A few Yosemite moderates for your tick list
Words and photos courtesy David Allfrey
When most climbers think of Yosemite Valley, the first things that comes to mind are the massive, big walls and long, hard crack climbs that lead to bleeding knuckles. We think of classic free climbs packed with climbing lore like the Astroman or Rostrum and we think of Grade VI walls that require suffering and perseverance. This isn’t the only thing that Yosemite has to offer, though. For all the famous, hard routes on the towering cliffs of Yosemite Valley, there are just as many amazing routes to cut your teeth on and learn the tricks of the trade, fun outings for climbers of all skills.
My dad, Bill Allfrey, revisiting the classic Royal Arches 43 years after his first time up the wonderful route. Last time they bivied on the summit, this time we started in the late morning and finished by lunch.
It’s unlikely that you rock climb and have not heard of the ultra-classic Royal Arches. The Arches is one of the most well known routes because it climbs a huge expanse of fun, sunny and exposed rock while maintaining an easy grade from start to finish. The Royal Arches is one of my personal favorite climbs in Yosemite, if you’re a confident 5.7 climber you can move through the terrain with ease, enjoying ledgy belays, nice lunch spots and two options to descend, depending on whether you want an exciting hike or bolted rappels.
Elijah Harvey lost in a sea of diorite knobs and wild features on the super entertaining Braille Book (5.8).
Early in my climbing career I remember taking a visiting friend on a tour of Yosemite. It was one of the first times I had to step up to leading all the pitches of all our routes and get us to and from the climbs safely. At the recommendation of a long time Yosemite climber we began the long approach towards Higher Cathedral Rock with our sights set on the wild 5.8 called The Braille Book. With Incredible views of the Cathedral Spires, Half Dome, The Sentinel and El Capitan, it’s a route that stands out in my mind as fun and classic. I recommend anyone looking for a little way-back-there adventure to take the hike to Higher Cathedral Rock.
The unforgettable view of of El Capitan as seen from the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral.
I love El Capitan. I love climbing on it more than any formation in Yosemite. The clean golden walls, huge routes, and endless opportunities for adventure entice me like no other cliff. If I’m not climbing on El Cap, than I want to just stare at it, taking in the grandeur of the massive monolith. No route in Yosemite Valley has quite the view as the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral, positioned directly across from the Captain. Eleven amazing pitches, the East Buttress offers classic Yosemite crack climbing at it’s finest. A lot of 5.7, a little bit of 5.8 and 5.9, and a single, very approachable 5.10 pitch. Being well protected you don’t have to fear a massive whipper or risk it all, bolts protect the beautiful golden-grey face climbing. The most memorable aspect of this wonderful route is, without a doubt, the view. A view of El Capitan like this is unforgettable. Being one of the legendary 50 Classic Climbs in North America is a guarantee to the quality of this fine line.
These are just three of the hundreds of amazing, moderate routes in Yosemite. Just because your next big goal isn’t the second ascent of the Dawn Wall or some crazy enchainment of routes doesn’t mean you can’t climb in the Valley. Just ignore all the beta spraying, white painter pants wearing, haul bag carrying hard folk and have some fun.