Central Pillar of Frenzy warmup to East Buttress of Middle Cathedral


Jared enjoying the wide crack on P3 of Central Pillar of Frenzy.

In late 2010 I was still new to leading trad. I had set a number of goals for myself to help give me motivation and direction for developing my abilities as a climber, and one of those goals was to climb the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock. How does one know when they are appropriately ready for such a long climb?

I usually go about goals in a meticulous and organized way, and in climbing I try to balance being conservative while pushing myself to improve. Since the East Buttress is a popular climb, and a long climb, I didn't just want to hop on it as soon as I could start leading 5.9s, as I wanted to be solid at the grade and be able to lead 5.7-5.8 quickly and without too much effort. So I asked people who had done the route what sort of less committing routes I should do as a progression to and benchmark for knowing when I was ready to tackle the route. Several climbers suggested that when I felt I was ready to go for the route, I should first climb Central Pillar of Frenzy. They said if I could handle that without much problem, and do it in less than half a day, that I should be ready.

Although I had hoped to do these routes with a partner who I could swing leads with, by the Fall of 2011 I had no such luck for these routes. However, by this time I felt strong & confident enough to lead all of the pitches on both routes, and I did have a partner who, while new to trad, had been doing very well following me up some Yosemite cracks and flaring chimneys earlier in the year.


Central Pillar of Frenzy (III, 5.9, 5P)

September 24, 2011


Central Pillar of Frenzy seen from El Cap Meadow. If you look closely there are climbers at several of the belay and rappel stations.


Central Pillar of Frenzy seen from the top of the Footstool

Jared Wood and I climbed this route early Saturday morning in hopes of beating the crowds and the forecast rainstorms. We were first on the route, were down about 1 hr before the big rainstorm hit. This route was great warmup to the E Butt of Middle Cathedral the next day. With a superb view of El Cap, sustained and clean stems, liebacks, finger cracks, hand cracks, fist cracks (and wider!), chimneys, a great roof and a 5.9 squeeze crux, this ranks with Traveler Buttress as my favorite 5.9 trad climb of 2011.


Pitch 1, a slick stemming corner that narrows to a slick squeeze before stepping left.


Jared in the 5.9 squeeze crux on P1.


The broken 5.8 terrain before the sustained 5.9 fingers on P2.


Looking down P2.


El Cap from the P2 Belay.


Jared following P2.


The 5.7 hand crack & 5.8-5.9 roof on P3 from the belay.


Leading the big roof on P3 (by Jared Wood)


The wide crack above the roof on P3.


Jared climbing the wide crack on P3.


Looking up the fun 5.8 double cracks on P4 from the P3 belay.


Leading P4 (by Jared Wood)


Jared on the fun 5.8 double cracks.


P4 belay (by Jared Wood)


Looking up the 5.9 lieback on P5.


Looking at the upper pitches from the P5 belay.


Climbers on Salathe Wall?


Boot Flake on the Nose.


The Great Roof and Dihedrals on the Nose. See the climbers? Strangely, I think we could actually hear climbers on El Cap as we got higher on the route.


CPoF Rappel of Bircheff Williams.


Climbers on P3, P4 & P5 of CPoF. Gridlock!


CPoF seen from a distance.


Climbers on CPoF.



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Continue to: East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock (IV, 5.9, C0, 11P)