How many people get up El Cap on their first attempt?


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mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 18, 2012 - 03:15am PT
One hundred eighty-five posts.

Warren, Wayne, and George.  Oh happy day!
Warren, Wayne, and George. Oh happy day!
I give you George Whitmore, who, I believe, only took part in the very last "send" (for lack of a better term) of the FA of the Nose.

This would entitle him to the faint praise of the first of you all.

Please, Fossil Climber, Steve, Clint, Ed, any or all, correct me if I err.

Otherwise, would it be "the man," Joe Fitschen?

It's late, and I really don't feel like checking this out for myself.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 3, 2015 - 06:31pm PT
I climbed the Tangerine Trip with Mason Frichette (from Boulder then and up this way now) first time around in 77.

George Whitmore has a much fatter climbing resume than most with many trips into the mountains so he was an equal partner on the Nose team.

He certainly did his share of work in the upper dihedral and spent some time really scoping out the line with a telescope from the south side of the Valley. My favorite Whitmore story came when I met him to have him sign a bunch of Clay Wadman's El Cap wall maps. As he traced the original line upwards he stopped at Camp Six, looked me in the eye and said very firmly "this used to be called Whitmore Tower, you know". George had seen it with his telescope and knew that a good ledge might be there so at the end of the day when Warren was setting up a belay well short of it he urged him to keep going. Warren easily managed the remainder of the lead and was so delighted with George's discovery that he yelled down "We ought to call it Whitmore Tower." It has been Whitmore Tower for me ever since.
They split a half bottle of port to celebrate that evening according to Roper.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 3, 2015 - 06:38pm PT
I'm 3 for 3 on El Cap climbs. If you're prepared and check the weather nothing should stop you.

edit: AND pick the right partner.

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Mar 3, 2015 - 08:29pm PT
If you're prepared and check the weather nothing should stop you.

Guess that all depends on what route you are trying.

Boulder climber
Mar 3, 2015 - 08:49pm PT
... every one who doesn't quit, get crippled or dies.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Mar 3, 2015 - 09:07pm PT
Dihedral Wall;....1980;...first try on el cap;...successful! (I had two failures after that.....oopsie...)


Mar 3, 2015 - 09:21pm PT
My very first time I was successful.

It's very easy to do.

I hiked to to the top from Tamarack Flat.

Anyone can do it.

El Cap is easily accessible to anyone even the masses.

Even Yosemite Indian Chief Ula Baba did it in year 40000BC .....
Robert L

Mar 4, 2015 - 01:59am PT
I'm 3 for 3 on El Cap climbs. If you're prepared and check the weather nothing should stop you.

Well the old guys did the Nose in a single push but not in 24 hours.....oh well, the Earth is still on its axis and we still will have to pay taxes. Forty years away from wall climbing exacted its much to remember, not enough brain cells remaining.
We didn't get very high on our two training forays. Rock fall ended one two pitches up and I got knocked silly by an errant haul bag on the first pitch of the Stovelegs on the other.
On our ascent we reached Camp 4 in 13 plus hours and I knew the NIAD was not in the bag. I suggested to George that we bail and go back up for a fresh go. He responded that he had maxed out his vacation time, so we decided to continue. With the NIAD out of reach, we ratcheted back and continued up in a less hurried pace waking people up along the way.

Mar 4, 2015 - 07:43am PT
First attempt on El Cap was successful. Met my partner in Camp 4 three days before, he spoke ok English except when mad or scared. A couple of pitches up found out he had never been more than 3 pitches off the deck and that was the day before when we were at the Cookie. We had a homemade haul bag, almost a full set of cams, a 45 meter haul rope, 1 liters of water per person per day, in the middle of July. We were incredibly slow, they did helicopter fly byes to check on us. Brought the bull horns out to El Cap Meadows to check if we needed a rescue ( truthfully we probably did ). I learned that when severely dehydrated Power Bars are inedible.

After that attempt probably at around 50%.

Social climber
From the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Mar 4, 2015 - 08:55am PT
Four virgins on the fourth ascent of the West Face in 1972. back when it was A4. ;-)

And I'm still four for four.
Dave Hough

Keene, NY
Mar 4, 2015 - 09:50am PT
Nose first try in November 1975. Suffered a bit and tried out every available bivy ledge, including two nights sitting out snow storm at the Camp 4 bivy. Topped out with six inches of fresh snow on the rim and, for reasons long forgotten, post holed to the top of Yosemite falls trail to get down. Nobody else was on El Cap, in fact there was only one car left in the Camp 4 parking lot. Pretty cool.


Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Mar 4, 2015 - 10:14am PT
Mescalito, swinging leads with Rob Brown. Smooth as silk. Other than being a lot of work that one didn't seem hard. First big October front came through the day we got down. I never went back for more.

I have lots of admiration for climbers who do hard aid. Myself? I prefer free climbing and more remote stuff. Just me. It's a matter of taste.

wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Mar 4, 2015 - 12:54pm PT
Did Zodiac for my first wall, twenty five years ago this Fall. I've only done 16 more ascents of it since then, and each one makes me want to get back up there again.

dark places
Mar 4, 2015 - 01:00pm PT
Yup, a successful bid for el zodiac on my first el cap attempt as well! Though it was pre-cleanup, and in all honesty not that difficult. Plenty wild enough for me though!

Trad climber
Washington DC
Mar 4, 2015 - 01:08pm PT
Yes, first try NA Wall 1977.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Mar 4, 2015 - 04:02pm PT
Yes. I am 4 for 5 so far. As I remember...

Trad climber
Mar 4, 2015 - 04:07pm PT
2 for 2 on El Cap with Zodiac as my first bigwall and Lurking Fear a couple months after. 0 for 2 on Liberty Cap though, damn elusive wall! Scarface is scary as hell to try and do clean...
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