Cardinal Pinnacle sits above Hwy 168, about 15 miles west of Bishop, CA, above the community of Aspendell (which consists of a few dozen houses and a lodge/restaurant). Just above Aspendell you’ll see the pinnacle looming above the road; park at turnouts on either side of the road and hike towards the lower left corner of the rock. The approach is a 20 minute slog up steep talus… a great warm-up! The West Face route begins at the base of a 20-foot-high trapezoidal block with cracks on both sides. You can start up either side of the block; the crack on the right is a little easier and most people go that way.
Summit Elevation: 9,700′
Length of Route: 500′
Difficulty Grade: 5.10a
Bishop itself is hotter than Mars in summer, but once you’ve driven up to 9,000′ it’s a different story. Summer is prime time for this route, but Cardinal Pinnacle can also be nice in fall and spring, especially on a sunny afternoon. The first pitch and most of the second pitch face north and can be cold; pitches three and four face west and get lots of afternoon sun.
Cucumbers starts to the right of the West Face and joins it for the last two pitches. It comes into the sun a little sooner, a good option on a cold day or if there’s a traffic jam at the start of the West Face.
Crack Kingdom is a popular link-up that shares the first pitch of the West Face then cuts left to climb a .10b flare (part of Crack of No Hope), then cuts left again to finish with two pitches of splitter finger cracks (.10c, part of another route called Wild Kingdom).
The most complete guidebook is Bishop Area Rock Climbs, by Peter Croft and Marty Lewis, which includes all of the routes mentioned in this write-up. The Good, The Great, and The Awesome, by Peter Croft, includes the West Face and Crack Kingdom. Supertopo: High Sierra Climbing, by Chris McNamara and McKenzie Long, offers excellent info for the West Face route but does not include any of the others.
Photos! I don’t know how many times I’ve climbed the West Face, but I’m always happy to do it again. Here are photos from three of those ascents: