The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2

  • Currently 5.0/5

El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
The FUNNEST Ascent (FA) of the Nose!
Monday April 1, 2013 5:38pm
For more photos and videos please check out my blog post, or at least click it so I feel important :) This climb turned out to be one of the most enjoyable outings I have done since I started climbing. Now I see why so many people dream of climbing The Nose.

I can go on and talk about how nerve-wracking it was getting on the longest wall my partner and I ever attempted, after confirming plans to jump on it a whole TWO DAYS in advance. But, I don't feel like it. To me this climb was about having time of my life. It's the NOSE- one of the most aesthetic rock climbs in the world! Splitting El Capitan in half, The Nose is composed of solid rock, splitter cracks of all sizes and a few bivy ledges that blew my mind. It's physical features are known not only to majority of rock climbers that fill up Yosemite Valley every year, but to tourists alike. This climb is so classic, there is a whole Supertopo guidebook dedicated to climbing this route – “Road to The Nose.” I wanted to do the King Swing, sink a hand jam into Stoveleg crack, spent a night on El Cap tower, discover how huge the “Great Roof” is up-close, and of course have a chance to stand on top of El Cap in day-light.

Having a great day - top of pitch 28)! (or excited she does not have to jug any longer)

The Nose and some of it's features

Looking up El Cap from the bottom

Climbing Lurking Fear two weeks prior was awesome, but something was missing. We missed all the views from the summit (since we topped out in the dark), did not sleep on the wall, and to be honest the line LF takes does not make you feel like you are on El Cap proper- it is too close to the western edge. This time Alix and I planned on a much slower ascent that would let us appreciate the climb at a reasonable pace, without too many epics. In addition, we picked a flawless weather window - no “30% of snow showers” this time!

Alix starting first pitch

Me leading 4th pitch

My shadow climbing :)

On the day we drove in, I was as excited as I have ever been driving into Yosemite Valley. Even though the Nose was one of my big goals for 2013, I did not think I would jump on it so early in the year. Our ascent started from fixing first four pitches to Sickle ledge. While packing our haul bag in the parking lot, we decided to haul to Sickle after fixing the lines, mainly to avoid traversing/slabby terrain on first few pitches. Alix led the first two pitches and I took third and fourth. Day went smooth, and we were happy about our choice for hauling. We slept that night at camp 4 and woke up early to get back to work. Day two was a long one- move from Sickle to El Cap tower.

Sean Leary (blue) and Chris McNamara (red)

Alix in Stoveleg crack

Looking down the wide pitch

Friday (day 2) started out with a bit of surprise. While racking on top of 6th pitch Alix noticed a fast moving party on initial pitches. Turned out it was Chris McNamara (who is responsible for making Supertopo), and Sean Leary (who held prior Speed Record for The Nose)! To say they moved fast is an understatement. Before Alix was done leading sixth pitch, they already passed us. After a super duper cluster-f**k on pitch 8 (had to rappel down to free an end of our stuck lead rope and our haul bag got stuck under a roof), things got better and we moved without too many other problems. I got to lead pitches 10-14, which I was able to mostly free climb (French free through the crux of 11th short OW pitch). Pitch 10 was probably my favorite, even though 12 and 13 were also really fun.

Me on Pitch 12

El Cap Tower

Alix obviously happy to have the best partner in the world

Wall Frog!

We got to the top of El Cap tower with enough daylight for Alix to fix 15th pitch. It was a nice head start of her block for day three (pitches 15-19). Even though it was a long day, she did well to deal with a run out chimney, which took us to the top of Texas Flake! Day two was my favorite day of our climb. We got to do some cool free climbing, topped El Cap tower before dark, had time to relax, enjoy the views, eat well, talk, and went to sleep early enough to recover.

Our Pig

Alix starting the bolt ladder towards Boot Flake

View of Horsetail falls

King Swing- BIG air!

