In September Patrick Dougherty and I climbed a great new 800-foot route on the Dana Plateau. The 2011 AAJ reported a route called Butterflies and Rainbows (1,000', IV 5.10+, Brown-Finkelstein), which motivated me to have a look. From research and a call to my friend Tom Carter, I learned that Tuolumne climbers of the 1970s gave the name Bastille to the formation east of the Third Pillar, They had climbed a few routes on the wall, including a group solo up the beautiful red slab left of the wall. Carter is an excellent source of beta on unrecorded climbs in the Yosemite area. His resume includes many first and early ascents of classic routes from El Cap to Fairview Dome. Thirty-eight years after first climbing the Captain, he is still ticking off one or two El Cap routes a year. These motivated climbers left few lines unclimbed.
Patrick and I found one of those unclimbed lines, a prominent arête on the right side of the Bastille. Carter didn’t think the arête had been climbed, so we had to find out for ourselves. Starting early, we approached via the well-worn Third Pillar approach trail and descent gully and continued to the base of the wall. A short walk brought us to the arête. We climbed on-sight and hammerless. After one pitch of interesting face and crack climbing over red and orange rock, the really stellar climbing started. From pitch two to the top, the route follows splitter cracks in impeccable alpine granite, from tips and hands through a chiseled squeeze chimney. Pitch three was a highlight; Patrick led a perfect 1.5" splitter for 80' on a smooth face. Pitch five revealed yet another gem: the natural line led us through a tight squeeze chimney that narrowed to an off width. There are great belay ledges throughout, and the climbing is not difficult as long as you enjoy a wide crack here and there.