OverviewNote: Most modern weekend warriors do only the first 6 pitches of this much longer route (the first 6 probably make it a grade II – III outing, or about ½ day for most). If you have done the whole thing and are willing to write it up here on SP, send me a note and I’ll transfer the page to your ownership. Only the first 6 pitches are described below (all comments refer to those pitches ONLY).
In its most popular form (i.e. first 6 pitches only), this is another popular “base cragging” line on Middle Cathedral Rock. Though not quite as popular as its next door neighbor Central Pillar Of Frenzy, you’re still likely to have company here on a good-weather weekend. The route is named after the two members of the first ascent party: Layton and Eric (…no Beck is not short for Beckey). Unlike Frenzy, the 5.9 rating of this line has that old school flavor to it, esp. pitch 6 lieback.
Follow the driving directions given on Bob’s main page for Cathedral Rocks/Spires. Specifically, Bob recommends:
The trailhead for Cathedral Spires is located just east and before the junction with El Cap Meadow, parking available on the right side of the road. Access to Gunsight and routes on Middle Cathedral Spire is located approximately halfway between Bridalveil Falls and the El Cap Meadow junction.
From the middle of the wide pull-out on the right side of the Southside Drive, hike into the woods for ~100 yards passing a climbers’ information sign. Turn right on the Valley Trail (main thoroughfare). In about 200 yards, you’ll pass the first turn off on left (marked with a post with a carabiner sign). Keep going straight. In another 350 yards, you come to the second left turn off marked by another post (which was missing its carabiner symbol). Turn left and hike uphill for about 100 yards to the foot of the Middle Cathedral Rock (another carabiner post). Turn left at the foot of the rock and hike along the base of MCR (~200 yards) until forced slightly away from the base by 3rd class cliffs. Find the easy scramble up the 3rd class terrain and soon you end up at the base of a 100-foot tall “alcove” at the base of MCR. Kor-Beck starts off the 3rd class pedestal just right of the alcove and follows the obvious chimney system visible 100 feet above pedestal. Approach time is 15-20 minutes.
Route DescriptionPitch 1: 5.8, 160+ feet. From the pedestal, climb intermittent cracks and face (easy, 5.7-ish) up. About 20 feet below the entrance to the chimney, step left 8 feet and climb more 5.8-ish cracks up into the easy chimney. 30+ feet of slightly dirty chimney will bring you to a good stance with a bolt anchor on the left outside the chimney.
Pitch 2: 5.8, 110 feet. Move back right into the chimney which soon becomes more of a groove. Stem and jam your way for about 80 feet until you notice an easy (<5.6) face escape to your left (lichen free). Step left and climb easy but runout face up and back right to another nice bolt anchor.
Pitch 3: 5.8, 130 feet. Back right into the groove for more 5.8-ish terrain. This one is actually indeed fun! Climb the finger crack in the groove - sustained at the grade. Crux comes near top as you need to pull a slight bulge on flaring finger jams (not bad). Just above bulge, you can step right out of the groove/dihedral onto an easy, well-featured face. Anchor is 20 feet higher just right of a mid-sized tree.
Pitch 4: 5.9, 110 feet. Scramble up and slightly right via 4th class terrain heading for the base of the prominent left-facing dihedral 30 feet above belay. Climb up 10 feet in a crack well left of the dihedral and then step right into the dihedral. One or two finger jams are followed by an improbable looking lieback move (one 5.9 move). Short stemming section above puts you on a small stance with another bolt anchor.
Pitch 5: 5.8, 80 feet. Climb directly up the somewhat strenuous dihedral. Near the fixed piton (~50 feet above belay?), make a hard step right onto the face (felt like solid 5.9 move). Follow easier terrain up and right and belay on the most convenient stance below the prominent, left-facing dihedral (gear anchor).
Pitch 6: 5.9, 110 feet. This is the crux pitch and is harder than it looks from belay IMHO (hard for 5.9 too). Climb up the dihedral which initially has a good (though wide-ish) crack in it. As the crack starts petering out, you’re forced into hard liebacking using intermittent finger locks (pin scars I’m guessing?). The wall in front of you is also pretty Teflon-like from the passage of many feet (slipping off of it no doubt :)). Going eases higher as the dihedral turns into a weird but easy chimney. Bit of this chimneying puts you in a large tree atop the dihedral. This is also your belay anchor.
Note that Reid guidebook (unlike Supertopo) combines pitches 5 and 6 above. I may be overly conservative in reporting their lengths.
Rap the route with two ropes. The first rap goes from slings around the tree to top of P4. Pitch-by-pitch after that.