Third day started out with a bang. Alix led Boot Flake pitch and we both performed the famous King Swing. King Swing ended up being damn fun for both of us, but took a while to complete since neither of us have done it before. Right after that we witnessed a huge rock fall from the top of Middle Cathedral. Rock fall swept down DNB route and filled up the air around Middle Cathedral with dust. After watching that, a BASE jumper flew by not too far from us. Alix led pitches 18 and 19, and it was my turn to lead. Pitch 20 turned out to be straight forward with some free and aid climbing. 21st was actually memorable and had cool face moves which I was able to climb free. Since we hauled our pig from the top of 19 I had to rap down and free it. This is where a IAD team (David and Jim) passed us. In my opinion, hauling to the top of 21st pitch was annoying all the way from 15th. I believe we ended third day in the dark partly due to extra time we spent clustering with our haul-bag, and letting IAD guys pass. Not sure what could have been done differently though…

Alix on pitch 17

Jugging back towards Great Roof after releasing the pig

Leading the Great Roof

Not much space on this ledge!

Next I led the Great Roof. It was exciting to be under that huge formation. Thoughts of Honnold soloing it while grabbing old tat on few of the fixed pitons were frightening! Even with a rope, potential for a pendulum fall into rock wall to my left had me placing pieces with care. Aid climbing here however is easy. Pancake flake was next, and the light was really fading. After only a few free moves I stepped into my aiders and did my best to get up that pitch quickly. One more (awkward/annoying) pitch got us to camp V. For me, this was the low point of our climb. I was tired and annoyed by the last pitch. All I wanted to do was take all my climbing gear off and go to sleep, but I still had to climb another 25ft up to another ledge. First ‘2 person’ bivy was not big enough for Alix and I to sleep on. Next bivy I found just higher was barely big enough for my body. For this night I tied in extra short!

Looking up at Changing Corners

Beautiful 5.10d pitch

Alix jugging Changing Corners pitch

It was hard to get up in the morning, and we didn’t really get going till after 8am. My block of pitches for the day was 25-28, after which Alix had 29-31. Changing corners was a memorable pitch because both of us did not see any way how a human could free climb it. I tried to jump into free climbing mode for pitch 28 (5.10d), but made it only to the first ‘rest’ stance before aiding remainder of hard climbing. I ended up transitioning back to free climbing on 5.8 terrain, but was really annoyed crack on that pitch isn’t any bigger- red camalots is not my happy size.

Checking out the exposure from top of pitch 28

Alix on pitch 30


Almost over the lip!

Through last 3 pitches I made sure our ropes stayed organized, we avoid clusters, but mostly I was looking down at the view of Yosemite Valley and tail of the Nose far beneath us - it was wild! When we got to last (bolt ladder) pitch I started to get electrified. Even though I was less than a 100 feet from the top, I couldn’t believe we were actually about to complete The Nose. Universally it isn’t a big deal, but for Alix and I it was a huge personal accomplishment in climbing! Watching the pig swing out into space and than doing a free hanging jug 3000ft off the deck was unreal. It was so glorious I took my time jugging this pitch (hope Alix does not read this), and acquired numerous photos (touron mode-ON!). We topped out around 4pm, but still had to sort equipment and hurry towards East Ledges descent. Since it was mid March, daylight was limited.

View of Half Dome

Me on top

Some of the garbage I removed

Our plan was to get down before dark, which we accomplished. Even though we wanted to ‘take our time’ by doing it in four days, it still was a rat race in the end. Next day Alix had classes and I had to work. Our only real celebration was two double doubles and ‘animal style’ fries at In-N-Out. By 3am I was home in San Francisco. We didn't even take a Huber brothers wanna be poser shot in the meadows...

Maybe I need to learn how to use photoshop?

As usual, day after we completed our ascent I was curious to why I had any desire to choose complicated and demanding outings…Next weekend I did a few fun and mellow free climbs in Yosemite (Kor Beck, first few pitches of CPoF, Catchy, Knob Job, Sherrie’s Crack, Super Slacker’s Highway). Now that I type this trip report I daydream of attempting Nose in a day, Salathe, The Shield, and other walls around Yosemite. My short term memory must be terrible! Perhaps a positive quality for a wanna-be mountaineer.

  Trip Report Views: 6,122
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

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Comment on this Trip Report

  Apr 1, 2013 - 05:49pm PT
Alix obviously happy to have the best partner in the world

Yeah! That's the ticket.

Sweet stuff, V. Well done.


Grizzlyville, WY
  Apr 1, 2013 - 05:52pm PT
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 1, 2013 - 05:59pm PT
Gene, had to throw in some humor in there! haha

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 1, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
Any day in the valley is a good day. First time topping out on the nose must be a really good day!

