Friday, March 28, 2014

Lower Cathedral Rock: Gym Climber's Guide to the East Buttress (IV 5.10c)

“I can't believe I'm living the best version of my life inside a dream adventure - n4ver fail to try to succeed even if you think your goal is reality inside your own mind, in a dream. Pyramid lasers.”

-Vitaliy M, Jan 2014

A week earlier a few friends simul-climbed EB of Lower Cathedral in two pitches and in two hours. Than they proceeded to simul the East Buttress of Middle and NEB of Higher Cathedral. Likely made it to the pizza deck WAY before dark. So if you are one of those hardcore people, and are not a gym climber like me, you do not need a BD#4 and can skip reading this report altogether! But if you are bored of repeating the same two Valley classics, place EB of Lower Cathedral HIGH on your tick list! 

Lower Cathedral as seen from the North Buttress of Middle. Fissure beck is a left leaning prominent dihedral to the left of the east buttress proper. GNAR!
First two pitches of the climb. SICK!
Christiano climbing pitch 1 (5.8 chimney). PSYCHED!
Full value 5.8 chimney. SENDIN!
My bro and I were psyched to send the gnar on the first Sunday of Spring. Usually I like to go big on a Saturday, but da East Buttress seemed simple on paper Reid dropped in 1857. For some reason I forgot that technical ratings in Reid’s guide don’t usually show how sustained, difficult or scary a climb is. Also, the topo suggested there are no bolted cracks or bolted belay stations for convenience, I was hoping it was an error due to it being outdated, and decided to leave the power drill behind. When I climbed the North Buttress of Middle Cathedral pitches that got a 5.9 rating in Reid's felt like a solid 5.10 and the DNB (5.11a R in ST guide) seems like a reasonably simul-climbable hike with a little 5.10b crux per topo. I am not trying to say EB of Lower is a sand-bag central or that it is harder than The Rostrum, but if you are used to Supertopos and are using a Reid guide for the first time, don’t expect the "5.8 chimney”  to feel nice and fuzzy like the one on NEB. : ) Since you crushed the Serenity-Sons link up with your girlfriend, don’t think of EB as a step down, this route is worth doing, has incredible views and is one of the best 5.10 multi-pitch routes in the Valley! Even though it is not YET retro-bolted.
Me leading 5.10a fists. Pretty steep! Perma draws would be appreciated. Cam got in a way of my jam at the crux and I had to do a lay-back move. GNAR!
I can live with this view...would be sweet to cut a few more handcracks there! #GOBIG!
Christiano looking for bolts at the base of the Fissure Beck...CRUSHING!!
The climb has a 20-120 minute approach, which depends on your fitness and how lost you get bushwhacking through the forest. On the way back we followed the trail all the way down and had much more fun than in the morning. The route takes a natural line up the East Buttress (duh!) by connecting two prominent left facing dihedrals and some wandering terrain up higher. Cristiano destroyed me in Rock Paper Scissors for the second time in two days and took the first pitch, a 5.8 chimney. I was lucky to lose this game since instead of a bit runout  pitch one and Fissure Beck I had the two glory 5.10s - 5.10a ‘fists’ pitch and the 5.10c ‘stemming’ crux. Single BD#4 camalot was the largest piece we brought, but for those who want to sew it up BD#6 (BETA ALERT) will make life easier on pitch one and in the Fissure Beck. 
Me stemming before the 10c crux. This pitch is no Lunatic Fringe or Catchy! SENDIN!
"Hey where are we? You sure this Reid dude climbed the same route?" CRUXIN BRO
I can make a banana into a pudding!
Massive face of Middle Cathedral - only thing that's missing is permadraws

The climbing continued to be sustained, interesting and adventurous through both the lower and higher dihedrals. I had a little f-up in the crux section of second pitch, when I placed a cam in a spot for a perfect jam, but a strenuous lie-back move got me over the crux. Cristiano ran the rope for 60 meters and got us to the base of the crux. Even though Fissure Beck is just a 5.9 on the topo, remember, 5.9 used to be the hardest grade that people free climbed! The climbing continued to be challenging and fun! If I was leading, I think it would take a lot longer than it did. Cristiano did not have a piece (or a power drill) to protect the wide undercling but did a great job moving past it with confidence. A few loose rocks were in the way, but easily avoided. While following, I crushed the crap out of the runout climbing, on top rope, and took the 5.10c crux. Possibly because it was intimidating, and I wasn’t great at controlling my fear, I made it look like a 5.12d, at least. The battle started with me trying to chimney a stemming corner, which created some original movement and required me to come up with a way to flip a 180 without flipping upside down on Cristiano’s head. I crawled past a few spots that I thought could be the crux, but hit the real crux like deer in the headlights. "A one move wonder," it was called by some guy on

