South Arete: Standard Route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.83030°N / 119.4217°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 4
Sign the Climber's Log


This route leads to the south summit, the higher of the two ends of Tresidder's long, thin ridgetop. Start from the Cathedral Lakes Trailhead on Highway 120 in Tuolumne Meadows. Hike 4 miles south, past Cathedral Lakes. The trail begins to head downhill, and Tresidder looms high on your right (west). Climb the class 2 slopes just south of the south summit. The start of the South Arete is on the southwest side of the summit blocks.
You can also climb to the ridge between the north and south summits, then down the west side to reach the start of the route, but this way is longer and more difficult (class 3 in places).

Route Description

Once at the base of the climb, it takes only about 5 minutes to reach the top. Climb to the left (west) side of the arete at the start, up a chimney-ramp. At the top, cross over some large blocks to the east side of the arete, traverse right about 20 feet, climb some class 4 cracks, and follow a series of rather large blocks up to the summit.

There is no register on the summit (as of Sept 2000).

Essential Gear

None needed, unless to increase courage by providing a belay. There is a great belay position at the summit between large summit rocks. If using a rope, watch for friction on the rope as you cross the arete and climb the final blocks.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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mpbro - Jun 18, 2002 10:12 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Kim and I returned to Tresidder Peak to climb the South Arete. While the standard route (assuming there is one) probably ascends from the west, we attempted the south face. Annotated route photo is here.

  • Belay from below a prominent cubic boulder at the bottom of the route. Alternatively, belay from the top of the boulder, after 10 feet of class 4 climbing. Visibility of the route is poor from the top of the boulder, but it may be the key to doing this route in one pitch.

  • Ascend 25 feet up an open book. Protect with medium nut halfway up on right. Large cams can protect prominent center crack. Warning: rock is pretty crumbly, so take care on friction moves.

  • 40 feet off the ground, you reach an obvious belay spot. Small to medium nuts for anchor. Alternatively, mantle 10 feet up to a chockstone which can be tied off. We bailed from here (6 foot runner + biner left for you booty retrievers).

  • After chockstone, climb past another one to a ledge. From there, it looks like 5.6+ thin crack climbing to the summit.

This is a deceptively hard route. From the base, the south face appears to be mid-angle slab climbing. In reality, it is made up of large steep blocks. The route is also much higher (probably 80') and longer (60 m rope will probably make it, barely) than it would seem from the base.

Bob Burd

Bob Burd - Jun 18, 2002 9:10 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Actually, the standard route doesn't start on the west side. It starts at the same place you started, climbs the open book (what I called a chimney, but is probably somewhere in between) to where you show the belay spot. From there you cross over to the east side, where you can continue class 4 climbing up blocks to the summit.
I think what you climbed can be described as a more direct route, and you ought to make a new route page out of it. I'll rename this route the "South Arete: standard route"


mpbro - Jun 19, 2002 1:20 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Dude, that looked harder than class 4 to me! I thought the open book was pretty tricky, at least 5.4. But I stemmed it, instead of chimneying. Welcome to the Sierras, I suppose. :)

We'll probably go back and get it sometime this summer, so I will do a route page once I climb the upper section. I'm kinda mad at myself for wussing out, but the chockstone I tied off to was such a convenient bail point. If I'd have had to leave one or more pieces behind, I probably wouldn't have bailed.

How did the approach from the summit ridge (NW) look? Getting to the ridge looked OK, but there were some pretty big blocks to traverse. I'd have thought this was the easiest route.

Bob Burd

Bob Burd - Jun 19, 2002 10:17 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Like Cathedral, Tresidder is rated class 4 from the old days. This discussion goes into a little more detail, but you're right that today they would be rated something like 5.4. For almost all Sierra peaks rated class 4, they are probably more like 5.[1-4] today. I've decided I can't really tell the difference anyway, and treat everything in the class 4-5.4 range as essentially the same. (I think you can easily die if you fall on anything above class 3.)

The east side was what I had tried first - I was doing pretty good but ran into the last problem, about 20 feet of diagonal traversing that would have taken me to the blocks I eventually climbed to the summit. I'd like to go back and give that another shot someday. The NW route from the ridge looked impossible to me, so I continued around the west side to the south side. Maybe I missed something, but it didn't look feasible to me.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4



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