Pennyroyal Arches is the cliff that lies directly southeast behind Pywiack Dome. Its summit does not stand out against the backdrop of its neighboring peaks peaks like Tressider, Tenaya, or even Pywiack Dome, which has a much more distinctive shape.
There are several excellent climbs on its northwest face. These are characterized by crack climbing in dihedrals with some runout low-angle slab and face sections. I found the rock to be of satisfactory to excellent quality, yet the cliff is rarely climbed. Most of the more moderate routes are not given protection or star ratings in the Reid-Falkenstein guide, and I have a feeling that this keeps the crowds away. Regardless, it is a nice cliff, an easy walk from the road, and you definitely won't be rubbing elbows (or crossing ropes) with anyone here. The routes range from 5.7 to mid 5.10. There are also a few short, hard cracks on the Pennyroyal headwall, which is the obvious cliff directly above the end of the climbs.
The Tuolumne climbing guide gives this information on Pennyroyal Arches routes, from left to right:
Ooze and Ahs (10a R *)
The Vision (10a R **)
Multiplication (10b R **)
Alchemist's Revision (10a R **)
Eagle Dihedral (7 ? ?)
Euphoria (7 ? ?)
Pennyroyal High (7 ? ?)
The Hump (9 ? ?)
Walk About (7 ? ?)
U.F.R. (10a R *)
Diaphoretic Spasms (9 PG/R *)
White Slab (7 ? ?)
To reach Pennyroyal Arches, park at the Pywiack Dome turnut on the south side of 120 (about 6 miles west of the Tuolumne General Store). Walk down the boulders and across the creek, then skirt around the right (southwest) side of the dome. Be sure to check out the insanely steep and hard sport climbs on its backside. Once you are behind Pywiack, Pennyroyal Arches will be a 10 minute walk trending up and slightly to the right through the trees. The climbs start on either the left or right side of the large central shell (none pass through it), so it might be a good idea to set your course to the side you want before entering the trees.
If the Pywiack pullout is full, you can alternately park at Tenaya Lake. Follow the beach towards Tenaya Peak, then cut left (northeast) through the forest. This is a longer approach, but you can also check out the descent this way, which some people seem to think is the crux of climbing on Pennyroyal Arches.
It costs $20 to enter Yosemite National Park.
There are no seasonal closures on the Pennyroyal Arches cliff, but its access does depend on the status of the Tioga Pass road, which is generally open from May-October most years.
Please see the Tuolumne Meadows Logistical Center
for everything you need to know about visiting Tuolumne in more detail than I could possibly provide here.
Locate the tree-slung rap station at the top of The Hump
. Rap 140' to a bolted station, then another 140' to a second bolted station. From here it is ALMOST
200' to the ground.
DO NOT RAP OFF PENNYROYAL ARCHES WITHOUT TWO 60-METER ROPES!
If you don't have two 60-meter ropes, you can walk off either west (on ledges) or east (on steep slabs). Neither walkoff is appealing.
When To Climb
Pennyroyal Arches faces northwest and might hold snow into June or July some years.
It is shady until the afternoon.
Backcountry camping is not permitted in the vicinity of Pennyroyal Arches. Rangers keep a sharp eye out for cars parked at climbing turnouts overnight, and you stand a good chance of getting caught if you attempt to sleep out-of-bounds. Some older maps show a campground on the eastern shore of Tenaya Lake. This campground is no longer there. The only campground in Tuolumne is the main one, just west of Lembert Dome. This campground is $20 and reservations are highly recommended. Again, visit the Tuolumne Meadows Logistical Center
to find out more.
It is rumored that Pennyroyal Arches got its name from the Pennyroyal flower that grows at its base. It seems equally likely (in my eyes) that it got its name from its similarities to a certain, not-so-penny-sized Royal Arches.