OverviewEichorn Pinnacle is the impressive 50-foot needle that comprises Cathedral Peak's west summit. All of its routes are difficult, the easiest rated at 5.4. It also boasts outstanding multi-pitch routes on its west and southwest sides, including The Erratic Route, the West Pillar, and A Celebrity's Holiday.
Getting ThereThe easiest approach is via the Cathedral Lakes trail in Tuolumne Meadows. See the Cathedral Peak page for more info.
Red Tape$20 Yosemite NP entrance fee. No fees for overnight stays, but Wilderness permits must be obtained. More info
When To ClimbEichorn Pinnacle can be climbed whenever SR120 is open, generally May-Oct. In May or June following heavy snow years, there may be much snow on the 3 mile approach, and snowshoes or skis may be needed.
CampingCamping is forbidden in the entire Budd Creek drainage and within 4 miles of SR120. The nearest camping is at Cathedral Lakes, southwest of Eichorn Pinnacle. More info
Mountain ConditionsCurrent Conditions from the NPS Page
EtymologyEichorn Pinnacle, like Eichorn Minaret in the Mammoth Lakes area, is named for Jules Eichorn, who was the first to climb it in 1931. Jules Eichorn was one of the pioneering Sierra rock climbers, who along with other famous climbers such as Glen Dawson, Robert Underhill, Norman Clyde, and Walter Starr, made many of the most difficult Sierra ascents done up to that time.
The following is taken from the The Loma Prietan in a tribute to Eichorn following his death Feb 15, 2000 at the age of 88:
For Eichorn, who made a career teaching music in the Hillsborough School District, life was a duet of music and mountaineering. Born in San Francisco to German immigrants Hilmar and Frieda Eichorn on Feb. 7, 1912, Eichorn grew up hiking with his brother, John Peter, and sister, Eleanor, around Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, where his parents moved soon after his birth. He studied violin at an early age at the San Francisco Community Music School under the tutelage of Gertrude Field, his future teaching mentor, according to his son, David. He was introduced to the mountains by none other than his childhood piano teacher and Sierra Club hike leader, young Ansel Adams. Jules paid for the lessons by washing Ansel's photo enlargements in the Adams family bathtub. Adams introduced Jules to rock climbing when he took the 15-year-old on the 1927 Annual Outing, where they climbed Alta Peak. It was "probably the greatest single event in my outdoor life," he told fellow climber John Schagen in a fascinating 1982 interview for the Sierra Club Oral History Project.
His lifelong friendship with Ansel reflected the intertwining of Eichorn's music and mountaineering careers throughout his life. Adams, as everyone knows, went on to introduce the world to the outdoors through his stunning photography; Jules sometimes served as his "mule," carrying his equipment into the wilderness. Eichorn went on to become a renowned mountaineer who eventually had three peaks named after him, as well as the Jules Eichorn Memorial Grove in Big Basin, where a memorial service will be held May 20.
Throughout the late '20s and early '30s he and a small coterie of Alpine Club and Sierra Club climbers attacked the unclimbed peaks of the Sierra Nevada and then sought greater challenges that elevated his reputation as high as the pinnacles he conquered. They included Thunderbolt Peak, where his climbing team was surprised by a lightning storm and their hair was standing straight up and sparks were jumping off the ends of their fingers as they scrambled off the ridge. He also loved to climb in the Minaret range; one peak later was named Eichorn Minaret. Jules' breakout mountaineering came the year after he graduated from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, in 1930 when he took on pioneering climbs in the Tetons. In 1931, Sierra Club president Francis Farquhar and Robert L.M. Underhill introduced western mountaineers to the use of ropes in climbing. Eichorn, who had been avidly practicing climbing in the Berkeley foothills, joined them in climbs previously deemed impossible, including the East Face of Mt. Whitney, highest peak in the United States.
During this time, he taught music in San Francisco's Chinatown, Visitation Valley and wherever the opportunity arose, as he explained to Schagen.
In 1933 Eichorn teamed up with Dick Leonard and Bestor Robinson to demonstrate new technology to pioneer high-angle, big wall climbing in North America. The trio used rope, pitons, carabiners, and dynamic belays to reach the top of 700-foot Higher Cathedral Spire in Yosemite National Park, an achievement hailed as the beginning of technical climbing in America-even though climbers then wore low-cut tennis shoes and used hemp rope, unthinkable equipment today. Eichorn's climbing prowess even "financed" his college education in music at University of California, Berkeley, in a most improbable and poignant way: he was sponsored by a grieving but grateful father of a felled climber. Walter Starr Sr., wealthy father of writer-climbing pioneer Walter "Pete" Starr, Jr. contacted Farquhar with a heart-rending request. The son had died while climbing alone in the Minarets, but his body had not been found by well-meaning, non-climbing friends of the family. Could Sierra Club climbers search for it? Farquhar gave the job to Jules.
"We [he and renowned but reclusive mountain man Norman Clyde] eventually found the body on the north side of Michael Minaret," Eichorn told climbing enthusiast George Sinclair in a 1996 interview. "He had apparently fallen and was instantly killed."
The two men couldn't get Starr's body off the mountain, so Eichorn gave it a mountaineer's burial. He stood it in a crack in the rock and spent hours erecting an eight-foot wall around it, he recalled to Sinclair. At the elder Starr's request, he returned a year later to confirm that the resting place remained undisturbed. (Pete Starr presumably remains entombed there.) So grateful was Walter Starr, Sr. that he financed Eichorn's college education at Berkeley and paid Clyde, who lived in the Sierra, a stipend for the rest of his life. Thus in 1938 Eichorn earned the degree and credential in music that qualified him to pursue his teaching career. After college, he spent two years working at a school in the San Joaquin Valley until valley fever, a potentially fatal disease, drove him back to the Bay Area. It also kept him out of the military when mountaineering friends were going off to fight World War II . Instead, he landed a job as music teacher for the Hillsborough School District, near San Mateo.
He taught instrumental, orchestral and choral music for 35 years. An inveterate handyman, he bought a parcel in Redwood City and built his own home to house his wife, Sarah, and their growing family. They eventually had six children.
Divorced in 1957, he married Kay Calderhead in 1960; they had a child, and Kay's daughter by a former marriage joined the household. That marriage dissolved in 1973. In 1982 he married Shirley Lhyne, who, with her three children, remained with him until his death.