Lower Cathedral Spire

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Trad Climbing
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
5880 ft / 1792 m
223 Hits
70.36% Score
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Lower Cathedral Spire
Created On: Oct 30, 2017
Last Edited On: Nov 1, 2017


As it's name suggests, Lower Cathedral Spire is the smaller of the two gorgeous granite spires across the gully from the larger Cathedral Rocks. The summit view is incredible with El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Falls, and Sentinel Rock clearly visible. The approach can be heinous with larger loose boulder fields, scree, and 1,200 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile, but is well-worth the trip.

Getting There

The start of the approach begins along Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley. There are 3 pullouts about 100 feet before (west) of the intersection with the road that cuts across El Cap Meadow littered with the cut down remnants of large trees. 

From the center of the pullout closest to the island of the intersection, travel south 150 feet and take a left on the Valley Trail. Walk about 100 feet and take a left at a climber's trail that travels into the trees. Continue to the Cathedral Boulders, wave to the boulderers (if they're awake yet), and continue on the faint trail. The climber's trail is fairly well-marked with cairns the whole way. Keep in mind that this trail is intended to get you in the gully east of the spires where the climbs for Lower Cathedral Spires starts. Beware of loose boulders since it seems a lot of them have not settled.

One-way distance to base of climbs: 0.9 miles
Elevation Gain to base of climbs: 1135 feet


The 2 classic routes up the spire start from the same location on the southeast corner of the formation. The Regular Route (5.9) and South by Southwest (5.11a) share the first 2 pitches, which are both 5.6 to a large series of 3rd class ledges.

Red Tape

The spire is in Yosemite Valley within Yosemite National Park, which comes with its own set of rules. Park entrance fee is $30.

When to Climb

Best times are spring, summer, and fall. Bring plenty of water during the summer months as the climbs are south-facing.


Thereare 4 areas for camping in Yosemite Valley. Here are the links for those sites.

Camp 4 Campground

Upper Pines Campground

Lower Pines Campground

North Pines Campground