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Beginner: Shorter Climbs(easier to harder)

29 South Face, Washington Column South Face V 5.8 C1 11 pitches

262 The only truly novice bigwall in the Valley, the South Face is incredible. Thin, stopper-eating splitter cracks, only a few of which need to be aided if you can freeclimb 5.10a, abound. South Face is like a favorite book that you can read over and over. The last pitch is a loose gully from which pebbles and small stones can shower down at any time, so wear your helmet even while resting on Dinner Ledge if there are people climbing above).

 

*Plan: Most folks spend a day getting to the climb and climbing to Dinner ledge. If doing South Face in two days you will need to fix one or two pitches off Dinner Ledge. If time allows it can be much more enjoyable to give yourself an extra day for fixing off Dinner Ledge and enjoying the views.

 

*Ledge: Dinner ledge, which has two tiers, is a palace for 6-8, squeezable to 12+.

 

*Descent: Rapping the route has become popular, but is not the best option when there are crowds. It is often very windy in the afternoon which makes rapping difficult. The nice thing about rapping the route is you can leave your bivy gear on Dinner Ledge and rap back down to it, maybe spending an extra night if you have time. The downside is the summit of the Column is an outrageous fin of rock, with sweeping views back beyond Clouds Rest, the Clarks Range, and down the Valley to El Cap; a true spot to savor. The rap route starts from the top anchor of Skull Queen, and raps back to anchors 10 and 9 on South Face, before leaving the South Face route and rapping straight down using two independent rap stations, before reconnecting with the South Face route for the final two raps to Dinner Ledge.

 

*The Elements: South Face is in the Sun most all day, though it is often windy and much cooler in the afternoon.

45 Skull Queen, Washington Column South Face V 5.8 C2 11 pitches

Skull Queen is more of an aid climber's route, with a little free climbing, compared to the South Face, which is more a free climber's route with a little aiding. The climbing is mostly small cam cracks with an occasional hook or camhook move. Short, not too difficult, Skull Queen is much less classic than the South Face but is the perfect excuse to revisit Dinner Ledge, and to learn the basic aid climbing skills you need for bigwall climbing. The experience of climbing on this gentler side of the Column, and sleeping on Dinner Ledge, is pure Yosemite bigwall magic.

 

*Plan: Most folks make it to Dinner Ledge and settle in their first day. The going is slower on Skull Queen because of more aid climbing than the South Face, so fixing off Dinner the first day is necessary for parties who want to finish the route their second day. Three days allows a relaxed ascent. (beginner parties should just plan on a 3 day ascent as aid climbing is much slower than free climbing at first).

 

*Ledge: Dinner ledge, which has two tiers, is a palace for 6-8, squeezable to 12+. Most folks spend a day getting to the climb and climbing to Dinner ledge hopefully with time to fix a pitch or two. If time allows it can be much more enjoyable to give yourself an extra day for fixing off Dinner Ledge, and enjoying the views.

 

*Descent: Rapping the South Face route(with separte rap stations in sections) has become popular, but is not the best option when there are crowds. It is often very windy in the afternoon which makes rapping difficult. The nice thing about rapping the route is you can leave your bivy gear on Dinner Ledge and rap back down to it, maybe spending an extra night if you have time. The downside is the summit of the Column is an outrageous fin of rock, with sweeping views back beyond Clouds Rest, the Clarks Range, and down the Valley to El Cap; a true spot to savor. The rap route starts from the top anchor of Skull Queen, and raps back to anchors 10 and 9 on South Face, before leaving the South Face route and rapping straight down using two independent rap stations, before reconnecting with the South Face route for the final two raps to Dinner Ledge.

 

*The Elements: Skull Queen is in the Sun most all day, though it is often windy and much cooler in the afternoon.

*The Elements: South Face is in the Sun most all day, and is often very windy in the afternoon.

162 West Face, Leaning Tower V 5.7 C2F or A2 8 pitches

267 Incredibly steep and moderate, with fantastic Awhahnee Ledge 350' up, Leaning Tower is a fun first wall for folks who like their rock steep. For many, the radical overhanging nature and the fact that the route starts off a  3rd class ledge 400' off the ground which adds instant exposure, can be too much for a total wall novice. The cruxes are more awkward, or flaring placements, than super thin. The rack is light because most pitches contain many bolts or fixed pieces, or the cracks take a nice variety of gear. As of 2015, the popularity of free climbing on the route had made aid climbing the pitch to Ahwahnee and the first pitch afterward more challenging as fixed pieces were periodically removed for handholds--no big deal for someone with at least one wall under their belt but sometimes challenging for total beginners.

 

*Plan: There are many equally-viable strategies for climbing the Tower. The good news is the approach trail climbs out a beautifully exposed ledge, which is technically on the mountain and legal to bivy on, so this gives you leeway if you find the going slow at first or run into a lot of other folks. Most parties make it to Ahwahnee Ledge their first day, and spend a long second day getting to the top.

 

*Approach: The trail which starts from the bathrooms at the Bridaveil Falls parking lot can be vague. There is an apartment-sized boulder just behind and toward the Leaning Tower from the bathrooms, so if you head over to that boulder and look for a small trail on its far side and continue up this toward the wall you're on the right track. It is difficult to avoid doing some boulder-hopping on the approach your first time, so break your loads up accordingly or consider taking a hike up to the Tower on a rest day to get the trail dialed. The last 100'  of the 3rd and 4th class ledge to the base of the route definitely feels more like 5.5 with a haul bag. Most parties fix a line for this last section of the approach, from tree to tree, and clip into the line as they shuttle their stuff over to the base of the route.

 

*Ledge: Ahwahnee is a palace for 3, comfy for 4 or 5. While the Tower is radically overhanging rain or snow does hit Ahwahnee enough to require bivy sacs during a storm. Dano Ledge, just below the Summit is an awesome bivy, and there is also a nice flat spot at the top of the Notch, where the rappels enter the gully/chimney.

 

*Descent: From the top of the Tower you rap/rap+downclimb two pitches of low angle slab to the notch above the chimney/gully that splits the Leaning tower and B.O.L.T. walls. From there you can't get lost, rapping down the chimney several times to the ground which comes out a couple hundred feet above where the 4th class approach ledge departs the trail. Depending on the conditions, and how much stuff you're carrrying, it is possible to rap with one rope (with short sections of 4th class(more like canyoneering) downclimbing until the last two rappels.

 

*The Elements: Leaning Tower gets Sun mid-afternoon to sunset. While outrageously steep, water does blow in in places and also run down the mountain so the route is not totally dry in a storm. The descent is very tricky/dangerous in a storm as you must descend low-angle slabs first and then a loose chimney/gully system.

 

108 Gold Wall, Ribbon Fall V 5.9 C2+ 11 pitches

277 Gold Wall/Silent Line climb a single crack system of impeccable golden rock. Nonetheless, if you don't comfortably lead 5.10a/b in the Valley it is tough for a first wall. The first pitches follow flaring cracks that are difficult to aid, and the splitter cracks higher up are pumpy, deep hands. Gold Wall is the perfect first wall for a team of comfortable 5.10 climbers. The hand crack pitches in the middle of the route would be overflowing with climbers if they were closer to the Valley floor. The camping at the base of the wall is beautiful alpine Yosemite(permit required). Bonus: In spring(usually into June) you can get water from nearby Ribbon Creek.

 

*Plan: Most parties hike to the base of the wall and fix a pitch or two their first day, filtering water from Ribbon Creek if it is available, and then spend a long second day climbing to the Summit and rappeling to the base.

 

*Approach: Allow a solid 1.5-2 hrs for the approach, which can be very vague in places and easier to do as a day hike or without much stuff the first time to find the best route. 

 

*Ledge: There is a ledge for one at the top of the 4th pitch of the Gold Wall, which most parties skip by doing the (much more classic)splitter handcrack Silent Line variation, so no real ledges on the route. Hauling would be fine on this route but the approach is so steep and long that most folks fix and blast instead of carrying the portaledge up to the climb.

 

*Descent: Most parties rap the route, though there is separate rappel route to the west of the climb that was commonly used until the mid-2000s when anchor bolts were replaced. Over half of the anchors on the route are now bolted making it the faster/safer descent option. The rappel route to the west does afford you the luxury of scrambling through a lot of Manzanita, and gaining a more true Summit than you are able to climb to if you plan on rapping the route, but the rappel route involves rapping down a long gully with many dubious small bushes as anchors. This rap route is easily found by hiking up and west along the obvious Summit/Ledge system that ends at a bolted anchor. Rap west into the gully from there.

 

 

*The Elements: Gold Wall is in the Sun all day. In Winter/early Spring mist from Ribbon Falls blows around the corner and can make the shady base and first pitch a little damp.

16 Lost Arrow Direct, Yosemite Falls Wall VI 5.8 C2+ 15 pitches

279 Lost Arrow is a moderate, direct line of cool cracks up one of Yosemite's most iconic rocks, complete with awesome bivy ledges. The scenery is top notch too. The cruxes are a couple hook moves, an occasional camhook move or short sections of flaring/loose rock. 5.8 climbers find a fun outing with mostly straightforward aid. 5.10/5.11 climbers can french free nearly all the pitches. LA is also known for gale force winds that crank across the face(even the base) shortly after sunset till sunrise terrorizing anyone who is not in a tent. Good news is the ledges on the wall fit a small two person tent nicely. The Falls is loud in Spring, and mist can blow over on you at night. Most parties time their ascent with friends who are interested in hiking to the top and climbing the Lost Arrow Tip. This affords you an airy tyroleon over to the rim. Walking down the packed Falls Trail with your haulbag and 3-day odors = good times. Otherwise, it is an easy rappel from the summit to the Notch, and straight down a bolted rappel route to the base.

 

 

*Plan: Most parties hike two loads their first day and fix a pitch or two, and bivy at the base. The next day most parties will make the Second Error ledge atop pitch 8, and spend a long third day making it to the Summit. Bring radios as it is difficult to communicate when the Falls is raging.

