The Iota Chimney - A Super Awesome, Must Do 5.4 in Yosemite!

Self portrait in the Iota Chimney at sunset.

Really? A must do 5.4 in Yosemite? Come on!

Seriously, though, this has got to be one of the most beautiful climbs I have done in Yosemite. It is also one of my favorite chimneys. I had read about it merely as an approach to setting up top roping anchors on Chingando, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the chimney to be clean, bright, fairly tricky, interesting for "only" 5.4 and a fun caving adventure in it's own right.

The Iota chimney is hidden away in the Iota Flake on the forgotten far left side of Reed's Pinnacle. The Reid guide indicates it merely with an arrow pointing at the Iota Flake and the words "The Iota. 5.4 chimney behind". It isn't even listed as a route in it's own right in the guide. Guarded by a gully of decomposing class 3 rock covered in leaves and moss, the approach really isn't too bad if you don't mind a little jungle exploration.

I had approached it at sunset at the end of one day in January, and then again last weekend to finally play around on Chingando. At Eric Gable's excellent suggestion, on the second visit we didn't just climb to the Chingando anchors, but also took the second pitch to the top of the formation. This second pitch was very different in nature from the first pitch, and although is still only 5.4 or so, is also runout and only appropriate for confident chimney climbers.

First Visit - January 15, 2012

The Iota Chimney seen from behind the Iota Flake
Reed's Left Side seen from behind the Iota Flake
5.10 OW P2 Crux of Reed's Left Side
Entering the Iota Chimney
Looking Through the Swirl of the Iota Chimney Tunnel-Through
Looking up the Second Pitch. No Pro! How High Does it Go?
Chingando Anchors
Sweet Sunset Chimneying

Second Visit - February 26, 2012

Back Behind the Iota
Reed's Pinnacle from Behind the Iota
Hidden Entrance to the Iota Chimney. Just Go Past the Large Chockstone.

Getting in is tricky (at least if you're 5'9" and have stubby wombat arms). There is nothing to grab on the pedestal, and you're just high enough to hurt yourself if you slip out. The wide stem option seemed too insecure too since you had to practically leap over, so on my last visit I found out a secure way to enter the chimney. I kept my arms as chickenwings so that my torso wouldn't slip out while doing the crab shuffle. Once you can grab the back edge just do the floppy whale maneuver as you pull up!

Reaching the Exit of P1 at the Piton Atop Chingando.
Looking Down P1 of The Iota Chimney at the Death Slot. Maybe There is Some Climbing Booty in There?
Pitch 2. How High? (40-50 ft) Any Pro? (No)
Heading Up the Second Pitch (by Vitaliy)
Iota Chimney Window
Cool Forms and Textures At the Top of the Iota Chimney
Looking Down. Maybe I Should Place Some Pro Now?
Optional #4 or Smaller Cam Placement. I dragged some pro all the way up here, so I might as well place something! :-P

It turns out the rapp slings were right behind my head here. Doh! Well the chimney was too wide for secure hip-knee-heel camming here and the rock is pretty slick, so I didn't mind placing a piece 1 ft sooner :-0

Vitaliy Following
Hands-Free Rest
Sweet Rappel Back Behind the Iota

The two pitches can be linked but it can be nice to break them up to better see each other. For rack bring 1-2 quickdrawed slings (optional).


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