Free climb of El Capitan

8:18 p.m. on January 14, 2015 (EST)
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First climbed in 1958, El Capitan is a world-renowned destination, beckoning thousands since that first ascent. Those first climbers needed 47 days (over 18 months) to complete their goal. These days, the fastest climbers can ascend it in less than 2.5 hours! Today, two climbers reached the summit via what may be the most difficult rock climbing route in the world, and they didn’t use gear to aid in their ascent (they had ropes for safety, but they didn't use the ropes to aid in climbing). Cheers to them!‪#‎DawnWall‬ Photo by Al Golub


It say's above: Those first climbers needed 47 days (over 18 months) to complete their goal.  Is this a misprint or did it take them 47 days split up over 18 months to complete the climb?

3:21 a.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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Gary, that appears to be correct. Wikipedia has a history of climbing El Capitan that lists a lot of the first ascents and that's what it says. What is amazing is how much shorter the times got doing these climbs. This latest climb is just ridiculous how difficult it is. Unbelievable that anyone could do what they did.

I recognize a lot of the names in the Wikipedia entry. These people are so far beyond what a normal person is capable of doing, they make even really amazing sporting accomplishments seem mundane.

9:31 a.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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So its kind of like someone who hikes the AT and only does it a couple weeks a year and takes their whole life to complete the entire trail?

2:46 p.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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Nope--it's like somebody doing the AT with no hands on a pogo stick..and having to start each section again if he falls.

4:00 p.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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But they didn't stay on El Cap for 18 months straight right? 

6:18 p.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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GaryPalmer said:

But they didn't stay on El Cap for 18 months straight right? 

 Gary, that is correct. It took 47 climbing days, spread over 18 months. In part, this had to do with supplies, and some to do with developing new methods, techniques, and gear. For example, In the early part, everyone descended every day to sleep on the ground. As the climb moved higher, they sought out ledges, then sometimes slept hanging in their etriers. Eventually hammocks were used (I still have my bivy hammock for walls - ultralighters would love it at only 5 ounces, though not very comfortable). One thing not noted on the Wikipedia page is that the climbing team included a number of people who did only parts of the route. Warren Harding spearheaded the effort and did the whole route.

And there were all sort of climbing ethics discussions regarding use and placement of gear, removal of gear, placing bolts, and so on.

In the 1960s when I was doing most of my own Yosemite climbing, there was a lot of competition and politicking involved. Some people would not climb with certain other people. But most of the early climbers eventually became good friends. These days, things are a lot more friendly, though tremendously competitive still.

6:58 p.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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That first ascent also left ropes behind to get to where they left off.  They did a lot of false starts as Bill S  mentions.  It is a massive puzzle when all you can see is what is in front of your face for the most part.  With out any 'hands on' history, it was a worthy effort.  There was a lot of barking from 'purists' that they hadn't 'really' climbed it considering they came back down to take 'vacations' in between pitches.
After awhile that route they laid out took a LOAD of commuting to get to work to put anther pitch in.

These current gents had their hands full.  Consider that one pitch over 7 days and a dozen falls. That takes more determination than a team of people can muster.

One climber said that climb was akin to skinning up a window - about as many good holds.

8:17 p.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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Certainly a significant effort by a couple of very gifted climbers. Those early climbs were also responsible for development of a lot of gear and techniques. Bat Hooks and the like. Batso Harding and others were also noted for their consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and women, not exactly the athletes of today. In reference to the other thread about old gear, I still have some stuff that Harding developed, as well as Chouinard Lost Arrows, a hammer and things like that. My RR's got given to Goodwill many years ago.

10:45 p.m. on January 15, 2015 (EST)
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Thanks for all the history----I love hearing how climbing in yosemite developed...

and this is from someone who is not a climber and not near the park....

theres a film recently released called valley uprising that shows a lot of the history of climbing in the valley.......

1:25 a.m. on January 16, 2015 (EST)
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Bill S, I met Warren Harding by accident in Yosemite valley in 1980. I had been using a bicycle I found by a tree in Curry Village that had been there all winter and dug it out of the snow. I was riding it and had it next to my tent in Camp 4 and one day he saw me and asked how come I was riding his bike. I told him I had found it buried in the snow and thought a tourist had abandoned it the past summer. He told me it was his but I could still use it . I was 24 year old in 1980 and he was what seemed to me a old man, but he explained to me he had soloed El Cap which impressed me. Among all the climbers he was one of a few that was nice to me, a kid winter backpacking in Yosemite.

I just looked him up and see he would have been 55 in 1980 when I knew him. I winter camped there Jan-May after returning from Alaska where I had lived 2 1/4 years.  So I guess in a way he was an old man, though I was 55 just 4 years ago myself now.

I knew a lot of the other climbers in Yosemite that late winter 1980. But most were arrogant  and had little to do with me a young naive hiker.  Warren took me to the top of El Cal along a route up a side canyon and showed me the top of the cliff. He was a very nice guy!

2:46 a.m. on January 16, 2015 (EST)
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Great story Gary. I've read a little bit about the early days of climbing in Yosemite, but you met one of the legends. Thanks for posting it.

1:20 p.m. on January 16, 2015 (EST)
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Valley Uprising has finally been released for download by Sender films. I paid for a legit copy a few months ago and its taken them this long to get it out, although they did offer me a DVD option a while back. Great stories, photos, and footage about Yosemite legends, including Robbins, Harding, Bridwell, Bachar, and Jet Weed, as well as some of the more recent greats, including Caldwell. Wish they would just pit it and other Reel Rock films up for rental on iTunes or elsewhere -- I like to watch these but don't really need to own them ($25 with the extras).

2:31 a.m. on January 18, 2015 (EST)
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Just found this on Youtube

Published on Jan 15, 2015

Prior to getting on the Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park, the most difficult "big wall" objective in the world, Kevin Jorgeson had a very different climbing focus and style. It all changed when he was approached by Tommy Caldwell to partner up and take on the impossible.

Summiting Yosemite's Dawn Wall, the climbers have made history:

Five reasons this ascent has pushed climbing forward:

February 20, 2020
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