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Boulderfield Gorge 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 9 pitches, 1000'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Royal Robbins, Liz Robbins, Mike Dent, Victor Cowley (Oct, 1966)
Page Views: 261
Submitted By: Bryan G on Oct 1, 2015

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A view of the Gorge from the base

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


This is a typical Yosemite gully thrash. There are a couple cruxes low down on the route that are interesting and challenging, but most of the climbing is unexposed and not very fun. It's got lots of dirt and moss, but the bushwhacking isn't too bad except for a pitch near the top. If you just want a mungeineering route up a wall that no one ever climbs to the top of, then go for it. If you want a gully with some actual good rock climbing, go do The Cleft or something. Oh, and don't attempt this route if it has rained recently and it's wet.

Approach by hiking up the climbers trail to the base of Manana, then follow the wall uphill to the right. Boulderfield Gorge is the massive gully in the corner where the west facing wall intersects the water-polished north facing wall. Pharaoh's Beard should be visible a couple hundred feet to the right. On the left-hand wall inside the gully will be the overhanging 5.12 crack "Lost and Found".

The first few pitches lead up through three "steps" in the gully. Each step is guarded by a crux chockstone which must be climbed past. The first chockstone is passed on the left with some awkward jamming. The second chockstone requires some wild stemming and then a difficult mantel. The third chockstone is passed on the right with a "pull-up" move on a good hold. After some brief scrambling, climb onto a secondary ledge system on the left side of the gully. This avoids some mungey chimneys in the back of the main gully.

A couple more easy pitches tunnel behind two large chockstones to arrive at a debris strewn ledge below the "Colossus". This enormous chockstone (more of just an overhanging wall) is passed by climbing features on the right wall of the chimney. Start up a left facing OW flake, make a traverse right, then straight up on more flakes to a mungy ramp with another crux move.

Next is a rope-length of 3rd class up vegetated gully with ferns and thistles. Take the left gully. On the next pitch, step left to avoid scary looking chockstones and a dead snag, then bushwhack through a tree choked chimney. A couple rope-lengths of 4th class lead to the shoulder of the wall.

To descend:
Option 1: Rap down the main face of the wall. Two ropes are maybe required. Bring lots of webbing and stuff to leave as you will probably be establishing most of the rappels. If you can make it to the top of King Tut's Tomb, it's only 3 double rope raps to the ground from there.

Option 2: Bushwhack east and then north through breaks in the cliffs to reach the Valley rim. Hike cross-country to meet up with the Pohono Trail, which you can take to Glacier Point and either hitchhike back or walk down the 4-mile.


Probably the most notable thing about this route is its history as the first significant clean climb in Yosemite. Below is an excerpt from "Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber" by Steve Roper.

Robbins was, by this time, well qualified to write about nuts, or what he nicely termed "silent aids." The previous autumn he and Liz, along with two English climbers, Mike Dent and Victor Crowley, had quietly done a new route near Sentinel Rock using only nuts. First known as Chockstone Gorge, and later as Boulderfield Gorge, the 1,000-foot route was not trivial: it involved 5.9 climbing and a bivouac. Robbins wrote that it "was possibly the hardest climb of its length in the U.S. which has been done without pitons." If a plaque were placed at the base of the route, it would read: "Here, on September 29, 1966, pitonless Valley climbing was born, an event that saved Yosemite cracks from massive destruction."


Pro to 4"

Or you can just bring nuts and slings if you want to be a boss like RR.

Photos of Boulderfield Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Google Earth view of the Sentinel Creek Area
BETA PHOTO: Google Earth view of the Sentinel Creek Area

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