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A classic line up the western side of Lower Cathedral Rock. Expect a mixture of scrambling, climbing, and walking the reach this cool summit. Route finding can be an issue for first timers, especially on the approach. But persistence and effort are rewarded by a route defined with good clean cracks and edges at a moderate grade.
While the crux of the route is disputable, most parties who successfully navigate the approach and make it to the actual climb find that a short vertical section from the top of the Hog Trough to the traverse ledge is the technical crux.
Pitch 1) Climb up a ramping corner (easy fifth) into a roof. Traverse the roof to the left (5.5) and set up a belay from old pitons and gear below a striking corner. The length of this pitch is dependent upon how high up you can push the belay from the top of the approach.
Pitch 2) Climb the strikingly clean corner with great exposure called the Hog Trough (5.6) until you can go no further and belay from bushes. Protect this pitch with finger sized pieces, doubles not necessary. 100+ft.
Pitch 3) Crux. Time to make a decision. Do I climb up a groove passing a bolt, or do I inch my way out left over exposure and make a big move with small pro to reach an obvious ledge? Both are difficult 5.7 so you be the judge. Belay from bushes and or gear. 30ft.
Pitch 4) Bump the belay the right until you come to a bolted belay with rappel chains. This is the top of the Overhang Overpass corner and the beginning of pitch 4. (Easy escape down the Overpass to the base of the climb is possible here.) From the chains face climb (5.7) up good edges with pro, trending slightly left, and aiming for a bushy ledge. 100+ ft.
Pitch 5) No need to bump the belay, just move right and round a corner. Climb up easy fifth class face with good edges and crack. The angle will gradually ease up. Belay wherever you feel comfortable.
From the top of pitch 5, unrope and walk up to the summit.
Finding the route is challenging but totally doable on the first attempt. Follow the picture of the route found on page 308 of the Donald Reid guide.
1) Park where there are two long pullouts on both sides of the road just up river from the Bridalveil Falls parking lot. This is a popular tourist area and is at the northwestern toe of Lower Cathedral Rock.
2) Walk the trail toward the falls but turn left well before the falls are reached. Follow the base of the cliff up and to the right until you can't go any higher. You have just passed the approach gully/cleft on your left.
3) Some parties may want to rope up for short sections of this approach. Make sure you can identify Overhang Overpass and use it as a guiding point as the climbing starts just under that corner. Scramble left and up the clean and dirty rock gully for a few hundred feet. Soon you will reach a sandy area where you can't really go left anymore. This is where you start to angle to the right. Continue up and right mostly on a trail until you find yourself scrambling again. Do this until you reach a low angle ramp/corner system leading to the bottom of the Overpass. This ramp/corner is pitch one. Set up a belay on one of the trees to begin the climb. The higher you can push this belay up the better.
Descend the Gunsight (single rope rappels required for most parties) to the talus gully between Middle and Lower Cathedral Rocks. Find the hiking trail that parallels the road and follow this back to the parking area.
A brief word of caution: When entering the Gunsight on your descent. Do not enter the Gunsight too early unless you enjoy sliding down sandy slopes and drop offs. Make sure you walk past the entrance, then cut back and enter it straight on.
Bring a standard rack of friends, stoppers, and slings. A #4 camalot or larger is not necessary. There are a few fixed pitons and a couple of bolts on the route.
Feb 21, 2010
- note - While this climb is 5.7 grade III, beginners may find themselves descending the Gunsight in the dark. It may be wise to treat the climb as a grade IV and/or be experienced with the Gunsight prior to starting out on Overhang Bypass.
By Rodger Raubach
Apr 16, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Did this back in the ironmongery days, June 1965, with Peter Williamson (RIP). The climbing on this route is decent and there is some nice exposure on leads 3 & 4. The "Hog Trough," which Peter led, is definitely a memorable experience. I led the next pitch after the hog Trough, and it is definitely the crux climbing at solid 5.7+ (5.6, BITD!) I recommend the traverse left variation as there are decent holds and possibly a fixed piton at the crux.
This climb was very fashionable at one time, but has fallen out of favor due to the indistinct approach on steep dirt, as well as the descent via the Gunsight. Roper's green guidebook gives adequate directions for finding the start.
From: Scottsdale, az
Apr 19, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Did it back in the 80s with mike Powell. Great cimb. Long decent.
By Tony L
Feb 7, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
A flake broke off at the end of the hog trough. The move out is closer to 5.9 now. It's only one move, then it gets easy again.