Manure Pile Buttress is a seven hundred foot rock formation on the “Lower Brother” area of Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California.
Manure Pile Buttress was a nick name that stuck to this beautiful and extremely popular rock formation. The real name is “Ranger Rock,” and it received its name bacause park rangers used to practice rescue operations on this rock. As the story goes; in the old times, when traveling on horse back was still the only means of traveling into the park, the park service used to bring all the horse manure to the base of this rock for disposal. My first experience with this area was in 1969 and I saw no sign of manure anywhere near it. Needless to mention, I arrived in a car, not on a horse.
The days of pulling your car onto a patch of dirt by the side of the road to make the three minute approach are long gone. There is a beautiful paved parking lot with a bathroom that gets serviced on regular bases. Few formations in Yosemite Valley have such a short and easy approach to the crag as Manure Pile Buttress. Bring the family and teach them how to climb. You will be in good company.
Besides the ease of approach, it must be the nature of the rock that makes Manure Pile Buttress extremely popular. The entire formation is moderately angled and except for a few steeper sections it offers easy to moderate climbing. You belay from the shade of huge pine trees, at least for the first pitch, and sit on soft flat ground. At the end of a long climbing day, you can walk a few yards for a dip in the Merced River.
History of two of the most popular routes
Getting to the top of the left side routes is quite easy. This ease of approach and having smooth faces were a good combination for the park rangers to iron out their skills on rescue techniques. It was in the mid 1960s that this rock formation came to the attention of the most active figures of the period such as Yvon Chouinard and Royal Robbins amongst others. These two legendary figures established two routes that have become the mainstay of easy to moderate multi-pitch climbing in Yosemite Valley.
As you approach the buttress the first route you come to is “After Six,” rated 5.6. The right facing dihedral, which is the first pitch, is unmistakable. This six pitch climb takes you to the top of the formation with the crux on the first pitch. For those who don’t care to climb to the very top, there are at least two escape routes to the left and down the west gully.
Another extremely popular route on Manure Pile Buttress is “The Nutcracker,” rated 5.8/5.9 depending on different variations to the first pitch. This beautiful and enjoyable route was established by another Yosemite Valley’s legendary figure, Royal Robbins, in the latter part of the 1960s. Eventhough forty years of climbing on this route has cleaned up most of the lose rocks, it is a still a good idea to do this climb with a helmet. Be on the lookout for the parties above and below you and you will have a great time.
List of select climbs
Select climbs of Manure Pile Buttress
|A||Jump For Joy, 5.8|
|B||After Six, 5.6/5.7 depending on how the first pitch is done. If you finish on the face moves, it's 5.6. If you finish by continuing on the crack to the ledge, it's 5.7.|
|C||After Seven, 5.7|
|E||The Nutcracker, 5.8, left most variation is climbing the crack/chimney in the right facing dihedral|
|F||The Nutcracker, 5.8, variation 2 is to climb the lie back crack in the left facing dihedral|
|G||The Nutcracker, 5.9, variation 3 is to climb the thin crack on the face to the right of the the other two variations|
How to get there/camping/permits...
Find Yosemite Lodge. Camp 4, also known as “Walk In/Sunnyside Campground” is a few hundred yards to the west of Yosemite Lodge, on the same side of the Merced River. Drive just over 1.5 miles west from “Camp 4” toward the exit to the valley. You will see the picnic/day use area to your right. If you go as far as El Cap Meadow, you have gone too far. Drive into this picnic area and park. Walk on a trail leading back toward the valley for a few hundred yards. Head for the rocks to your left. The first route you come to is a right facing dihedral. This is “After Six.” Most of the routes are to the right of this dihedral.
There is an incredible page by Tarol on Yosemite National Park. She has included just about any kind of information you may need to get around in Yosemite. Here's the link: Yosemite National Park
External LinksYosemite National Park
Winter In Yosemite