Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NEB of Higher Cathedral Rock/Higher Cathedral Spire (link up) + Arrowhead Spire/Arete

On Saturday (April 27th) Bryan and I left the car early and prepared to get our butts kicked by NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral. I know multiple people who had to finish this route in the dark, and even spent the night on top. On the other hand, our experience was completely different. We thought this route was very enjoyable and liked it a lot more than East Buttress of Middle. In addition, we spent an hour checking out the views from the summit, and climbed Regular Route (direct variation) on Higher Cathedral Spire.
Lower and Higher Cathedral Spires
Sun is coming up. Book of Job goes up that obvious dihedral
Traversing pitch 5. Awesome face climbing.
To give ourselves first place in 'line' we left the car right before dawn. It was a good decision since another party arrived shortly after I started leading. With simul-climbing, I linked pitches one and two. Since I have not used 90% of our rack, I led 3rd pitch (which was one of my favorites) as well. While Bryan linked 4 and 5 I chatted with one of the guys who were following us. He told me it was his second time on route, and first was a 21 hour epic, yikes.

Traversing pitch (5th) had cool face climbing on beautiful orange granite. After that I led pitches 6 and 7, both of which were cool. 6th featured some lie backs and a bulge. 7th was supposedly crux pitch of this route which starts from a hand crack and some stemming, continues into a thinner hand crack, pulls a roof and continues into another tight squeeze chimeny. I did not find this pitch hard at all, a bit burly in the squeeze chimney which I could not fit through (if I ever want to do Steck Salathe I need to stop eating cookies?). So I transitioned out to face, passed it and built a belay station above a pretty comfortable stance.

I want to be on top of that!
Last pitch of NEB
Me on top of Higher Cathedral Rock!
Ribbon Falls
Ribbon Falls, El Cap and Three Brothers
As I remember, Bryan linked 8 and 9, I took 10th, and Bryan led the last pitch. Pitches 8 and 11 were really good. We finished with original (5.9 mantle/hands/ow? to the left of a giant OW) variation which was recommended by some guys we saw on the approach. I was expecting an easy hand crack but found it to be a lot wider. It even required some technique. After topping out we spent a whole hour checking out the views, eating, drinking, and thinking about what we wanted to do next.
I was jealous of a climber who was climbing last pitch of the spire
Can almost see him now
There he is
Me climbing in the same spot as the guy in prior photos. Life is good!

Bryan on top of HCS
Me on top of HCS
And one more on top
Since summit of Higher Cathedral Spire looked like the coolest thing around we decided to go there and see if we could figure out a way to climb it without a topo. We were in luck since there were a few climbers getting down. They provided us with a topo and an advice to take direct variation. I was glad pitch 2 was Bryan's lead since there was a difficult roof on it. My favorite part of the climb came on pitches 4 and 5 when you get hit with the exposure, great climbing, and see alpine glow on El Cap. The summit was spectacular. It was worth missing pizza, though we did not miss showers ;) 
View down from the actual top of Arrowhead Spire
Arrowhead Arete from Arrowhead Spire
Free-hanging rappel from the top of the spire
Climbing cracks is addictive
Bryan on 3rd pitch, with Arrowhead Spire behind him

 We were a bit tired and wanted to do something chill on Sunday. So we picked Arrowhead Spire/Arete. Somehow we overlooked, or ignored that in the guide book it is described as a "huge day." Our day was not huge, but it was sure enjoyable (aside from bushwhacking). Summit of Arrowhead Spire was a fantastic spot. Climbing on Arrowhead Arete was as enjoyable as doing East Buttress of El Cap. Clean and varied from wide cracks, to fingers, hands, and face thrown in. In addition the knife-edge ridge on top of this formation was as cool as Matthes Crest. In addition, I thought the descent gully was original. It contains three rappels over drops that were created by HUGE boulders blocking  the top of a slot canyon. These boulders create a sub climate which allows a bunch of flowers and grass to grow right under them.
Me stemming out on another pitch of awesome climbing
Tell me this isn't as cool as Matthis!
Views are awesome- typical
Bryan on the exposed crest


  1. Replies
    1. Don't post on my blog till you visit Lee Vining, son.

  2. Really good photos, the second one is my FB cover image. We look tired on the summit of Higher Cathedral Spire.

    Adam what's OCB?

  3. I think it is an inside joke that him and I have going. "old climbing buddy." Kind of stupid if you don't know why we say it, but makes us laugh... lol