North American Classic Climbs

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Cathedral Peak

Southeast Buttress

Beta Images Slide Show

Due to its location, John Muir's favorite peak shows off its striking profile from just about any good vantage point in Yosemite Park. Just an hour's hike from Tuolumne Meadows, its accessibility contributes to its popularity. But it is the quality and consistency of climbing at a moderate technical level that makes this perhaps the most popular alpine climb in this collection. Expect exquisite white granite on a steep buttress with more holds than a climbing gym. The higher you go, the better are the views and the climbing. The buttress converges finally to two vertical shafts of granite with flat pool-table sized summits. As you descend the exposed descent chimney on the regular route, contemplate Muir's first ascent of this peak in 1869. Many casual modern climbers just out to bag the peak decide to forego the actual summit when they see the exposure and technical difficulty that he treated so casually.


Alpine Rock




Yosemite Nat'l Park, California, USA



G11, G36, W9


III, 5.6


Route Descriptions & Maps:

USGS topographic map

First Ascent:

C. Wilts, S. Austin, 1945


Trip Reports:

Clark 9/02