Day Climb of Vogelsang Peak's Northeast Buttress Route

Morgan Brown

Glacier NP
New Mexico
New Zealand
Sequoia/Kings Canyon
Bloody Canyon
Cathedral Lakes
Cathedral Range
Clouds Rest
Mount Conness
Mount Dana
Dunderberg Peak
Glen Aulin
Hetch Hetchy
Koip Peak
Mono Pass
North Dome
Peak 11500'
Ragged Peak
Mount Ritter
Sentinel Dome
Smith Peak
Stanton Peak
Mount Starr King
Tresidder Peak
Yos. Valley
Vogelsang Peak
Yos. Falls
Yosemite Falls 2
Virgin Islands
Kim & Morgan
Mom & Dad

Books that Morgan

The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails
By R.J. Secor. The High Sierra hiking/climbing guidebook. Amazingly exhaustive. An indispensible trip planning aid.

On September 14, 2003, Kim and I climbed Vogelsang Peak via a "new" route: the Northeast Buttress. Certainly the route has been climbed. Still, I could find no description anywhere in the literature. This surprised me, since the peak has recognized 5.9+ routes on the west face, and is probably climbed a thousand times a year via the indistinct standard East Face route. Also surprising because the Northeast Buttress is a striking sight as it sweeps up from Vogelsang Lake, steepening and narrowing as it gains the blocky and intimidating North Ridge.

Although it looked steep, I guessed that the Northeast Buttress would ultimately prove an exciting, though only class 3 climbing endeavor. My bigger initial fear was that the North Ridge would prove the bigger challenge. Had I bothered to read Secor's description of the 5.9 Nightingale Arete route, I would have found out that the ridge is "class 2-3".

We cruised up the trail from the Vogelsang High Sierra camp and quickly came to the point where we'd leave the trail to begin the climb. We hadn't decided beforehand which route we'd take. To encourage Kim, I remarked (as I had done countless times before) on the aesthetically pleasing nature of the Northeast Buttress and how fun it looked to climb. She sounded unimpressed at this prospect, so I continued on, figuring that we'd do the standard route. After thirty seconds, I turned around to see Kim standing there, staring up at the route. Aha! My goading had worked! After a few harsh words, we climbed diagonally to the base of the climb, where slabs give way to loose-looking (but quite solid) boulders and talus.

After 150 feet of class 3 scrambling and avoiding scrub pines, the route steepens and narrows until it gains the North Ridge. For most of the remaining 250 feet, class 3 routes can be found over the steep-but-fractured granite blocks. However, at least two class 4 sections are unavoidable if one is to stay on the buttress. Near the top of the buttress, just before gaining the North Ridge, you can a) climb fifth class rock directly or b) edge out onto the west face for a few highly exposed class 3 moves. Once onto the North Ridge, the climbing is initially exposed class 3 bouldering with exposure, but quickly lessens to a walk-up all the way to the summit.

Although we tend not to enjoy forging up unknown class 4 routes without a rope, the exceptionally solid rock (light granite with large feldspar crystals) gave us faith that everything would work out. Upon gaining the North Ridge, I felt great relief that the ridge was far wider than it appeared on the topo map. Aside from some exhiliarating walking over an exposed catwalk, the half mile to the true summit was simply a sandy hike. We high-fived our achievement (and safety) and took in the wonderful views and nice weather from the summit, then descended the tedious standard route before packing up our camp at Fletcher Lake and heading home for the weekend.

Click on small images to start "slide show"
vp00-vogelsang-NE-buttress.JPG (66 KB)

Topo map showing ascent path o...
vp02a-vogelsang-zoom.jpg (173 KB)

Annotated map of Vogelsang Pea...
vp13-vogelsang-pano.jpg (487 KB)

Panoramic view of Vogelsang Pe...
vp13a-northwest-buttress.jpg (234 KB)

Class 3 boulders near the base...
vp14-vogelsang-lake-fletcher-pano.jpg (386 KB)

Panoramic view of Fletcher Pea...
vp14a-kim-on-route.jpg (273 KB)

Kim after climbing steep boul...
vp14b-kim-on-route.jpg (242 KB)

Kim scrambling up class 3 terr...
vp15-vogelsang-lake-fletcher-pano.jpg (545 KB)

Panoramic view of Fletcher Pea...
vp15b-class-4.jpg (200 KB)

Typical class 4 terrain on upp...
vp16-summit-east-pano.jpg (413 KB)

Panoramic view to the east fro...
vp16a-kim-summit.jpg (217 KB)

Kim and view from Vogelsang Pe...
vp16b-morgan-summit.jpg (161 KB)

Morgan on Vogelsang PEak's sum...
vp17-summit-east-pano.jpg (399 KB)

Panoramic view to the east and...
vp17a-half-dome.jpg (151 KB)

Half Dome from the summit of V...
vp18-vogelsang-west-ridge-pano.jpg (420 KB)

Panorama to the northeast from...
vp19-vogelsang-west-ridge.jpg (468 KB)

Panoramic view of Vogelsang Pe...
vp20-glacial-striations-pano.jpg (450 KB)

A fantastic example of glacial...
vp21-feldspar-crystals.jpg (324 KB)

Large feldspar crystals in Vog...

© 2006 , Stanford Exploration Project
Department of Geophysics
Stanford University

Modified: 05/07/06, 19:23:37 PDT , by morgan
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