I guess someday I'll know, but I suspect I'll be in retirement phase by then ;)

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Apr 1, 2013 - 09:51pm PT
As always an amazing report from someone who gets stuff done! It's not even April. I can only imagine what you two will have done by the end of the year. Coming to Canada again maybe? I did notice all this climbing has inflated your head a bit though, loved all the pics.

Sport climber
Made in California, living in The Old Pueblo
  Apr 1, 2013 - 06:25pm PT
Your partner Alix is a badass!!

GREAT photos... all of them... and a fantastic write-up.

Your stoke is awesome.


Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Apr 1, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
Nice! Time to get back out there. Way to send!!!

Mountain climber
San Francisco, CA
  Apr 1, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
It's not just the head that's been inflated, har har. Awesome trip report, V! Alix is way more ripped that you, though. Maybe you should stop pounding double doubles.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Apr 1, 2013 - 07:33pm PT
Oh Mike and Alix, really great TR. You guys made it seem so smooth. Especially liked the pics of Great Roof and Changing Corners. And the air on the King Swing...Wowsa!


Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  Apr 1, 2013 - 07:55pm PT
Great stuff - congrats and thanks for sharing. Love the Uber brothers photo chop pic!

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Apr 1, 2013 - 09:20pm PT
It doesn't sound like you suffered enough. ;)

I guess you suffered the next day when you had to go back to work after a few hours sleep.
Glad you had so much fun!
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
  Apr 1, 2013 - 09:23pm PT
Great job to the both of you and thanks for the great pics.

Gym climber
  Apr 1, 2013 - 09:29pm PT
Yay Vitaliy and Alix!

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Apr 1, 2013 - 09:47pm PT
Nice! Thanks for sharing ...

Social climber
The land of ice, snow and rocks
  Apr 1, 2013 - 09:49pm PT
Good on ya' Vitaly.
It has been a lot of fun watching your climbing progression via ST.
However, you make me feel like a slacker.

Ice climber
  Apr 1, 2013 - 09:51pm PT
Great job, good to see you guys in C4.
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Apr 1, 2013 - 10:01pm PT
Good job TFPU!


Trad climber
  Apr 1, 2013 - 10:02pm PT
Thanks for taking the time to share!

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Apr 1, 2013 - 10:07pm PT
Nice work!!!

Trad climber
  Apr 1, 2013 - 10:39pm PT
Very cool... Way to not epic!!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Apr 1, 2013 - 11:05pm PT
way to go Vitaly and Alix!
great to hear it went down smooth...

  Apr 1, 2013 - 11:07pm PT
SWEEEEET!! Short term memory is your best friend ....

Fun stuff!!

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 1, 2013 - 11:08pm PT
Way to Go V!!!

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Apr 1, 2013 - 11:15pm PT
Good reading and pictures. I wish I could do it. Some day maybe...

Thank you for posting up!

Oakland, CA
  Apr 1, 2013 - 11:26pm PT
Hell yeah! Great TR and send, Vitaliy!

This is exactly the look you want to see on your partner's face when starting anything on El Cap - all business, stone-cold assassin:

And this is exactly the look you want to see on your partner's face when finishing:

Looks like you guys had a great time. I'm predicting a fun season for you two. Long live good partnerships!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Apr 1, 2013 - 11:28pm PT
Damn good job!

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
  Apr 1, 2013 - 11:59pm PT
You did it. Way to go!

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Apr 2, 2013 - 12:28am PT
Nice climb for a foreigner and a chick! You guys are awesome, congratulations and thanks for posting this!

I wish I would have known that was you, I had a great camera in my car at the meadow. This will have to do
Credit: limpingcrab
Brian Biega

Truckee, CA
  Apr 2, 2013 - 01:48am PT
Hi Vitaliy-

Great report! Thanks for sharing the experience and adventure.

Cheers, Brian
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Apr 2, 2013 - 05:01am PT
Hey v! Awesome buddy! This is how i want to do the nose! Nice and comfy and free climb as much as possible!! Keep up the send train bro! You're killing it!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Apr 2, 2013 - 05:55am PT
Nice report and photos!
I was briefly confused when you said you hauled direct to Sickle, then spent that night at Camp 4!? That's fast!!!
Then I remembered, besides the Camp 4 on the Nose, there is also that campground on the valley floor.... :-)

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Apr 2, 2013 - 08:49am PT
Putting the Fun back in big wall climbing. Oh yeah!
Well done and thanks!

