If you’re a climber, and you’re not familiar with Yosemite’s El Capitan, you’ve been out the loop for quite some time. The tallest face on El Capitan is 3,000 feet, and if you use the metric system that equates to 900 meters. The history of El Capitan, also known by many as “El Cap,” is one that is rich in history, and shows the evolution of climbing (and illegal BASE jumping) in a heart-warming, and horometrical way.

The Start

In 1958 the ascent was made by Warren Harding. Harding, along with Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore took 47 days to get to the top. The flaw about this ascent was that the trio did not do this in one straight shot. Throughout the climb they would ascend and descend so that would not have to camp on the side of the face for 47 days straight. The name of the ascent that the group when on is better known to the rock climbing community as the “Nose.”

After the news was broken to the world that Harding and his companions had climbed the nose and made it to the top, arch-rival Royal Robbins took this to heart. Robbins a strategic planner, and tactful thinker was down right furious that the drunk, lackadaisical Warren Harding had cheated the system and was still getting tons of credit. In response to this Robbins, Tom Frost, Chuck Pratt, and Joe Fitschen decided they were going to make the climb without descending.

Once Royal and his team set out to do this, they indeed accomplished it. In seven days the foursome made history by being the first people to climb the nose without descending. This accomplishment opened up the floodgates for serious expansion in the world of rock climbing.

New Routes

The climbing of the “Nose” showed the world of rock climbing that there was more to be discovered than we think. Between the 1960s and 1970s routes such as the Salathe Wall and the North America Wall was discovered. Following these discoveries; the Dawn Wall and the Wall of the Early Morning Light were discovered.

Presently today El Capitan has a long list of climbs that total above 70. People have done these climbs with fix ropes, free climbing, and solo climbing.

Solo Climbing

Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of Patagonia, was the first person to complete a solo climb of El Capitan. He was able to complete this grueling task in 10 days in the year of 1968. The route in which Yvon did this is known as the Muir Wall. Following this climb it had inspired many others to do solo routes on El Capitan. One of those who was very inspired was Beverly Johnson. She decided that she wanted to climb the Dihedral Wall route in 1978. After her completion of this she became known as the first women to do a solo ascent, and of course the first women to solo ascent El Cap. Solo climbing is also seen as something that is extremely taxing on the brain becasue you are all alone, and have to do all the thinking for yourself. A great way to relax at night when camped out on the side of El Cap is to smoke a cigar. A great cigar to smoke would be one that you can customize yourself. This can easily be done by Custom Tobacco, which is a company that allows you to customize the band, blend, and wrapper.

Solo Climbing El Cap

Free Climbing. It is arguably the most intense form of physical activity on the planet. It is a form of rock climbing that ignites all your adrenaline for the full duration of your climb. Free climbing is when you’re all by yourself, no ropes, and  just a bag of chalk. One wrong move and your life is over. This is the most extreme form of climbing there is. The first time anyone has ever attempted to free solo El Capitan was June 3rd 2017 by no other than the prolific rock climber, Alex Hanold. Hanold free soloed El Capitan in a whopping three hours and fifty-six minutes. Hanold is extremely familiar with the dimensions of El Cap.

He is becasue he also has the speed climbing record for it when he climbed it in two hours, twenty-three minutes, and forty-six seconds. Hanold has a true passion for rock climbing, and has been set on being a professional rock climber since is days in college. Hanold dropped out of UC Berkeley at the age of nineteen, who was originally pursuing a degree in engineering, to become a full-time rock climber. It has worked out well for him to say the least, he won the “Golden Piton” award in 2010, and has numerous sponsors from some of the most notable climbing and outdoor companies in the world.

When Hanold completed his mind-boggling free solo ascent it was on the Freerider Line. This was an accomplishment that shocked the world, and also gave a handful of goosebumps to the on lookers along the way.

Rock Climbing Today

The rock climbing world is one that is ever changing, and will continue to evolve to more extreme and “I don’t think that is possible” routes. Starting with the days of Warren Harding and Royal Robbins strategically planning out routes on El Cap all the way to Alex Hanold Free soloing one of the scariest and grueling routes in the world has shown how far we have come in the rock climbing world. In a few decades who knows where our rock climbing extravaganzas will take us, but what we do know, is that it will be up.





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