Dana Plateau Third Pillar

Lee Vining, California

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The Third Pillar offers one of the finest alpine rock climbs anywhere and is one of the most popular backcountry routes in the Sierra. In fact, many climbers visiting the Sierra choose this as their only backcountry route. The rock is excellent, and the climbing is fun and varied. Local guide Robert “SP” Parker has climbed all over the world and believes that the Third Pillar compares to the best climbs in the Alps, the Rockies, and the Bugaboos. Sitting on a narrow belay ledge high on the route and looking past your feet nearly a thousand feet straight down the face to the talus, it’s hard to imagine a more spectacular location. Although the route is not extremely difficult, there are no easy pitches either. Also, routefinding can be an issue on the lower reaches; although as the face narrows high on the climb, there is no such problem. Each pitch is interesting, and you will use every climbing technique imaginable on the route. At the base, the route combines fine hand cracks, interesting face moves, and a nice off-width for good measure. Higher up, the climb disappears behind a huge flake before tackling thin face moves and splitter cracks on the steep upper prow.

Dana Plateau: Third Pillar Professional Review and Guide

"The Third Pillar offers one of the finest alpine rock climbs anywhere and is one of the most popular backcountry routes in the Sierra. In fact, many climbers visiting the Sierra choose this as their only backcountry route. The rock is excellent, and the climbing is fun and varied. Local guide Robert “SP” Parker has climbed all over the world and believes that the Third Pillar compares to the best climbs in the Alps, the Rockies, and the Bugaboos. Sitting on a narrow belay ledge high on the route and looking past your feet nearly a thousand feet straight down the face to the talus, it’s hard to imagine a more spectacular location. Although the route is not extremely difficult, there are no easy pitches either. Also, routefinding can be an issue on the lower reaches; although as the face narrows high on the climb, there is no such problem. Each pitch is interesting, and you will use every climbing technique imaginable on the route. At the base, the route combines fine hand cracks, interesting face moves, and a nice off-width for good measure. Higher up, the climb disappears behind a huge flake before tackling thin face moves and splitter cracks on the steep upper prow."

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Lee Vining
Class: Class 5.9 and above
Local Contacts: John Muir Wilderness
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Dana
Grade: Grade III
Driving Directions: Directions to Dana Plateau: Third Pillar

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May 2018