Login with Facebook
Tenaya Peak
Select Route:
Northwest Buttress T 

Northwest Buttress 

YDS: 5.3 French: 3+ Ewbanks: 10 UIAA: III ZA: 9 British: VD 3a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 1400', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
Season: late summer, fall
Page Views: 15,171
Submitted By: Adam on Dec 24, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (160)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
John Dalbey on Tenaya Peak

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


Low down there really is not one best way to go. Just up. From a large ledge halfway up the face, the ridge starts to lead the the west side. Most will simul-climb or solo the bottom 3/4. Up high you can make it easy or hard. We stayed on the right side of the ridge and belayed on great ledges (kept some pitches short because this route has some loose rock). I think that you can find a 5.8 pitch out left just before the summit, but this looked loose.


Don't even think about getting on this thing until the snow is off the ledge that's halfway up the climb! If you are lucky enough to watch this slide off, you'll understand.

Leave the parking area and try your best to find the game/climbers trail up the drainage on the left of the face. Once up on the slabs, just head up and right until you feel like you want a rope.

Once on top, you can go the long way or the long way. We went down the west ridge to a grove, then north (towards Tenaya Lake) and back east across the large grass bench and back to the parking lot. I don't think this is the best way. Steep, slow, cross-country hiking.

The other way is to head southeast and hit the Clouds Rest Trail back to the road at the west end of Tenaya Lake and hitchhike back to your car.


Small rack. No fixed gear on the route that we saw.

Photos of Northwest Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
the perfect photo op (photo by Miguel)
the perfect photo op (photo by Miguel)
Christina scopes the view from the summit of Tenay...
Christina scopes the view from the summit of Tenay...
Tenaya Buttress with the lake beyond.
BETA PHOTO: Tenaya Buttress with the lake beyond.
One third up the route.
BETA PHOTO: One third up the route.
Looking up the route. If you choose to rope up thi...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the route. If you choose to rope up thi...
Tim on Tenaya Peak. 7/2012.   Photo: Corey Gargano
Tim on Tenaya Peak. 7/2012. Photo: Corey Gargano
Looking down the route up Tenaya midway up the but...
Looking down the route up Tenaya midway up the but...
Follow the edge up. Stay left.
BETA PHOTO: Follow the edge up. Stay left.
You pretty much follow a route that goes just left...
BETA PHOTO: You pretty much follow a route that goes just left...
Looking down from the summit.
BETA PHOTO: Looking down from the summit.

Comments on Northwest Buttress Add Comment
Show which comments
By Karl K
From: Phoenix, AZ
Aug 13, 2007
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

More approach info:
Its a bit easier walking near the lake to the trail. Follow the trail left until you see a large clear (relatively brush-free) area directly below the lowest cliff. Head straight up aiming for the left edge of this cliff band. You will find a trail leading up and left along the base of the cliff (at first). The only hard parts to follow are a bit of dirty slab and when the trail leads into the bushes (past a huge fallen tree) and you seem to be going further left than you want. Don't worry, it comes back right. Also, the 4th class (either up or just left of the little waterfall) is WAY easier than trying to bushwack left to get to the starting ledge.
By Dave Alden
From: San Diego, CA
Feb 28, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13

Very easy climbing, great exposure and views though. Most of the route can be simulclimbed. Only 2 or 3 somewhat technical pitches near the summit.
By Chris D
From: the couch
Sep 19, 2011
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

Don't bother with the topo; it makes no sense (you don't need it, either) and don't expect the fifth class climbing that Supertopo purports you will enjoy on every pitch. The gear recommendations in Supertopo include at least twice as much gear as you should need. We did this in 9 rope-stretching pitches and on a number of pitches placed no gear at all. Maybe two sections of fifth class, no more than 25 feet long. Lots of slab-walking, no hands required. The few sections of fifth class are fun, but could probably be avoided if you wanted to. I'm sure a more fifth class route could be contrived, but it wouldn't make any sense.

We got chased off the summit by thunder that started on the penultimate pitch and used a descent route that I haven't heard of. To use this descent, which we found quite pleasant and scenic, from the summit, follow the west ridge straight down until picking up a use trail below to the left. This trail can be followed, keeping generally to the right, to a point where you're on a flat platform with cliffs on all side except to the left, where you go back up 30 feet or so then continue switchbacking down ledges as you are able. Eventually, you'll come to a high cliff (150 feet?) where you can go right or left; go left. Follow a ledge down to a point where you're about to cliff out and a gully appears. Follow this gully down, then head back right hugging the cliff on your right, not descending to the bottom of the canyon on your left.

