What is the success rate on El Cap?


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Trad climber
Bend, Or
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 16, 2013 - 02:04am PT
Alright, what do you guys think the success percentage is of people who attempt to climb El Cap? This doesn't include East Butt, or people who are just taking Dolt runs with no intention of actually getting to the top, but does include NIAD attempts, etc. Whats your best guess?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 16, 2013 - 02:14am PT
Looks like a good question for Tom Evans.
It depends on the season, though. The noobs in the peak crowding of late September bail more frequently.

Big Wall climber
Oct 16, 2013 - 10:06am PT
One in three or four from what I have seen.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Oct 16, 2013 - 10:07am PT
That would be an interesting study to see.

Which routes get climbed most often, style of ascent, and their success rate.

It would be interesting to see actually rather than anecdotal numbers.

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Oct 16, 2013 - 12:38pm PT
ElCap, as a whole, has about a 50% success rate. The Trade routes suck in a lot of the ambitious but unqualified. I have seen some weeks where 80 to 90% of teams bail off the Nose and others where the opposite happens. I would be glad to get some solid data in exchange for unlimited camping time... I will, of course, pay for the site! The mid range routes seem to have a higher success rate due to the experience of teams trying them.

Interestingly enough, I have never seen a team who bailed because they couldn't figure out the next placement on some pitch. It's the 5 inches between their ears that defeat most people.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 16, 2013 - 01:41pm PT
Define success.

I thought about attemptimg to try to attempt a go several times in the past.


No deja vu allowed.


Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Oct 16, 2013 - 02:37pm PT
I agree with Tom.

"Present dangers are less than future imaginings." - Shakespeare

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Oct 16, 2013 - 05:31pm PT
I've bailed many a time on the more obscure walls did to being shutdown midpitch, but on El Cap, the bails tend to be because of time constraints or partner freakouts. That, and one time I bailed off Sunkist before the route started due to shoe failure and (more importantly) pulley failure on the slabs.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 16, 2013 - 06:06pm PT
Define success.
We are talking about the narrower definition here - reaching the top.

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Oct 16, 2013 - 06:39pm PT
Over the years, I have always heard about 50%, but who has really done a study, and how would you verify it?

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Oct 16, 2013 - 06:44pm PT
well on my first el cap go I bailed:http://www.supertopo.com/tr/nose-bail-top-of-boot/t11928n.html

it was because we were freaked out on the king swing! and we were freked out being more then 500 feet off the ground, and we were freked out aid climbing for the first time!

I redeamed my self later and got over it but I will never have another first go.

a little while ago I tried to pull off a NIAD... that turned into NIAP (nose in a push) it was a 31 hour ordeal due to many things... partners, rain, and undereastimating! although we did top out it was not a NIAD...

in my experince(not much) on el cap my success rate has been 1/5, 1 bail and 4 top outs

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Oct 16, 2013 - 08:07pm PT
A huge aspect of wall climbing is your partner. Some people hook up with strong partners and ride to the top on their experience. Hard to know in that case if a person held their own or not. Going up with a partner with less experience is another story. You can be loaded for bear but your partner freaks out so down you go.

Too often, topping out is considered to be a mark of the ability of that individual climber which ignores both the partner and the parties you might get stuck behind.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Oct 16, 2013 - 08:22pm PT
100% success rate here!


for two times

were I to die tomorrow, I would have wanted to do one more though.

so failure is always an option.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Oct 18, 2013 - 01:59am PT
I bailed off the Salathé Wall after 17 pitches in 1976 because the two guys I was climbing with (never climbed with them before and never again) who both said they had done the Nose freaked because of a little rain, a brief shower, and I had checked the forecast before hand.

To this day I think they just wanted smoke my weed and use my gear. Dummy me.

So 0% success rate. But some day...

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
Oct 18, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
I am 1 for 1 on Lurking Fear with an ace in the hole as my partner. Bump Hudon for a great trip! Hope to be 2 for 2 soon.

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Oct 18, 2013 - 06:03pm PT

Didn't you already try out the first four on the nose?

Or do IAD sickle runs not count?

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Oct 18, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
intentional practice runs and ankle-biting don't count. You need to intend to top out to bail, if you intend to go down after x amount of pitches then that's a send imo.

Big Wall climber
Oct 18, 2013 - 07:25pm PT
I'm happy I got up the thing

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 26, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
Thanks for the comments everyone. I had guessed about 50/50, but good to see some people with more accurate knowledge weigh in.

Trad climber
Oct 26, 2013 - 12:59pm PT
"I bailed off the Salathé Wall after 17 pitches"

I bailed off The Shield after 17 pitches..Ha!
Good thing though, because we woulda got hammered by rain and snow the next day. So I'm 7 for 8. Only once, have I done...."The Walk of Shame".
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