The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2

  • Currently 5.0/5

El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
The Nose in a day -- a multi-year goal
Tuesday January 10, 2012 12:03am
Five years ago my brother George and I got the idea to try to onsight the Nose in a day due to an accident. Originally we were planning to climb the Nose as our first El Cap route, but the day before our scheduled departure date I tore some ligaments in the gym during one last finger crack workout and ended my season. By the time I was healed, and partly because we had never bivied on a wall up to that point, we had hatched the plan to hold off on climbing the Nose until we could do it in a day.

Years passed by quickly as we gained experience climbing other routes, but we didn’t pick a specific target date and never felt quite ready for the climb. A June 2008 ascent of the Salathe was eye-opening in that the magnitude of El Capitan was in a completely different league than any other Valley formation we’d climbed, and further postponed any plans to try the NIADO.

This year we finally had enough time and motivation to set a definitive goal. We began training in earnest in early June for a mid-September attempt. Our schedule was somewhat haphazard, basically just doing a lot of stairmaster during the week and going to Yosemite on weekends to climb long routes and practice aiding and short fixing. We had an awesome summer, doing classic routes including the Zodiac, East Face of Washington Column, SW Face of Liberty Cap, RNWF HD, Southern Man, and SFWC.

Finally, we felt ready to go for it on Sept 20th. This video is a summary of our climb. As usual, it has mostly the fun (read: early, sunny) parts of the day overrepresented and doesn't show very well just how worked each of us was at different points in the night. Suffice it to say it was both the hardest and most rewarding day of climbing I've ever had.

Credit: cmclean

[Click to View YouTube Video]
(available in HD)

  Trip Report Views: 8,778
About the Author
cmclean is a trad climber from San Francisco, CA.


Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jan 10, 2012 - 12:28am PT
Watching that video stuck a perma-grin on my face :)

You really captured the psych well! Throw more fuel on my burning desire to get back to vertical.

Congratulations on the patience and focus and bringing it all together.

Straight outta Squampton
  Jan 10, 2012 - 12:45am PT
Well done guys! Nice photo and video compilation too with Tom's images from the bridge. Good thing you dressed up bright for him! My partner and I did the same thing a little over a year ago and the NIAD OS was our first ever route on the Capitan. Watching you top out in the dark giddy with excitement brought it all back. Your closing song by the Smashing Pumpkins is very fitting! Congratulations.


  Jan 10, 2012 - 12:51am PT
On sight and smoked it.

Awesome ...

  Jan 10, 2012 - 01:02am PT
Good on ya!

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Jan 10, 2012 - 01:04am PT
I knew you guys would send!!!!!

Badass, including all of the other IAD routes you two did.


Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  Jan 10, 2012 - 01:17am PT
way to set a goal and GO FOR IT!

Trad climber
  Jan 10, 2012 - 01:27am PT
Inspiring! Way to go for it.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, ca
  Jan 10, 2012 - 01:52am PT
Dude yes! We're were watching at the bridge when you did the swing, congrats!!
Dos XX

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Jan 10, 2012 - 08:20am PT
I love the shot of you guys pulling over the summit in the dark! It put a BIG smile on my face.

  Jan 10, 2012 - 08:26am PT
NIAD on-sight? Awesome!! Nice video TR! TFPU!

  Jan 10, 2012 - 08:44am PT
Very cool, outstanding effort! Great choice of music too. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
  Jan 10, 2012 - 10:06am PT
Awesome send, awesome vid, way to charge it

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Jan 10, 2012 - 11:20am PT
Very proud work!

  Jan 10, 2012 - 12:21pm PT


Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Jan 10, 2012 - 12:49pm PT
A day you will never forget.


John Long

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jan 10, 2012 - 01:55pm PT
Proud send. Way to rock and roll and keep the camera shutter clickin'! Thanks!

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
  Jan 10, 2012 - 02:19pm PT

enjoyed the commentary from down below.
the Fet

  Jan 10, 2012 - 04:34pm PT

The top out brought a huge smile to my face!

"We did it!"

"Oh God, that feels good!"

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Jan 10, 2012 - 05:40pm PT
Excellent! Congratulations!

black hills, south dakota
  Jan 10, 2012 - 08:08pm PT
That was really cool. Nice work guys!

Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Jan 11, 2012 - 03:25am PT
totally awesome ... will be expecting more great achievments from you two in the future

Trad climber
Girdwood, AK
  Jan 11, 2012 - 06:39am PT
Nice work!
Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
  Jan 11, 2012 - 12:41pm PT
Strong work guys! Having done NIAD I know exactly what you mean about the hardest most rewarding day of your life. It's a tough one! I'd love to go back and do it again a little quicker and do the King Swing. We had a party bivying over there and went the other way. Thanks for a quality TR!


Big Wall climber
Lakeview, OR
  Jan 11, 2012 - 12:44pm PT
I love climbing at night. ...You don't get concerned about the exposure.

