Scramble Yosemite's Cathedral Peak


Added by Christopher Grant

Distance: 10 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 3,000 ft. Incredible views with high Sierra vibes. Not very technical, class 3/4 climbing.

Start at Toulumne Meadows (8000 ft), and take the John Muir Trail, on the south side of Tioga Road. After about 1 mile, an unmarked trail will appear on your left – it is a less-traveled path, primarily taken by climbers. This trail will lead you away from Cathedral Lake to the back of Cathedral Peak. Be careful not to miss the turn-off, as it can be very hard to spot.

Once you've found this trail, simply continue for about 3 miles, crossing a few small creeks along the way. The views aren't too great long this part of the trail, but you will get a nice sense of the high Sierras.

The difficult part of the hike begins when you reach the base of the peak, where you will need to find the route. The trail continues along the side of the peak and becomes very steep, with little carabiners that you can follow all the way up, heading for the ridge. You will likely see some climbers on the southeast face, but don't feel intimidated by this, as your route will be much easier. Keep heading up, and stay alongside the marked signs – it is not recommended to get too far from the signs, for the sake of the plants (and your knees).

Once you are close to the ridge, you will stop seeing the carabiners, and can pretty much make your own path. On the ridge, you will have to drop down a bit and head toward the other bridge between the tall pillar (pictured) and the highest peak. There isn't a recommended path here, so just be careful and try to avoid the bushes.

Now for the hardest part, where climbing possibly becomes class 4, and a little bit sketchy. If you're afraid of heights, just stop here and enjoy the view (it's still awesome). You can do this part any way you want, but easiest is to stay as low as possible (i.e. don't climb directly up the ridge) and try to spot your route pretty far in advance. Some of the climbing can be quite difficult, but it you stay off the ridge not too much can go wrong – just keep making your way to the top!

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Rock Climbing



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This review is misleading

Cathedral Peak is not a 'fun easy' scramble, as this article makes it seem. The route up to the peak is scrambling, but there is plenty of room for error and falling. Once near the top, you have to climb a 5.6 / 5.7 chimney for about 15 feet to make the summit proper. Most won't have gear (if they did the scramble), and there is no protection at the bottom. If you were to fall during the chimney climb, you would die. This whole climb is incredibly exposed and takes navigating and experience to complete. Not trying to be alarmist, but if I had only read this post I'd think I could just head up there this weekend and crush it in my sneakers. Be prepared, smart, and safe out there. Cheers.

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