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.

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Speed Record

Yuji Hirayama, Nick Fowler
May 2003

Solo Record

Jun 2000
  • Sep 20, 2016 3.5 days -- Matt Kuehl, Linda
    Bivy at P6 and P14, then slept on top and got stuck in manzanitas on the descent but I found $10. Moonrise over Half Dome was worthy.
  • Aug 06, 2016 15hours -- Erik Sloan, Ryan Sheridan
    Ryan's 1st and my 100th ascent of El Cap! We climbed all night as it was 100 degrees. So much fun!
  • Jun 05, 2016 3.5 days -- Trevor Violette, Chris Sproul, Cameron Saul
    First El Cap route! 3.5 HOT days. Fixed to 5 day one; Chris and I stayed at the top of 4, Cameron joined in the morning. Chris and Cameron stayed at top of 10 on day 2, I rapped to p. 9.5 ledge. Thanksgiving Ledge for night 3. Topped out around 11-12(?).
  • Jun 2016 3 days -- Ken Bokelund, Doug shaw
  • May 21, 2016 07hours -- Erik Sloan, Tim Klein
    Wow this route is so good. Snow flurries on the last pitch but cold and dry. Perfecto!
  • May 15, 2016 15hours -- Steven Tata, Madison Goodman
  • May 11, 2016 -- Erik Sloan, Brad Gobright
    Man it was so fun to watch Brad onsighting most of the pitches free. Woot!
  • Apr 06, 2016 07h:20mins -- Erik Sloan, Jim Reynolds
    Such an awesome route. Woohoo!
  • Nov 2015 2.5 days -- dan moses, Joe R.
    Good times. beat the season ending storm by an hour.
  • Oct 07, 2015 15hours -- Brandon Adams, Gena Wood
    5 hours to Pillar. Stellar times on the big stone with a radically fun partner.
  • Sep 05, 2015 7 days -- Keiko Tanaka (solo)
    First successful wall! First route solo! First party on a wall :)
  • Sep 04, 2015 11hours -- Erik Sloan, Jon Griffin, Shayna Brown, Robbie Brown
    (topo update: we had time to add a couple belay bolts, so now Lurking Fear, the easiest route on El Cap, has all bolted anchors((we added a bolt to belays 14 and 16)) like every other route on El Cap. 'Bout Time!). Keiko was up solo, going for her first successful bigwall, so we Valley Rally-ed and met her at Thanksgiving Ledge after a late morning start. British Ace Neil and Grizzly Joe had done NNL and met up with K right before we got there. Rager on Thanksgiving! So cool to high five Keiko and make sure she had enough reserve stoke to drag all her stuff up the summit slabs. We topped out late after much revelry, and enjoyed the stars. Venus + Mars rising over Half Dome in the early am gave a sparkly Woot!
  • Mar 21, 2015 18hours -- Dylan K, Ryan
    our first el cap route.
  • Dec 07, 2014 1 day -- mickey sensenbach, Eric Walden, Wayne Willoughby
    Awesome adaptive ascent of a fun route! Wayne got food poisening from a chicken sando and was vomiting for the whole second half and descent... He kept charging! We made it though and it was rad!
  • Nov 10, 2014 2.5 days -- mickey sensenbach, Eric Walden
    So freaken fun! It was cruiser! Super clean fun C1 climbing with some easy free climbing up top! Can't wait to come back!
  • Aug 22, 2014 16hours -- Brandon Adams, Joe "Gnarly" Marley
    First El Cap in a day. Lurking fear is really an overrated route. Except for the several awesome splitter pitches, the route is either a bolt ladder or choss. A good day on the big stone nonetheless!
  • May 30, 2014 3 days -- John Greer, Tommy Fowler
    Tommy's first trip up the Captain. You could say he was a little stoked...
  • Apr 27, 2014 3.5 days -- Jarad Stiles, Justin Cory, Chris Kohler
  • Apr 2014 3 days -- Justin Cory, Chris Kohler, Jarad Stiles
  • Mar 23, 2014 3.5 days -- Will Masterman, Conner Macleod
    2nd El Cap route with Conner and 3rd overall. Thanksgiving ledge is amazing... too bad we didn't get to bivy there.
  • Mar 23, 2014 3.5 days -- Conner MacLeod, Will Masterman
    2nd El Cap route, lower 2/3rds is classic, top not so much. Will WHIPPED on pitch 6.
  • Mar 21, 2014 3 days -- Brandon Adams, Rush
    Great time on the wall. Vertical camping trip. Super fun climbing with Rush who flew out from Boulder just for the climb. 7 days on El Cap out of the last 9. Life is good.
