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Arrowhead Arête T 
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Arrowhead Arête 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 7 pitches
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Mark Powell & Bill Feuerer, 1956
Page Views: 7,270
Submitted By: M. Morley on Oct 5, 2008

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A spire on the arete , but not the arrowhead spire...

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Several pitches of fun, moderate climbing that make for a pleasant outing. The standard pitch count is listed as 7 pitches, but I'm sure you could link many with a 60 or 70m rope. Four 5.7/5.8 pitches lead to the base of the "Great White Flake". Continue on 5.6 that turns to 4th class terrain. Another bit of 5.7 to 4th class, followed by an easy but super-exposed knife edge ridge.

From the summit, rap gully to the west with a single rope.


From the Church Bowl area, walk west along a foot trail. Locate a trail that switchbacks up Indian Canyon, and hike/scramble to the west towards the base of the Arête. There is a good approach topo in the Supertopo guidebook. Supertopo lists the approach as "2-3 hours". My notes (from 1999) has our approach time listed as 1 hour, 15 minutes, but your mileage may vary.


Standard Yosemite rack.

Photos of Arrowhead Arête Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeff on the Arrowhead Arete. Arrowhead Spire is in...
Jeff on the Arrowhead Arete. Arrowhead Spire is in...
Rock Climbing Photo: Putting the rope away after the crux pitch 4.
Putting the rope away after the crux pitch 4.
Rock Climbing Photo: One of three rappels past the chockstones in the d...
One of three rappels past the chockstones in the d...
Rock Climbing Photo: Knife Edge
Knife Edge
Rock Climbing Photo: Above the great white flake looking down.
Above the great white flake looking down.

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By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 15, 2009

Can also be started by climbing Arrowhead Spire first and rapping off. At least, that is the way I did it.
By Robert MacKinnon
Mar 22, 2009
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

The knife-edge ridge was a fun bonus! I would have given the climb 3 stars if the approach wasn't so bad.
By M. Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
May 29, 2009

Climbed this again today, 10 years after first doing it. As George suggests, climbing the Spire first is recommended, adding a couple pitches of climbing plus a cool summit. 3 out of 4 stars done this way. The knife edge ridge is worth it!

Also, the approach/descent is really not as bad as it's made out to be. It's on par with Braille Book - a fair bit of elevation gain, but fairly straightforward. Took us just over an hour to get the base, and about the same to get down from the top. All told, 6.5 hours car to car, and thats from a couple of old guys.
By Osprey Overhang
From: ...
Mar 14, 2010

When Mark Powell put this striking line up in 1956 it was the hardest climb in the country at 5.8 He also did it free on sight which was unheard of at the time. Way to go!
By jammyjams
Mar 22, 2010

Hey Robert - just climbed this last weekend with Jay Pozner....was remembering our adventure up there some years ago...

this route is great I've decided. Approach with humility aspiring Yos moderate adventure climbers....

Mike - wassup with the "old guys" thing?
Don't make that too much of a habit or it will become true!
By Wesley Ashwood
From: Squamish, BC
Aug 2, 2010

Fun position for a valley climb well away from the crowds. We did it in 5 pitches linking the first and second and belaying from the top of the great white flake with has a much better stance though fewer pro options.
By Bonesaw
From: CA
Oct 2, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Did this route on a Saturday in late September and didn't see another climber all day. The approach is a bit of a pain, especially since we unknowingly departed the "trail" a bit early and soloed up about 150' of some very sketchy and loose vertical rock. We thought this was the "4th class rock band" mentioned in the Supertopo. On the descent, we found the "proper" route and the "4th class rock band" was trivial (rap anchor at top but not needed). Our approach detour was by far the scariest part of the day, maybe even the last few months.

As for the route, it was great. The Spire was a cool way to start and avoid the less than desirable first pitch of the Arete. We linked some pitches and did the arete in 6 pitches, rather than the 8 mentioned on the Supertopo. The belays mentioned in the Supertopo don't make much sense; there are great belay ledges about 30' above where the ST marks several of the belays.

Our first three pitches on the arete were filled with great climbing. The original rating of 5.8 seems appropriate except for the crux bulge, which seemed more like Yosemite 5.9. There is some loose rock on the route so watch out for that. The knife edge ridge was a cool finish but the pitches leading up to the Great White Flake were the highlight of the route.
By Thomas Laursen
From: Huntington Beach, CA
May 31, 2016
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Rapp in from the notch. Link pitches 3-5 by belaying at the huge ledge before traversing around the corner. Descent is obvious and direct.

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