Last bit of California summer stuff before I move on to Chile shenanigans, I promise. I’m going back to posting about climbing mostly because Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite is just visually stunning in every direction and my mother hasn’t seen these photos yet.

For a fun Labor Day Weekend adventure, Will and I decided to tackle two of the climbs on the list of top Yosemite classics, the Matthes Crest Traverse and the southeast buttress of Cathedral Peak. Both are longer easy-ish adventure-type climbs, and both are awesome.

You know Matthes Crest is a classic when it’s one of the stock Apple desktop photos (and is currently my desktop background, obviously)

My favorite part about climbing these crags, especially traversing along Matthes Crest, is that they’re in a relatively secluded part of the park. Unless you hike for quite a while and climb up something semi-dangerous, you don’t get to experience this magical part of Yosemite. (Unless of course, you own an Apple computer or know how to do a Google search.)

We climbed Cathedral Peak on a Saturday afternoon after driving over to Yosemite from the Bay Area, which was partially a great idea (fewer people!) and partially a terrible idea. Turns out 8 hours of adventuring after a 5 hour car ride and going from sea level to exerting ourselves at 10,900 ft of altitude in one day is a bit too much. The trek back to the car with altitude-induced headaches, in the dark for the last hour and a half, was not my favorite. But we made it, and lived to tell the tale. And if it’s not clear from the super positive tone of this paragraph, I absolutely loved the climb.

The southwest buttress of Cathedral Peak is that giant inviting face behind us (left side of the photo)
Top of Cathedral Peak with the smaller Eichorn Pinnacle behind us. As you can see, the sun is close to setting and we’re on top of a mountain and that’s not a great combo

After a fully exhausting Saturday, we decided to sleep in on Sunday and do something small, a mere 4-pitch crack climb. It doesn’t quite make the list of Yosemite classics (in addition to Matthes Crest and Cathedral Peak think Half Dome, El Capitan, etc.) but Will and I were huge fans. So many perfect hand jams.

We unofficially renamed this climb Alexander Jammington
The sunshade on his neck makes this feel like the climbing-in-Yosemite version of a camel-powered trek through the Sahara desert. But nerdy as it looks, I must confess that I invested in one myself after this trip.

Our third and final day of climbing brought us to Matthes Crest, a 0.8-mile-long crag tucked away in the depths of Yosemite. After climbing up for the first two pitches, you basically just traverse relatively easy terrain along the top of the knife-edge crest, enjoying the scenery and trying not to look down too much.

Some sections are a little wider, and some have incredibly sheer drops on both sides of the crest, and you never really know what’s next until you get there
Also, climbing sideways and/or down is pretty weird and unnatural (I usually climb up all the things), so it took some time to get used to

Partially due to the 3.5-hour approach and partially due to our less-than-efficient climbing for the second half of the crag, it ended up being a 14.5 hour day car-to-car, including 8.5 hours in climbing shoes that my feet took a long time to forget. To be fair, most people that do this climb bail after the first half and walk out from there because the second half is harder and involves more awkward downclimbing. As per usual, we were stubborn and overconfident and decided to just go for it and do the entire thing.

Spoiler alert, we made it!


Enjoying the view one last time before heading around the corner of a different crag on our way out of the wilderness


Finally, we capped off our 14+ hour day with a 4 hour drive home because we’re masochists (and also because we had to work the next day).

Worth it for sure.