Columbia Finger is a small, needle-like pinnacle in Yosemite found along the John Muir Trail not far from Cathedral Pass. The pinnacle is due south of Tresidder Peak, along the same high ridge that follows the west side of the JMT in this area. It is one of the least climbed (though easy) peaks in the area, due to its diminutive size and the far greater popularity and challenge of its better known neighbors such as Cathedral Peak
, Echo Peaks
, Matthes Crest
, and Tresidder Peak
The summit blocks are class 3 on the west side, providing a short, but interesting scramble. The north side of the summit block is 5.6 if at least six feet tall, considerably harder otherwise.
The easiest approach is via the Cathedral Lakes Trailhead in Tuolumne Meadows
. From either the east or west, take Highway 120 into Yosemite NP and drive to Tuolumne Meadows. The trailhead is located on the west end of the meadow, about a mile west of the visitor center. It is a very busy locale and there are usually a dozen or more cars parked there at any given time during the summer. Follow the trail towards Yosemite Valley for about 4.5 miles. As you pass over the shallow Cathedral Pass, Columbia Finger will be to the south on the right.
Columbia Finger can also be reached from Tenaya Lake by way of Tenaya Peak or Mildred Lake. The plateau above Mildred Lake and SE of Tenaya Peak affords easy travelling. This is a good approach if combining climbs of Tenaya Peak, Tresidder Peak, and Columbia Finger.
Permits are not required for day hikes, but Wilderness permits are required for overnight visits. These can be obtained from any ranger station in the park. The nearest location is the permit building just east of the Tuolmne Meadows campground. It is just off the road that leads to the Tuolumne Lodge, on the right hand side. More info at: Tuolumne Meadows
When To Climb
Climbing is generally done May-Oct. Before and after this time Highway 120 is closed. There can be much snow on the ground in May and June, so check ahead and plan accordingly if you intend to climb at this time. Late in October the highway is often open but closed to overnight parking - dayhikes to Columbia Finger can still be done easily. Even in early season when there is much snow on the ground, the pinnacle can be approached on snowshoes without much difficulty.
The most popular camp area is around Cathedral Lakes, just off the JMT and north of Tresidder Peak. You can also camp south of Cathedral Pass, but there is little water nearby for most of the year. Later in the summer, the nearest water on that side of the pass can be found at Echo Lake. This is a nice site if you plan to climb other peaks in the area such as Matthes Crest
or Echo Peaks
. Be aware of that these are popular campsites for both people and bears. Be sure to take proper precautions to keep your food in your possession.