The Nose, El Capitan 5.14a or 5.9 C2

   
Search
Go

Yosemite Valley, California USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 5 days
Approach time: 10 minutes
Descent time: 4 hours
Number of pitches: 31
Height of route: 2900'
Overview
Long, sustained and flawless, the Nose may be the best rock climb in the world; it is certainly the best known. On paper, at 5.9 C1, The Nose sounds easy. It’s not. With over 31 pitches of steep, exposed and strenuous climbing, The Nose is an immense physical and psychological drain. Extensive climbing experience on long routes is mandatory. The failure rate is high. That said, anyone who is deeply committed to training for this climb can do it. See our recommended Nose Rack
Photos - View all 323 photos of The Nose as: Thumbnails | Slideshow
Climber Beta on The Nose
  A total of (100) submissions of route beta on The Nose
Which SuperTopo guidebooks include a topo for The Nose?

Yosemite Big Walls

Road to The Nose
Find other routes like The Nose

 
History
First ascent history
After missing a chance to make the firrst ascent of Half Dome, Warren Harding knew there was only one other accomplishment that could surpass it—the first ascent of El Capitan. Because no technical rock climb of this scale had ever been attempted, Harding employed expedition tactics of using supplied camps linked by fixed ropes. In addition, the Park Service mandated that the climbers use fixed ropes so that a rescue would not be necessary. On July 4, 1957, six days after the first ascent of Half Dome, Harding and his team began their historic journey.

After reaching Sickle Ledge in three days, the team pulled off two wild pendulums and faced the next obstacle, a series of 300-foot long, 2–3" wide cracks. Standard pitons that large did not exist, but Harding had come prepared. He had four enameled stove legs that Frank Tarver had scrounged from a Berkeley dump. Leapfrogging the 9" monsters up the continuously wide cracks, the team made it to within 100 feet of Dolt Tower before descending.

The climb was a huge tourist attraction, and traffic became so tangled that the Park Service ordered a halt to the project until fall. Even under the best of circumstances climbers were viewed as a nuisance by the Park Service—“Somewhere between hippies and bears,” noted Wayne Merry, a member of Harding’s team. Despite their lack of warm feelings for the project, the Park Service lifted the ban as promised and Harding’s team pushed up to Dolt Tower before descending for the winter, leaving fixed ropes attached to the wall. Fixed ropes reduced the fright of being on such a colossal wall, but because they were made of manila and left swaying in the wind for months on end, the ropes presented a danger in themselves. Steve Roper describes a close call: “Wally Reed had just begun prusiking up a section of rope when suddenly he plummeted back onto a ledge. The rope had broken. Luckily the ledge was a fair-sized one and he didn’t roll off.”

In May 1958, Harding and the team reached the Boot Flake, a feature that mysteriously floats on the wall with no visible means of attachment. Each pin placement caused the whole feature to groan and expand. On top of The Boot, seeking the next crack system, Harding unleashed the wildest pendulum ever done, now renowned as the King Swing.
By fall the route was pushed up to Camp IV, and both climbers and the Park Service wanted to wrap things up. Harding had been the leader from the start, and as problems arose and partners bailed, it was his determination that kept the project alive. Of the eight climbers who contributed to the first ascent, only Harding was involved for the duration.
On November 1, 1958, the team, now consisting of Harding, Merry, Rich Calderwood and George Whitmore, prusiked to their high point at 1,900 feet, and launched their summit campaign. The Great Roof, although appearing from the ground to be the crux of the route, was easily dispatched, and the climbers moved steadily up to Camp VI. At this point Calderwood suddenly dropped out, leaving Whitmore to move loads and Harding and Merry to swing leads up the spectacular upper dihedrals.

After enduring a storm on November 10, they reached a small ledge 180 feet below the summit. Above them loomed a blank and overhanging wall. At 6 p.m. the next day Whitmore came up the fixed ropes, which now spanned 2,800 feet of the wall, and delivered a fresh supply of bolts to Harding. What followed was described by Steve Roper in Camp 4 as “the most famous single episode in Yosemite’s illustrious climbing history.”
For 14 hours, from dusk till dawn, Harding endured the unimaginable pain of hand drilling 28 bolts in a row by headlamp. At 6 a.m. he stood exhausted but triumphant on the summit, greeted by hordes of friends and media who created a huge commotion unlike that ...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

Sign In or Join SuperTopo (it's FREE!) to read the complete route history, the recommended strategy for climbing this route, and useful tips should you need to retreat.
Approach
Sign In or Join SuperTopo (it's FREE!) to read this route's approach information.
Descent
Sign In or Join SuperTopo (it's FREE!) to read this route's descent information.
Everything You Need to Know About Yosemite Valley
Search the internet for beta on The Nose
  Search the internet for information on The Nose
Links to related internet pages with info on The Nose
Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff Last update: March 18, 2014
El Capitan - The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The Nose—the best rock climb in the world!
Photo: Mark Kroese
Other Routes on El Capitan
El Capitan - Zodiac A2 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Zodiac, A2 5.7
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

1800' of fantastic climbing.
El Capitan - Salathe Wall 5.13b or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Salathe Wall, 5.13b or 5.9 C2
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Salathé Wall ascends the most natural line up El Cap.
El Capitan - Lurking Fear C2F 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Lurking Fear, C2F 5.7
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Lurking Fear is route number 1.
El Capitan - East Buttress 5.10b - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
East Buttress, 5.10b
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

East Buttress with top of The Nose on left.
El Capitan - The Shield A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
The Shield, A3 5.8
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Shield is route number 7.
More routes on El Capitan
SuperTopo on the Web