REI Community
Cathedral Range Enchainments
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Cathedral Range Traverse T 
Tenaya, Matthes, Cathedral Traverse T 

Tenaya, Matthes, Cathedral Traverse 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 7500', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: ?
Season: not advised when Tenaya Peak is holding snow
Page Views: 14,532
Submitted By: fossana on Jun 27, 2012

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (48)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [3 people like this page.]
BETA PHOTO: Anne (below the tree) on the 5.2 downclimb below t...

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


The only thing better than the spectacular Matthes Crest traverse is to link it up with two other classic Tuolumne cruiser routes, the NW Buttress of Tenaya Peak and the SE Buttress of Cathedral Peak. You also get a sampling of what Tuolumne has to offer, from smooth slabs to wildly exposed knobby fins to choose-your-own adventure crack climbing. These three peaks form an obvious circuit from Tenaya Lake and make a great outing for any Tuolumne enthusiast. Many options exist for extending the link-up if you haven't gotten your fill.

NW Buttress of Tenaya Peak (5.4, 14 Supertopo pitches)

Note that this route holds snow so it's best to avoid it until dry. The route is shaded in the morning so plan accordingly. There isn't a direct trail from the Tenaya Lake parking lot so either take the trail to the lake until you find the one that heads back NE or trample the meadow and cross-country through the trees toward the left-hand side of Tenaya Peak. You are aiming for the shrubby ledge system to the left of the route. As of June 2012 the trail was well worn and cairned.

Supertopo has a blow-by-blow description of the route, but you can just as easily follow the crack systems up the obvious buttress. The route eases you into the steeper, more difficult climbing up higher. Several summit options exist of varying difficulty, including a 5.7ish hand crack and a 4th class option out right. The true summit is southwest of where you'll top out.

South to North Traverse of Matthes Crest (5.7, many pitches; ridge is 1 mile in length)
From the summit of Tenaya Peak head east between Tressider Peak and Columbia Finger then southeast after crossing the Cathedral Lakes trail to reach the southern end of Matthes Crest. You'll be able to see Cathedral from the Tenaya Peak summit as a bearing point.

It's 2.5 miles as the crow flies and the only place you will likely follow a trail is the final ascent up to the notch that marks the start of Matthes.

From the golden boulder choose a line up the knobby crack systems that lead to the ridgeline proper (5.5). The ridgeline is mostly class 3-4. If it seems too hard look off to the sides; there is usually an easier ramp down below. For soloists the easiest way off the south summit is to head back in the direction you came until you can downclimb to a tree on the east side of the can also do a more direct downclimb at 5.7. From here traverse north into the notch that divides the summits.

From the notch mantle onto the ledges until you reach the leftward trending diagonal crack (5.7) which is the official crux of the route. Alternate: 5.8 corner offwidth From here climb the 5.4 chimney on the left side of the ledge to the north summit.

Don't stop now. Continue on for more class 4 to low fifth class exposed fun. The final tower provides another short section of exposed 5.7 if you wish to partake. If not, you can downclimb off the west side (class 3-4) just prior to the second to the last tower.

SE Buttress of Cathedral Peak (5.6, 5 pitches)
From the end of Matthes Crest work your to one side of or over Echo Peaks/Ridge to Cathedral's SE Buttress (~1.6 miles as the crow flies). The most direct route is to aim for notch between Echo Ridge and Echo Peaks (left side of Echo Ridge). There are multiple routes up the SE Buttress. Refer to Supertopo if you need specifics. The most recent edition now includes the full traverse.

Extra credit add-ons
Echo Ridge (class 4), Echo Peaks (class 3 to 5.7), Eichorn Pinnacle (5.4)

From the top of Cathedral downclimb the 4th class summit blocks to reach the class 3 ledge system. If you are heading back to the Cathedral Lakes trailhead you will want the high saddle to the NE that leads to the trail that skirts the east side of Cathedral Peak. If you are heading directly back to Tenaya Lake continue down slabs/scree and through swamplands to the southern side of the main Cathedral Lake. You'll find a footpath along the shoreline. From the western end of the lake follow the drainage down slabs and cobbled river beds toward Tenaya Lake. I did notice a faint trail in certain section of the drainage but I gave up trying to follow it since it didn't really seem to offer any advantage over going straight down the drainage. About 1.5 trail miles from the lake you'll come across a bridge that leads to a good trail back to the lake and your car. The direct line mileage for the entire descent is ~2.7.

Availability of water will vary. In late season the seasonal streams between Tenaya and Matthes may dry up and require a detour to the lakes. The northern slopes below Echo Ridge/Peaks, however, tend to hold snow later and are a more reliable source. Worst case you can detour to one of the lakes.


