East Buttress

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.73420°N / 119.6367°W
Additional Information Route Type: Technical Rockclimb
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: IV 5.10b
Sign the Climber's Log


There's two choices to approach the EB. Either follow the well established trail leading from El Cap meadow up to the base of the Nose route. then go right along the base of the S.E. face all the way (past Zodiac) until the trail ends at the Base of the EB. If you go 25' too far you will be looking down a 1000' drop off at the top of the "Moratorium" route.

The other approach starts from the "Devils Elbow" parking area 1/10th of a mile berfore El Cap meadow when driving west on the Yosemite Valley loop road coming from camp 4. Hike up the talus to the base of Zodiac and traverse the base to the right.

Route Description

Note this description assumes you are using a 60m rope.

Pitch 1, start by either climbing up (5.6) about 30' to a good ledge and Belay from a small tree or you can start from the ground but this will increase rope drag. From the tree ledge climb up the chimney. It's mostly 5.8ish with the 5.9 crux being just before reaching the belay. The belay consists of three fixed piton's with slings. Set some back-up pieces( 1/4-2") in the crack above the slings and in the corner to the left.
Pitch 2, Step up on edges palming the small arete with your left hand and using fingerlocks in the small pin scars in the crack with your right until you can reach the sloper above your head. Then reach over with your right hand and handjam the crack. Viola the 5.10b move is done! Climb up the 5.9 crack/groove past the first small tree and continue up slightly left on easy ground to reach the second tree and big ledge. Med. nuts and small cams for the belay.
Pitch 3, Drop down and traverse out to the exposed(slightly run-out) 5.6 arete. It would be advisable to avoid placing pro while climbing the arete, until your at least level in height with your belayer to avoid rope drag and saving rope length to stretch the pitch. Either belay at the first 2 bolt belay or continue to climb up about 50' of easy climbing to a large ledge and belay off a small pine. Alternately you can climb up and slightly left from the belay passing a small tree with slings and up a 5.8 crack then move left and go up the 5.6 face past the first belay and up 50' to the big ledge.
Pitch 4, Climb up left from the tree and follow water polished 5.8 crack and face climbing to a two bolt belay stance.
Pitch 5, Continue climbing up 5.8 cracks then traverse right to a left facing slightly overhanging corner and over a 5.8+ roof up to the belay on a ledge with fixed pin's and nuts for the anchor.
Pitch 6, From the ledge climb up the arete aprox. 20' and jam/lieback the 5.9 crack to the left. then up a short section of chimney (5.7) to a point where you can continue up the ugly OW (only 5.9!?)chimney/corner or travrse left (5.9+) on small polished edges10' to a shallow corner with 2 fp's then back right into the corner. Belay on a ledge/alcove left of the corner on fp's and 3-3.5" cams. This pitch is a rope strecher, be sure to use slings approprietly to avoid rope drag. Alternately you can break it up into two pitches by belaying off manky bolts and fp's before the OW section.
Pitch 7, Go left from the belay and climb 5.7 cracks and face to a ledge. (Short pitch)Small/med. nuts for belay.
Pitch 8, Traverse right, up, down and across a small blocky ledge (wild exposed climbing! but only 5.6ish) then drop down about 10' and travese right to reach a short crack and 5.8 knobby polished face climbing go up passing a couple fp's and stretch the rope to a big ledge. Belay off two fp's and 2-2.5" cams.
Pitch 9, Climb up right to cracks (5.7) and then up polished 5.8 face passing fp's then left and up to a sloping ledge. Belay here(2-3" gear) or stretch the rope to the summit. (literally or simulclimb a few feet)

Note: in case of questionable weather, Emergency, or if you have any doubts about reaching the summit you will want two ropes for rappelling. The last pitch with reliable fixed anchors is the top of pitch 5

Essential Gear

60m. rope
1 set nuts
1 ea. tiny to .5 cams
2 ea. .6-3" cams
1 ea. 3.5" cam.
Lots of long slings
Quickdraws: some short, but long ones (12") are very useful. Bring some free biner's.


The standard descent is via the east ledges. From the top of the climb walk back away from the rim until you come across the well formed and usually well marked use trail heading down the east ledges. Follow the trail to it's end passing a few sections of class 3 along the way. If all goes right you will find the fixed chain Rappel anchors on the south side of the ledges. From here four rappels lead to the ground. The second and third raps can be combined using 60m ropes. From the base of the raps scramble down the 3rd class use trail. When you reach the creekbed the trail crosses over and goes down through the trees. You will come down at the Manure pile picnic area.

East Buttress Links

Some nice photo's of the East Buttress, from Supertopo.com ...... Click here

Route description. Describes as 13 pitches. (50m rope) From Classic.mountainzone.com......Click

Another description. (9 pitches 60m rope) from Fishproducts.com......Click

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-3 of 3

AlexeyD - Jul 27, 2004 11:48 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

There is a section, after about the 5 or 6th pitch, where it can be tempting to get off route. This is what happened to us, and apparently we're not alone because there were a bunch of raggedy looking rap anchors obviously built by someone who realized they're way up shit creek...I think the key is to stay more or less on the butress and avoid the temptation of veering left into the grassy crack/chimney system. Our leader actually climbed all the way through and into the 5.9 OW, making some delicate skyhook placements on what he said was probably about 5.12 level climbing...


atavist - Aug 25, 2008 2:41 pm - Voted 10/10


The route description as listed on the route page is for 9 pitches. Pitch 8 is listed twice.


Rob - Aug 25, 2008 9:24 pm - Hasn't voted

Fixed it.

Thanks for spotting the typo.

Viewing: 1-3 of 3



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