CATHEDRAL Wall
Route: Tourist Tragedy (5.9, 5-8p)

JUN
12
2020
TR #: 421

Category: Colorado       Elev: ~11,800 ft      Rock Type: Gneiss & Biotite Schist

Partner: Will Starks

An enjoyable vertical hike to the top of the Second Buttress of Cathedral Wall.

INTRO

The 900-foot east-facing Cathedral Wall towers over the western end of Loch Vale Lake. I've passed by it a few times en route to the Sky Pond area to climb The Saber or Petit Grepon. There are several routes up its compact gneiss. This is a trip report for Tourist Tragedy, which climbs to the top of the Second Buttress of Cathedral Wall in 8 moderate pitches. Although rated 5.9, most of the climbing is mid-5th. Combined with this are super comfortable belay ledges and a sunny aspect, making this a pretty casual adventure, almost a vertical hike of sorts.

One twist Will and I added to the route was to rappel the route, not a standard descent option described in the guidebook but what turned out to be a pretty quick way back to our packs at the base, avoiding the long hike off the backside. We descended the route in 4 double rope rappels, leaving only 3 nuts and 4 carabiners in the process (the final rappel was off a tree and all our others off single nuts). Even though this ended up being a quick and easy way down and probably my preferred way, I wouldn't recommend it to the average climber on this route just given the consequence of a poorly-created rappel anchor. 

The following page provides a trip report for the climb. Enjoy!

TIME STATS

Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Base of route: 1 hour 30 minutes
Climb Tourist Tragedy: 3 hours 20 minutes
Descend (via rappels to base): 1 hour 25 minutes
Base of route to Glacier Gorge Trailhead1 hour 25 minutes

OVERLAY



PITCH BY PITCH PHOTOS 

Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Begin from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. Hike the trail past Loch Lake, and break right when you can see the base of the Second Buttress. Begin at the center of the base of the buttress, just right of a large right-facing dihedral.
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1. Beginning the hike from Glacier Gorge trailhead. These Covid-19 signs are everywhere these days.
2. Cathedral Wall reflected in Loch Lake.
3. The scramble across talus to the base of the Second Buttress.

Pitch 
1
5.9. Climb up intermittent cracks and featured face to a a roof, go right under the roof, and then up to a ledge with a tree (or stop at a ledge shortly below the tree ledge).
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4. Will leading Pitch 1.
5. We climbed all the way to the tree on Pitch 1. The guidebook topo has you stopping a ledge below the tree.


Pitch 
2
(we linked with Pitch 3)
5.8. Climb past the large tree and climb a right-facing corner to a ledge. This pitch is easily linked with Pitch 3 with perhaps a bit of simulclimbing.
6.    

6. Pitch 2.


Pitch 
3
(we linked with Pitch 2)
5.4. Climb a ramp up and left. Belay at the bottom of a right-facing dihedral.
7.    

7. The Pitch 3 ramp.


Pitch 
4
(we linked with Pitch 5)
5.8. Head up the right-facing corner system, then climb a short steep crack and mantle onto a ledge. This pitch is easily linked with Pitch 5.
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8. The Pitch 4 corner. (Photo by Will.)


Pitch 
5
(we linked with Pitch 4)
5.4. Climb easy terrain to the next large grassy ledge about 100 feet higher. 
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9. The "chimney" on Pitch 5.


Pitch 
6
5.8. Climb the arching right-facing corner system. Overcome the roof near the right edge, and continue up to a ledge below a steep wall.
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10. Will leading Pitch 6.
11. Steph enjoying a comfortable sunny belay with a view. One of the best parts about this route is the comfortable belay ledges.



Pitch 
7
(we linked with Pitch 8)
5.8 or 5.9. The 5.8 version is to climb up the crack a short bit, then hand traverse right until you can climb straight up to a big ledge. The 5.9 version continues up the crack. We did the 5.9 version. 
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12. Looking up Pitch 7, the direct 5.9 version.


Pitch
8
(we linked with Pitch 7)
5.6. Climb up through mid-5th terrain to the top of the buttress. This eases off as you get higher. This pitch can be linked with the previous especially if you just end it when the going gets easy and scramble the rest to  the top.
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13. 5.easy to the top.
14. The final scramble to the top. (Photo by Will.)


Top!
Yay!
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15. The profile of the Third Buttress. I'd like to climb the route Sublime Buttress someday. (Photo by Will.)
16. One of the descent options in the guidebook goes up this gully, hike up the ridge a bit, and scramble around and down and back to the trail. See guidebook description.
17. Some nice gneiss. Black totem for scale.


Descent
There are a few decent options given in the guidebook. We chose a descent option not listed in the guidebook, which is to rappel the route. We had planned on this, and had climbed the route with half ropes and brought some extra nuts and old carabiners for this purpose. We were able to get down to the ground with 4 double rope rappels. The first three rappels were off a nut+carabiner, and the last rappel was off the tree at the top of Pitch 1. All told, we left 4 carabiners (one for each rappel) and 3 nuts (one for each of the first three rappels). The descent via rappel was quick and easy and allowed us to leave our packs at the base and climb without our shoes.
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18. Steph downclimbing the upper 5.easy terrain. Our first rappel was at the top of Pitch 7.
19. Rappelling.
20. One of our nut + carabiner anchors. Better make sure the nut is bomber! 
21. We backed up the nut with a cam for the first person to rappel. 
22.
 Rappelling.

23. The final rappel off the tree. The slings were already there but we added the carabiner.
24. Back at the parking lot. Should we sell our parking spot to the highest bidder?
25. Will's dog Frankie was happy to see him.
26. Frankie posing for the camera.