The route starts and ends at the Tenaya Lake parking lot just NE of the lake (bathrooms available). Alternatively, one could set up a car shuttle at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead or take the Tuolumne shuttle/hitch from here to lake, but then you would miss hiking the cool drainage below Cathedral Lake.

Tom Harrison. Tuolumne Meadows & High Sierra Camp Loop Trail Map
Chris McNamara. High Sierra Climbing (Supertopo)


optional: alpine rack, 60m rope
Expect no fixed anchors.

Photos of Tenaya, Matthes, Cathedral Traverse Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Matthes Crest
Matthes Crest
Rock Climbing Photo: looking south from the south summit on Matthes
looking south from the south summit on Matthes
Rock Climbing Photo: ... and yet more
... and yet more
Rock Climbing Photo: looking back toward Cathedral/Eichorn after the sw...
looking back toward Cathedral/Eichorn after the sw...
Rock Climbing Photo: what you'll miss if you car shuttle/hitch from Cat...
what you'll miss if you car shuttle/hitch from Cat...
Rock Climbing Photo: slab flora
slab flora
Rock Climbing Photo: lupine
Rock Climbing Photo: topping out on the ridgeline proper on Matthes
topping out on the ridgeline proper on Matthes
Rock Climbing Photo: Echo Peaks and Matthes
Echo Peaks and Matthes
Rock Climbing Photo: options for getting from Matthes to Cathedral
BETA PHOTO: options for getting from Matthes to Cathedral
Rock Climbing Photo: looking toward Cathedral Pass and Cathedral
looking toward Cathedral Pass and Cathedral
Rock Climbing Photo: meadow between Tenaya and Matthes
meadow between Tenaya and Matthes
Rock Climbing Photo: Alwyne on the SE Buttress of Cathedral
Alwyne on the SE Buttress of Cathedral
Rock Climbing Photo: Eichorn Pinnacle from Cathedral with descent route...
BETA PHOTO: Eichorn Pinnacle from Cathedral with descent route...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral Peak from the summit of Tenaya Peak
BETA PHOTO: Cathedral Peak from the summit of Tenaya Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: Alwyne about to top out on Cathedral
Alwyne about to top out on Cathedral
Rock Climbing Photo: steeper section on the NW Buttress
steeper section on the NW Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: (left to right) Cockscomb, Echo Ridge, and  Echo P...
(left to right) Cockscomb, Echo Ridge, and Echo P...
Rock Climbing Photo: ridge walking on Matthes
ridge walking on Matthes
Rock Climbing Photo: looking SW from the start of Matthes
looking SW from the start of Matthes
Rock Climbing Photo: south summit on Matthes
south summit on Matthes
Rock Climbing Photo: fuzzy flowers
fuzzy flowers
Rock Climbing Photo: almost to Cathedral
almost to Cathedral
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral Peak from Cathedral Lakes
Cathedral Peak from Cathedral Lakes

Show All 46 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Tenaya, Matthes, Cathedral Traverse Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 6, 2016
By Hamik Mukelyan
From: San Francisco, CA
Aug 25, 2012

If you start at Tenaya Lake and finish at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead, you get to run down a good trail after Cathedral Peak and can take the shuttle back to your car. NB, the shuttles stop running at 7 pm.
By vincent L.
From: Redwood City
May 20, 2013

A lot of good info here . Another really fun day is to hike into Elizabeth Lake , the trailhead is in the back of the TM campground, and climb Unicorn (4th class) and then wander over to Cockscomb ( easy 5th ) and then onto the Northern end of Mathes Crest . From there you would climb North to South ,which some would consider 'backwards' , but who cares .

After that you could tag an Echo Peak or two , or Cathedral of course . But talk about unlimited possibilities , only your personal fitness and stamina will determine where your day will end .
By Scott Sinner
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jun 10, 2013

This one's good to go for the season as there's only the occasional snow patch, nothing to slow you down. Definitely recommend the Echo Peaks!
By Rude Boy
From: San Francisco, CA
Jul 3, 2013

This was a lot of milage for not very much climbing. It would be better to cut out Tenaya Peak altogether and add in the Echo Peaks/Cockscomb/Unicorn for much more climbing and less cross country travel.
By kenr
Aug 10, 2013

The idea of adding the Unicorn and Cockscomb is now included here on MountainProject (as of August 2013) in a different traverse route -- see
northwest Cathedral Range Traverse

Ideas for climbing or traversing Matthes Crest from its North end are now in this route description
By kenr
Aug 17, 2013

Very worthwhile, after traversing to the N end of Matthes Crest, is to climb next the East arete of Echo Ridge. Its upper section is yet another knife edge ridge. Mostly class 3 moves but very sustained and exposed. For maximum fun, take it exactly on the top of the arete whereever possible: "balls over the razor". Or if hanging to the side, then switch sides frequently -- and look for chances to hang off the steeper side. (But I did bypass one high fin).

