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.


Trip Reports



1. Partner
Hans Florine, Timmy O'Neil
Nov 1999
1. Solo
Jun 2000 (Two El Cap route in a day solo)