 


*Approach/Descent: The approach starts up a large talus/boulder field(the now defunk Fern Ledge Trail) behind the Valley Fire Station/NPS stables/Search and Rescue office in Yosemite Village. The Fern Ledge trail ends atop Lower Yosemite Falls and from there you can drop your packs and scramble up, down and around a couple hundred feet to some amazing swmming pools--a good place to recharge and filter water halfway up the approach(when the Falls are raging in the Spring this is not an option) before continuing up obvious ledges/sandy trail to the base of the wall. A fun way to approach Lost Arrow is climbing the Sunnyside Bench Route(5.4), just up and left from Jamcrack. You could take your two ropes and rack and do this start to the approach(20-30min faster than walking around and way more fun), drop off your gear at the base of the wall(or fix a couple pitches) and then descend the trail and hike up all your bivy/wall stuff; or you could climb Sunnyside Bench one day and scope the first half of the approach and check out the waterflow and the amazing pools at the top of Lower Falls and see how feasible it is to get(filterable) water there. However you do it, if you split your loads into two this approach is a lot more enjoyable. Allow 3-5 hrs with a heavy pack.

 

Descend the Yosemite Falls Trail.

 

*Ledge: The ledges on this route are top notch, top shelf, super primo deluxe--as long as you have a small two person tent. The winds are so ferocious at night that bivy sacs are not nearly as much fun as a tent.

 

 

*The Elements: LA is in the Sun all day.

243 Southwest Face, Liberty Cap V 5.8 C2 10 pitches

276 Liberty Cap is a backcountry classic with a busy, grueling approach via the Nevada Falls trail. The cracks are mostly clean and straightforward, and the ledge atop pitch 6 is deluxe for 3 people. Unfortunately the start leans too much to make fixing more than one pitch feasible(your haulbag might get stuck in trees near the base, so you need both your ropes). So best to bring a portaledge and just sleep at pitch 2, 3, or 4.The cruxes tend to be short sections of loose rock and the occasional camhook move. The location is magnificent with nearby Nevada Falls, though communication can be difficult without radios when the falls are roaring(often until Fall).

 

 

*Plan: For a couple solid 5.10 climbers going fast and light, this route is doable in one night. Otherwise, this is a difficult first wall without a portaledge because the first ledge is atop pitch 6 and the approach has some difficulties. Most parties spend a day hiking to the top of Vernal Falls, filtering water, and then getting all their stuff on the route via hauling it from the base of the cliff to the base of the route. Unfortunately, the first pitch traverses and there are some trees on the ledge that like to hang up the haulbags so it is difficult to fix more than one pitch if you only have two ropes: one for jugging and one for hauling (if you only fixed one rope the last person would have to lower themselves off the ledge with the bags and jug the weighted line--certainly not impossible but not a beginner bigwall move, and not recommended in this case because the bags will likely get stuck in the trees). So best to not fix and just bring a portalege and bivy at pitch 2,3, or 4 your first night, and then at the pitch 6 ledge your second night and fix above.

 

 

*Approach: Park at Curry Village and follow the Mist Trail for 1.5 hours until the trail is near the base of Liberty Cap. Look for a faint trail that goes left into the forrest beneath the rock. From there, it is easier to just take your food, ropes and rack around the circuitous 3rd class ledge approach and then rap back down to the ground(fixing your two ropes) and go get water at the river and jug and haul your water and bivy stuff back up to the base of the route.

 

 

*Ledge: There is a decent bivy cave at the base of the route that sleeps 2, and some flat(ish) spots on the 3rd class approach ledge that are legally on the wall. The ledge atop pitch 6 is amazing for 3 or 4. It is not recommended to bivy at the base of the wall(300' below the start of the route), right off the Mist trail, as this is also the shortcut trail for Snake Dike and tends to be patrolled regularly.

 

 

*Descent: An easy trail leads from the summit down the backside to the Half Dome trail. Allow an hour to get back to the base of the rock where the approach trail leaves the Mist Trial, and another 1-1.5 hrs to hike back down to your car.

 

 

*The Elements: Liberty Cap gets Sun mid-morning to late afternoon.

 

Beginner: Longer Climbs(easier to harder)

49 Lurking Fear, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.6 C2+ 19 pitches

285 If Lurking Fear were more in the middle of El Cap, it would be everyone's first El Cap route. Amazing splitter cracks, easy aid, and a decent amount of free climbing at the 5.9/5.10 grade make this an awesome, approachable bigwall adventure. Unfortunately, LF climbs more on the West Face and lacks the views and exposure that most other El Cap routes offer. The cruxes are short sections of flaring cracks that take offset nuts, offset cams, and camhooks.  Great climb, but not nearly as memorable as the Nose or Salathe.

 

Bonus: in Spring there is often filterable water flowing down the gully right next to the climb. Hike up and check it out before carrying all your water. 

 

*Plan: Most parties approach the route and fix a couple pitches the first day. If there are crowds, and you do not have a solid 5.10 free climber on your team, making it to the bivy ledge the next day might be difficult. For that reason most parties bring a portaledge and spend a few days on the wall. If making it to the pitch 9.5 bivy ledge is reasonable(or you spend a night in hammocks) then it is much better to not bring the portaledge as the descent is very long/circuitous and much more difficult the more stuff you have--this way your first night on the wall is on a less than perfectly flat ledge, but the other ledges are good and you will be psyched to have lighter bags on the summit.

 

*Approach: Allow a solid 1-1.5 hrs for this approach which includes a 3rd class buttress near the base of the route.

 

*Ledge: The first ledge is high, between pitch 9 and 10, and only sleeps two people (and is not that flat) which means most parties bring a portaledge as the route is very popular in season. If you plan to bivy on the ledge at pitch 9.5 inflatable sleeping pads are indispensible. The ledge at pitch 14 and Thanksgiving Ledge are great.

 

*Descent: Allow 1-1.5 hrs for the 300' of 5.0-5.6 slabs and 1/4 mile circuitous trail that leads over and down to the top of the Nose. From there the regular East Ledges descent trail is obvious. There is a partially-independent rappel route for Lurking Fear but it is not recommended because of its length and the slowness/occasional difficulty of rapping with haulbags. Even if you don't have any gear it would be much faster/safer and just way more fun to walk over to the top of the Nose, enjoy the great views of the Valley that you don't get from Lurking Fear and descend the East Ledges. The rappel route deviates from Lurking Fear at the cave on Thanksgiving Ledge, heading straight down the face on three independent anchors before reconnecting with the route.

 

*The Elements: Lurking Fear gets Sun from late morning to sunset. The deep cracks on Lurking Fear become icy rivers in a storm. Luckily, rappelling the route is fairly straightforward as it is lower angled than The Nose.

209 Regular Northwest Face, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.8 C1 23 pitches

266 "The Reg" is an odyssey up one of the Valley's coolest cliffs, with unbelievable backcountry views and vibe. There's even a good flowing spring (till late season) 8' from the base of the route! North facing, and topping out at almost 9000', HD is more of a Summer/Fall route. It is a beginner wall in the sense that there is no really tricky aid, even if you only climb 5.9. HD is more of an alpine wall, with a grueling 2.5 hr--half day approach and loose/impossible hauling that forces people to go fast and light. The cruxes are a couple awkward/tricky moves on the Robbins Traverse and on the pitch after Thank God Ledge. While there are a couple dozen routes up HD's Northwest Face, only The Reg sees any regular traffic with 2-3 parties on the route most days from mid-May to mid-October. Get in solid 5.9/5.10 free climbing shape and this will be awesome fun.

 

*Plan: Plan on some logistical figuring as there will most likely be other people attempting this climb when you arrive. Luckily, unlike The Nose most parties on Half Dome have a similar strategy of fixing and blasting early in the morning, so it is easier to enjoy fixing and bivying together. One day ascents, especially after fixing two or three pitches the day before, are the norm because the approach is so gueling that most novices opt for beginner climbs closer to the Valley floor. Most parties hike up and fix a couple pitches the first day, and filter water at the base; then you can climb fast and light to Big Sandy or the top with the second jugging with a pack(best way) or spend two nights on the wall hauling. It takes less than an hour to get from the Summit back down to the base of the Route.

 

*Approach: Once the slabs approach is free of snow/water in Spring that is the best way, with only a couple 5.6 sections that always have fixed ropes to hand over hand up. The Mist or John Muir Trails, which you leave at the shoulder of the rock and skirt along the wall on an obvious talus trail, is long and arduous but safer if the slabs are still wet.


*Ledge: There is a poor, sloping ledge up and left from the sixth belay. Big Sandy, at pitch 17, is comfy for 4+. Big Sandy and the Summit are at over 8000' elevation so if you're going fast and light, but planning on bivying at either spots, bring a space blanket bivy sac(and 1/2 a sleeping pad) or similar as it is very cold at night.

 

*The Elements: The Reg goes in the Sun early/mid afternoon to sunset. Half Dome is the site of many a mid-Summer hail/thunderstorm, so bringing a synthetic puffy jacket on the climb even if you're doing it in a day is advisable. 

 

 

 

123 West Face, El Capitan West Face V 5.10 C2 17 pitches

West Face is the ultimate El Cap bigwall free climb for those of us that will never free the Nose or the Zodiac. Amazing splitter cracks, super featured rock and a great location/topout make this a 5 star route. This Wall feels so different from the rest of El Cap, much more featured, almost alpine as you feel so removed from the rest of the Valley. One person in your party needs to free climb solid 5.10 to make this a reasonable 1-2 day climb.

 

*Plan: As of 2010, most parties climb West Face in one long day. Plenty of others fix a couple pitches and bivy at the base, going for the Summit the next day (returning later to retrieve their bivy gear). Either of these strategies require you to be in good shape and climb Valley 5.10 solidly. You could climb West Face more slowly, hauling a bag, but the approach is steep/scrambly and very difficult with a haulbag.

 

*Approach: Allow a solid 1.5-2hrs with a heavy pack. If you were planning on hauling and spending multiple days on the route you would want to take a couple trips rather than try to carry everything at once. In Spring you can often get filterable water from the gully near the base.

 

*Ledge: El Cap Arms is a sweet bivy for 3, as is the ledge two pitches before the mothership ledge-- Thanksgiving Ledge.

 

*The Elements: West Face gets Sun from noon to sunset.

