OverviewA fun, moderate route on massive west face of Clouds Rest. A lot of slab climbing with scarce pro. However climbing this route beats the trail any day...
The route was first climbed by Hannah North, Tom Harper and Tom Malzbender in September 2003.
Getting ThereSticky rubber approach shoes are a necessity as you'll cross miles of 3rd and 4th class slabs.
From the south end of Tenaya Lake (Sunrise Trailhead & parking area), follow the trail for approximately one mile (twenty minutes) and then head crosscountry west into the Tenaya Canyon. We left the trail at N37 48.920 W119 27.934.
Follow the rocky canyon, crossing the occasional forest/brush to Pywiack Cascade (aka Falls). We found a GPS helpful here since this was our first time in the canyon and we were not sure just how far the falls were. Just before the Falls, you'll want to contour up and over a slab ridge on the left, to avoid the steeper slabs just above Pywiack Falls.
There are numerous paths across the next 1.5 miles of slab and brush. The key feature you are trying to reach that will help you locate the start is the Vertical Row of Bushes (it isn't really vertical, but it is a distinct feature).
Here is a picture of the entire west face of Cloud's Rest with the approach and route marked.
Photo taken by Tom Malzbender from Mt. Watkins
1. Top of Pywiack Falls.
2. First serious slab crossing on the approach. Contour across fairly high on the hill, well above the steeper slabs immediately above Pywiack Falls.
3. A large pine tree is just visible below the triangle pointer. 200 yds. south of this tree along the same ledge system there may be some deep enough water pools to pump water.
4. The Vertical Row of Bushes. This is a key landmark to help you locate the start of the climb. Read the description.
5. Start of climbing route.
6. The Bushy Knoll (top of pitch 10). You cannot see this knoll from the base of the route, but you can see the headwalls below the Knoll. See other photos for details.
7. End of roped climbing (pitch 15) when you reach the tree 'n scree band and slabs ascending up the NW shoulder.
8. Top of scrambling. Walk 200 yds. east to pick up the hiking trail (left back to Tenaya Lake; right to Cloud's Rest summit).
9. The gigantic cave (just visible as you reach the base of the route). Tenaya ghosts howl all night in there.
The Vertical Row of Bushes has some nasty bushwhacking bit it is quick to get through. Cross the Vertical Row of Bushes about 1/3 up from it's lowest point, at about 7,000 ft. elevation. As you continue traversing south at this elev. you'll be looking for a crack/ledge system that extends horizontally hundreds of feet across the slab. This ledge is NOT visible until you've moved some distance past the Vertical Row (200-300 feet). It is worth hunting for this ledge system, as it will take you right to the base of the route. The ledge system becomes more distinct the farther south you work along it, with only a few 3rd class moves.
The ledge system will drop about 100 feet elevation to a small sandy, bushy hill. From the hill, the ledge visibly continues several hundred more feet horizontally. Continue along the ledge again, until it seems to peter out as you are rounding a gentle ridge. Another 50 feet around this ridge delivers you to bushy ledges. The highest of these bushy ledges is the climb start (a stone cairn was placed on this starting ledge and hopefully is still there). Elevation at start is estimated 6,900 ft. The start location has these coordinates: N37 46.457 W119 29.930.
Route DescriptionThe first ascentionists' website has excellent route description however, once you find the start, it is relatively easy to follow the route as the pitches are almost always almost 60 meters long and each belay station is bolted (2 bolts).
Some additional notes on the route from our climb:
- the ratings are somewhat soft. The 5.9's here are nothing like in the Valley
- there is an occasional bolt on the route but be prepared for long stretches of unprotected low angle slab climbing on very polished slabs. This however makes for quick climbing as you don't "waste" time putting in pro.
- the two bolts on pitch 2 are flattened (rock impact?), we could not get a biner into the first one at all
- in the spring or early summer parts of the route are wet. E.g. beginning of Pitch 3 included crossing poorly protected stretch of wet slab on June 22, 2008 (relatively low snow year).
- the route is exposed to rockfall and snow avalanches from above. We witnessed a huge avalanche to the right of the route as we were gearing up on June 22, 2008 (relatively low snow year).
Our itinerary (we are mediocre climbers and hikers):
Start hiking from TH at 4:20am
Get to the start of the route at 7:30am
Start climbing around 8am.
We soloed the first 5.4 pitch
Complete the route at 3pm
Summit around 4pm
Start hiking back at 4:20pm
Back at TH at 7pm (7.5 miles)
Karen on the crux (?) pitch
Essential Gear60 meter rope is a must. Sticky rubber approach shoes a must as well.
We did not use nuts at all and a competent party could do with one set of cams, and maybe double on the smaller sizes.
All belays are bolted (how nice!!!).