  • Jan 2014 3 days -- glenn douglass, Greg Coit
  • Oct 20, 2013 3.5 days -- Tadd Perkins, Phil Wesseler
    First El Cap summit by me, with the help of expert partner Phil Wesseler. Dry conditions, great weather and nice night on Thanksgiving Ledge. Able to negotiate off width crack with 2 #4s and 1 #5.
  • Oct 03, 2013 9 days -- David Brendgard, Solo (solo)
    7 days with fixing 3 and the descent. My first El Cap route. Fixing to three was key. The window pain is fun, don't bypass unless you are truly freeing that version. I had a team of two pass me on the top of five and had the route to myself from then to Thanksgiving when Clark Jacob and Dave Brennon caught up to me. The run out was big! I had 2 #4 Camalots and leapfrogged the entire length of it. Just Zen out and don't think about the fall potential. The gear is good. I hooked the Grad Traverse and it had a big reach on it, maybe 3-5 hook in a row. Took a fall on the Neds Mantle pitch in the flare after the 'easier' way. The three pitches leading to thanksgiving were the worst for leading and hauling. The top out was long and aggravating to the summit. Overall, just what everyone says. The first 12-13 pitches are great splitters C1, C2 awesome climbing and excellent setting. The last third of the route in poor quality, sucky hauling and bush whacking to the summit. I walked off and had to ferry loads. Clark Jacob walked off with me and we talked history for 11 hours. Have Fun.
  • Sep 14, 2013 1 day 06hours -- Adam Long, Angelo Angelilli
    Nice one day ascent turned into Shiver Bivy.
  • Sep 2013 3.5 days -- Matt de Vaal, Jeff Wad McDonald Wez Wad Hunter
    1st as a 3. Good fun. Drag slabs!!!
  • Sep 2013 3 days -- Guy Buckingham
  • May 2013 05h:49mins -- David Allfrey, Luke Holloway
    A great day, off before the sun hit!
  • May 26, 2011 14h:15mins -- Erik Sloan, Ryan Baker
    Ryan and I had been dreaming of El Cap all winter, woohooo Big Stone! It was Ryan's first time and we wanted to relax and enjoy ourselves so we brought extra water and a couple of pizzas and just savored each pitch, each unique vista. Viva El Cap!
  • Aug 2010 5 days -- Neil Chelton (solo)
  • Jun 05, 2010 12hours -- Roger Putnam, Jesse McGahey
    Mellow push...ate lunch on Thanksgiving ledge.
  • May 2010 3 days -- Erik Sloan, Richie Copeland
    A year ago Richie and I were caught in an unexpected, icy, thunderstorm-waterfall, high on this route with only one rope and soggy puffy jackets. So fun to push through and enjoy the deep, endless crack-Vibe. Amazing Route!
  • Aug 14, 2009 1 day -- David Allfrey, Scott Lappin
    My first attempt at a push. It was more of a shove...
  • May 26, 2009 1.5 days -- Roger Putnam, Ned Leblond
    Ned's first wall...
  • May 2009 4 days -- Munge Climber, Gomz
    “I had already decided not to abandon the quest for the lurking fear, for in my rash ignorance it seemed to me that uncertainty was worse than enlightenment, however terrible the latter might prove to be.”
  • Apr 2009 3 days -- Erik Sloan, Blake Burwell
    Good, wet times on the Captain. We did this just a couple days after a pretty major storm, and the upper pitches where running with water(the ledge at the top of 14 was covered in snow!). Topped out around 6pm so soaked we took our shoes off and rung them out, and then got in our bags for a cold bivy. Le Cap--always an adventure.
  • Sep 05, 2008 2.5 days -- Dominic Oughton, Bill Deakin
  • Jun 18, 2006 4 days -- Rachel McCullough, Micah Bisson
  • May 2005 1 day -- Erik Sloan, Jaimie Mundo, Dave Bainbridge
  • Aug 01, 2004 1 day -- Jacques Lepesant, Alik Berg
  • Sep 1998 07h:15mins -- Dean Potter, Jose Pereyra
  • May 1998 3 days -- Erik Sloan, John All
  • Sep 1996 4 days -- Ken Bokelund, Maureen and jack
    Good times with great partners
  • Sep 1995 -- Oszkár Nádasdi, Enikő Szentirmai
  • Jun 1992 3 days -- Umberto Villotta, Roberto Alberti
  • May 1983 5.5 days -- Dave Sessions, Alan Nelson
    4th Ascent. Copperheads, Pins, Hammocks without flys, No rain gear - back in the day, what were we thinking....

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)