 

367 The Nose, El Capitan The Nose VI 5.8 C2 28 pitches

264 The Nose is a fantasy bigwall in solid granite form. Minutes from the car, splitter (after the first four pitches to Sickle Ledge) with ample ledges, great exposure, incredible views, The Nose has it all. Climbing The Nose will make you want to climb The Nose again, and again. It's that good. The Nose after Sickle Ledge is nearly all straightforward/easy aid with plenty of 5.7-5.9 glory free climbing, compared with Salathe Wall which has continuous trickier aid and free and more spread out bivy ledges. The first four pitches have become polished over the years and are very challenging with flaring placements. So know that they are not at all representative of the rest of the route, which is secure, splitter, and terrifyingly exposed. Go For It! 

 

 

*Plan: Most parties fix to Sickle their first day and immediately begin to question whether or not they're up for the challenges of the Nose. Don't worry, the going gets much more straightforward/easy a couple pitches higher when you enter the Stovelegs. Commonly, a lot of theorizing goes on between parties who are fixing to Sickle, often with each party trading ideas of when they will start up the next day and when the other parties should start to ensure that everyone does not show up at the base of the fixed lines at the same time. In my experience these well laid plans almost never pan out.

 

Always remember these basic Yosemite bigwall rules:

 

1.The person/team climbing and hauling on the route first is the one on the route first that day, and this is very often not the team who fixed their lines first the day before. (this means that it doesn't matter when you fix to Sickle, if you're motivated to get up at 4am and you're the first one to Sickle and climbing, then you're first on the route. It sounds good to accommodate each party and to work together so each party starts in a certain order and everyone is not stuck at one belay; in reality things often do not go as planned, plans change, or parties who are not planning on fixing climb ahead and prevent/complicate the ability of parties who have fixed ropes to start climbing. Fixing ropes is handy, but on The Nose it can make things complicated too). 

2. Bigwalls are complicated so if a party says they are planning on starting at 5am it is likely that they will start much later.

3. Your best bet if fixing ropes is to get to your lines a little earlier than you planned, so you have time to relax and deal with any unforseen complications.

Most parties spend 3 nights on the wall and a night on the top.

 


*Ledge: Dolt and El Cap Tower are topnotch bivies. Sickle, Camp 4, and Camp 5 are fairly sloping considering that parties bivy on them nearly everyday in season. If planning on slowboating this route a portaledge would make these ledges a lot more enjoyable for sleeping. That said, most parties fix to Sickle so only have to deal with one night at a sloping ledge on Camp 4 or Camp 5.

 

*The Elements: Lower down the Nose gets Sun by 9am, after the Great Roof the Sun hits late morning. Rappeling the Nose is straight forward if it's a sunny day and you don't have a haulbag, but that is rarely the circumstances under which people are rappeling. The deep cracks of the Nose become icy rivers in storms, making going up or down very difficult. Bring a portalege w/ fly if there is weather forecasted and start rappeling early if you think you are going to need to bail because of weather.

195 South Face, Mt. Watkins VI 5.8 C3 or A2 19 pitches

270 Splitter, like an alpine Nose, South Face is 5 stars. The cracks are a little dirtier/more slippery and therefore often slower than you expect, but the ledges are incredible and the tricky sections are not too tricky. This is a beginner route but not a first wall unless you have ample alpine climbing experience, owing to the length of approach(which includes 800' of circuitous 4th and 5th class slabs which often have to be hauled). The cruxes are a few fixed heads/pitons, and few short sections of thin cracks.

 

*Plan: Unlike Half Dome, hauling on Watkins is no problem, as the rock is cleaner and there are no crowds; so spending a few days on the wall is perfect. Allow a full day to hike to the wall, fill/filter water from Tenaya creek which passes within two hundred feet of the cliff, and scramble/climb/haul up the approach slabs to the base of the route. From there most folks spend 2 nights on the wall and a night on top.

 

*Approach: You'll love yourself if you jog out this nice trail once to get familiar with the terrain, as the trail gets vague in places but will seem easy and cruiser once you've done it once.

From Miror Lake begin hiking around the Miror Lake loop, stopping before crossing the Merced river and following a faint trail up canyon close to the river's edge. The trial stays near the left bank of the river, veering North temporarily in Spring to cross a raging creek, and eventually leads you right to the base of Mt. Watkins--a long 1.5 -2.5 hrs from Miror Lake, but still relatively gentle and beautiful hike with no real scrambling until you reach the wall. You can filter water right near the base of the wall and start to scope the circuitous, 800' of 3rd class-5.6+ approach slabs.

 

*Ledge: Sheraton Watkins is big but slightly sloping. The ledge at pitch 11 is good for 2-3.

 

*Descent: The top of the South Face climb is several hundred feet below the true summit of Watkins. If you are planning on hiking down the Snow Creek Trail to the Valley(recommended unless it is Summer and you've made plans to hike the short three and half miles out to hwy 120 near Olmstead Point) you don't need to go all the way to the Summit but can start to hike up and West, eventually gaining a ridge that leads to a forrest and the top of the Snow Creek Trail. In Summer, hiking the three miles to the Hwy 120/Tuolomne and hitchhiking back to the Valley can be fun.


*The Elements: Watkins is in the Sun nearly all day so skip this one in July/first part of August.

155 Triple Direct, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 C2 or 5.13d 30 pitches

Triple D is a sweetly long, easy classic. The climbing is straightforward and the ledges plush, though it lacks the glory of the Stovelegs or the Salathe Headwall (better to climb The Nose or Salathe first). Because you climb the first ten pitches without hauling, Triple D seems less of an ordeal than the Nose. The cruxes are a couple flaring placements or camhooks moves. Super Bonus: Triple D visits a whopping 6 sleepable ledges, more than either Nose or Salathe.

 

*Plan: Prehaul your bag to Heart or Mammoth on day one via the fixed lines. Climb Freeblast on day two and retreive your haulbag, either fixing a pitch or continuing on to Grey Ledges. The traversing pitches to Camp 4 are esthetic, easy climbing but are often very windy and slower.

 

*Ledge: Mammoth and Grey Ledges are stellar. The ledge one pitch below Camp 4 is preferrable to Camp 4, which is very uneven and sloping. 

 

*The Elements: Triple D is in the Sun from mid-morning to sunset. The fixed lines from Heart Ledge make retreat from between Mammoth Ledge and the traverse above Grey Ledges very straightforward/easy. If after the traverse is is better to reverse the pitch below Camp 4, or climb the Great Roof, so you can rap the Rohr Rappel route which takes you back to Dolt Tower and down the Stovelegs.

144 Salathe, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 C2 33 pitches

283 The Nose and Salathe are arguably the two greatest bigwall routes in the world. Salathe=yang The Nose=yin. Salathe challenges you to change cracks, bust free moves, and generally use all your climbing skills compared to the straight-in, China-deep cracks of the Nose. Salathe is more the 5.10 free climber's route where the Nose is the 5.8/5.9 free climber's route(except for the first four pitches of the Nose which are tricky at 5.8 C2). The crux is the Hollow Flake, and a few short sections of flaring cracks that take cam hooks or offset nuts and cams.

 

*Plan: Most parties spend the first day climbing Freeblast, descending the fixed lines from Heart Ledge and enjoying a nice meal in the Valley while basking in the glow of climbing one of the greatest routes on earth. The next day is spent hauling back up the fixed lines to Heart and climbing to Long Ledge (or Hollow Flake ledge if you bring a portaledge). Most parties spend 3-4 nights on the wall.

 

*Ledge: The Heart and El Cap Spire are two of the best bivies around. The Block and Long Ledge are sloping but sleepable. Remember to use your haulbag and ropes to make more level sleeping spots.

 

*The Elements: Salathe is in the Sun from mid-morning to sunset.

 

Intermediate: Shorter Climbs(easier to harder)

44 Southern Man, Washington Column South Face V 5.8 A1 or C2+F 10 pitches

Southern Man is of funkier character than the laidback, mellow South Face. The cracks are occaionaly thin and the rock occasionaly crumbly, but this route is still a classic.  The cruxes are a couple thin piton, camhook, or fixed head moves. Southern Man's fifth belay is in the middle of the sixth pitch of the South Face, under the left leaning arch. The next pitch does just a couple moves on the South Face and heads out left on very thin terrain--many parties report missing this and climbing to the sixth belay on the South Face and then climbing over to rejoin the Southern Man pitch as it is more obvious up higher. Southern Man!

 

*Plan: All of the routes that climb off of Dinner Ledge are commonly climbed via the same strategy: fix high, enjoy hanging on one of Yosemite's best bigwall ledges, and then go for the summit.

 

 

*Ledge: Dinner ledge, which has two tiers, is a palace for 6-8, squeezable to 12+. Most folks spend a day getting to the climb and climbing to Dinner ledge hopefully with time to fix a pitch or two. If time allows it can be much more enjoyable to give yourself an extra day for fixing off Dinner Ledge, and enjoying the views.

 

*Descent: Rapping the South Face route has become popular, but is not the best option when there are crowds. It is often very windy in the afternoon which makes rapping difficult. The nice thing about rapping the route is you can leave your bivy gear on Dinner Ledge and rap back down to it, maybe spending an extra night if you have time. The downside is the summit of the Column is an outrageous fin of rock, with sweeping views back beyond Clouds Rest, the Clarks Range, and down the Valley to El Cap; a true spot to savor. The rap route starts from the top anchor of Skull Queen, and raps back to anchors 10 and 9 on South Face, before leaving the South Face route and rapping straight down using two independent rap stations, before reconnecting with the South Face route for the final two raps to Dinner Ledge.

12 South Central, Washington Column South Face V 5.9 A2, 5.10 C2+ 10 pitches

South Central is scrappy/adventurous classic Yosemite climb. While not that technically difficult it is a big step up from the South Face due to mandatory free or difficult aid on crumbly rock. The cruxes of the route are well protected thin cracks, though a few of the easier pitches are also difficult due to being dirty/vague. A fun route if you're comfortable leading 5.10 in the Valley.