Pitch after the big ledges was supposed to be super easy, but I found double roofs :)

 First of the double roofs with the next one above. Good climbing through them. SICK!
Christiano climbing over a giant hollow flake. GNAR!
Expecting some decent edges on the face I was frustrated to find nothing where my left foot would stick. After a few half hearted attempts and wasting time on trying to come up with creative moves that were not there, I decided to commit to the one that I thought could be possible. Grabbing a crimp with my left and trying to use a very poor fistjam with my right I moved up. My left foot blew and I was close to taking a HUGE whipper onto a blue alien (BETA ALERT - thank me later, pizza would be appreciated) which was all the way down by my chin! I was gripped. Sharma-like “SSSSAAAAAAH!!!” escaped from my lungs and likely scared the shit out of some dudes bolting new lines on Middle Cathedral. This is what TRAD climbing is all about. When I sport climb I am usually intimidated when I have to do the crux without the security of a cam above my bucket. Committed to the sequence I passed the crux to a solid jam. By this point my last piece of rock pro was likely below my feet, and a fall here could be deadly.  Terrain above was much easier and compared to the crux, I was moving with a speed of light. Over a big hollow flake and a giant roof, I ended the pitch at a huge ledge above. 
Christiano on the summit. SICK SEND BRO!
Thinking about cutting cracks, chiseling and placing perma-draws. Life is good....
NW Face of Middle Cathedral
 From there Cristiano took us to a series of big ledges and we moved right and down-climbed a little closer to the prow of the Buttress. Next pitch did not have a rating in the topo, but I found double roofs with a really old piton fixed in the second. The climbing through these roofs seemed difficult from the bottom, but turned out to be fun and secure. Next, Cristiano climbed over a giant hollow white flake (BETA ALERT), some cool chicken heads and death block pulling. We simul climbed a little before switching leads and unroping on easier terrain. We did not try to break speed records and went easy all day but got to the summit in 7 hours after starting the route. Both of us climbed every pitch clean and free. Someone on MP suggests climbing the route in 5 pitches, we did it in 7 or 8 and thought it is much more reasonable for a few gym climbers. The views from the top were breath taking – massive faces of Middle Cathedral and El Capitan showed off thousands of feet of great rock. All ready to be rap bolted for convenience of modern generation. Stovelegs crack looked beautiful and ready for a chiseled continuation to the summit, with perma draws of course, climbing to the top aint slabby! West Face of the Sentinel, NW Face of HD and the Three Brothers looked warm and inviting from the distance. Even though we had multiple hours of daylight left, we did not stay on the summit for much longer than 15 minutes. We wanted to be stunned by this view once again when we come back to chisel a better variation to Beggar’s Buttress! ; )

  • If you are HARDCORE like my friends who did the route in two hours, some nuts, doubles from green alien to handsize, and the monkeys are sendin! Don't forget to tag the other Cathedrals on the hike to the pizza deck. 
  • Valley Hardmen do it in 5 pitches with some simul climbing. They will "pass the .10a fists and the Fisher Beck without even knowing it." And think of the crux as a one move wonder.
  • Light like me? Bring doubles from green alien to BD #3. Blue alien protects the crux well and #4 is nice to have. Most likely last of the three Major Cathedral Rocks to tick, so go do it, it is not worse than the other two!
  • Even lighter? Bring a BD#6 and you should feel secure.
  • Don't think this is an outing for you? Harden the f.....up 
This report was inspired by people who like to whine on the internet about ethics, quote themselves on Facebook and over-exaggerate every little hike they take in the wilderness. Hope you skipped reading it and checked the photos only. If you didn't you wasted a lot of your time!
To understand some of the sarcasm that is hidden (by hidden I mean like in your face) in this report please see the links above and friend request a few outdoor male models on Facebook.
and of course
Disaster meets Glamour - the storm is brewing above Yosemite Canyon. #SPLITTERWEATHERBRO


  1. Love it. Can't stop laughing, bra

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Oh old Adam T(osser) Burch, how you doing buddy? Congratulations on getting married, jungle style. Jungle boy, king of the apes.

    3. Haha, wow - stalk much? You sad sack of shet, how's the pumpkin head? Good luck getting back in the country, I think they're banning try-hard 2014 policy, hope you understand.

  2. Vitaliy, this is freaking hilarious! Thanks! :)

  3. Nice write-up Vitaliy - funny, but I thought you were a male model too?