Most popular Yosemite Bigwalls


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Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 8, 2013 - 06:14pm PT
Working on a project for the most popular routes, what am I missin?

The Nose
S. Face of Column
W. Face of Leaning Tower
The Prow
Regular NW Face of HD
Skull Queen
Lurking Fear
Triple Direct
Tangerine Trip
Lost Arrow Direct

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 8, 2013 - 06:25pm PT
You're only missing The Shield.

Talk to Tom Evans - he can tell you about every route on El Cap, and its relative popularity.

And since when did "big wall" become one word?

Trad climber
Jul 8, 2013 - 06:38pm PT
I would maybe add the NA wall.

Down a tier might include:
The Shield
Wet Denim Daydream
SS to PO
Golden Gate

Social climber
The internet
Jul 8, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
Those first 7 routes probably get 95+% of the traffic. Each probably sees more ascents than all the other routes listed so far combined. Why not just shorten the list?

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Jul 8, 2013 - 06:48pm PT
West Face of El Cap? Long and free at a reasonable grade. How much traffic does it get these days.

Does Royal Arches qualify as a big wall?
Erik Sloan

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 8, 2013 - 07:13pm PT
Nice Pete. Bigwall it is!

I agree with the second tier idea, as the Shield would be a huge drop off in popularity, usually seeing only 5-10 ascents per year.

In case you're wondering why with over 400 bigwall routes in the Valley only 7 or so see 95% of the wall traffic, those routes are pretty darn good....but there are a few other ones out there, Quarter Dome comes to mind this time of year, or the Northwest Face of Higher Cathedral Spire--shady classics that would see action all year if they weren't in the shade(or high up).
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 9, 2013 - 12:37am PT
The routes are POPULAR because they are EASY. It's not only about being "good". Sure, they are good routes, but there are almost no routes on El Cap that aren't good.

Folks climb these route because they are easy, and then for whatever reason, they don't make the next step up to the moderates. I wonder why that is? Routes like Never Never Land or Sunkist or New Dawn or Lunar Eclipse are all superb, and much more fun to climb than the trade routes because they don't feel so over-travelled. And they aren't really that much harder. Maybe a bit, but not much. And it's not like you need to buy a ton more gear to make the next step up.

It just seems like people climb the trade routes - the easiest routes - and then quit. And these are people who usually invested substantial amounts of money purchasing both a haul bag and a portaledge. For only a few dollars more, you can buy the gear you need to climb the moderates, but it doesn't seem to happen very much.

Why is that?

I would love to hear from guys who have climbed the trade routes, but never anything else - why they didn't, or haven't yet. I have always found this curious. But then, I'm an addict!
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jul 9, 2013 - 09:13am PT
I'm on the same page as Riley. I would love to live in California and be able to go to Yosemite on weekend and take a month every year to do walls. But that is easier said than done if you have financial and other commitments. When I was young it was no problem to take a summer off and get a new job in the fall. Now I can't take that risk. I one point I wanted to be commitment free. Then I felt I needed more meaning in my life so I took on a lot of commitments. Can't have everything.

That's really good beta though. I do plan to do at least one more trip up el Cap before I'm old. When I see these people queuing up on the Nose, getting passed by NIADs and at the same time people bailing off the route with no idea what they're doing, it makes the obscure routes a lot more attractive. Although, the Salathe and Shield are really unique.

Jul 9, 2013 - 10:13am PT
Umm... I don't think that NNL is nearly as good as the Zodiac. Why the Trip is so popular is a mystery to me.
And I think that the Zod, the Nose, and the Salathe (i guess, haven't been on the upper part)
are a whole lot more enjoyable than their less popular "moderate" neighbours like the Son of Heart, and the Lunar Eclipse. The Zodiac has miles of splitter thin clean aid, and the Nose has miles of 5.10 hands on the upper part. And then there are the Stovelegs. I can see why people move on after having a couple routes. Also, there are worlds between the trade routes and what you call the moderates if you aren't climbing harder stuff. If you can climb the Native Son, the Zodiac and the NNL may have similar difficulties for you ("moderate"), but if the Zodiac is difficult for you, but manageable, then the NNL is gonna a surprise if you expect something like the Zod.
I think that within one range of difficulty as perceived by someone well above the level in question, the amount of travel a route gets makes all the difference. This goes for A2 routes (Muir vs Zodiac) as well as for A4 routes (ZM vs. Native Son).
just my 2c.

and yeah, what I really don't get is why the Tribal isn't the Captains most popular A3 route.

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:29am PT
The "moderates" don't get done more often for the same reason the Nose has at least a 50% bail rate. "Most" "El Cap" climbers are simply not that good at climbing walls, and its a big, difficult, time consuming endeavor to get better at them.

Mountain climber
In the middle of the ocean
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:19am PT
I have climbed 8 walls on El Cap. I have never done any of the trade routes, just because everyone else is doing them. I like untraveled ground, dusty dirty cracks, spider webs and very little trash.

I didn't think a grade V was called a big wall.

Jul 9, 2013 - 11:40am PT
The Zodiac and the Nose are worth doing despite the piss smell, believe it or not ;-)

Jul 9, 2013 - 12:08pm PT
Uh, Lembert dome obviously tops any list, duh.

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Jul 9, 2013 - 12:15pm PT
Paul Brennan

Trad climber
Jul 9, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
Agree with Pete about the popular routes being the easiest one to the top of each formation. It would be interesting to see the breakdown of the percentages actually. i.e. what el cap routes get what % of the action each season, and what the bailure rates are like. Would probably be possible from a meta analysis of el cap reports. Maybe some day when I get really bored.

Also agree with Pete on the trade route thing. Wasn't really blown away by Mescalito or Zodiac after climbing on lesser traveled aid lines elsewhere. Being on El Cap, looking out from what I'd looked in at for so long more than made up for it though. Looking forward to something a little more off the beaten track when I get back in the fall, or next spring.

Looking forward to the book Nanook.

Jul 10, 2013 - 01:11am PT
I don't think the routes in the valley need to become much more popular..?
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