 

*Plan: The traverse over to the start of this climb, along the Dinner Ledge crack system is long enough to make fixing and rapping back down to bivy on Dinner Ledge not feasible. Most folks get in a 5.10 shape and do this climb in a long day. If you plan on bivying it is advisable to not bring too much stuff (best to do the climb this way in the heat of the summer, so you could sleep in your puffy jackets w/ sleeping pads) as it is difficult to shuttle your stuff from dinner ledge to the beginning of the route.

 

*Descent: Either hiking over and rappeling Royal Arches(if you're lazy/thirsty as there is a spring at the top and you come out at the Ahwahnee), or hiking down North Dome Gully are equally viable descent options. South Central tops out on a sandy trail that leads to the top of the Column, and it is not easy to hike up, over, and down to the top of the South Face(the rock is crumbly at the top and the summit is tiered in a way that makes it hard to see where the other routes top out) so rapping down the South Face route would be difficult.

 

 

18 The Prow, Washington Column East Face VI 5.6 A2 or C3 11 pitches

269 Steep and exposed, The Prow follows a dreamy line up mostly thin cracks. While definitely not your first wall, The Prow is a beginner route because fixed gear allows most parties to climb it clean(with hooks and camhooks) and only a few pitches have tricky aid. The cruxes involve small offset nuts, cam hooks or regular hooks, and some fixed heads.

 

*Plan: Most parties approach the climb and make it to Anchorage Ledge the first day. If you're planning on doing the route in two days you will need to fix a pitch off Anchorage, or push on and bivy a pitch or two higher (better plan).


*Ledge: Anchorage ledge and Tapir Terrace have been romanticized into sleeping quarters, but in reality are just good places to chill, eat. Stellar spot with incredible views, Prow is good times. The summit bivy is high times.

 

*Descent: While the North Dome Gully descent is steep and exposed in parts, it is much easier than rapping the route which is too steep/exposed to make rapping easy (also there is no dedicated rappel route so you would need to pass parties on the way down which would be difficult with airy, hanging belays). The Gully is not that bad in daylight and with a careful/attentive attitude. Most parties spend 2-5 hours descending from the climb.

 

*The Elements: Prow gets early light and is in the Sun until afternoon, when the winds often pick up and temperature dips significantly.

161 Wet Denin Daydream, Leaning Tower V 5.6 C3F or A3 7 pitches

268 Wet Denim is a pint-sized version of the nailups found on El Cap's southeast face: steep, wild climbing follows mostly continuous thin cracks with plenty of fixed gear that can make the going seem easier than the ratings suggest. The final roof pitch, which climbs 15' of pure dangling horizontalness, is one of the coolest aid leads in the Valley. Climb Wet Denim after you've climbed Southern Man, The Prow or Ten Days After and are aspiring to the bigger nailups on El Cap; it is similar technically to Zodiac but is much eaiser as it is much shorter.

 

*Plan:  Splitting your loads into two for the steep, scrambly approach will help keep the stoke high and keep you moving. Spend the first day getting to Ahwahnee ledge and fixing a pitch or two. Day two climb to the top(Dano Ledge just below the summit is a righteous hang) and bivy or descend.

 

*Ledge: Ahwahnee Ledge is plush for 4 or 5, squeezable to 7. Dano Ledge is plush for 3 or 4.

 

*The Elements: This route is mostly dry during storms, though some rain/snow will drift onto Ahwahnee ledge so it is best to bring a bivy sac or tarp.

47 Ten Days After, Washington Column East Face VI 5.7 A2 11 pitches

TDA is a fun step up from the Prow or Leaning Tower. Some amazing splitter corner pitches are interspersed with loose, less classic ones. Average parties place a handful of pitons or less. There are a bit of fixed heads and some fixed circleheads on the route so familiarize yourself with their placement in case one comes out.The cruxes are a few thin, awkard/expanding placements. 

 

(The second pitch can be wet and grassy, which has made it popular to skip this and the first pitch by climbing the first two pitches of The Prow and then doing a couple rivet moves over to the pitch 2 belay on TDA. This is kinda silly because the route only has eight independent pitches to start with, and the first pitch is fun 5.9. ((and the second pitch will probably not be grassy if a few parties climb it ;)))

 

*Plan: Most parties approach the route and climb a couple pitches the first day. The complicatedly dangly world of hanging bivies takes some getting used to so consider setting up before dark. Most parties spend two(if fixing) or three nights on the Wall.

 

*Ledge:  The first pitch ends on a decent stance, but after that it is all hanging until Tapir Terrace eight pitches up, so you'll need the portaledge and a comfy belay seat. The summit is an incredible bivy.

 

*The Elements: TDA gets Sun morning till early afternoon. It can be windy and cold in the afternoon. The last pitches(on the Prow) involve easy freeclimbing which would be much more difficult in the rain. Belays 3,4 and 5 are very protected during storms.

109 Laughing at the Void, Ribbon Fall V 5.7 A2+ or C3+ 11 pitches

Laughing at the Void is the perfect practice route for those aspiring to climb steep El Cap routes. Mostly clean cracks interspersed with bomber bolts cruise up a beautiful steep golden wall, and the view from the bivy ledge is incredible. The cruxes are a couple shallow piton placements. Laughing at the Void is better after you've climbed The Prow or Skull Queen rather than the South Face, as a couple of the pitches are long and steep and therefore difficult if you don't have a few aid leads under your belt. The 'Gold Rush' finish, recommended, has not been climbed clean.

 

*Plan: The approach is a steep difficult hike, so plan on spending the first day getting all your stuff to the base of the wall(best in two trips) and fixing two or three pitches(with two 60m ropes) and bivying at the base. It is only a short walk over to Ribbon Creek so you can filter water after doing the approach. The second day climb to bivy ledge atop pitch 6, fixing a pitch if you have time. Day three climb to the top, leaving any bags at the top of the 8th pitch and enjoying easy free climbing to the top, and then rappel back to your bag and down to the ledge and continue rappelling down the climb.


*Ledge: The bivy ledge atop pitch 6 is long and narrow, and not perfectly flat so use your rope(s) and empty haulbag to level it out. Awesome spot once you get it dialed.

 

*Descent: rappel the route.

 

28 Mideast Crisis, Washington Column East Face VI 5.7 A2 or C3 13 pitches

Mideast Crisis is the Zodiac of the East Face--wildly steep(Leaning Tower steepness), mostly moderate aid climbing bliss. This is the perfect route for those looking to get into more complicated aid but are intimidated by El Cap. Mideast Crisis follows mostly straight-in cam cracks. Most parties place just a couple pins. The overhanging corners at the top, split by endless hand cracks, are mega-classic C1 or 5.12+!

 

*Plan: The first few pitches wander up low-angle, grassy terrain so it is preferrable to fix to pitch 3 or 4 and haul from there (from 4 you can reach the ground with 2 60m ropes using an intermediate anchor). Most folks fix a couple pitches and bivy on the base or on the wall the first day, and then spend 2-4 more days on the route.The second pitch is wet nearly all year so best to fix above that, in case you need to change your clothes. Spending a day or two on super-steep, hanging-belay terrain is challenging so make sure to bring a comfy belay seat and take extra care to separate/coil ropes before they entangled in the haul bags or each other.


*Ledge: Hotel California is a sweet hang, and a decent sleeping ledge with ropes for padding. It's seven mostly-overhanging pitches up though so you'll need a portledge.

 

*The Elements: MC gets Sun morning till early afternoon. It can be windy and cold in the afternoon. The first couple pitches and the last pitch(and Hotel California) get wet in the rain, but the rest of the route is so outrageously steep it stays dry during storms.

1148 Good Ol' Boy, Camp 4 Wall V 5.8 A2 13 pitches

280 The Camp 4 Wall is an over-looked paradise in the valley. The rock is a little dirty but solid, the approach is short, and the views are topnotch. Good Ol Boy is probably the easiest of the routes on the wall, and is classic Yosemite meaning awesome cracks with some grass and wandering. The cruxes are a couple loose/dirty placements.

14 Northwest Face, Higher Cathedral Spire VI 5.8 A3 10 pitches

This route is a perfect mid-Summer old school classic: cool, mostly continuous crack systems split the middle of one of the most dramatic faces/spires in Yosemite. The cruxes are short sections of crumbly rock and a few thin piton placements. Still a little dirty in sections, this route saw a serious free climbing attempt in the late 90s which saw the anchors replaced and many bolts added to the 4th pitch, making the route a bit more casual. The views of El Cap are unforgettable.

 

*Plan: Most parties hike up and fix a pitch or two, bivying either on the wall or at the base, and then spend two more days on the route.

 

*Approach: Though steep, only takes an hour and half with a heavy pack. Best to hike your gear up and fix a couple pitches, and get the trail all figured out before carrying up all your stuff.

 

*Ledge: There are no bivy ledges on the route, though the base and summit are righteous hangs.

 

*The Elements: Higher Spire is in the shade almost all day, making it perfect for the hot season.

322 Via sin Aqua, Yosemite Falls Wall VI 5.10 A2 9 pitches
15 Pegasus (aka North Face), Quarter Dome V 5.7 A2 14 pitches

271 Pegasus is stunning alpine bliss. Cool cracks, stances/ledges at most belays and very moderate difficulty make this nearly a beginner wall if not for a few piton sections. The approach is substantial but once you're on route it feels Washington Column cruiser.

 

*Approach: Allow a full day to approach and filter water and get to or near the base of the climb. From Miror Lake the trail back to Watkins is beautiful and mellow. From there, the trail is much more vague but generally you continue up the Tenaya creekbed until you are in an open area and can see the talus approach to Quarter Dome. Filter water here. The final 1000' of talus to the base of the climb is steep and scrambly in parts, but also provides a couple nice flat places to sleep if you aren't going to make it all the way to the climb.

 

*Plan:  Because of the length and difficulty of the approach QD is better as a fast and light alpine wall. If hauling bring a 8mm hauline and take only essentials. Luckily, the temperature inversion is significant in this area, with Fall nighttime temperatures in the 50s.

 

*Ledge: The base of the route is an amazing exposed  bivy ledge. The bivy ledge in the middle of the route is good for 2, but not huge. The Summit is alpine bliss.

 

*The Elements: Quarter Dome is in the shade till late afternoon.

