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.


Trip Reports



1. Partner
Brian "Way" Knight, Rich Albushkat
Aug 1993