Social climber
  Apr 2, 2013 - 09:11am PT
hey there say, vitaliy...

wow, great pics... thanks for the SIGNS on the nose, :)
someone like me, really enjoys that a LOT...

also, say, really neat, too, looking straight up, in that
other shot...

thanks for sharing all the info, and on chris, too, and, all...

very fun share, :)
god bless!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 2, 2013 - 10:52am PT
Thank you all for positive comments!

Clint, hauling to Sickle and climbing to camp IV in a day would be an accomplishment!

Your partner Alix is a badass!

I like that she actually wants to get out and do things! And it was her idea to do the Nose that weekend. Like 1-2 days before we went haha.

Coming to Canada again maybe?

Nope. Going to Peru this summer. Will have to come back to Canada sooner than later I hope. Bugaboos is a place I want to re-visit, and ice climbing is supposed to be top notch. Polar Circus is on a "must do" list.
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Apr 2, 2013 - 10:59am PT
Squamish should be on the tick list too bro!

Social climber
boulder co
  Apr 2, 2013 - 12:59pm PT
Great TR! Its always great to see people have so much fun up there.

Cool photos and bump for great climbing content!!

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Apr 2, 2013 - 02:01pm PT
You should work in marketing.

Build the buzz and then..DROP IT!

Awesome TR....thanks for fueling the cubicle puke fire.

Social climber
  Apr 2, 2013 - 02:29pm PT
Great report! you had FUN, and it shows in the words and photos.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Apr 2, 2013 - 03:43pm PT
Super! Nice, fun adventurous read at lunch time.

Sport climber
Made in California, living in The Old Pueblo
  Apr 2, 2013 - 03:44pm PT
I like that she actually wants to get out and do things! And it was her idea to do the Nose that weekend. Like 1-2 days before we went haha.

She f'ing rocks!!

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Apr 2, 2013 - 03:54pm PT
Love the FA concept. The most important for sure. and thanks for contributing the tat the art project! You guyz are on fire!

Sport climber
  Apr 2, 2013 - 04:04pm PT
Happy climbers - well done!

Social climber
granada hills
  Apr 2, 2013 - 06:47pm PT

Great job on the route and this TR.

Thanks for the stoke.


Jim Henson's Basement
  Apr 2, 2013 - 07:42pm PT
This thread is worthless without rainbow afro-wigs...

...just sayin'
Some Random Guy

  Apr 2, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
Changing corners was a memorable pitch because both of us did not see any way how a human could free climb it.

um, yeah......until next year when you free the whole thing IAD.

way to go you two!

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
  Apr 4, 2013 - 06:49pm PT
alix is HOT

Social climber
san jose ca.
  Apr 4, 2013 - 09:10pm PT
Yeah!!!.. Congrats!!.. enjoyed your trip report with fantastic pictures and well written comments after the pictures and always wanting to see the next pic and comments can't wait to read your next adventure!!.. Berg Heil!!.. Cheers!!..
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 4, 2013 - 11:46pm PT
Glad you guys liked it! Hope to get on it some other day and do it in a day and lead other half of the pitches.
As far as free climbing, would be nice to free 5.11 and under some day. Than this climb would REALLY be enjoyable.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Apr 5, 2013 - 12:01am PT
Thank you for a great & fun Nose Adventure report.

Trad climber
  Apr 5, 2013 - 02:42am PT
Really fun read and pics! TFPU

Congrats Vitaliy and Alix!

  Apr 5, 2013 - 03:38am PT
Vitaliy. Yeah Dude! Fun is right. Congrats on getting up there in such great fashion. Love seeing you getting after it & taking the time to provide the reports here. Great photos on your blog too, thanks!

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 22, 2013 - 04:55pm PT
Burchey back on Supertopo? Who let this happen?!?!
Amy Ness

  Apr 24, 2013 - 08:31pm PT have given me a new goal for this year! Looks like you two had a blast.congrats:)
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El Capitan - The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
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Photo: Mark Kroese
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