Cathedral Peak - East Face

Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite, CA

June 26, 2005

Darren Rainey, Dave Svilar

After four days in the Palisades, with far more snow marching than we
had bargained for and after I totally wussed out on the Venetian Blind
route on Temple Crag, Dave and I headed out of the Palisades.  But where
were we going?  Our original plan for the trip called for short
approaches over sandy trails to solid, sunny granite in the Yosemite
back country.  We had discovered none of that in the Palisades, save for
a nice, solid route on Mt. Sill.  Due to a 30 year winter, Tioga Pass
was not passable by car and wasn't scheduled to be open for some time.
Where would we go?  What would we climb? 

Armed only with SuperTopo for the High Sierra, we contemplated and
eliminated many options from the book until a ranger at the Bishop
ranger station informed us that Tioga Pass was opening later that day.
So we enthusiastic headed to Tuolumne Meadows and set our sights on many
of our original aspirations, including the SE Buttress of Cathedral
Peak.
Darren hikes so fast that the camera only catches a blur.  The spectacularly featured and situated east face of Cathedral looms overhead.
  
One of the central themes of this trip, at least from my perspective,
was bear boxes and high anxiety that my coveted Honda Civic would be
mauled and doors sheared, and as a result, an innocent bear destroyed.
Fearing this, Dave and I made an annoying habit of packing every scrap
of food, tube of tooth paste, bottle of cheap whiskey, cracker crumb or
anything else that could emit a appetizing smell into my car and then
into bear boxes at our desired parking spot.  We would leave nothing of
the sort in our tent or in the car.  Cathedral would be no different
save for the celebrated Tuolumne Meadows as our back drop of loading,
unloading.

In reference to Cathedral's SE Buttress, Peter Croft's estimates it is
"the most popular anything in California."  This was in the back of our
minds as we counted the 17 granite steps described in the SuperTopo to
our turn off of the Muir Trail.  We wanted to get an early start to be
first or at least not the 10th party on the route.  We were the first of
3 parties that day and one soloist that zipped by at mid-height.
Playing on the east face.  Conness and other peaks of the snowcovered Yosemite backcountry in the distance.
 
Eichorn's Pinnacle.  Dave was supposed to get Darren's picture standing on top, but I'm scared of cumulus clouds.
The specific pitches are indistinct at this point but I do remember they
were solid, grippy, and super-ultra fun.  Dave led a left facing
dihedral with a nice crack in the back just below the famous chimney
pitch that I thought to be the crux.  

Once off the summit, we picked our way over to the north face of
Eichorn's Pinnacle.  After some debate about building thunder heads and
weather or not to continue, we decided it could be climbed and descended
safely before the arrival of the menacing storm...but not by us.  

We were both content with our climb of Cathedral. To that point it had
been an unspoiled day. Clear skies, warm rock, ample protection points
and cheery companionship.  So with that we picked our way back to our
packs and made conversation with fellow Pacific North Westerners, so and
so and so and so from Portland.  Dave and I discussed future trips and
employment while making the short walk back to our car.  With each step,
I savored the warm sun, unfamiliar views and sweet smell of spring.
-written by Darren Rainey, December 2005
Editor's Note:

The following pictures did not fit neatly into any one Alpine Fever entry, but were deserving of publication.  If you've never been to the Mobil gas station at the easternmost point of the Yosemite Highway near Mono Lake you need to go.  I don't remember much about the gas, but do recall large fish tacos, a vibrant atmosphere, and beautiful women.  Certainly the most lively place in eastern California.

On our final day our waning motivation resulted in a rock throwing contest at the bottom of a route.  As if to wake us from our lethargy, a bear "chased" us back to the car.  We followed a liesurely lunch with a nap.  Feeling the call of the northwest we pointed the Civic and it's three good tires towards home, stopping only for a .... hotel. 

 

Take Me Home