Revealing Routes on El Cap
It's hardly surprising that the first white men to enter California's Yosemite Valley, in 1851, found their tongues tied. Enormous, sheer, white cliffs flanked the canyon, and impossibly high waterfalls plunged into the idyllic forest below. What to say, aside from the usual platitudes? Twenty years later, J. H. Beadle, a travel writer, also struggled as he attempted to portray the scene:"No description has ever been written. None can be written on this earth. A man must die and learn the language of angels before he can describe Yosemite."
Tourists and climbers alike are immediately struck by the enormous granite monolith that guards the portal of the canyon. The 1851 group, knowing that local Indians called it the Rock Chief, gave it an equally apt name, El Capitan, Spanish for "The Captain." Only tourists use its full Spanish name now: climbers have two other names, El Cap and the Captain.
About 900 meters (3,000 feet) high and 1,600 meters (one mile) wide, the huge cliff is said to be the largest chunk of exposed granite on earth. Since the rock is incredibly solid and Yosemite's weather is often superb, climbers from all over the world flock to this splendid formation to test their mettle.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication