Cathedral Peak (California)

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Cathedral Peak
File-Yosemite 58 bg 090504.jpg
Cathedral Peak
Elevation 10,916 ft (3,327 m) NAVD 88[1]
Prominence 919 ft (280 m)[1]
Listing SPS Mountaineers peak[2]
Location Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.
Range Cathedral Range, Sierra Nevada
Coordinates 37°50′52″N 119°24′20″W / 37.8477028°N 119.4054357°W / 37.8477028; -119.4054357Coordinates: 37°50′52″N 119°24′20″W / 37.8477028°N 119.4054357°W / 37.8477028; -119.4054357[3]
Topo map USGS Tenaya Lake
Type Granite arête
Age of rock Cretaceous
First ascent 1869 by John Muir[4]
Easiest route Rock climb class 4[2]

Cathedral Peak is part of the Cathedral Range, a mountain range in the south-central portion of Yosemite National Park in eastern Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties. The range is an offshoot of the Sierra Nevada. The peak which lends its name to the range derives its name from its cathedral-shaped peak, which was formed by glacial activity: the peak remained uneroded above the glaciers in the Pleistocene.


The west peak of Cathedral Peak (shown foreshortened in the photograph) is unofficially known as Eichorn Pinnacle, for Jules Eichorn, who first ascended a class 5.4 route to its summit on July 24, 1931 with Glen Dawson.

In 1869, John Muir wrote in My first summer in the Sierra:

The body of the Cathedral is nearly square, and the roof slopes are wonderfully regular and symmetrical, the ridge trending northeast and southwest. This direction has apparently been determined by structure joints in the granite. The gable on the northeast end is magnificent in size and simplicity, and at its base there is a big snow-bank protected by the shadow of the building. The front is adorned with many pinnacles and a tall spire of curious workmanship. Here too the joints in the rock are seen to have played an important part in determining their forms and size and general arrangement. The Cathedral is said to be about eleven thousand feet above the sea, but the height of the building itself above the level of the ridge it stands on is about fifteen hundred feet. A mile or so to the westward there is a handsome lake, and the glacier-polished granite about it is shining so brightly it is not easy in some places to trace Front of Cathedral Peak the line between the rock and water, both shining alike.[5]
Cathedral Peak, with Eichorn Pinnacle in the foreground.
Cathedral Peak, looking southwest across Tuolumne Meadows.


The Cathedral Peak Granodiorite of Cathedral Peak is an intrusion into an area of older intrusive (or plutonic) and metamorphic rock in the Sierra Nevada Batholith. It is part of a grouping of intrusions called the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite. Cathedral Peak is the youngest of the rock formations in the Suite, dating to Cretaceous Period at 83 million years ago. Its composition is mainly granodiorite with phenocrysts of microcline.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Cathedral Peak, California". Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Sierra Peaks Section List". Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
  3. ^ "Cathedral Peak". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  4. ^ Farquhar, Francis P. (1926). Place Names of the High Sierra. San Francisco: Sierra Club. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  5. ^ Muir, John (1911). My first summer in the Sierra. Sierra Club Books. OCLC 319448481. 
  6. ^ Wahrhaftig, Clyde (2000). "Geologic Map of the Tower Peak Quadrangle, Central Sierra Nevada, California". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 

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