It was tedious day, to say the least. I awoke at 3:30 and was on the trail at 4:15. I was really pumped for this hike, and I felt great hiking in the dark with the headlamp. About 50 feet beyond the trailhead I ran into a dude actually sleeping on the trail, very strange. I skirted around this guy and started my 3 mile, 2000 ft. hike up to Cathedral Lake. The approach went by fast, I reached the Lake at 6:15 a.m. I will admit I enjoy hiking in the dark, you get so focused on the trail and nothing else, that's all you see with a headlamp. It's also nice to develope a real strong rythem,the time goes by very fast. At any rate, my objective was to start so early that weather wouldn't be an issue, boy was I wrong. Once at the lake I could see the clouds curling over Cathedral and dropping down over the lake. I was pissed! Getting up at 3:30, getting to the lake at 6:30 and it's going to storm? Then came the thunder, then came the lighting, then came the paranoia! Flash-boom, flash-boom! I hustled down to a clump of trees and ditched the hiking poles and assumed the fetal position. It dumped. At this point I was trying to cope with my disapointment. I new if it just so happened to clear up that Cathedral's steep crux coulior would be even more of a nightmare when wet and muddy. After 40 minutes of rain, it finally stopped and I basically decided to head on back to the car. Completely soaked, (I had to run through wet willows)I turned and looked back, I saw blue sky! Hmmm, I turned back and started back to the lake just to see what would happen. Once back to the lake I met up with a guy who said his objective was Cathedral Peak and that he had climbed it last year. He also didn't seem too concerned about the looming cloud cover. We decided to hike together and start the ascent above Cathedral Lake. About 200 vertical above the lake the clouds moved in again! He decided to keep going and I went the other way, I wasn't messin around with that lighting again. After a five minute sprinkle, I was back down to the lake agian. Just as fast as it moved in, the clouds moved out! What a sight, Cathedral's red rock spires, with a cobalt blue sky as the backdrop. I was not going to pass up this window of opportunity, I started up the basin. I found the climbers trail that Roach describes, and just like 13ergirl said, it is one of the most amazing trails I'd been on. This obvious trail meanders through a loose boulderfeild a and escorts you all the way to the steep coulior! Without this sidewalk, the hike from the lake to the coulor would be miserable. O.k., now for the fun part, the crux. This very, very steep, loose, narrow coulior takes the trophy, hands down for the most heinous 500 ft. ascent in my day. Add 40 minutes of rain and you get the quicksand effect. The only way I could manage this mess was to climb completely nestled up against the right-hand side of the gully(thanks for the advice Skywalker). After a very tiring 500 ft. I finally reached the col. I should also mention that only one at a time should be in this gully, the potential for rock-fall is extreme, wear a helmet. I started the summit push just hoping the weather would hold out. I could see dark clouds building over Castle, Pyramid, and Capitol, I new I needed to hurry. The ridge to the summit is class 2+ with at least 3 or 4 solid class 3 moves. I had to be very careful selecting hand-holds for those class 3 moves, the stuff is dangerously loose. I just knew big slabs of rocks were ready break off during a few of those class 3 moves. I finally made it to the summit at 10:00 a.m. Of course the views were astounding, it's the Elks were talking about. To see Castle Peak from this angle was quite a privledge, for those who have been here know what I'm talking about. I have a new appreciation for that mountain since seeing it from this unique vantage. On the summit I finally met up with the guy I met earlier, it was good to see him agian. At least I knew exactly were he was so I didn't have to worry so much about the rockfall when I had to descend "the gully". He noted that since his first ascent in Aug. of 2001 they're had only been 10 people to sign the registry. After a few photos, it was time to get on with it. Still very nervous about the thunderhead above Castle(about 4 miles away), I tapped into my adrenaline and really picked up the pace. Going down the coulior was a piece of cake, in fact, it was so soft it was rather enjoyable. Looking back, I don't think I have despised a gully so much and loved it so much all in the same day. It only took me about 50 minutes to get all the way back down to the lake, praise god for the climbers trail! What a day!! I finally got Cathedral.
You recounting the dude sleeping on the trail spooked me out! I just camped near Cathedral Lake on 6-8-2007..just me and my buddy, thankfully no odd characters! I know there have been several hiker/climber robberies in the area.
PS- My user profile image was taken on Cathedral.