1114 Direct Northwest Face, Porcelain Wall VI 5.8 A3 13 pitches

272 The Direct follows easy, mostly splitter cracks to a steep smooth headwall.

The Direct is similar to the West Face of the Leaning Tower in that it offers a 2 day outing on a wall that is otherwise climbed over 5-10 days. The Direct finishes on the Porcelain Wall, which climbs several pitches of steep bolt ladders up a blank face, originally climbed in 1976 by a team led by Warren Harding(also called the Harding Route). The cruxes are a few loose pin placements, and the 2 hr approach.

 

*Approach: Plan on a full day for the approach, which climbs 1000 ft from Mirror Lake on mostly easy but sometimes sandy/scrambly talus terrain. You will follow the Death Slabs approach trail for Half Dome, jogging right shortly after the top of the first fixed rope. Most parties will make at least two trips up the approach, whose steepness punishes you if you try to carry too much at once. Riding bikes from the overnight parking lot to Mirror Lake(during low water) is highly recommended, and saves about 1/2 hr. If the water is high and crossing Mirror Lake on the plentiful rocks is not an option, then you will have to take the Mirror Lake loop trail earlier on the Mirror Lake road which adds some hilly trail terrain and 20 min. to the approach(still worth it to take the bikes to here). There is only water at the base in the Spring, when large snow cones provide water. You can filter

water at Mirror Lake.

 

*Ledge:

The Cemetary has a ledge for one, and widely space bolts for a hammock right where you belay. There is a good sloping ledge to hang out with the bags/cook at. This area is super terraced and mostly 4th class scrambling so there is also the option to scramble up and left to another sleeping spot where Sky Is Falling goes. The Midway is suitable for 2. Paradise ledge is spacious though not nearly as nice as the bivy on the summit, 60m above.

 

*Descent: This descent essentially reverses the Snake Dike approach, whose start is just an 1/8 mile from the Diving Board. There are two options: 1) walk down past Lost Lake till you hit the John Muir Trail and continue down to Curry Village. 2) aka The Snake Dike Approach - not as obvious but shorter and much more beautiful hiking. Hike to the end of Lost Lake and then cut between Libery Cap and Mt. Broderick, skirting the base of Liberty Cap, where you join the Nevada Falls trail. With either option allow half a day for the descent, which is not too bad with a heavy bag.

 

*The Elements: This route is in the shade nearly all day. The top four pitches receive a couple hours of sun, while the bottom pitches stay in the shade nearly all day.

 

 

 

 

 

340 Bulging Puke, Arches Wall VI 5.8 A3 12 pitches

Bulging Puke is a cool, off-the-beaten track moderate climb in a fantastic location. The climbing is a mix of clean, splitter cracks with some more grassy ones. The cruxes are a couple grainy/loose piton placements and a few mandatory free moves. Much of the route has been freed(5.12 A0 with two points of aid((and variations)) by Jake Whittaker, Bob Jensen in 2001), though only a few of the pitches are easier than 5.10; nonetheless there are many pitches where you wear free shoes and enjoy freeing and aiding. The Arches Wall is sunset bliss. 

 

*Plan: Most folks climb four pitches to Angel Ledge the first day(reasonable because the second pitch is almost all bolts, and the third is 5.7), and spend two more days on the wall after that. There is also a sweet ledge for two or three a the base of the climb, which is a couple hundred feet off the deck out a third class approach ledge. Because many pitches have short sections of easy free climbing it is best to wait several days after a storm to ensure the route is dry.


*Ledge: The base of the route, and Angel Ledge are sloping but comfy for two or three. After that you will need a portaledge as there are no more ledges on route.


*The Elements: BP gets Sun all day.

 

1084 Scarface, Liberty Cap V 5.8 A3 13 pitches
17 Dante's Inferno, Yosemite Falls Wall VI 5.9 A3 12 pitches

Dante's Inferno is an adventurous, very natural line up one of Yosemite's most scenic walls. Characterized by easier(though a little dirty) aid and some cool free climbing up long crack systems, this is a fun moderate climb. The hurricane force winds that whip across the Falls Wall at night are fully present on this route, meaning you will get wet if you try to climb it too early in the season, and good to bring the portaledge fly even if the weather is good so you can relax out of the wind.

 


*Approach/Descent: The approach starts up a large talus/boulder field(the now defunk Fern Ledge Trail) behind the Valley Fire Station/NPS stables/Search and Rescue office in Yosemite Village. The Fern Ledge trail ends atop Lower Yosemite Falls and from there you can drop your packs and scramble up, down and around a couple hundred feet to some amazing swmming pools--a good place to recharge and filter water halfway up the approach(when the Falls are raging in the Spring this is not an option) before continuing up obvious ledges/sandy trail to the base of the wall. A fun way to approach Lost Arrow is climbing the Sunnyside Bench Route(5.4), just up and left from Jamcrack. You could take your two ropes and rack and do this start to the approach(20-30min faster than walking around and way more fun), drop off your gear at the base of the wall(or fix a couple pitches) and then descend the trail and hike up all your bivy/wall stuff; or you could climb Sunnyside Bench one day and scope the first half of the approach and check out the waterflow and the amazing pools at the top of Lower Falls and see how feasible it is to get(filterable) water there. However you do it, if you split your loads into two this approach is a lot more enjoyable. Allow 3-5 hrs with a heavy pack.

 

Descend the Yosemite Falls Trail.

 

*Plan: Most parties hike up and fix a couple pitches, descending to the pools at the top of the Lower Falls(halfway up the approach trail) to filter water, and bivy at the base. The hurricane force winds that rake the wall at night also hit the base so plan on setting up your ledge and fly. Most parties spend 2-3 days on the wall.


*Ledge: No natural ledges.

 

*The Elements: Falls Wall is often super windy and cold in Spring.

334 Operation Bravo, Lower Cathedral Spire V 5.9 A3 8 pitches
1160 Wild Apes, Higher Cathedral V 5.9 A3 10 pitches
167 Learning to Crawl, Higher Cathedral V 5.9 A3+ 11 pitches
242 West Buttress, Liberty Cap V 5.10 A3 13 pitches
1169 Early Times, Sentinel V 5.9 A3+ 10 pitches
158 Love Without Anger, B.O.L.T. Wall (Brother of Leaning Tower) V 5.8 A3 9 pitches
1166 The Ecstacy of Gold, Ribbon Fall VI 5.10 A3 13 pitches
165 Higher Aspirations, Higher Cathedral Spire VI 5.8 A3 13 pitches
935 Renaissance Wall, Higher Cathedral VI 5.9 A3 13 pitches
166 East Face, Higher Cathedral V 5.10 A4 14 pitches
32 Misty Wall, Yosemite Falls Wall VI 5.9 A3 or 5.11d A0 15 pitches
61 Zodiac, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A3 15 pitches

265 Steep, intimidating but not too hard and with great one-person ledges, Zodiac is one of the best bigwall aid routes in the Valley. Stances or ledges at many belays, beautiful thin cam cracks, the insanely beautiful White Circle pitches make Zodiac a five star route. Zodiac is Intermediate the same way Lurking Fear is Beginner--both routes usually have fixed gear at the cruxes that makes them much faster/easier than they were initially(or if the fixed gear is gone).

 

*Plan: Most parties fix a couple pitches the first day and bivy at the base or low on the wall, and then spend 2-4 days on the wall. You will need a 50' lowerout line for your haulbag for pitch 4. Most of the pitches are 150' or less from belay to belay so if you have a 60m haulline it works fine to tie off your bag at 150' and use the rest of the rope for the lowerout.

 

*Ledge: The single-wide ledges at the Black Tower, Pearly Gates and Peanut Ledge are stellar.

 

*The Elements: Zodiac gets Sun about 9-5. If climbing the Zode in Winter or Spring when runoff can pour down pitch 2 and pitch 3, make sure to climb/fix to pitch 4 and haul from the ground to there and your bags will be dry(only two ropes to the ground from pitch 4(ropes have to be tied together) on two intermediate stations on Shortest Straw).

Intermediate: Longer Climbs(easier to harder)

157 Grape Race, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 A3 28 pitches

A direct, easier aid line up to Eagle Ledge halfway up the Nose, Grape Race is a fun location climb with a handful of classic pitches interspersed with many bolts. The initial pitch, which heads up and left halfway through the fourth pitch of the Nose, has mandatory 5.8 climbing(bolt protected) up featured face and cracks. After that, it's mostly bolts/mellow aid with one incredible 300' splitter in the middle of the route. The cruxes are a few thin piton placements. Grape Race has unique views and while the climbing is not always that classic it gives the cool feeling of following the true Nose of El Cap. Grape Race combines the technical difficulty of Zodiac and the length of The Nose, so it is a logical step up after Zodiac or Ten Days After.

 

*Plan: Most folks fix a couple pitches and then spend the rest of their first day shuttling their gear up the third class approach ledges and maybe hauling, and bivy on the ground. Allow 3 more days(after fixing) to climb Grape Race and another 2 days to finish The Nose.

 

*Ledge: Stellar Cellar is a nice hang but too sloping to sleep on, so GR requires a portaledge.

62 Tangerine Trip, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A3 17 pitches

Tangerine Trip is a rare Southeast Face moderate. Its pros are that its steep and is an awesome location; its cons are traversy, not so classic climbing interspersed with tons of bolts. There are no bad El Cap routes but T Trip is a big step down in classiness compared to nearby Zodiac. The lack of stances or ledges at most belays, and some trickier traversing climbing also make it a couple letter grades harder than Zodiac. It is recommended to start on the first pitch of Lost in America and then climb the 3rd and 4th pitches of Virginia(and then continue up the Trip) to avoid doing the downclimbing on pitch 4 that is often very wet and difficult for the cleaner. If you know you will eventually climb nearby Aurora you won't miss any Trip pitches by doing this start, as Aurora does the first 3.5 pitches of the Trip. T Trip sees a lot of traffic because it is the most protected Winter/Spring Intermediate route--when the 2nd and 3rd pitches of Zodiac can be very wet. Tangerine Trip is a logical step up from Ten Days After, Mideast Crises, or Zodiac.

