Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 13 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Dan McDevitt, Casey Jones
Page Views: 4,514 total · 130/month
Shared By: Jake Ramsey on Jun 14, 2016 with improvements by leo qiu
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

Getting There

The approach should be as simple as walking all the way up the gulley until reaching the small dirt platform for belay. First bolt and first pitch anchor should be visible. There really isn't a need to walk to 4th pitch and rappel. It is never a good idea to leave food behind in a ledge.
This route is the deluxe treatment: beautiful cracks, well protected throughout, bolted belays, easy rappels with a single rope, and a convenient mid-way ledge where you can leave your lunch (like the Rostrum).

The first seven pitches of this climb are superb. After that, the route becomes somewhat discontinuous, dirtier, and less aesthetic. There is plenty of fun climbing above the seventh pitch, but you have to work a little harder for it. Besides their high quality, another nice feature of the first seven pitches is that they stay shaded into mid-afternoon, so even on a warm summer day, it was pretty comfortable. We climbed into the sun when we pulled onto the top of the seventh pitch and it stayed with us the rest of the way.

There is a topo in the new Yosemite guidebook, which is what we used and found it to be accurate.

Approach: You can approach this climb from the bottom or from the ledge at the top of the fourth pitch. The second option is really nice because you can leave food and water at the ledge. The top of the fourth pitch is about 50 yards past the start of Voyager. As of June 2016, there is a fixed line along the last section of the ledge, which is a little exposed. There are also fixed lines going all the way down to the start of the first pitch, so you can rappel down without even having to uncoil your rope. If those fixed lines disappear, you can rappel down with a single 70 m rope.

Pitches 1-4 (10d, 10, 10a, 10a) climb up the crack system back to the ledge. These pitches are pretty short, so you can easily link pitches 1 and 2, as well as 3 and 4.

Pitch 5 (11a/b) is a sweet finger and hand crack, with a short section of fist or offwidth toward the top that can be laybacked. From the bolted anchor of p5, you’ll be able to see the first bolt of p6 to your left. Traverse over, reaching blindly for good holds that will take you up to that bolt, then onto a short layback section (10d) which turns into a perfect, cruiser hand crack that brings you to another bolted anchor. Looking up, you’ll see the long, splitter crack of p7 (11a/b). This is thin hands for most of the way, gradually narrowing to fingers. As the crack starts to dissipate, some handholds will appear on the left. You’ll follow these around the arête, at which point you may see some fixed lines off to the left. Don’t be lured by those, they’re for another route. Instead, follow the corner leading up and slightly to the right, and you’ll soon see another bolted anchor. From here, you can either rap down to the ledge (a single 70 m would work), or continue upward.

Pitch 8 (5.8) follows cracks up and to the right, past a large tree and onto a large ledge. Belay off a tree with slings and a rap ring. The topo says p9 is 5.6, but we just unroped and scrambled up the ledge system to the base of two wide cracks. I didn’t feel that unroping for this pitch was dangerous or exposed. For p10, the right crack starts as hands and soon widens to a squeeze chimney (10a), which is actually pretty fun as far as squeeze chimneys go. Follow the chimney system up to another large ledge with a big tree, then climb up another 20 feet or so to a bolted anchor.

Pitch 11 (10d) starts off with some slabby moves on polished rock, and eases up as you go past several bolts to another bolted anchor. Pitch 12 (10a) takes you into another crack system. My partner got off route midway up this pitch by staying in the right wide crack, which is tempting but turns out not to be a good option. Instead, pull around to the left, into a crack that takes hand jams good gear. There is also a bolted anchor at the top of p12. A final short pitch up blocky and mostly easy terrain takes you to the top, where you can belay off a huge tree.

Descent: From the top of p13, you can walk off, but I don’t know how to do that or where it takes you. What we did was rappel back down to the top of p10. There we did a short rappel over to the right, to the top of Voyager, and rappelled down Voyager. All of these raps can be done with a single 70 m rope. You could also just rappel the route, but it would probably be annoying to rappel through the ledges of p8 and p9. Also, I’m not sure all of p8-p10 are 35 meters or less.

Rack: The topo recommends nuts, a double set of cams .3” to 3” and singles 3” to 5”. We didn’t place any nuts, and we also didn’t place the #5 c4 we brought. The only place you might want the #5 is on the p10 squeeze chimney, but it’s not necessary. If, like me, you really like to sew things up, an extra .75 and #1 could be handy for the long crack on p7. Other than that, the pitches are short, so anything more than a double set of cams (and quickdraws/slings) is just extra weight. Jun 29, 2016
Did this route up through the last .11 pitch (pitch 7) last week. Thanks Dan McDevitt! Super fun route, pro everywhere, splitter cracks with some fun face sequences, luxury anchors. Definitely 4 stars for the first 7 pitches. Crazy that routes like this are still going up in the Valley.

