One of the gargantuan icons of Yosemite National Park, El Capitan is a towering hunk of granite glory that is coveted by climbers around the world. As we passed by the giant on our way into the valley each morning, Niko gawked at El Cap with an open mouth and glistening eyes – it’s his ultimate dream to climb the beast. Personally, a 3-day climb up a 3,000 foot face of granite does not sound like the recipe for making me a happy camper, but it’s impossible not to respect the daredevils who ascend El Capitan.
On our way out of the park one day, Niko and I stopped near El Capitan to get a closer look at his dream. As we trekked along the trail that led towards the base of the monolith, we came upon an older couple who were peering up the giant wall through binoculars — it could only mean one thing: climbers. Barely able to make out the tiny specks with my naked eye, I used my camera zoom to focus in on the two figures perched high above the tree line. Check out the photo above: those red and gray dots to the right of the tree are two climbers on their way up El Cap’s tormenting face. Wow.
Niko convinced me to veer off the beaten path and journey through the thickets down a rugged little trail frequented by climbers. It led us past fallen trees and scurrying quails before introducing us to the granite monolith that Niko had always dreamed of touching.
We were fortunate enough to have made this pitstop while a group of men were beginning their adventure up The Nose, the infamous route that Alex Honnold soloed in less than six hours. (Check out an awesome video of Honnold on The Nose here!)
For mortal climbers, it typically takes around three days to complete the ascent of The Nose. That means roughing out the valley’s spontaneous afternoon storms while dangling thousands of feet in the air, sleeping on portaledges, and hauling up days’ worth of food and water during your climb. Crazy, right?
El Capitan is a truly impressive rock formation renown for its classic fame throughout the climbing community and beyond. Any trip to Yosemite National Park would be incomplete without a making a stop to take in the glory of this beautiful granite giant.