El Capitan’s Salathé Wall- The Proudest Rock Climb On Earth


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Captain...or Skully

or some such
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:30am PT
I'll ditto that. It's the Salathe' Wall, man!
It's glorious. And Huge!

Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:33am PT
Clint, I think we're all in agreement. Just wanted to make
sure people know the original source of the piece. And, as
I said several times, no problem with a foot in an aid sling,
probably half frictioning at times and half aid, and yes some
mandatory difficult friction, difficult for those days,
for certain..., a real adventure.

Trad climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 02:59am PT
Great thread, really enjoy reading everyone's experiences of this amazing route. Here is mine.

The Salathe changed my life. It was my first el cap route back in '02. No matter what happened in my life after it, I always knew that at one moment in time I achieved my dreams. The momentum from climbing this route enabled me to have the confidence to go back to school and push myself to things I never dreamed of.

Salathe embraces so much of what climbing and Yosemite are to me. Classic pitches, solid rock, spectacular position, inspiring bivies, and its history make it a super classic. To know you are hand jamming behind Robbins, Pratt, Frost, the Hubers, Caldwell and so many others is an amazing link to the past that few other climbs allow. I often wondered what it must have been like for the FAists to jettison the fixed lines and head up into the unknown. Even armed with the modern climbing accoutrements and a supertopo the route is no gimme. Climbing the route again with two of my best friends last summer I took a big winger in the dark just below long ledge. Despite having many el cap days under my belt the route didn't seem much gentler.

I hope to get to the reunion, hear others experiences of the route, and get to meet some of the people of the golden age of Yosemite climbing.

Sep 12, 2011 - 11:01am PT
Bump for the love of the Salathe.

Sitting on top of the hollow flake the first time was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Trad climber
san Jose, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:51am PT
John Shervais and I did it in October of 1975. We worked hard to do it clean, but as I recall, did not quite pull it off. John broke his ankle in a small fall above Sous le Toit and this led to a self-rescue/epic that we both still remember fondly. I wrote about that here a few years ago. This was and still is one of the greatest rock climbs in the world!

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:57am PT
Sitting on top of the hollow flake the first time was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I can't think of a better moment on the rock. I cried.
James Doty

Trad climber
Phoenix, Az.
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:15pm PT
Pretty good read. Thanks for putting it up here.

Gym climber
wussing off the topout on Roadside Attraction
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:04pm PT
Tell J I said hi 'cuz a this thread, would you Melissa?

Nothing but fond memories.


Social climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 02:49pm PT
Great thread, about a magnificent climb. I'd have to agree, Steve, it's the Proudest Rock Climb on Earth.

Climbed this in 1983, with Dave Houchin from Flagstaff. It was his idea, I really knew nothing about the route, was not very interested in doing it.

Man, I changed my tune as we progressed up the cliff. The features are so incredible, and they just roll on by, one after another, in a grand procession---Hollow Flake, The Ear, El Cap Spire, the amazing roof and headwall section, and best of all Long Ledge, the best bivy ledge in the world.

Climbed a few other routes on El cap since, but nothing really matches the sheer quality of the Salathe Wall.

Had to go back and do it again a few month later with a new partner, one I'd just met, to whom I'm still married.

Thanks Dave, wherever you are!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 12, 2011 - 02:58pm PT

I would love to get dragged up Freerider and do as much free as I could before I croak....

Oh yeah, now you're talking!

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 03:04pm PT
Maybe TM was both clowning and scared at the same time.

We all have to cope with fear, and TM's clowning is as good a coping strategy as any other.

Social climber
From the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Sep 12, 2011 - 08:59pm PT
When Aldude, Dominque Thomas, and I did the Salathé back in 197(mumble), the Hollow Flake had recently fallen out. Some rubble, but the route was ticked as a Great Adventure. ...seriously hot and we were running low on water. We almost retreated at the Ear, but cooler heads prevailed. So many emotions over that 3.5 days. The Headwall really looms over the entire route. What a feature to cap that line!

About that TM Herbert photo... I always associated it with the West Face route, probably because it was included with that Ascent article. It totally matches the TM I knew—making mirth to keep it light.


Trad climber
47N 122W
Sep 12, 2011 - 09:15pm PT
Crunch, Dave Houchin is in Vietnam teaching English right now. He is still out and about pulling on things.

London, UK
Sep 13, 2011 - 04:47am PT

The Salathe was my 50th anniversary route and I can't think of a finer birthday night out than squirming up the jungle pitch in spring conditions in the dark (I may have needed a little encouragement to get started...).

It's the Salathe' Wall, man! It's glorious. And Huge! Amen! And even with large cams, sticky rubber, topos and modern hauling techniques it didn't feel that tame to me.

The stories of fixed ropes on the headwall had made me nervous about experiences we would have with other parties but that nonsense seems to have abated. Apart from rest-day on The Block we had the route to ourselves despite great June weather. I guess the wide stuff still keeps the riff-raff off! It’s just occurred to me that almost every photo I have of the route show one or both of us with a huge grin. That’s the kind of route it is. Thanks again, Melissa.

Melissa before the Hollow Flake

In The Ear

On The Block

Headwall, 8pm

“We so far forgot ourselves as to shake hands”

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Sep 13, 2011 - 11:32am PT
:-) :-) :-)

It really was all that and more, huh?

Rob...message delivered! I hope you're having a blast in Asia.

Gym climber
wussing off the topout on Roadside Attraction
Sep 13, 2011 - 03:09pm PT
Um, on a beach in Turkey now- barely counts.

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
Sep 14, 2011 - 06:23pm PT
great report. i was the youngest climber to ascent el cap and this was the route we did. we ascended it in july of 1976 and i was 3 months into being 16 years old

true story people....it was never documented but i have pictures to prove it
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 14, 2011 - 06:28pm PT
Eagle, that is so cool!

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
Sep 15, 2011 - 07:53pm PT
true story dude. i was always impressed with your free ascents along with your buddy max.

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
Sep 15, 2011 - 08:49pm PT
Eagle, I don't think anyone is looking for proof, but I'm sure many would be excited to hear your story as a 16 year old. Quite a proud and impressive feat. Well over 30 years later, you still don't see many at that age climbing the Salathe.
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