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Mount Watkins

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Mount Watkins Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 8,500'
Location: 37.7829, -119.51729 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 6,263
Administrators: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Karsten Duncan on Mar 12, 2015
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Clouds rest rockfall seen from the South Face of M...

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Despite its massive size, Mt. Watkins is the least recognizable of Yosemite's walls to most tourists and climbers. This grand wall rises 4,400 feet above the valley floor and is larger in mass than half dome. Because of its particular aspect and location most only appreciate the enormity of the monolith if hiking down Tenaya canyon or from the summit of half dome. Like half dome's north face, glaciers have made their mark by cutting off the south edge of the Watkins creating a massive vertical wall of interesting corners, sweeping sheer faces, and the striking Watkins pinnacles on its west end. A defining character of this monolith is its remoteness. The wall contains a handful of routes but many with just a few ascents.

Getting There 

Generally allow 2.5 to 5 hours depending on if you are hauling bags and your ability to find the correct route the first time. Starting from either the Majestic hotel (Ahwahanee) or Half Dome (Curry) Village take one of the many trails leading toward Mirror lake. Continue east on the Mirror Lake loop trail on the north side of the lake. Just before the large bridge crossing Tenaya creek cut off the established trail and continue heading upstream along a sometimes difficult to follow faint climber trail. A conveniently located log allows for easy crossing of snow creek but can be treacherous during high water times. Generally avoid gaining elevation for another 1.25 miles. You will likely be tempted to cut up early but again stay low and pass almost the entire south face of Watkins. When just past the main face a gentle slope will head up the main wall. At the base, start up on 4th to easy 5th class terrain. Often there are fixed lines here. Work your way up moderate 5th class climbing first heading up and left then cutting back right finally reaching a large ledge system that is the start of most of the wall’s routes. From the Majestic (Ahwahanee) to the first scrambling is about 4.25 miles and takes maybe 2 hours without heavy bags. Another 20 minutes (if not hauling) will get you to the base of the more vertical section and traditional start of the routes. With heavy bags would allow at least 4-5 hours.

Climbing Season

Weather station 3.5 miles from here

2 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',0],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Mount Watkins

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mount Watkins:
South Face   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C2+ PG13     Trad, Aid, 18 pitches, 2200'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mount Watkins

Featured Route For Mount Watkins
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike climbs pitch 12

South Face 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C2+ PG13  California : Yosemite National Park : ... : Mount Watkins
This proud wall was one of the last large faces to be scaled. Years after Half Dome and El Cap the striking south face of Watkins had still not been touched. Even the all star cast on the first ascent team had difficulty surmounting this bigwall in the summer heat. The route follows a surprising line of continuous cracks up the face and saves the best pitches for last. Wonderful views and position abound on this route. If not for the long approach and even longer descent this route would se...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Mount Watkins Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: South Face of Mt Watkins
BETA PHOTO: South Face of Mt Watkins

Comments on Mount Watkins Add Comment
Show which comments
By Brian Prince
From: morro bay, ca
Feb 15, 2016
the watkins pinnacles aint unclimbed
By Karsten Duncan
From: Sacramento, CA
Feb 16, 2016
Thanks Brian,
Updated description. Just saw the upper was climbed way back in the 1940s.

Upper Watkins Pinnacle FA: Al Baxter, Ulf Ramm-Ericson, Rupert Gates, 5/1947
FFA: Joe Oliger, Wayne Hildebrand, Steve Roper, 1961

Middle Watkins Pinnacle FA: Al Baxter, Rupert Gates, 12/1946

Lower Watkins Pinnacle FA: Mark Powell, Herb Swedlund, Wally Reed, George Sessions, Merle Alley, 7/1957

Lower Watkins Pinnacle Direct FA: Tucker Tech, Walt Shipley, 1991

Watkins Pinnacles - from Tenaya Canyon FA: Gary Hemming, Dick Long, Jim Wilson, Larry Lackey, 5/1958

The Twisted Road FA: Paul Turecki, Kristin Kremer, Greg Collins, 10/03
By Brian Prince
From: morro bay, ca
Feb 17, 2016
hey cool man, thanks. glad my comment lit a little fire :)

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