North Rib

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.89970°N / 119.2203°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.6 (YDS)
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


Mount Dana, North Rib (III, 5.6)
Yosemite National Park
Sierra Nevada, California, USA

First ascent May 1982
George Marinakis
Harry Marinakis

The North Rib of Mount Dana (III, 5.6) is the only known rock climb on the impressive north-northeast face of the mountain. It follows the obvious north rib that is just left of the Solstice Couloir and climbs to the summit ridge of the NW Slope. The climbing is mostly class 4 over shattered metavolcanic rock. There are, however, a couple of easy class 5 pitches.

Alpine Skills International says: "This great climb is about 13 pitches long. It has a lot of quick and easy climbing but is not for the 'faint of heart.' It contains areas of stacked loose rock but it is easily managed by a competent climber. The sections of polished, metamorphic rock provides interesting headwalls and corners that prove great climbing to a high summit."

Sorry that my photos from the first ascent are so bad. It was a very dark day on dark rock with very little contrast. Slide film just did not handle those conditions very well.

High-Res Photo of North Face
High-Res Photo of North Face

Getting There

The approach is the same as that for the Dana Couloir and Solstice Couloir.

Route Description

North Rib, Mount Dana
The route taken during the first ascent (finishing to avoid large cornices on the summit ridge)


The First Ascent Route
The First Ascent Route

FIRST ASCENT DETAILS (MAY 1982): We started at the bottom of the North Rib and climbed directly up the crest of the rib. Route finding was relatively easy and straightforward. Most of the climbing was class 4 over shattered rock. There were a few easy class 5 pitches here and there, including a short 5.6 headwall. The route is approximately 10 to 15 pitches in length.

The lower part of the North Rib involves class 5 climbing. The middle section of the North Rib is class 3 and class 4. The crux is a 5.6 headwall. You could probably bypass this headwall by detouring around it on the right (class 3-4?).

During the first ascent the summit ridge was blocked by large cornices. A photo of the summit ridge cornices is shown here. The "Y" at the top of the ridge is plainly visible in this photo.

You can climb straight up the rib on the right branch of the "Y" and through the cornices if you desire. However we angled left at a "Y" onto the left branch. The cornice at the top of that rib was smaller, only about 10 feet high.

Essential Gear

The shattered rock takes small pitons such as Lost Arrows and baby angles. The larger cracks were loose but large Friends were also useful. The rock is too loose to just throw a sling around a block or horn.

If there is a cornice on top then you'll also need an ice axe, especially if you plan to descend via the Dana Couloir. Oh yeah, there's a lot of rockfall so wear a helmet.


If you started from the vicinity of Dana Lake below the north face, then you'll probably want to descend via the Solstice Couloir. Alternatively, you could traverse the summit and descend via the Dana Couloir. You should scout both couloirs for ice before you make a decision.


Secor, R.J., The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails, 3rd edition, p. 397

External Links

Alpine Skills International Tioga Pass Region

Administrative Remarks

If you have suggestions for improvement, please contact me.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.