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
  Jan 11, 2012 - 01:59pm PT
Proud! I'm still eyeing the stairmaster with disdain, but watching this has brought back a little spark of motivation to get back in shape and make this happen. Thanks for putting that together. I liked Tom's commentary. So sweet that you got it taped!

  Jan 11, 2012 - 03:05pm PT
+1 to what nutjob said "Watching that video stuck a perma-grin on my face :)"

that is a great trip report

Oakland, CA
  Jan 11, 2012 - 03:36pm PT
Hot damn, the NIAD teams are such an inspiration. Well done!

Answer these only if you want:

Onsight level before the climb?
Hardest pitch RP'd in the Valley before you fired the Nose?
Anything you'd do differently if you were to do it again?

Idle questions but would love to hear back. Again, killer stuff - ah to have a sibling that were as into the mountains as I am... You two are lucky to have one another.

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Author's Reply  Jan 11, 2012 - 11:03pm PT
Thanks everyone for the positive comments!

@Josh - The swing was way harder than I expected! It's definitely a highlight of the route though.

@tahoe523 - It was pretty funny when we got down to realize that while I was doing the swing, I had two cameras rolling on me simultaneously (from George and Tom). What a funny world we're in nowadays.

@le_bruce - I ended up writing some more beta-related thoughts about the climb on my website at, since I'd basically scoured the internet for beta and found very little for teams trying to onsight the route.

"Short" answers: My hardest onsight = hardest redpoint was the Boulder Problem (5.11c) and have done a few other 11s in the valley and Tuolumne. But I'd call us 5.10 climbers--as soon as we get into the 10c and higher range our speed drops dramatically if trying to free! If we did it again there would be two things I'd change: start earlier and have shorter blocks. We wanted to start right around daylight so that all the free climbing down low we could do in the light. Unfortunately it meant we got hammered by the sun all day long, and realistically we probably would not have gotten the NIAD (and maybe not the summit) if we didn't run across free water at both Dolt and Camp 6 (we brought 12 liters of our own, but bootied another 12!). With prior knowledge of the route, I think it would be better to start in the middle of the night so you hit the King Swing right at first light, since the free climbing down low is mainly straightforward enough to be done quickly by headlamp and then in the morning you're climbing in the light but are still shielded from direct sun by the bridge of the nose.

  Jan 12, 2012 - 11:10am PT
Bump for the Bros!

Oakland, CA
  Jan 12, 2012 - 12:46pm PT
Thanks for the replies and the link.


From your link: "As one example, an effort that matches the Stovelegs (pitches 7-11) would be to link the first two pitches of Reed's Direct three times in a row (each time finishing with the real exit, not the 5.8 escape left)."

That's killer.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 12, 2012 - 10:25pm PT
Frigging Awesome job guys,
Great team work, great send!!!

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
  Jan 13, 2012 - 10:46am PT
Amazing job, guys! Way to go and thanks for the awesome TR!

lawrence kansas
  Feb 12, 2012 - 03:09pm PT
awesome! Great video!

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Feb 12, 2012 - 05:37pm PT
absolutely awesome!!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
  Feb 12, 2012 - 09:52pm PT
Good show and great attitude, brothers. Thanks for sharing this fun bit of yourselves!!!

  Sep 10, 2012 - 02:18pm PT
Bumping this one upstairs!

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Sep 10, 2012 - 02:52pm PT
oh god, the stoke, its soo contagious...


  Sep 12, 2012 - 04:37pm PT
So cool. Such an awesome accomplishment. And the video is great! Thanks for sharing it (and thanks for the bump)

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Sep 12, 2012 - 05:01pm PT
Really cool...great job. I did the Nose in one bivvy way back in 72- fast time for then. We also were the first to free Boot Flake.
My goal is to go back in Fall 13, when I have turned 70, and do it in one day.
Okay, I already did it, but I'll still claim an alzheimers onsight.....provided i get up the damn thing.
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Sep 12, 2012 - 05:34pm PT
Nice job guys!


Big Wall climber
  Oct 2, 2012 - 03:02am PT
that's a great trip report. i'm so glad cory is my partner for my next el cap route. we fixed all weekend on el cap, had a great time, and are psyched up for the rest. we had never met in person, but got introduced here on the taco. i'm the lucky first person to do a wall(IF we do it) with cory that is not his brother. ss

Trad climber
Bullhead City, Arizona
  Oct 2, 2012 - 07:59am PT
Awesome job guys. Maybe my wife will attempt NIAD with me one day. Never know.

Your vid was spectacular for sure.

  Jan 23, 2013 - 07:52pm PT
One of the best trip reports ever.

Johnny K.

  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:23pm PT

  Jun 9, 2015 - 07:17pm PT

Social climber
  Jun 9, 2015 - 07:27pm PT
Great bump!

Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Jun 10, 2015 - 11:20am PT
So glad this got bumped.

Perfect! Captures so much about what makes climbing awesome!

If anyone ever asks me why I climb.. it will be easy to link your vid!
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
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