 

*Plan: Most folks fix a few pitches their first day. The wall is steep and the climbing can be a little slow at times so most people end up hauling on day 2 and climbing to pitch 5 or so(pitch 5 is long and can be slow to lead and clean). Most parties spend 3 nights on the wall and a night on top.

 

*Ledge: There are small ledges/stances on top of pitches 7 and 9 which make a hanging bivy much more enjoyable(you can set small things like the stove,ect. on the ledge).

127 Mirage, El Capitan West Face VI 5.9 A4 16 pitches

Mirage is a cool, I've done 15 El Cap routes and ready to get off the beaten track on an adventure, kind of route. The climbing is relatively straightforward, but can be grassy and slow in spots. This is a location climb for folks who've climbed a bunch of routes around Lurking Fear and are looking for something different but worthwhile. It is possibly the only bigwall route in Yosemite that you have to do a pitch of down-penjis to start. Mirage is harder than Zodiac but easier than Never Never Land.

299 Virginia, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A3 17 pitches

Steep, protected from storms, and super fun, Virginia is a slightly more challenging start to Tangerine Trip. The splitter sixth pitch is the jewel of the route, but it is not as memorable as the 'Avatar' pitch on T Trip so better to save Virginia for your second time climbing the Trip.


*Plan: Most folks fix a few pitches the first day and spend 3-5 days on the route.

 

*Ledge: No natural ledges.

130 West Buttress, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 A3 20 pitches

West Buttress follows incredible, continous crack systems up the left edge of the Southwest Face. The first half is more steep, slightly more challenging, but much more memorable than Lurking Fear with sweeping views of the Southwest Face (Lurking Fear joins West Buttress on its 11th pitch). WB does have a couple pitches that require nailing. The 3rd pitch is a little difficult for an Intermediate climb, but the rest of the route is so (mostly)cruiser that if you are worried you could fix past the third pitch and decide if you are up for the climb. The middle part of the route follows nice, often wide cracks with a couple sections of  mandatory 5.8 freeclimbing. The second pitch is probably one of the most classic 5.10- lieback pitches in the Valley. West Buttress is easier than North America Wall or Dihedral but harder than Lurking Fear; it is similar in overall difficulty to Zodiac though WB is a day longer.

 

*Plan: Most parties fix a couple pitches the first day, spending the rest of the day hiking a second load and maybe hauling to their high point. After that most parties spend 3-5 days on the route.

 

*Ledge: The first bivy ledge below pitch 12 is great for siting on and relaxing, but you will still use your portaledge. The ledge atop pitch 16 is good not great for two; Thanksgiving Ledge and the Summit are awesome.

 

*The Elements: West Buttress gets Sun late morning to sunset.

128 Lost World/Squeeze Play, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.7 A3 20 pitches

 

Lost World is a fun, moderate route that doesn't involve as much wide climbing as nearby West Buttress. Lost World climbs more on the Southwest Face so the exposure and views are much better than Lurking Fear.  LW joins Lurking Fear for the last ten, cruiser pitches. The memorable pitches are C2 corners with only occasional hook or beak placements. This is a good alternative to Zodiac for folks who want to do something shorter and with some aid but also like the free climbing that joining Lurking Fear brings to the route. Lost World is a good step up from the Prow or Liberty Cap. 

 

*Plan: Most parties fix two or three pitches and then spend three nights on the wall.


*Ledge: You need a portaledge for this route. The ledge atop the Anus is sloping but nice, as are the bivy ledges on the upper half of Lurking Fear.

 

*Descent: Getting all your stuff up the summit slabs and over to the top of the Nose takes most teams 1-2 hrs. From there it is an easy 2-3 hours down the East Ledges.

 

*The Elements: Lost World gets sun by 11am, and goes in the shade just an our or two before sunset. LW is relatively low angle and follows large crack systems, so no good in a storm.

154 Muir Wall, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 C4 or A2 32 pitches

Muir Wall is the endlessly splitter bigwall of your dreams. Just a few pitches are technically challenging, with most being incredible cam cracks(the first 10 pitches to Heart Ledges are notoriously circuitous and low angle aiding--not nearly as classic as the rest of the route. The route is a lot more complicated than the Nose or Salathe, however, because it doesn't have too much free climbing.The added logistics of spending a week on the wall make Muir Wall a poor choice for beginners, compared to say Zodiac or Tangerine Trip which are much more difficult technically but are about half the length. Muir Wall is a logical step up from any of the easier El Cap routes: Lurking Fear, Nose, Salathe, or Zodiac; it is perfect for those looking to spend develop confidence in their systems and equipment during a weeklong climb, without the added stress of more difficult aid pitches.

 

*Plan: Most folks fix a few pitches in half a day and then climb to Heart Ledge on their first full day bringing just day supplies, and descend the fixed ropes to the ground from Heart. Day two(2.5 really) is spent hauling up to Heart via the much more straight fixed lines and climbing to Mammoth or Grey Ledges. Most folks spend 5-7 days on the wall.

 

*Ledge: Muir visits some of El Cap's finest ledges, but you'll need a portaledge for the upper part.

 

*The Elements: Muir follows long crack systems which can become dangerous icy rivers when it rains, so make sure you have a solid longterm forecast before starting up. For this reason Muir is not the best choice in the early season(late April-May) when thundershowers/storms can be common.

210 Direct Northwest Face, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.10 A2+ 24 pitches
308 Eagle's Way, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A3 19 pitches

If it wasn't for nearby Horsetail Falls, which soaks(or threatens) this route over half the year, Eagles Way would be as popular as Zodiac. Fun, super-featured (mostly)free climbing for the first six pitches leads to a steep headwall with some cool thin cracks mixed with some looser rock. The cruxes are a few short thin piton sections and loose rock sections. It is true that generally the routes east of the Zodiac climb darker, looser rock and can be less classic, but Eagles Way is pretty clean and cool as far as these routes go. Eagles Way is a logical step up from Zodiac, Ten Days After, or Mideast Crises; it is technically easier but similar in overall difficulty to Electric Ladyland.

 

*Plan: Most folks fix a few pitches the first day and spend 3-5 days on the route. Whether you fix pitches or not it is easiest to haul from the top of pitch 1 to the top of pitch 4. The pitches wander a bit but are still short(average 80-100ft) by modern standards which accounts for the high pitch count; it is easy to combine some of the pitches for hauling and only do 13 or so hauls (leave the lead line and haulbag attached to the bottom anchor, clean the pitch and lead the next one, then have the belayer rap back down and release the haulbag before cleaning the second pitch--this allows you to use a pretty small rack because the leader gets resupplied every 80-100ft.). The topo is marked where the hauls can be combined.

 

*Ledge: there is a large natural ledge 15-20' right of the fourth belay; otherwise you need a portaledge.

 

*The Elements: Eagles Way climbs under and very near a major waterfall, so it is not a good choice if there is any chance of storm. Horsetail Falls typically dries up late May/early June, depending on the snowpack, so June ascents are sometimes possible. Unfortunately, Eagles Way climbs through a good bit of darker black rock so when the temperature rises in July/August it is really hot. 

216 Tis sa ack, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.9 A2+ or C3 21 pitches

Long and moderate, Tis-Sa-Ack is the route most often climbed after the Regular Route and The Direct on Half Dome. The cruxes are a few thin placements, but generally the route is straightforward and cruiser. Tissack is technically easier, but about as overall difficult is Zodiac because it is longer and you have to deal with some loose rock and other logistics. As of 2015 there are only a handful of old bolts on this 1969 classic route, so take a bolt kit with you and spend 20 minutes leaving the route better than you found it(and better for the next generation).

266 Mescalito, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 C3F or A2 26 pitches

Mescalito is often called the best moderate route on El Cap, as it follows incredible small-cam cracks up the formidable Dawn Wall. Like the Nose, the first four or five pitches are more technical than the rest of the climb, though in Mescalito's case this means there are numerous fixed heads on these pitches and the rest of the route tends to follow more cam cracks. Mescalito feels sustained because there is not a sleepable ledge until pitch 18, and most belays are hanging. The Bismark(at pitch 18) is one of the best ledges on El Cap. Bonus tip: Mescalito gets afternoon shade and can be cold and windy in the early season(late April-May). Mescalito is a good climb after you've done a route as long as Nose or Salathe and also climbed a route as technical as Zodiac or Tangerine Trip.

 

*Plan: Most parties fix three-four pitches the first day and hike loads and maybe haul. After that most teams spend 4-6 nights on the wall.

 

*The Elements: Mescalito gets afternoon shade and can be cold and windy in the early season(late-April through May). That said, it is not a great mid-Summer route because the early morning hours tend to have less wind so this section of the wall can be stifling in July/August. June and September are the best months to climb. Mescalito is not steep enough to avoid runoff in a storm, so it is not a good choice if a storm is forecasted.

281 North American Wall, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A2 or C4 27 pitches

NA Wall was the first climb on the southeast face of El Cap, and like other early climbs it has a real wandery, natural/adventurous charm. The climbing is never too difficult, and there are some cool cracks and amazing bivy ledges interspersed with some loose rock and awkward traverses. <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;} @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-fareast-language:JA;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} -->  The cruxes are the blown out pin scars on pitches 2-4, and a few mandatory 5.7/5.8 moves here and there.The traversing nature of the climb, and the length, mean you will want to have a couple longer, easier walls under your belt before you get on this one. Climb NA Wall after you've climbed Zodiac, Nose, Salathe, or something on the east face of Washington Column.

 

*Plan: Most parties fix three pitches the first day(with two 60m ropes) and bivy at the base, spending 3-5 more days on the wall. Make sure you have a 50 ft. lowerout line for the haulbags. NA Wall is a natural line with many convenient stances/small ledges at belays, so most parties get by with just a fabric belay seat.

 

*Ledges: Calaveras Ledge is a cool hang but too sloping for comfy sleeping. Big Sur, The Cyclops, and The Igloo are all awesome ledges.

 

*The Elements: NA Wall follows continous crack systems that are not pretty in a storm. Make sure you have a solid forecast before starting up the wall.

124 Mr. Midwest, El Capitan West Face VI 5.10 A3+ 16 pitches
228 South Face, Half Dome South Face VI 5.8 A3 17 pitches

In the mid 2000s, Roger Brown fixed ropes from the summit and replaced all the anchor bolts on this classic route.

