Mt. Watkins South Face / Pratt, Harding, Chouinard route

Mt. Watkins South Face / Pratt, Harding, Chouinard route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.78313°N / 119.51679°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: A few days
Sign the Climber's Log


I just took over this page by TeleK (March 6 '10) and added it to a new more complete M&R of Mt. Watkins as a climbing route. I'm a hiker / scrambler but not a climber. Anyone who has climbing experience to add about this route is welcome to do so.

Mt. Watkins is a big wall situated up Tenaya Canyon in Yosemite. It's remote location making for long approach and descent, keeps the crowds down. Most parties sleep at the base, and spend 2 nights on the wall. There is a good bivy at the base, pitch 8, pitch 11, and at the top of the route. Since it's S. Facing, you are in the sun all day. Be sure to bring enough water.

It's 19 pitches, and goes all clean. Most of the pitches have descent bolts for hauling and belaying. Rated VI 5.8 C2, but most of the route goes free at 10c and 10d.

First climbed by Harding, Pratt, and Chouinard. They had an epic as they slowly ran out of water...

Wat Pitch1

Getting There

Park at Curry Village. Take the bus to Mirror Lake trailhead or walk or get dropped off. Walk the road for 0.7 miles to Mirror Lake, and continue on the Snow Creek Trail for another mile. Continue along the river until you get to a bend in the river that pushes you 150 ft of the route. Don't head up too early...

Getting to the "climb" is still a long ways away... after hauling the bag up 4 or 5 times up 4th and 5th class (5.6? and a 5.8 pitch)...pitches you'll finally be at the bivy at the base. One more haul (4th class gets you to the start of the climb.)

Red Tape

This is a committing climb that is exhausting.

The approach is long and tough... but since you'll have a water source at the base, you should pump water or treat water there...

The descent... you have a few option. The best is to hike out 3.1 miles northeast to Hwy 120. This requires a very good friend to pick you up, or shuttling a car. Or else you'll have to hike down more than 7 miles down the Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows Trail back to Mirror Lake and Curry Village. Your cell phone will work, but don't rely on it for a rescue.


Most parties opt to hike in on day 1... sleep at the base after fixing the first two pitches. Get to the Sheraton-Watkins on day 2. Get to the ledge on pitch 11, fix a few more... then top out on the final day.


Watkins Sheraton

External Links

Supertopo page

Discussion on Supertopo

Trip Report from Yu and Nick's climb

John Butler's Epic



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