Home/Mountaineering/Yosemite Rock information

Zodiac VI, 5.8 A3: beta

By Bradley R. Carlile, updated by Tuan and Evan Bigall


"Great climb", "It's steep", "No crux to prepare for - it's consistent", "Memorable pitches", "Haulings not bad due to slight continuous overhang", "There will be enough suffering...".

The route is enjoyable. It is consistently steep (slighly overhanging) with many traverses and a couple of wild spots. The climbing offers a lot of variety, from wide cracks to thin seams, and all the techniques (free, hooks, clean gear, nailing) have to be used.

The route stays in the shade for most of the morning, and goes in the shade relatively soon in the afternoon.

There might be a crowd on this route, which I heard is the second most popular after the Nose. Be ready to wait in line and deal with lots of people/haulbags at belays.


Following the base of El Cap is a good trail. 1 hour from the El Cap Meadows with a load. I am not sure whether the Zodiac gully is faster or not. The base of the climb is rather rocky, but there are some bivy spots in the forest at the base of Tangerine Trip.

Pitch Summary

Now at least two bomber bolts at all belays [EB]
  1. bomber hook to first bolt, Leeper nice top of pitch. Sawed off angles good too.
  2. aid under roof (don't space to far apart otherwise hard to clean) to free moves. Might be expending. One rope length to ground from anchor. haul from here.
  3. nice pitch (look for bat hooks - cuts down on nailing). It is one rope length to pitch 2, so you can fix two to the ground.
  4. Some loose stuff at the top, also hook move at top, need some large a friends at top (#2.0-#3.0). Hanging bivy possible here.
  5. 5.8 traversing moves to a arching rivet ladder. back clean entire rivet ladder except the few last pieces (have to do hook moves to reach belay) and join pitches 5&6, one rope length if backclean. Ledge bivy here.
  6. should join with 5.
  7. gets thin after black tower. some fixed rurps have broken slings. Not that much fixed gear. Goes clean with 2.5 sets of HB Brass Offsets. "ledge for one" here.
  8. traverses to left, watch rope drag. Goes vertical at the Great Circle (also called Grey Circle or Zodiac). Rivets to anchor. Blown rivet as of 10/18/97. The route gets steep here - slight overhang till p14. Hanging bivy here.
  9. nice pitch, lots angles and aliens. Leeper cam hook very useful. Lots of fixed gear. Hanging bivy here.
  10. Nipple pitch, lots of aliens and small pins. #3 friend, #4 friend, and #4 camalot needed to get to the bolt at the nipple, near the middle of the pitch. hanging bivy here.
  11. Mark of Zorro. wild. may need some copperheads on upper part. There is a bivy ledge on the left near the end of the pitch, don't be fooled, it is not the belay. Reachy. Maybe best for a tall person.
  12. need large friends for the middle of the pitch. Hooking traverse left before the belay and then up. Watch for rope drag since the pitch has traverses. Sharp edges might have to be taped. hanging bivy here. [ Not sure how this is supposed to go. We hooked left to a bomber belay at the base of the rivet ladder. This was hard, but went. Seems like there is another belay at a ledge off right, but this can be skipped. Avoiding a dicey traverse to the rivet ladder? EB ]
  13. back clean entire traverse left and back right at the start. Peanut ledge here, narrow, but sleeps two (no porta ledges required)
  14. #4 friend walk (use 2 #4 friends and leapfrog - or can use the #4 camalot in addition to always have two pieces in), protected with rivets bolts every 4-5 placements. You want to tape or pad sharp edge at the top for hauling and for the fixed rope. hanging bivy on a sloping slab.
  15. hook traverse left to vertical(slightly right traversing) crack, watch out there is a oven-door size loose flake directly above belayer when the next left traversing hooks moves are started. Bomber chouinard hooks and fish hook moves. Climb a short (30') vertical broken-up section and then look down and to the right for the anchor. It's almost straight above the last anchor. We've seen a lot of people wander all over the place on this pitch. small ledge.
  16. short pitch to the top 80', get under overhanging boulder and traverse to the right to find the anchor rivets and bolts at the top. Watch old copperheads -try to equalize them. Might want to send on lead the lightest climber.
Cruxes: p1, p3, p7, p9, p10, p11,

Gear summary

The route doesn't require much nailing (much less than The Shield, for instance). As of 6/96, it can probably be done clean using fixed gear with a very long cheater stick and a potential for long falls on sketchy placements. It is however very nice to have a pin rack. We have used about 15 to 20 pin placements, from Birdbeaks to saw-off angles. [as of 10/97, Not too hard to do it clean. EB].
First version: Brad Carlile, Brian Baker, 6/94
First update: Quang-Tuan Luong, 6/96
Second update: Evan Bigall, 10/97

View or add comments

Home/ Mountaineering/ Yosemite Rock information