152 The Shield, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.8 A3 31 pitches

The Shield is a climb that calls all aid climbers. Idolized for its splitter cracks that cruise up a real, golden shield of a headwall above The Heart, The Shield today is harder than the Zodiac only because it is longer and therefore more complicated. The dozens of Rurps used on the first ascent of some of its infamous pitches are today easily dispatched with hand-placed 1 1/4- 1 1/2 " sawed-off pitons and large birdbeaks. The Shield is a location climb; it is an awesome, easier aid climb. Bonus Tip: The Shield headwall is fiercly windy all year, making this climb incredibly cold in early/late season. If the Yosemite Valley temperatures are in the 80s, the temperature on The Shield headwall will be in the 50s-60s with windchill; if the Valley temps are in the 70s, The Shield headwall will be in the 40s-50s with windchill.

 

*Plan: Most parties climb Freeblast their first day, and spend day two hauling to Mammoth Ledges and maybe fixing a pitch or two. After that, plan on 3-5 days on the wall. The final haul is very low angle so pay extra attention to packing your haulbags into perfectly haulable torpedo shapes(not too much stuff on top of the bag). The headwall pitches can be slow so be sure to bring a comfy belay seat.

 

*Ledge: With stellar ledges Mammoth Terrace and Grey Ledges as well as the righteous hang(but portaledge bivy) Chickenhead Ledge, many parties only spend one hanging night on the headwall.

 

*The Elements: In addition to the information above about The Shield headwall being a windy cold place yearround, it is also a dreadful spot in a storm. Do not attempt The Shield if a storm is forecasted.

137 Dihedral Wall, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.8 A3 26 pitches

Dihedral wall is natural and moderate. Climbing this route is touching a piece of 1962 history--getting up El Cap following one of the longer, continuous crack systems. No pitches stand out as super splitter/noteworthy, but the experience of climbing this historic route is awesome. The free climbing at the top is fun because you move faster than you have for several days; the hauling on the last several low angle pitches is difficult.Climb Dihedral Wall after you've climbed the Shield and Never Never Land.

132 Never Never Land, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.7 A3 20 pitches

Never Never Land splits off after the first seven pitches of Aquarian Wall, following beautiful steep, thin cracks that make you dangle but never get too hard. NNL is a Yosemite classic(stunning,splitter) while Aquarian Wall is classic Yosemite(natural but awkward/wide/dirty in spots). The cruxes are a few thin piton placements.  Timbuktu Tower is as good as El Cap bivy ledges come. Never Never Land is a step up from Zodiac, or Ten Days After; it is similar in difficulty though longer than Electric Ladyland; it is technically easier though overall harder(longer) than Afroman or Re-Animator. 

 

*Plan: The lead bolts on pitches 3-6 are very far apart, so bring extended rivet hangers and a long (stiffened)quickdraw if you are less than 5'10" tall . Spend your first day hiking up your rack and ropes and fixing the first two pitches, and fixing straight down to the west edge of the Wings of Steel Slab(thus avoiding dragging all your bivy gear down, around and up the 3rd class section of the approach), and hiking the rest of your stuff up and maybe hauling. After that, most parties spend 3-5 days on the wall. Most parties find it difficult to make Timbuktu Tower their first night if they did not haul their bags the day they fixed. If you can spend an extra day on Timbuktu Tower you will live longer and smile more.

 

*Ledge: Timbuktu Tower and Thanksgiving Ledge are incredible bivies. The rest of the route is steep with some hanging belays, so bring a belay seat.

 

*The Elements: Never Never Land is obviously no place to be in a winter storm. There is a rappel route down from Timbuktu Tower trends a little west but generally heads straight down.

131 Octopussy, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 A3 19 pitches

Octopussy is a classic Yosemite wanderer. Some really cool cracks are interspersed with more-riveted pitches and wild traversing. Octopussy is a natural step up from Zodiac or Electric Ladyland, because of its length not because it is much harder. Do this route after Never Never Land as it misses the mega-classic Timbuktu Towers.

136 Horse Chute/Horse Play, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.8 A3 21 pitches

Horse Chute is a classic off-the-beaten track Southwest Face climb. A little better than Dihedral wall, but not as memorable as Never Never Land. HC is a logical next step for anyone who has climbed Zodiac, or Electric Ladyland.

133 Aquarian Wall, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.7 A3 20 pitches

Aquarian is an adventure climb: more about the experience of historically classic pitches/bivies than about the quality of the climbing which tends to be grassy and moderate. Fun climb, though you'd rather climb Never Never Land and Dihedral Wall first.

125 Realm of the Flying Monkeys, El Capitan West Face VI 5.10a A3 18 pitches
264 New Dawn, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A3 25 pitches

Stellar and mostly moderate, New Dawn is mega classic. It is slightly more difficult than Mescalito because it's more circuitous, and because there are many fixed heads and original rivets on the route that would be difficult to replace should they break or fall out. Awesome route up El Cap's most amazing Dawn Wall. Lay Lady and El Cap Tower are stellar bivies, and Wino Tower and the Dawn Wall ledge below the summit are sweet hangs.

150 Magic Mushroom, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.7 A3 32 pitches

Magic Mushroom is a little less classic and more involved than Sunkist for a second route up the Shield Headwall after the Shield. Nonetheless, it is an awesome route that follows amazingly splitter cracks up the best real estate on El Cap.

267 Wall of Early Morning Light, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A3 27 pitches

WEML is the lesser climbed of the three Dawn Wall moderates, Mescalito, New Dawn, WEML. Like New Dawn, WEML could be more difficult than other Intermediate routes because of ubiquitous fixed heads and old rivets that would be difficult to replace if they break or fall out. Known for a few good pitches interspersed between miles of rivets and fixed heads, WEML is better enjoyed after you've climbed the more classic nearby routes like Mescalito, South Seas, New Dawn,ect. (warning: as of 2011 WEML still has some missing bolts and rivets that were broken in 2005 making the route much more difficult to climb--the first pitch has to be free soloed at 5.10).

146 Son of Heart, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.7 A3+ 19 pitches

Son of Heart is an awesome, off-the-beaten-track crack odessy. The cruxes are a few thin piton or free moves, but it never gets too epic and this is the perfect 'I've climbed around the Heart for years and want to climb out it' climb. Harder than Zodiac, SOH is comparable to Never Never Land though has more wide cracks and is longer.

139 Excalibur, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 A3 28 pitches
149 Sunkist , El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.8 A3 29 pitches

Sunkist is everyone's favorite for a Shield headwall route after climbing the Shield. Splitter, without too much tough aid, Sunkist has an amazing location.

111 Hole in the Sky, Ribbon Fall VI 5.10b A3 16 pitches

The second ascentionists reported this route to be very dirty/grassy.

Advanced: Shorter Climbs(easier to harder)

27 Electric Ladyland, Washington Column East Face VI 5.7 A4 13 pitches

EL is a great introduction to harder aid. Only a couple pitches are serious though much of the route is outrageously steep. The East Face gets windy and shady(in shade by 1pm) so can be cold in the early season if you're not dressed warm. Climb Electric Ladyland and Zodiac will seem cruiser.

21 Tora Bora, Washington Column East Face VI 5.9 A3+ 12 pitches
26 Afroman, Washington Column East Face VI 5.6 A3+ 12 pitches

Afroman is the Shield of Washington Column. Thin, incredible cracks are interspersed with easier pitches. Pitch 6 is outrageously steep and thin; the Tsunami is legendary cool. This route is not that difficult, overall, but a couple steep, thin pitches make it better after you have some nailing/A3 experience.

1117 The Patriot Act, Liberty Cap VI 5.9 A3+ 12 pitches
19 Wheel of Torture, Yosemite Falls Wall VI 5.7 A4 13 pitches
529 Reason Beyond Insanity, Ribbon Fall VI 5.7 A3+ 12 pitches

RBI is arguably the best aid line in Ribbon Fall, though it is not climbable in early spring when the waterfall is running. The rock is clean and steep, there is a plush bivy ledge, and the upper roof pitches are outrageous. RBI is easier than Afroman, but a little harder than Zodiac because of its remoteness and how few ascents it's seen.

 

Ribbon Fall is one of the first waterfalls to dry up each year, so often by mid-May there is just water running down the wall(which is just 30 ft. to the right of this route). So if you plan it right, you can have all your water already at the base!

239 Sargantana, Porcelain Wall VI 5.9 A4 12 pitches
25 Great Slab Route, Washington Column East Face VI 5.7 A4 13 pitches
48 Saddam Hussein, Washington Column East Face VI 5.9 A4 12 pitches
160 Jesus Built My Hotrod, Leaning Tower VI 5.7 A4 9 pitches

JBMH is stout, overhanging aid right from the start. The first three pitches are the hardest, in part because after that you are used to the steepness. In the mid 2000s Todd Skinner and friends tried to establish a free climb which crisscrosses the beginning the route. Skinner abandoned that start but in 2010 the project had been revived by a motivated local. (so there might be some confusing bolts around the first couple pitches--not on route but distracting if you're looking for the first pitch((which is just past the bolts)))

1161 The North Sea, Higher Cathedral V 5.9 A3+ 10 pitches
13 Re-Animator, Washington Column South Face VI 5.8 A3+ 11 pitches

Re-Animator is hard aid: thin, delicate features, with many fixed heads up the true prow of the mountain. It is a good primer for the hard routes on the Southeast Face, but is not nearly as classic as Electric Ladyland or Afroman.

46 Horny-Johnson, Washington Column East Face VI 5.7 A3+ 13 pitches
1165 The New NorthFace, Lower Cathedral VI 5.11 A3 10 pitches
307 Bad Seed, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A4 15 pitches
164 Roulette, Leaning Tower VI 5.6 A4+ 8 pitches

Roulette is the perfect, 'I wanna climb a thin nailup on the Southeast Face of El Cap, but don't have enough time' route. Right off the bat the climbing is super heads-up, and the steep, technical nature never lets up. Most folks say this route is harder technically than Zenyatta Mondatta or Lost In America, but is overall a little easier because it is so much shorter so the commitment level is lower.

