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East Buttress 

YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, 12 pitches, 1400', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Mark Powell, Jerry Galwas and Don Wilson, 1956 FFA: Steve Thompson and Chris Fredericks, 1965
Page Views: 5,160
Submitted By: George Bell on Feb 6, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (20)
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Spectacular view of the big north face of Middle C...

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


This climb is often confused with the classic climb of the same name on Middle Cathedral. Do not let the 10c rating scare you away, the crux pitch is well protected and the crux section is not long. Because of this, the climb may seem easier than several long climbs rated below it, such as the Steck-Salathe and NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral. I'd rate it harder than the East Butt of Middle Cathedral done free, however.

Directly east of this climb is the monstrous bulk of Middle Cathedral, with the result that this climb is surprisingly shady. In September, the lower portion only gets a few hours of sun a day.

The first pitch is "only 5.8" but is a run-out chimney which can be scary if you let it get to you. The second pitch follows a mostly thin crack to gain a brushy ledge. You may want to move the belay to the left after this pitch. The next few pitches follow a left leaning, left facing dihedral and should be obvious above you.

The third pitch starts up the dihedral with the "Fissure Beck", likely named because Eric Beck was the first to free this pitch. The base of the crack is grungy, you can move into it from the left to avoid the first part. The crux is about 6 inches wide, but you can avoid offwidthing by using face holds. Continue up to a tree, the topo shows a belay here but due to ants you are well advised to continue for another 50 easy feet or so to a ledge.

The next pitch is the crux of the climb, and continues up the dihedral, which is now a weird looking flared chimney. The crux looks potentially awkward but is a beautiful pitch which involves no chimneying. This long pitch ends at a large terrace, somewhat less than half way up the formation.

The first pitch above the terrace is tricky, and several options exist (see the Reid topo). The buttress above is somewhat lower angle and there is no distinct line, so many different routes can be followed. The next pitch (#8 on the Reid topo) follows a 5.6 ramp back to the left. I believe at this point we were lured too far left up a series of giant stacked flakes (5.9). The actual route goes more directly up (5.9), and continues with 3 more pitches of 5.6-5.7 to the summit.


Standard rack to #4 Camalot. A 6+ inch piece could be used on the first and third pitch, but is not necessary.


This is pretty easy. From the summit, walk down into the Gunsight notch. Head north to the Valley floor, down the slot, which usually involves a couple of rappels off trees, although you can also downclimb.

Photos of East Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Josie McKee following up the white bongo flake hig...
Josie McKee following up the white bongo flake hig...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on the 2nd pitch
Climbers on the 2nd pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo for East Buttress of Lower Cathedral.  Full T...
BETA PHOTO: Topo for East Buttress of Lower Cathedral. Full T...
Rock Climbing Photo: The route, by Clint
The route, by Clint
Rock Climbing Photo: start, Clint Cummins photo
start, Clint Cummins photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Quick answer from Peter Hann on ST here is what I ...
Quick answer from Peter Hann on ST here is what I ...
Rock Climbing Photo:  Here is photo of the East Buttress . Can someone ...
Here is photo of the East Buttress . Can someone ...

Comments on East Buttress Add Comment
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By Rob Dillon
May 20, 2009

Some beta that was useful to me:

after the terrace of the several choices, a longish leftward-trending rampy thing heads up and left towards some clean grey-white bongo flakes. The goal is to reach these, which are probably 350' above and to the left of the terrace. Above this runs a system which should get you to the top; a couple fixed pins will reassure you that the system has in fact been climbed before.

Awesome summit, too!
By Osprey Overhang
From: ...
Feb 25, 2010

Semi - obscure classic! Closes in the summer for falcon nesting. Here is what I remember:

Climbed in 5+ pitches with one 60m rope, some bumping of belays, and simul climbing through easy sections.

1) Climb an old school flare/chimney/squeeze, left facing corner for 200+ft before reaching a large tree and grass covered ledge. Save a blue alien for the last 30ft when the chimney/flare ends. Belay from slings around a tree or bushes. Use many slings or you will have serious rope drag trying to reach the ledge. The second will have to simul 30ft or so to link this pitch.

2) Bump the belay to the far left side of the ledge. Climb up and left off the ledge and into another left facing corner. Pass the .10a fists and the Fisher Beck without even knowing it. When you get to a small belay stance at a tree, don't stop. Continue up a short section of corner until a better stance is reached. Belay here on gear below the intimidating crux section of the corner. 200ft.

3) Slowly lead up into the extremely high quality corner which is easier than it looks. The 10.c crux is just one move where the crack pinches down. You can place a bomber #2 friend just below this move, also there was a good fixed stopper there when I did it. Top out of the corner skipping a stance and belay at the large ledge above. Watch for loose stones at this belay. 200ft.

4) Simul climb up terraces and moderate sections of crack. Look for a hidden flake behind the bush listed as the 7th belay in the Reid guide. The flake curves up and left and leads you to an easy ramp that goes up and to the left. Set up a belay when the climbing gets harder.

5) From this belay, there appears to be a few options. But really only one is worth it. The wall straight up is death, or it looks like you can go left and climb up a right facing corner .10 which is dirty with old pins in it. The good way to go is out left passing the dirty right facing corner until you reach the white flakes way out left. These can be seen from the belay. Jam one of these flakes and set up a belay at the next tree, or simul climb your way a few hundred easy feet to the summit. There are many ways to reach the top, I would just suggest following the line of least resistance.
By Alexey
From: San Jose
Feb 25, 2010

I also adding ST beta for this route
By Bryan G
From: Yosemite
Oct 6, 2012

For the pitch after the 5.6 ramp (the last crux of the climb), it looked to me like the clean white bongo-flakes were certain death. I climbed up some hollow flakes to the right of the dirty corner instead, which was scary but only 5.8 or so. The dirty right-facing corner with the piton (don't go that way!) is capped by a roof that probably goes as a runout V2 boulder problem out the right side.

Although shorter, this route is harder than the NEB of Higher and the Steck-Salathe, imo. It receives much less traffic, and is more adventurous as a result. It has tricky routefinding on the upper half, a fair bit of loose flakes and blocks, and almost no fixed pro or anchors. But it's an adventure well worth having, with lots of fun climbing, especially on the lower-half corner system.
By Erik Sloan
Sep 1, 2017

Fun adventure route!

There are bunch of down trees at the bottom of the gully, where you leave the Valley Loop Trail to start this approach (the beginning of the Gunsight approach). Take a few minutes and find the approach path, which is well traveled and will lead you right to level with the base of this climb - maybe 15 - 20 minutes from the Valley Loop trail.

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