam, Olive Dyer, Morgan Harris, Oct 1935
Page Views: 5,364 total · 53/month
Shared By: Doug Hemken on Jun 12, 2014 · Updates
Admins: Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Salamanizer Ski

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The East Arete is a mountaineering route in the middle of the Valley. It begins with a few chimney moves, climbs up a couple of pitches to a shoulder, then traverses along an airy ridge to a penultimate perch poised over hundreds of feet of air. The final summit block is just big enough to stand on.

Pitch One (100 ft) - Start at the oak with five trunks (now four trunks). Chimney past two chockstone/steps, then walk up easy ground to the bottom of a shattered chimney.

Pitch Two (120 ft) - Head up the shattered chimney (does not require chimney technique). There is (in 2022) a fixed cam (from before 2014) and a good piton on this pitch, and a fair amount of loose rock laying on horizontal surfaces. Near the top is a two-bolt anchor: two ancient button heads with aluminum foil hangers.  Continue up to the spacious ledge just above, where you are finally on the ridgeline and have great views of El Cap.

Pitch Three (130 ft) - Climb up a short crack to the ridge, traverse along the ridge line, then up another step with an appealing crack running up its nose. (An old bail anchor is out left from here in 2014.) At the top of the step go past a large pine and belay at the next convenient boulders, or continue out along the ridge a ways (either option works, it just depends on how much you are feeling the rope drag).

Pitch Four (160 ft) - Move across the catwalk ridge.  As you move up, there are some boulders on the ground that can be slung.  Bring several double length slings to reduce rope drag.  As you move upwards, move around the left side of a large block, then right across the narrow ramp.  Continue traversing around to the right on the ramp, past a small plant, and just as you get beyond view of your belayer, around the corner, there will be a crow's nest ledge with a crack for a gear anchor.  

Pitch Five (30 ft) - the final 15-20 feet continues circling right around the summit block - you can either go up or down here, both work. Continue around the corner of the summit and you'll find an easy path to the final perch, just south of the summit.

With a single 60m rope, three raps gets you down. With doubles, two raps gets you to the ground. With a 70m rope, do three raps or do two raps and some down climbing on class 3/4 terrain.

The first rap is to the saddle between Church Tower and Lower Cathedral Spire, then head down across steep vegetated ledges to the west.


Come up the gulley as if approaching Lower Cathedral Spire. Once the saddle between Lower Spire and Church Tower is fully in view, head up toward the right side of the amphitheater formed by the saddle area. A couple of hundred feet down and right from the wall at the base of the saddle is a chimney/gulley heading up toward the north. There is an oak tree here with five major boles, where you start with a chimney move to get up around a chockstone. The base of the route is at approximately 37.714486,-119.629052 


Single rack to 2 inches. Some double length slings can be useful on pitch 4.  Ten feet of webbing or cord to replace the rappel anchors may be needed from year to year.