Type: Trad, Aid, 1200 ft (364 m), 14 pitches, Grade V
FA: Yvon Chouinard, Tom Frost 1962
Page Views: 2,934 total · 54/month
Shared By: Twsincich on May 8, 2017
Admins: Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Vicki Schwantes, Justin Johnsen

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The North Face of Quarter Dome is a fun, classic Yosemite big wall adventure. First climbed by Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost in 1962 it was first free climbed by Mark Hudon and Max Jones in 1979 with only nuts, Proud! The position up Tenaya Canyon gives the climb a quiet, backcountry alpine feel and amazing views of Watkins the whole time.

Once the struggle to reach the base is over, the climb follows the obvious corners up to the summit.

P.1 (5.3) Either rope up or scramble some easy low 5th class ledges past the pin belay to the start of the 2nd pitch face traverse. Gear belay. 150 ft

P.2 (5.8) Climb a short, exciting, 5.7 face traverse off the belay into the easy cracks leading up to the belay ledge. Gear belay. 130 ft

P.3 (5.8) Alpine style hand cracks. Gear belay under the bulge. 170 ft

P.4 (5.10a) Short, funky .10a bulge to easier (5.7) climbing to the belay ledge. Gear belay. 90 ft

P.5 (5.9) Traverse left and follow up 5.9 cracks to bolted belay. 90ft.

NOTE: Possible to link P4&5 into rope stretcher with 60m or comfortably with 70m. Watch rope drag if linking.

P.6 (5.8) More fun hand cracks up corners. Gear belay. 180 ft

P.7 (5.10a) One last short pitch to the bivy ledges. Bolted anchors.

NOTE: If bivying, there are many flat ledges to sleep on though they tend to be long, narrow ones fitting 1-2 people per space.

P.8 (5.10b) From the pitch 7 anchors scramble across the 4th class bivy ledges, staying low, to another set of bolts under the obvious corner system. Short .10b section to 5.8 corner to the belay ledge. Bolted anchors. 150 ft.

P.9 (C2F or 5.10c) climb up an easy 5.7 chimney with many pins in the back and up to the C2 or .10c corner to the anchor. Bolted anchors. 90 ft

P.10 (A1 or 5.10c) The original aid pitch climbs up and right along an easy A1 Beak/Arrow crack to a pendulum into the 5.8 climbing to the anchor.

A much better option is climbing straight up off the anchor on 5.10c face climbing straight to the 5.8 climbing and anchor. 2 new bolts have been added in this section so it's not as runout anymore. 120 ft

P.11 (C2 or 5.10d) Follow the arching corner up and right on aid or .10d to a tension to the anchor. Bolted. 140 ft

P.12 (A1 or 5.12) A beak move off the belay gets you into a beautiful thin finger crack (C1 or 5.11+) that ends with a tension left to easier 5.9 climbing or a 5.12 "Improbable jump" from the crack 6 ft. over to the easier climbing. Bolted anchors. 140 ft

P.13 (A1 or 5.11d) Climb up a couple bolts to a C2 or .11d corner and either finish up the original A1 aid corner (1 LA move) with many fixed pins and tension to the anchor or face climb over to a .10a corner. Bolted. 140 ft

P.14 (5.10a or C1) Free climb a short .10a (or C1) section to easy but loose and sandy 5.6 climbing to the summit!

Descend by walking a half mile straight off the back towards the Clouds Rest Trail to Half Dome and Little Yosemite Valley and following it back to the Valley.


The crux of the entire route is the approach. Although it's possible to do in 3-4 hrs if you know where to go, for your first time plan for at least 4-5 hrs and up to 6-8 if your unlucky or have huge bags.

Follow the approach for Watkins up Tenaya Canyon along the climbers trail on the north side of the riverbed. After passing Watkins on your left stop when the canyon narrows and you have to start scrambling up 4th class and cut up and right through the bushes towards Quarter Dome on your right. Trend along the base of the wall and up the path of least resistance up slabs to the base platform. GOOD LUCK! You will most likely get lost so don't feel too bad.


Standard doubles wall rack to #3 with a few extra small and offset cams and a single #4. Camhooks to pass the nailing sections and a couple beaks and stubby LA's incase the fixed pins are missing. Easily goes clean for many parties.