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.

Trip Reports

Trip Reports



1. Partner
Yuji Hirayama, Nick Fowler
May 2003
1. Solo
Jun 2000 (two El Cap routes in a day Solo)
Scott Stowe, Kevin Fosburg
Sep 1990 (first one day ascent)
Timmy O'Neill, Miles Smart
Sep 10, 1999 (onsight ascent)