234 Luminescent Wall, Porcelain Wall VI 5.10b A4 12 pitches
238 Strange World, Porcelain Wall VI 5.8 A4 11 pitches
314 Waterfall Route, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4 14 pitches

Advanced: Longer Climbs(easier to harder)

261 Tribal Rite, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A3+ 29 pitches
129 Hole World, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.10 A4 17 pitches

The second ascentionists reported this route to be high quality fun.

151 Flight of the Albatross, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.8 A3+ 21 pitches

Flight of the Albatross is the less classic of the routes that folks commonly do after the Shield. Though it has a couple splitter pitches, and climbs to the infamous Canoe, it is generally less natural than Sunkist or Magic Mushroom. Awesome route, but better after you've done a couple of the nearby routes first. It is a logical step up from the Shield.

305 Lunar Eclipse, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A4 18 pitches

Lunar Eclipse is a cool route to climb after you've climbed some of the nearby slightly more classic routes, like Shortest Straw and Eagles Way. The cruxes are short thin sections. This is a logical step up from Zodiac or Never Never Land.

196 Tenaya's Terror, Mt. Watkins VI 5.9 A4 21 pitches
291 Iron Hawk, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A4 26 pitches

Iron Hawk is an awesome route that does a bit more traversing than most routes, but is overwise stellar. It is a logial step up from Zodiac or Mescalito. The runout face climbing at the top of the route is stout!

138 Cosmos, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.7 A4 25 pitches

-Characterized by stellar natural features that are linked by thin nailing, Cosmos offers a wild and off the beaten path adventure. Original rivets and rusty ¼ inch bolts increase the difficulty, while vegetated cracks increase the labor and time required. Anchor bolts are new from the ASCA. Cosmos is not as hard as Lost in America but feels harder because it is almost twice the size. Do this route after you have done one of the shorter more difficult nail ups on the Southeast Face, such as the Shortest Straw or Zenyatta Mondatta.

197 The Prism, Mt. Watkins VI 5.10 A3+ 18 pitches
223 Bushido, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.10 A4 18 pitches
141 Pacemaker, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 A4 30 pitches
285 Heartland, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4+ 28 pitches
288 New Jersey Turnpike, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4 23 pitches
290 Atlantic Ocean, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A4 25 pitches

Atlantic Ocean is a cool off-beaten-track adventure. The climbing is a bit looser than nearby Zodiac, North American Wall, and Iron Hawk, but the El Cap Tree Roof is bitchin as is the line AO takes up the wall.

 

**LEDGE: the only good ledge hang on the route is the El Cap Tree, which is big but terraced so you still sleep in your ledge(s).

273 South Seas, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A4 24 pitches

South Seas is one of the cooler, long steep El Cap routes. Climbing out the alcover at the bottom of the route is some of the most outrageous climbing anywhere on El Cap. And unlike the testpiece aid routes around it like Tempest, Atlantis, and Space, South Seas is very reasonable for its grade. It is a logical step up after Mescalito or Never Never Land. The cruxes are a few thin pins, or sections of the fixed heads.

278 Pacific Ocean Wall, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 C4 or A3 28 pitches

As of 2014 PO Wall has fallen out of favor with modern climbers, who largely opt for the nearby, steeper, and more classic South Seas to the PO. The PO is known for having many poor fixed heads and bad dowels. Still, it goes is a beautiful location climb through an awesome part of the wall.

303 Shortest Straw, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A4 15 pitches

Shortest Straw is fun, thin climbing on mostly good rock. This is an excellent first El Cap A4 route as it is short and follows better rock than Zenyatta Mondatta or Lost in America. Shortest Straw sports all the variety of aiding--hooking, pitoning, heading(fixed), but these sections are often interspersed with rivets or good cams. The Grey Circle section of the climb is incredibly fun and exposed.

298 Aurora, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A4 16 pitches

Aurora is an awesome adventure with many long, natural features interspersed with some heads and rivet sections. It is similar though slightly easier than Native Son, a logical step up from Iron Hawk, The Shield, or Never Never Land.

301 Zenyatta Mondatta, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A4 or C4F 16 pitches

Zenyatta is an old school climb in much the same way as Sea of Dreams is: it follows a relatively natural line through some cool features, but also has plenty of loose rock and poor rivets. It is a logical step up from Zodiac, The Shield, or Mescalito. ZM is good, but not quite as classic as Shortest Straw which is also very similar technically.

143 Heart Route, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.9 A4 29 pitches
309 On the Waterfront, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A4 14 pitches
63 Lost in America, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4 16 pitches

Lost In America is Southeast Face glory: steep, intimidating, and relatively straight up. The cruxes are short loose rock sections. Lost In America is similar to Zenyatta Mondatta. It is a good step up from the Shield, Never Never Land, or Mescalito.

296 Native Son, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A4 17 pitches

Native Son is a step up from Iron Hawk, but is more classic and direct. The Coral Sea is still considered A4, but the rest of the route is relatively straightforward, with thin cruxes interspersed with long stretches of moderate climbing. Climb Native Son after you climb the Shield or Never Never Land.

263 Genesis, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4 30 pitches
218 Zenith, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.8 A4 21 pitches

Steep and intimidating, while much easier than most of the routes around it, Zenith is regarded as the most classic, moderate, nailup on Half Dome.

317 Girdle Traverse, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10a A4 75 pitches
126 Allied Forces, El Capitan West Face VI 5.9 A3 16 pitches

Expert: Shorter Climbs(not sorted by difficulty)

24 Endangered Species, Washington Column East Face VI 5.8 A4+ 9 pitches

9 long(190-200'!) pitches make this route a serious undertaking. The FAist took some less obvious pitch-paths to keep their route more independent, but this route climbs some amazing features. As of 2014 Endangered Species is unrepeated.

163 Heading for Oblivion, Leaning Tower VI 5.10 A4+ 9 pitches

While steep and technical, subsequent parties have found this route to contain too many manufactured placements, and old bolts, to make it classic.

349 Bad to the Bone, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9+ A4 13 pitches
224 The Jet Stream, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.9 A4 12 pitches
237 When Hell Was in Session, Porcelain Wall VI 5.9 A5 15 pitches
304 Surgeon General, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A5 13 pitches
306 Born Under a Bad Sign, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A5 14 pitches

B.U.B.S is known as a stout testpiece in the slightly looser, less classic dark rock to the right of the Zodiac.

310 Plastic Surgery Disaster, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A5 13 pitches
311 High Plains Dripper, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.11 A5 14 pitches
312 Pressure Cooker, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4 12 pitches
313 Get Whacked, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A5 13 pitches
315 Chinese Water Torture, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.11 A4 10 pitches
316 Dark Star, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A5 10 pitches
318 Welcome to Afghanistan(no Topo), El Capitan Southeast Face VI A5 12 pitches

Expert: Longer Climbs(not sorted by difficulty)

259 Central Scrutinizer, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.11c A4+ 27 pitches
260 The Real Nose, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10+ A4 26 pitches
134 Wings of Steel, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.10+ A4+ 21 pitches

The second ascentionists reported this climb to be stout, low-angled aid climbing.

135 Winds of Change, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.10 A5 20 pitches
140 Bermuda Dunes, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.10 A4+ 26 pitches
300 Kaos, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A4+ 13 pitches

Kaos is known as one of the stouter routes on the Southeast Face. It is a modern Zenyatta Mondatta with long pitches and miles of thin climbing.

145 Verano Magico(simple topo), El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.10 A4 30 pitches
148 Jolly Roger, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.10 A4+ 23 pitches

Jolly Roger is considered one of the testpieces on the Southwest Face.

153 Turning Point(No Topo), El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.11 A4+ 27 pitches
156 Mediterraneo, El Capitan Southwest Face VI 5.10 A5 28 pitches
262 Disorderly Conduct, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A5 21 pitches
274 Tempest, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A4+ 25 pitches

As of 2014, Tempest is considered like Reticent to be one of the few difficult, but good, thin climbing/ good rock testpieces on El Cap.

275 Atlantis, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A4 25 pitches
276 Block Party(no Topo), El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A4+ 25 pitches
277 Every Man for Himself, El Capitan Southeast Face VI A4 18 pitches
280 Ring of Fire, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A5 25 pitches
265 Reticent Wall, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.7 A4+ 21 pitches

Reticent is the good rock, steep thin-crack testpiece of El Cap. The FAist were both over 6'3" so the rivets and hooks are known for being very reachy; still some very short people have climbed the route(Silvia Vidal, 5 feet, did 2nd or 3rd ascent!).

213 Queen of Spades, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.9 A4 18 pitches
217 Kali Yuga, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.10 A4 17 pitches
220 The Big Chill, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.9 A4 17 pitches
221 The Promised Land, Half Dome Northwest Face VI 5.10 A4 15 pitches
268 Space, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4+ 28 pitches

One of the very few El Cap routes to have a first pitch that is regarded as the crux of the route. Tiny heads above the Alcove slab right off the bat keep the crowds off this route.

269 Martyr's Brigade, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.11 A5+ 25 pitches
283 Nightmare on California Street, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A5 20 pitches

As of 2014 this route is still unrepeated, and is arguably one of the hardest climbs on El Cap.

279 Sea of Dreams, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A4 27 pitches

Sea of Dreams is a super classic, old-school route that isn't as hard as the more modern testpieces like Tempest, Reticent, Jolly Roger. The pitches are short and often involve a fun assortment of aid moves--hooks, pins, small cams, pendulums. Do this route after you've done South Seas and Zenyatta Mondatta or Shortest Straw.

284 Wyoming Sheep Ranch, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.8 A4 22 pitches

The Ranch is a little harder, and little less classic than the Sea of Dreams. It's cool, though, and climbs to some awesome locations, but also has some bad rock and wandery climbing.

286 Continental Drift, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.10 A4 15 pitches
287 Heavy Metal and Tinker Toys, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A5 19 pitches
289 Gulf Stream, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.9 A5 19 pitches

From 2007 to 2009 there were several rockfall incidents that affected the first three pitches of Gulfstream.

297 Scorched Earth, El Capitan Southeast Face VI 5.11 A4 15 pitches
302 Abstract Expressionist(No Topo), El Capitan Southeast Face VI A5 15 pitches