The Nutcracker, rated 5.8, is one of the most popular and enjoyable routes on Manure Pile Buttress. This route was first climbed in the late 1960s by the Yosemite legend Royal Robbins. Much to his credit and vision, Robbins created a route that has served thousands of climbers for the past forty years. Don’t get discouraged by the name “Manure Pile Buttress’ you won’t find any manure here.
Pitch 1 and 2: You have three options here. They all end up where you need to be to stay on route.
Variation #1, 5.6, original start: About twenty five feet up on a class 2 climbing there is an oak tree and the start of the first pitch.
Climb a right facing dihedral crack/chimney to a nice ledge, the end of first pitch. Pitch 2: Climb up and right to gain a ramp heading to the right. Climb to the end of the ramp and belay.
Variation #2, 5.8, I have never done this variation, but I have seen climbers take a fall on it. Climb the left facing lay back crack in a corner from the same oak tree as the variation 1. Climb to the top of the crack and turn the corner to gain the same ramp as variation one. Climb to the end of the ramp and belay.
Variation #3, 5.9: This is my favorite variation. It starts some thirty feet to the right of the first two variations. Climb a short face to gain a finger crack in the middle of an otherwise blank face. Belay at a bush/tree. Pitch 2, 5.7: Climb a crack up and right to a great ledge.
Short but steep crux on the 4th pitch is just past the overhang.
Climb the last of the crack section with a wild mantle, 5.8. The rest is climbing a slab to the top of the formation.
Pitch #3, 5.7: This pitch is very long and convoluted. It’s best to break it down into two pitches. You need to head for an obvious and impressive looking overhang above. This is accomplished by climbing up on crack and face systems zigzagging toward the overhang. Belay under the overhang.
Pitch 4, 5.8, the crux pitch. I found it easier to go left on face moves to a tree, then up to a short overhanging crack, the crux. Surmount this crack and continue to a ledge.
Note: Some people go straight up from the right side of the overhang then traverse left to gain the 5.8 crack. Belay on a ledge with a bolt anchor.
Pitch 5, 5.8: Climb up a crack to a wild mantle, then continue up a low angle face to the top of the formation.
Standard Rack, pro to 3 inches.
To descend, go left to gain the gully to the left, west of the buttress. This is a steep gully with a few rocky sections but manageable.
How to get there:
Find Yosemite Lodge. Camp 4, AKA “Walk-In Campground, is just across from Yosemite Lodge. Drive just over 1.5 miles west from Camp 4. You will see the entrance to a picnic/day use area on your right. If you go as far as El Cap Meadow, you have gone too far. Drive into this picnic area and park. Walk on a trail heading back toward Yosemite Valley for a few hundred yards. Head for the rocks to your left. The first route you come to is a right facing dihedral. This is “After Six.” The Nutcracker is about 150 feet to the right of After Six.