Cardinal Pinnacle is a pristine granite feature located on the east side of and near the end of Hwy 168. Most folks are either there to climb the common West Face (5.10a) or the Prow, an extraordinary 5.12 route up a very distinguishable arête on Cardinal Pinnacle. We set out to combine the three pitches of Cucumbers with the four pitches of Crack Kingdom for a decent afternoon of climbing. We then chose to camp along the scenic Bishop Creek campground (Bishop Park) below Aspendell within full view of our objective. You can even get internet access across the road from the Cardinal Pinnacle at the Cardinal Village resort. Only in California can you be out climbing an alpine feature like this, yet be near so many amenities and folks (flush toilets and drinking water at a tent campsite! throw in a bear and 80 folks chasing it with cameras and we are offically “Calidudin”)
After warming up on Cucumbers, we moved left for the base of Crack Kingdom which contained the best pitch of the day, the second pitch of Wild Kingdom, a 5.10c relatively long pitch that offers just about every aspect of climbing for the grade: Thin corner to roof, pulling the roof to a thin finger crack on the face and finishing off with a small steep hand crack.
To produce a variation offering the best moderate climbing on Cardinal Pinnacle, Peter Croft set this route up to combine the first pitch of the West Face route (5.10a) with the second pitch (5.10b off width) of Crack of No Hope to feed into the stellar second pitch of Wild Kingdom (5.10c). Then back to the last pitch of Crack of No Hope (5.10b).
Take Highway 168 southwest out of Bishop. This road ends at Lake Sabrina. Just after the hamlet of Aspendell, on the left, will be Cardinal Pinnacle. Pull out on the left below the west face and wander up the short boulder field to the base.
Route Description (s)500’+/-, 4 Pitches, 5.10c
1st Pitch- 35m- 5.10a/ For the most part, this is the first pitch of the West Face route. Start up a 5.8 flake to the right or 5.9 corner directly above. Continue up and left past a piton. Move right past a tree to an obvious left facing corner/finger crack. Despite having a ledge below it, this crack is easier than it looks. Reach up to a very positive hold towards the end and mantle up to the large ledge with the rap belay. Bring the 2nd up to this station before moving the belay further left to continue Crack Kingdom.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.10b/ This is the second pitch of Crack of No Hope. Move the belay around to the left below a wide obvious face crack above. Climb up easy ground to the wide crack. Foot jam your way up to the small bulge off-width section. Stack your hands and heave your knee into the crack above the bulge, by far the crux move of this pitch. Continue up the easy chimney to its top.
3rd Pitch- 55m- 5.10c/ This is the second pitch of Wild Kingdom and the crux/most sustained pitch of Crack Kingdom. Move left and run up the large left facing corner/finger crack and pull the roof with exceptional movement to the right. After a few easy moves, continue up the very thin crack as it angles up and right (several thin sequential crux sections). Land in the easy chimney above and after a meter or two, traverse out right following a .75 crack to the base of a steep small hand crack. Top out on this hand crack to a comfortable ledge above.
4th Pitch- 20m- 5.10b/ This is the fourth pitch of Crack of No Hope. Climb what Croft labels an “unlikely super thin flake” off the belay to much easier ground which leads to the summit.