5 secret Yosemite climbing routes

World famous free-climber Alex Honnold reveals five routes where you'll have this venerable park pretty much to yourself

8 mins

You won't find any truly hidden spots to climb in Yosemite. It's all fairly open and on any given day you'll find other climbers trying their hand. But there are a few obscure routes, known only to a few, where you can feel like you're all alone in this famous national park...

Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins (Shutterstock.com)Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins (Shutterstock.com)

1. South Face of Mt Watkins

Even though it looms over the eastern end of the Valley – and appears in so many photos – people rarely venture up to climb Watkins. It feels more exciting than routes in the Valley floor and is well worth seeking out. Deep in Tenaya Canyon, there are no cars, buses or tourists here! More information

Cloud’s Rest viewed from Glacier Point (Shutterstock.com)Cloud’s Rest viewed from Glacier Point (Shutterstock.com)

2. Cloud's Rest

Any of the wandering routes up the main face are pretty amazing. Cloud's Rest is one of the biggest granite monoliths in North America, so it always feels like quite the journey.

While there are higher peaks in the park, the proximity of the valley ensures you get stunning views in every direction. More information

Upper and Lower Yosemite Fall (Shutterstock.com)Upper and Lower Yosemite Fall (Shutterstock.com)

3. Sierra Point

It's only a hike to get up to this abandoned lookout point, but it makes for a great rest day. You can see four different waterfalls from one place: Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Yosemite Falls and Illilouette Fall.

The trail used to be quite popular, but was closed after a rock slide in the 1970s. Parts of it are still missing, but it is still possible to reach the lookout point. More information

View of Cathedral Rock from Lower Cathedral Lake (Shutterstock.com)View of Cathedral Rock from Lower Cathedral Lake (Shutterstock.com)

4. Beggar's Buttress

This is a great route on Lower Cathedral Rock, but for some reason hardly anyone ever climbs it. Granted, it's not quite as good as some of the popular routes around it. But it's still a challenging climb. More information

Liberty Cap, Yosemite (Shutterstock.com)Liberty Cap, Yosemite (Shutterstock.com)

5. Matah

You'll know Liberty Cap. It's the striking granite dome just north of Nevada Fall on the John Muir Trail. It's fun to climb a formation that hardly anyone ever climbs. And watching the lines of tourists of the Mist Trail below you just adds to the fun. More information

Alone on the Wall – Alex HonnoldAlex Honnold's new book, Alone On The Wall, recounts seven of his most extraordinary climbing achievements so far,  including Yosemite's famous Half Dome. You can order your copy on Amazon now.

Main image: Light hitting Vernal Falls (Shutterstock.com)

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