Revealing Routes on El Cap

Time Line

1851: White men enter Yosemite Valley for the first time. The huge white monolith at the entrance to the valley impresses everyone — and is quickly named El Capitan, Spanish for The Captain.

1953: The easternmost edge of El Cap sees its first climbers; Allen Steck and comrades climb the East Buttress in three days.

1958: Warren Harding and others finish the monolith's first big-wall route, the Nose. This epic adventure takes 47 days over a period of 18 months.

1961: The Salathi Wall, soon to be called the world's finest rock climb, is done by Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, and Tom Frost.

1964: The awesome southeast face is climbed for the first time; Royal Robbins, Tom Frost, Chuck Pratt, and Yvon Chouinard call their creation the North America Wall.

1965: Yvon Chouinard and TM Herbert climb the Muir Wall, the first time a rope of two does a new route on El Cap.

1968: The British arrive! Mick Burke and Rob Wood climb the Nose, making the 18th ascent and the first British one. Later in the year, Royal Robbins solos the Muir Wall; this, the first solo ascent of the monolith, is his eighth trip up El Cap in eight years.

1970: The Dawn Wall, just right of the Nose, is climbed in controversial style (330 bolts) by Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell in a single 27-day push.

1971: Joanna Marte becomes the first woman to climb El Cap; she is guided up the Nose by Royal Robbins.

1972: Jim Dunn climbs Cosmos alone, the first time a solo new route on El Cap is accomplished. Another young climber, Charlie Porter, climbs three new routes on El Cap this year.

1973: The first all-female ascent of El Cap is made by Bev Johnson and Sibylle Hechtel; they climb the Triple Direct.

1975: The Nose is climbed for the first time in a single day by Jim Bridwell, John Long, and Billy Westbay.

1978: Bev Johnson climbs the Dihedral Wall in 10 days, becoming the first woman to solo an El Cap route. Jim Bridwell, Dale Bard, and Dave Diegelman establish Sea of Dreams, a route with 16 A4 and A5 pitches.

1984: Wyoming Sheep Ranch, the first El Cap route with super-extreme aid climbing (A5+) is put up by Rob Slater and John Barbella.

1988: Todd Skinner and Paul Piana climb the Salathi Wall free at 5.13b.

1989: Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, follows Mike Corbett up the Nose, forever putting to rest the idea that "handicapped" people can't aspire to their dreams.

1990: Two El Cap routes are done in a single day. Peter Croft and Dave Schultz do the Salathi and the Nose in 18 hours.

1993: Lynn Hill accomplishes the first free climb of the Nose with partner Brooke Sandahl.

1994: Steve Schneider and Hans Florine do three El Cap routes in 23 hours: the Nose, Lurking Fear, and the West Face.

1996: Steve Gerberding makes his 80th trip up El Cap.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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