There are currently fixed lines on the pitch 4 ledge (past Voyager start) to aid in getting over to the route, and also currently lines to take you down from p4 to the base. Deluxe. We walked to top of p4 and rapped to base to start the route. Route was shady through p7 until at least 3pm (mid-August), making for a very pleasant summer outing. For this off-the-couch dad, ratings felt pretty mellow compared to other Yosemite offerings.

Thanks again to the FA team for such a great, friendly route. Aug 17, 2016
Jebus H Bomz
Sacramento, CA
Jebus H Bomz   Sacramento, CA
Currently, as of 9/24/2016, there are no fixed lines for the rappel. The first two raps from the ledge link with a 70m, but the next two do not. It might be nice not to rap down on a party from the approach ledge as was done to us, but it wasn't that big a deal at the time. There is plenty of loose stuff from that ledge though, so it could easily go bad and that would suck.

A #5 was useful for the 5.10a squeeze/ow.

Overall, another very enjoyable edition to Fifi Buttress. Tim Goodson's description is very good. We too got into that right crack variation on pitch 12, and that felt like the hardest climbing on the route, lol! Sep 28, 2016
Another fun route from Dan. I found the hardest move for me was P1. A green C3 and, just higher, a small stopper protect it well. I placed several stoppers on the route, if I see a v slot I am dropping in a stopper, but as stated above one could go without. Sep 30, 2016
Oakland, CA
Sirius   Oakland, CA
Did this one a few weeks back: Fun, high-quality route. The Fifi (and this FA crew) just keeps on giving.

  • We didn't take a #5 and didn't miss it.
  • We did take an extra .75 and 1 and didn't place them.
  • We linked a bunch with the 70, 8 pitches to the rim. (1+2, 3+4, 5+6 w a bit of drag, 7, 8+9, 10+11, 12+13, 14 short scramble). Climbed this way, it goes fast and doesn't feel like a 1,000 ft route.
  • We thought the pitch lengths might be shorter than shown on the topo we had.

"We too got into that right crack variation on pitch 12, and that felt like the hardest climbing on the route, lol!"

Heed! We messed that up as well, and also wondered whether that was the hardest few body-lengths on the climb.

Finally, we took the left/straight-up variation instead of the "5.8 chimney (best)". I traversed into and part way up the chimney, but couldn't convince myself I'd find gear up there, so went back to the 5.9 with iffy rock. The 5.8 looked spectacular and now I wish I'd done it.

We were on a different route nearby yesterday and saw someone had left bail gear on this same pitch. Did anyone here do the chimney behind the big flake? Does it take gear?

Edit: I'd agree that Voyager p1 is harder + more sustained than both .11s on this one. Oct 3, 2016
Eben Freeman
San Francisco, CA
Eben Freeman   San Francisco, CA
This route is super fun, thanks to the FA team! Seems like a new favorite in the Valley -- there were several other parties on the route the Saturday we got on it.

Random notes:

- Don't need a #5.
- On the chimney pitch, pitch 10, it looks like you can climb the crack on the left (flared squeeze) or the right (hands widening to squeeze). We took the right crack. Continue past the end of the squeeze to a big ledge on the right. Walk along this ledge to a chimney behind a pillar. Chimney up (adequate small gear behind a flake). Pretty wild. Oct 4, 2016
Jose Gutierrez
Jose Gutierrez  
Do not follow the guide books suggestion to rap in from the top of P4, this is terrible beta. The approach to the base is very easy and much shorter, you won't risk dropping rocks on the parties bellow, and there is no advantage to leaving gear/food on the 4th (in reality 2nd) pitch since the first pitches are very short and go down fast. To reach the base go left at two close cairns where the trail appears to split.

Gear Beta: If only doing the first 7 pitches you do not need to bring a #4 or#5 since the "OW" on top of pitch 5 is bolted. 3xC40.75 are nice for the crux thin hands on p7. Oct 11, 2016
Alexey Zelditch
San Jose
Alexey Zelditch   San Jose
In addition what Jose said above, do not use Sloan book for the new routes [ assuming that for old routes he correctly copied topo and beta] . The bear N46 is hiding in ambush on the ledge on top of p4 ( where Sloan recommended to leave your launch, water, additional gear and whisky) waiting to tear up your backpack, eat you launch and later sell your gear on e-bay and pay royalty to Sloan.
Instead of going on Voyager ledge , take the same approach as for Voyager in the first 20 min, but take left from the main gully [after about 20 min walking up or gaining 2/3 elevation] into other galley which bring you to the real bottom of Fifi buttress directly to the start of Center Of Universe. It save you at least 40 min . Oct 14, 2016
leo qiu
Davis, CA
leo qiu   Davis, CA
May 12th 2017-

Approach: Just follow the gully until the base of the route, do not follow guidebook. I have included a picture for the first pitch. It is a very small dirty platform(unless I started at the wrong place).

Pitches: Pitch 1 - 6 is really good, the rest is really dirty. I won't really recommend doing it at all. The last three pitches 10d, 10a, 10a, are very bad. Watch out for the belayer below.

And the bolts. It seems to me the route is over bolted. There are sections with bolts every 5 feet. But it is protected very well.

Descent: Currently there is a fix line going up from the group to the top on a new route, left of Center of Universe. You will have to look down at the tree to find it. You can rap down with a GRIGRI. ROPE IS REALLY THICK, my partner got stuck, so he ended up using his own rope to rap.

May 12, 2017
Michael Dom  
To Leo above me.

It looks like there were 4-5 bolts on the first pitch. 1 on the 4th pitch and 2 on the 6th pitch, it didn't seem over bolted to me but that is just my experience. The anchors were all bolted except for the trees on pitch 10-12.

Also your photo looks like you may have begun in a different spot. It should begin next to a sloping scree gully.

We were able to descend down Voyager with a 60m rope once we had finished the last chimney pitch. I only ended up placing two nuts on the whole route and bot of those were in the chimney pitch, otherwise a double rack to #3 and one #4 was awesome!

I would recommend linking 1-2, 3-4, and 8-9. Jun 3, 2017
Lol, funny to hear folks say 'don't follow the awful beta in the (new)guidebook', even if that statement is now true. Here is what happened: There did not used to be a trail to the base of this route. To try and minimize climber's impact, Dan McDevitt the FAist, wrote on his original topo that folks should just approach via the Voyager ledge.

Later, Dan and crew started working on his new route, to the left of Center (Bird of Prey 11c), and they decided because you could not rap in to that one it was best to put in a new approach trail to the base.

So yes, approach this climb via an obvious, easy gully that splits off the main Fifi Buttress trail when you are right below the face. The gully shoots straight up to the wall. Where you meet the wall in the gully is the base of Center of the Universe. A one-pitch 10c corner, Love Train, is just to the right. Fifi La Roo, 12a, is just right of Love Train, just inside the edge of the arete that forms the North and Northwest Faces of Fifi Buttress(Center of the Universe is on the North Face. Voyager, Romulan Warbird, and Final Frontier are on the Northwest Face, and start off an approach ledge accessed from the main trail). Twenty-five feet further uphill is the new, classic 12a sport route More Burley than Girly.

Rockclimbyosemite.com - Yosemitebigwall.com Jun 10, 2017
Mark Straub
Berkeley, CA
Mark Straub   Berkeley, CA
The first 7 pitches of this route are great! The seventh pitch is really something incredible. We headed up to the top of pitch 10 and decided to bail, since it was getting late and the next 3 pitches didn't look stellar.

Leo's picture is the correct start of the route. There is a sloping scree gully immediately below the frame of the image. The approach took us about half an hour heading straight up the left gully the entire way (don't turn off as for Voyager). Oct 17, 2017
Just a few notes after climbing this route today (April 29); there is a fixed line from the top of pitch 2 down to the ground. If not using the fixed line for rappelling there is an anchor 15 feet above and 10 feet to the right of the P1 anchor. This lets you rappel with a single 70m rope and have ledges at all your rappel stations (better than going to the hanging belay of P1).

Also, be careful in the gulley approaching. It appears there has been some recent rockfall just below the start of the route. Apr 29, 2018
John Clark
San Francisco, CA
John Clark   San Francisco, CA
Really well cleaned route for pitches 1-7. Pitches 8-9 are essentially moving the belay through really vegetated ledges (read: tons of rope drag even if you solo them). Pitch 10 is more of a short, amazing offwidth than a squeeze, but super enjoyable and protects well with a single 4. The last 3 pitches would be stellar with a bit of scrubbing or a lot of traffic. The Sloan topo doesn't describe the last 3 pitches accurately, as they are awkward corner climbing, not face and 2 splitters. Would top out the first time, but probably will just do the first 7 pitches when I go back. Bit over bolted, but I still clipped them for convenience. Jun 25, 2018
Some things to watch out for if you are climbing this behind another party: the ledge at the top of p4 has a bunch of loose dirt that drops onto the pitches below and two really large blocks that will drop at some point as the ledge erodes further. Nov 2, 2018