By: Matthias Selke
16 excited climbers met at the Cathedral Pass Trailhead shortly after 7 am on September 17. The thought of sitting on the tiny, overhanging summit-block of Cathedral was inspiring enough to quite a few SPSers (or was it just the need to get one of those damned mountaineers peaks off the list?) to send their SASEs for this earlv fall trip by May to the trip leader (Larry Tidball). The group quickly marched along the John Muir Trail, then took the fork of the so-called use trail to Budd Lake. I said "so-called use trail" because this trail is actually better than many an "official" trail in the Sierra backcountry. After about two miles of hiking, about in mile north of Budd Lake, we left the trail and climbed up through a thinning forest of lodgepole pines toward the north ridge of Cathedral Peak. Soon we were scrambling up a slope consisting of sand and brush just north of the great southeast buttress of Cathedral Peak. The view of the peak was quite impressive. Several rock-climbing parties were already on the buttress or just about to start on that famous grade II, 5.5 route. We SPS "wimps", however, went to the top of the north ridge, enjoyed a rest, then descended the west side of the notch a bit before moving south over class 3 slabs toward the ridge between Eichorn Pinnacle and the main summit. More class 3 slabs led to near the summit block. Larry Tidball climbed the block while being belayed from below by his wife Barbee, but did not place any pro. After putting an anchor on the summit block, he spend the next three hours patiently belaying everyone up and down. Since it seems difficult to imagine that more than five people would fit on the very top (although in the old days about ten SPSers have been on top at the same time), the climbs were done in a rotating fashion, so that no more than three or four people were on top at a given time. To climb the summit block, one traverses out onto the south face of the summit block for a few feet and then climbs a 15-foot vertical class 4 crack to the top. Down-climbing this crack is actually easier than up (at least for the author of this report). After three hours, everyone had been on top, signed the register placed there just weeks before by Tina Stough), and down-climbed back to the base of the summit block. A quick hike out had us at the cars by 3:30 pm, early enough to make it back to LA without too many adverse effects regarding going to work the next day.
The weather was wonderful, no clouds, little wind (unlike the previous day), just a little chilly while waiting at the summit block for hours. Many thanks are due to the leaders Larry and Barbee Tidball who managed to get every participant up to the very top. The lucky participants were: Mario Gonzales, Heidi Zimmer, John Dodds, Keith Martin, Bob Bruley, Bob Wyka, Ellen Miller, Jim Fujimoto, Ali Aminian, John Cheslick, Hal Browder, Howard Williams, Xin Gong, and Matthias Sellke.
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