More on traversing Echo Ridge and Peaks in
northwest Cathedral Range Traverse

After that, there is yet another knife-edge ridge connecting across Echo Peaks 1 + 2 + 3. (Peak 3 also happens to be the highest of the Echo Peaks). Easiest to access from the col between peaks 1 + 2, but likely there are more intereating ways on or off.
(I'd give higher priority to the Echo Ridge traverse).

Afterward a simple way to Cathedral Peak is to retrace track to Wilts Col. It is also possible to descend West side of col between Echo peaks 2 + 3, starts as fun scrambling, but lower gets into loose rock.

Cathedral Peak has a great summit block and a great summit view -- even if you do not feel up to climbing the famous SW Buttress route at the end of a long day out ...
Now as of August 2013 there's an improved trail (with stone steps) up around the East side of the rock peak from the base of the SE Buttress. From the top of the trail, scramble up about 15 ft NW then traverse horizontally near some bushes around the N corner onto the NW face. From there if you haven't done it before it's a mini-adventure (no trail, no markers, like the amazing John Muir on his First Ascent) to get to the true summit (which is great). At least one class 4 sequence (which might feel like class 5 especially when climbing back down).
By trying hard
From: Sierra East Side
Apr 17, 2014

classic meadows circuit. Bring enough water to last. I recommend 3 liters. There is a lot of ground to cover here and water is life!
By Trevor z
Jul 6, 2015

Has anyone considered adding in Conness and then heading down the ragged peak trail to link up with the triple crown? For a north of 120 linkup built around Conness, any suggestions on other climbs in that area?
By fossana
From: leeds, ut
Jul 8, 2015

Adding a link to the thread discussing Trevor Z's question:
By fivefun
Jul 13, 2015

@trying hard We just took a small water bottle and a small bottle of chlorine drops and treated water from streams so we didn't have to carry water weight. Chugged water before and after Tenaya and then between Matthes and Cathedral. This made jogging between peaks a lot easier.
By Cole Paiement
Jul 15, 2016

Soloed this linkup today, my first time on any of these three peaks. Car to car in 6.5 hrs. I was hiking fast, but still taking rests here and there. For a soloist, 5-8 hours is a good window.

Brought two liters of water and iodine tablets. I filled up water once at Echo Lake, but I also crossed a stream just after Tenaya and another near the bottom of Cathedral, both of which looked clear. Seems there is plenty of water to be had.

Tenaya just felt like a really steep hike but Matthes and Cathedral were spectacular. Linking all three together made for a truly exceptional day of climbing.
By Andre H.
From: Boulder
Jul 19, 2016

By Peter Borden
From: nyc, ny
Aug 25, 2016

What's the best way to approach the start to Matthes once you're over Tenaya and drop down towards Echo lake? Any way to avoid a steep bushwack?
By Vlad S
Aug 25, 2016

If you look at the map - it will become pretty obvious. Go more or less straight through the notch between Tresidder peak and Columbia finger and that will deposit you at the Echo lake. From there keep going straight until you intersect the standard approach to Matthes. There isn't much bushwacking and the cross-country travel is relatively open, so you can scope things out as you go.
By fossana
From: leeds, ut
Aug 25, 2016

Rock Climbing Photo: Matthes normal approach from Echo Peaks (dot marks...
Matthes normal approach from Echo Peaks (dot marks start)

Rock Climbing Photo: approach from Tenaya Peak (dot shows start of Matt...
approach from Tenaya Peak (dot shows start of Matthes)

These show the tree density. I've come in from various points en route from Tenaya. Other than a few fallen trees it's not super steep or bushwhacky if you approach the crest from south of the normal way.
By Trevor z
Sep 4, 2016

Has anyone linked up Mt. Conness with the Triple Crown, a Quadruple Crown if you will?

Something like...

Tuolumne Meadows => Roosevelt Lake => Up W Ridge Connes => Down N Ridge Connes xc to PCT => Glen Aulin HSC => Tenay Lake => Tenay Peak => Matthes Crest => Cathedral Peak => home again home again : - )
By owen david
From: Los Angeles, Ca
Dec 6, 2016

Thanks for the amazingly detailed photos and notes! I've done them individually, but would like to try the enchainment after seeing this page. Appreciate the tips everyone contributed as well.
By fossana
From: leeds, ut
Dec 6, 2016

Thanks and good luck, Owen!

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About