From here you will eventually be able to see Tenaya Lake. At this point, go east and down along game trails through the forest on soft duff, boulders, and cedar mulch (no bushwhacking) until you come out on the trail about 300 yards from the beach and from there back to your car.

I think I expected too much of the route. It's in an absolutely fantastic setting and the approach and descent are adventurous, but the actual climbing is not terribly special, nor is the rock. Still an awesome peak in Yosemite.
By Kevin Heckeler
From: Upstate New York
Oct 10, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13

Definitely a couple 5.5 moves/sections, most of it is 5.3-ish. Some runout, but generally a G climb.

We descended down the west side, following the ridge for a while (trending down and right) until we could descend to the lake and caught the lake trail about 15 minutes from the car. We ended up on terrain that had no trace of man and was easy. Good way of getting to see some of the high country wildernerss.

We have nothing like this in the Northeast. 1500 feet of quality rock, some of it the best rock I've ever climbed on, and some good sections of easy climbing to boot. Prior to this the longest route we had ever done was 800 feet at Chapel Pond in the Adirondacks. We breezed this in about 6.5 hours up, 2.5 hours down, taking our time. We roped for the second half and climbed it traditionally. I guess you could simul climb it, but I don't know what the rush would be. I loved ever second being on the side of this wall and as you got higher the views got more amazing. Late day storms to the East made for spectacular backdrop against the jagged Sierra peaks. More awesomeness in one vista than the entire northeast has combined.

Don't be surprised if you see Marmots on the wall. They can sure climb.
By Maxm
Aug 6, 2012
rating: 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a

If you are following the easiest path (left side) have some fun and leave the gear at home. 1 hour hike up, 1.5 hour climb, 1.5 hour hike out.....5 minute swim in the lake.
By maggie-girl
Sep 22, 2012

We found the only fixed pin left on the route at top of p8! After simul climbing the first 7 pitches, decided to pitch-out the "crux" slab pitches. Fun polished slab climbing! Exciting loose blocks with exposure to the top added to the experience. Just wish there was a better way off than the ledge traverse (forever) to the talus/duff descent back to the approach trail. Out to Sunrise seemed a little far--
By boulderkeith
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 1, 2012
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c PG13

The route definitely contains some 5th class slab on the upper portion of the route. The lower portion has a lot of 4th class. Definitely do the 5.7 finish. Straightforward and fun. We did the ledge traverse in the trees descent. It was pretty good at the top but either we missed the best point to turn downhill or it is not so great at the end. I would consider descending all the way down the ridge to the trail around Tenaya Lake if I do the route again. We had the gearloop topo. It was not great. A lot of the pitch distances seem short and didn't seem like the best belay spots.
By Rude Boy
From: San Francisco, CA
May 22, 2013
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Fun climb to solo or simul-climb. The 5.8 splitter at the top is awesome if you choose to do it. There is a lot of variation going up so it can be a little easier or harder depending on the exact line you take up. Despite the variation, it is still all pretty easy.
By kenr
Aug 14, 2013

As of August 2013, I didn't think the approach was that difficult to follow. There's a .GPX file with a track for GPS navigation linked from this page .

Or here's some instructions:
From the parking lot 200m NE from the NE corner of Tenaya Lake (GPS latitude/longitude ~ N37.8378 W119.4518), walk on the paved trail to the beach roughly S about 300 meters, but before reaching the beach, where the paved trail curves R, continue straight S on a vague unmarked track. About 300m, after crossing a little creek, meet the main trail from Tenaya Lake to Tuolumne Meadows (lat/long ~ N37.8338 W119.4506). Turn L on this and go NE about 300m (to lat/long ~ N37.8356 W119.4486). A vague track forks off R, at first roughly E about 225m (some cairns) gently uphill, then roughly SSE about 300m, up more steeply, some zig-zags and horizontal sections, some narrow passages thru bushes, a scramble move over dead tree branches ... finishing with a little down to (lat/long ~ N37.8336 W119.4446).
Beyond the Guidebook:
The Definitive Climbing Resource
Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run
Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps
Backcountry, Sidecountry
& Secret Stashes
Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!