Yosemite Valley Scrambles 2

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June 19, 2005Cathedral Spire


Summit ViewTwo scrambles and a bonus on a beautiful pleasant day in Yosemite Valley. We started by going up Cathedral Gully (Class 2) to the Cathedral Rocks ridge and up to the top of Higher Cathedral Rock. First a steep but well-defined use trail, then a fairly distinct rock hop up to the saddle. Despite the tree cover, there were frequent enticing views of El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks (right side) and Cathedral Spires (left side) on the lower section. Above the forest there were continuous views of the steepness on either side of us. Also there were climbers well up the routes on both sides. I chickened out on the short bit of 3rd Class, partly because there was a 2nd Class walk-up next to it. It was a nice easy scramble up to the top where we had lunch next to the sheer drop above Middle Cathedral Rock. We went down the way we came up, and headed for Happy Isles for Part 2.

Summit ViewAfter not completing Illilouette Gorge two weeks prior, we made a second attempt, after refreshment at the Happy Isles snack stand (A big thank you to the employee willing to sell drinks after closing time, the lemonade hit the spot!) We made good time until we got to the west wall projection about 2/3s of the way up, where the fairly rampageous Illilouette Creek was flowing up against the wallSummit View. When the water goes down, it should be easy to get past, but right now it would require technical climbing to cross above the water safely. We explored a bit along the wall on the way down, passing a nice little waterfall and stopping for a snack at a nice rocky bench where the mosquitos found us, so we headed down quickly.

Summit ViewOnce we got back to the Horse Trail, we decided, since we had energy and light, to head up to look at Vernal Falls, which was in good, if not excessive form...the Mist Trail lived up to its name. We got back to the car right after 9pm, where we were offered four nights at a valley campsite, which we had to turn down with great regrets. And then back to the Bay Area.

Weather and Conditions

Sunny, cool and breezy...about 30°F below normal temperatures!

A total of nearly 10 miles (4 miles at Cathedral Gully, and 6 miles near Illilouette Gorge), 4700 feet of elevation gain (2700'/2000') and about 9 hours trail time (<5 hours / >4 hours). Combined bunnyhike rating of 94 (58 + 36).


Cathedral Gully maps, route in blue and red

Map with route
(Detail Map (222K))

Illilouette Gorge maps, route in blue, fuchsia and red

Map with route

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Yosemite Valley Scrambles 2 / Robert Parks / rparks@lvhot.org / revised June '05