Rites Buttress is physically connected to Ministry Wall
and is an important multi pitch buttress in the Pratt’s Crack area of Pine Creek Canyon.
All the praising words that have been written about climbing in this area-and even more-apply to Rites Buttress. Rites Buttress is unique because of its traditional roots. Unlike on Ministry Wall, next door, that was developed as a sport climbing area, you need to depend on your own skills and experience to protect your climbs. You need to be a crack climber and a face climber to complete any of the routes here. In other words, you need to be an all around climber to climb on the Rites Buttress.
There is a saying, “The greater the effort, the greater the rewards.” That saying definitely holds true for The Rites Buttress. When you climb on this buttress you are treated to the best of what this beautiful formation has to offer at the end of every pitch. If you have only sport climbed, you know very well that you hardly ever turn around and look at what’s behind you. In contrast, when you are trad climbing, you cannot help but to look at the exposure and the views while belaying.
If you are a sport climber, you may walk past Rites Buttress and not even notice the beautiful crack systems that stretch toward the sky. Actually, these cracks were noticed and climbed as far back as the 70’s. At that time bolted sport climbs were nowhere to be found; in fact, sport climbing had not yet been invented. It seems to me that the basics of sport climbing were invented by trad climbers trying to free climb bolt ladders. Bolt ladders were used to climb past the seemingly blank sections of rock to get from one crack/chimney system to another. As climbers got better at their craft, they wanted to free climb faces and thin cracks that were traditionally aid routes. It took the next genetration of climbers to develop this practice into a whole new sport.
Routes of Rites Buttress
kevin approaching the end of pitch 1
If you stop and ask any regular to Pratt’s Crack area to name three climbs and what’s special about them, the answer may very well go like this:
1- Pratt’s Crack, because it’s tradition.
2- Ecstasy, because it evolkes awe.
3- Rites of Spring, because it’s the best climb in the whole area.
Rites of Spring, reminiscent of Igor Stravinsky’s controversial musical piece “Rite Of Spring,” and rated at 10d, is the first crack system to the left of Ministry Wall. This climb is, by any measure, the best known and admired trad climb in the entire area. It consists of four pitches reaching to a height of four hundred feet. The climb involves crack climbing from finger size to fist and even a chimney. Bring your whole bag of experience along with a full rack from thin to big protection. You will need everything you have on your rack. There are bolt anchors on top of every pitch so that you can rap from the end of any of the pitches and come back later for the following ones at a later date. On my last visit to this area, two very experienced Yosemite climbers who had missed finishing the climb in the past had come back for the hardest last pitch.
Another crack system to the left of Rites of Spring and following a dihedral for three pitches is Armando’s Stilletto, rated at 5.9, A2, and probably 5.9, C2 by now. This climb, like its well know neighbor, dates back to the early 70’s. If you are looking for moderate free climbing at around 5.9 and willing to do a bit of aid, Armando’s Stilletto might be your ticket. Bring a rack up to 3.5 inches for this three pitch climb.
Note: Contrary to what the routes photo indicats, there are no bolt anchors at the end of every pitch on Armando's Stilletto, at least not at this time(6-19-09).
|Climbs of Rites Buttress|
|A||Don't Mean May Be, 11b, 6 bolts, standard rack up to 2.5 inches|
|B||Armando's Stillettos, 5.9 C2, 3 pitches |
|C||South Park, 10a, A0|
|D||Friendly Faces Everywhare, 5.9|
|E||Rites Of Spring, 10d, 4 pitches, Complete rack up to 4 inches|
There is one primitive campground with a few campsites across from the slot canyon. However, there are many more developed campgrounds in the vicinity of Bishop to the south and in the Rock Creek Canyon further north of here.
The following links should help finding a good campsite:
Horton Creek Campground
Rock Creek Canyon
Inyo National Forest
Bishop Creek and vicinity camping
How to Get there
From the town of Bishop California drive about ten miles north on highway 395 to its intersection with Pine Creek Road & Rovana. Take this exit and continue west on Pine Creek Road past the town of Rovana for about 7.6 miles. You will see many rock formations to your right and one in particular is very narrow and steep. That is called The Dihedrals, located inside a narrow gully known as Pratt's Crack area gully. Drive a bit further till you come to a dirt road. Turn right on this road, then take another sharp turn to the right. This short and rough dirt road will quickly take you to the climbers’ parking area. The trail into the canyon is obvious and shouldn’t take more than ten minutes.
The views you are treated to on your drive up Pine Creek Road are breathtaking. Take a few minutes for a few photos. You will be happy to have them in twenty years.
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