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Pillar Route

Pillar Route

Pillar Route

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 38.09488°N / 119.37993°W

Object Title: Pillar Route

Route Type: Mountaineering

Season: Summer

Time Required: Less than two hours

Rock Difficulty: 5.10a (YDS)

Number of Pitches: 5

Grade: II

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: Sierra Ledge Rat

Created/Edited: Mar 31, 2009 / Oct 17, 2009

Object ID: 502844

Hits: 2415 

Page Score: 76.66%  - 7 Votes 

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Pillar Route
”Petite Capucin” (Elevation ca. 12,250 feet)
Sawtooth Ridge
Yosemite National Park, California, USA

First ascent August 1979
Rick Erker
Harry Marinakis

The Pilar Route (II, 5.10a) is one of only two known rock climbs on the "Petite Capucin." This route is significant because it involves jumping from the summit of The Pillar over to a ledge on the main tower.

 Petite Capucin
"Petite Capucin" and Matterhorn Peak

 Petite Capucin
The Pillar Route and belay stations. You must jump from the summit of The Pillar to a ledge on the main tower.

Route Description


First Pitch: Ascend easy arches to a good belay stance at the base of the Pillar (5.6).

Second Pitch: Ascend a steep wide crack up the outside of The Pillar (5.8) and eventually move into the narrow chimney between The Pillar and the main spire. Belay in the notch between The Pillar and the main spire.

 Petite Capucin
Second pitch: Climbing up the outside of The Pillar

 Petite Capucin
Looking down from the notch between The Pillar and the main spire. Watch for loose rock!

Third Pitch: Ascend to the top of The Pillar and jump (!) across to a ledge on the main spire. Alternatively, you can ascend very overhanging cracks from the notch to the ledge. Belay at the base of a very steep left-facing open book.

The Pillar on the  Petite Capucin
Rick Erker on top of The Pillar, getting ready to jump across. It looks close enough to stem across, but it's not.

Fourth Pitch: Ascend thin cracks, pass a good-sized roof (5.10a) and continue up the very steep left-facing open book. Belay just below the summit.

 Petite Capucin  crux pitch
Rick Erker leading the crux 5.10 roof

Summit Pitch: Very short (25 feet). The summit flake is more wide than it is tall, so it does not provide for a very good belay.

 Petite Capucin  summit
Ricker Erker on the summit


After 30 years, my memory of the descent route is a bit foggy. I believe that you can rappell either southeast or southwest to get off the summit.

If you rappell southwest, into Matterhorn Peak's East Couloir, this photos shows the descent route:

Petite Capucin at the Bottom of the East Couloir
The southwest side of "Petite Capucin" from Matterhorn Peak's East Couloir. Photo by vladislav


Secor, R.J., The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails, 2nd edition, p. 472

Sunset on the Sawtooth Ridge
Sunset on the Sawtooth Ridge


Sunset on the Sawtooth Ridge"Petite Capucin""Petite Capucin" crux pitch"Petite Capucin" summit"Petite Capucin"The Pillar on the "Petite Capucin""Petite Capucin"
"Petite Capucin"