The Obelisk is a beautiful rock standing at the western boundary of King's Canyon. It is part spire, part dome, with long low-angle buttresses on it's southern and western sides and shorter but very steep faces on it's northern and eastern aspects. It's summit is only accessible by 5th class climbing.
Also very useful is this Summitpost page for the Obelisk, which has more detailed approach information.
R.J. Secor's masterful and comprehensive guidebook "The High Sierra" dedicates five pages to the Obelisk and provides photos and descriptions for 14 of its routes. The 3rd edition is available from the publisher here.
The routes on this page should be organized from left to right using the NE face descent rappel as the "end" of the cliff. So routes on the far left side of the North face (such as "Far Out") would be the furthest left climbs, and routes at the far right side of the East face (such as, well...the "East Face") would be the furthest right climbs.
Most climbers will find the approach to be the crux. While lengthy, it's not terribly hard and doesn't involve any difficult scrambling.
From the lake it's another hour (or a little less if you have it dialed) to the base of the Obelisk. Head up forest and then slabs to the south-east and follow a flat slabby area just below an enormous talus ridge. This will lead you to a point on the ridge where you will see the Obelisk. For routes on the West Face (and possibly on it's South Face) it's best to drop down the hillside and head straight for the toe of the Obelisk. The Secor guide warns that this will result in major bushwhacking, but that's not actually the case and it will save you lots of time. For climbs on the North or East sides you want to follow the rolling hills to the left (staying high on the ridge) before finally dropping down to the sub-formation at the Obelisk's NE shoulder.
4 Total Routes
Browse More Classics in The Obelisk
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Obelisk:
West Face 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b Trad, 7 pitches, 700'
Handle With Care 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c Trad, 7 pitches, 900'
Southeast Buttress 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c Trad, 4 pitches, 550'
The Flake Route 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a Trad, 5 pitches, 700'
Featured Route For The Obelisk
West Face 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b CA : Sequoia & Kings Canyon Nati... : The Obelisk
The route is mellow, exposed, and just plain fun. If you learn how to sling knobs with one hand it will make your day easier. The crux is probably the first pitch or two.Start out by climbing the chimney/left facing corner and exit to the right when you get the chance. We missed the exit and climbed all the way out of the top. Once you're out of the chimney/corner climb up six awesome pitches on chickenheads and knobs! ...[more] Browse More Classics in CA
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