Sunnyside Bench, Regular Route

Sunnyside Bench, Regular Route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.74000°N / 119.58°W
Additional Information Route Type: Rock Climb
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.4-5.5
Sign the Climber's Log


Park at Yosemite Lodge. Cross the road, and take the Lower Yosemite Falls trail. After you cross the bridge by the falls, continue for another 50-70 yards until the trail makes a curve and starts moving away from the rock formation. If you look towards the formation here, you'll see the gully 20-30 yards away. Exit the trail and scramble up the Class 3 gully for 150-200' until the going gets harder and you arrive to the base of the chimney. Set up your 1st belay station here.

Route Description

Sunnyside Bench, Regular Route is one of the easiest multi-pitch climbs in the Valley. It is an awesome first lead due its varied climbing challenges (bouldering, face, chimney, off-width, corner, traverse) and gear placements (micro-cams to #4 Camalot). It also offers one of the most direct ways to the top of Lower Yosemite Falls. During the early season, watch out for running water on the 1st pitch and on the rappel down. You may also run into many ant colonies on the 2nd and 3rd pitches.

Pitch 1 (5.2, 80'): From the end of the Class 3 section, rope up and climb into the squeeze chimney. This chimney is pretty narrow and may be hard to manage with a pack. Follow the chimney for 10-15' and go left over the flake. The wide crack on the left of the flake is probably the first spot where you can place gear (a larger cam). Continue up the crack until the big tree on your right. This is your anchor!

Pitch 2 (4, 100'): From the 2nd belay station near the big tree, you will see the obvious gully that goes straight up the formation. DO NOT be tempted to go there. While it is climbable and not very hard, it is not the route you're here to do. It is unaesthetic and not very interesting. Also, early in the season it will have a lot of mungey wet spots. Instead traverse right and up, following obvious cracks. Climbing here is easy, exposed and very enjoyable. After negotiating a couple of headwalls, ledges and bouldering problems (aka "the tricky bouldering problem" in SuperTopo), you'll arrive at the 3rd belay station at another big tree.

Pitch 3 (5.4-5.5, 150'): From the 3rd belay station you can see the first 80 or so feet of the 3rd pitch. At first you'll continue up an easy crack (4th class) to another tree. This will take you to the base of the crux. From here you can either go slightly to the right over 5.4 jugs (a classic line, although unprotected), or continue straight up into the 5.5 crack/corner. The well-protected corner may be a better alternative to the run-out jugs, even though it is a little bit harder. Make sure to extend your placements with slings in this section in order to avoid rope drag. Once you handle the crux, you may be surprised to find a steep unprotected face right above you. Don't let it intimidate you, and look on your right. You'll see a tiny ledge (1-2" wide) that extends across the face to a  small tree. Follow that ledge until you are directly below that tree. If you experience a lot of rope drag, you can set up a belay station here. Follow the 5th class hand-crack above the tree all the way up until the easier ground. Use one of the larger trees for your anchor and enjoy the views!

Descent: A couple of options exist here. You can continue up low-angle slabs for 250-300' until you find the climbers trail. Follow that trail to the right and down climb the gully to get back to the Valley. It will take you anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to get back to the Lower Yosemite Falls trail. Another option will require three rappels down the obvious gully that you can see from your 2nd belay station. The first rappel station is located at the very top of that gully. To find it, look to the left as you finish the route. We left a couple of slings there on March 29th, 2004. The first rappel will follow the gully. Watch closely for a small tree on your right. It will have a sling and a locking biner (permanently jammed) attached to it. You can consider using them for your 2nd rappel station, or set up your own anchor around that tree. Note that this is a hanging rappel station! The second rappel will take you down to the wide ledge next to the gully. From here, you'll need to walk down low-angle "steps" back into the gully and to your 2nd belay station. Set up your 3rd rappel station here. This rappel will take you back to the 3rd Class section at the beginning of the route.

Essential Gear

Smaller cams/nuts to #4 Camalot. Lots of slings for belay stations, gear extensions and rappels. Radios!!! It is almost impossible to hear each other w/o radios on the 2nd and 3rd pitches. So make sure you bring them in order to avoid frustration and miscommunication.

Miscellaneous Info

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