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The Nose 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a C2

Type:  Trad, Aid, 31 pitches, 3000', Grade VI
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a C2 [details]
FA: FA: Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, George Whitmore, 1958 FFA: Lynn Hill, 1993
Page Views: 148,324
Submitted By: Steven Lucarelli on Feb 27, 2007

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BETA PHOTO: El Capitan-The Nose. Photo by Blitzo.

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


El Capitan is home to numerous classic routes but "The Nose" is the mega classic of them all. Towering nearly 3000' this route offers 31 pitches of superb climbing right up the middle of the wall. Often referred to as the "best rock climb in the world" it is obvious why this route is one of the most sought after big walls in the valley and the world. Most of the pitches on this route are outstanding but with classics such as the "Stovelegs", "King Swing" and "Great Roof" you'll wish it would never end. Although this is a great climb the route is still very demanding, sustained and exposed and not to be taken lightly.
Here are a few tips that might improve a parties chances of success and enjoyment on the route. First if you and or your partner(s) can lead 5.10 solidly this will greatly speed up the amount of time it takes to climb this route as a large percentage of the climb is 5.10 or easier. Second study the topo carefully because there are numerous opportunities to either link or use alternate belays in order to skip pitches (a team of three can also skip hauling certain pitches with some good planning). Unavoidable factors are the number of parties on the route and the weather, both of which can make the route not so classic. For pitch by pitch info and topo's the "Yosemite Big Walls Supertopo" guide book is highly recommended.


This is probably one of the easiest big wall approaches you could ask for. From El Capitan Meadow cross the road and find one of the obvious approach trails which should lead to a clearing. From the clearing you should be able to find a well worn path leading north and slightly west towards the wall. Once at the base of the wall you'll be standing directly under "The Nose". Hike up and left around the foot of the wall until it is possible to traverse back right and you should end up on a nice dirt ledge and at the start of the first pitch. This approach takes about 10 to 15 minutes.


Bring two sets of nuts with offsets, one or two sets of micro nuts with offsets and two or three sets of cams from .5" to 3.5". Also bring some micro cams and a 4.5" cam, leave the hammer and pins at home this route goes all clean.

Photos of The Nose Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: About to complete the King Swing.  Photo by Tom Ev...
About to complete the King Swing. Photo by Tom Ev...
Rock Climbing Photo: Another great "moon day" shot by the gre...
Another great "moon day" shot by the gre...
Rock Climbing Photo: Think this pic speaks for itself!!!
Think this pic speaks for itself!!!
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on the nose
Climbers on the nose
Rock Climbing Photo: Camp 5
Camp 5
Rock Climbing Photo: Brad sticking the Swing in style, just under halfw...
Brad sticking the Swing in style, just under halfw...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down
Looking down
Rock Climbing Photo: Evening at edge of the great roof.
Evening at edge of the great roof.
Rock Climbing Photo: The shadow of the Nose in the early morning
The shadow of the Nose in the early morning
Rock Climbing Photo: The Great Roof!
The Great Roof!
Rock Climbing Photo: Below the Boot
Below the Boot
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up Pancake Flake
Starting up Pancake Flake
Rock Climbing Photo: Last pitch on the nose. I'm following and bares is...
Last pitch on the nose. I'm following and bares is...
Rock Climbing Photo: Texas flake anyone!!!
Texas flake anyone!!!
Rock Climbing Photo: El Cap Tower, 1979
El Cap Tower, 1979
Rock Climbing Photo: Me leading on the last pitch of the Nose on our 6....
Me leading on the last pitch of the Nose on our 6....
Rock Climbing Photo: The Huber brothers on their speed record.  One on ...
The Huber brothers on their speed record. One on ...
Rock Climbing Photo: My Tom Evans moment.  Everyone should have one or ...
My Tom Evans moment. Everyone should have one or ...
Rock Climbing Photo: P28+29 super fun free climbing 2500' off the groun...
P28+29 super fun free climbing 2500' off the groun...
Rock Climbing Photo: The belay after the Great Roof pitch
The belay after the Great Roof pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: My partner Richard following the Great Roof.
My partner Richard following the Great Roof.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Great Roof.   Photo: Corey Gargano
The Great Roof. Photo: Corey Gargano
Rock Climbing Photo: Pat Heddins and Ferris Kilpatrick below the Texas ...
Pat Heddins and Ferris Kilpatrick below the Texas ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Some creative teamwork on the King Swing.  Tom Eva...
Some creative teamwork on the King Swing. Tom Eva...

Show All 64 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on The Nose Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 27, 2016
By 426
Mar 6, 2007

Probably the finest rock climb in the world...I usually start with Pine Line, seems like a "cleaner" haul to the first pitch.
By alpinglow
From: city, state
May 14, 2007

Climbed it 9 years ago...great adventure. Do whatever you need to to climb this route. Few, if any, better
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 4, 2007

Can be very crowded during peak season. When I climbed it there were seven people sleeping at El Cap Tower, and a similar number at Camp V.
By Bruce Diffenbaugh
From: Cheyenne,Wyoming
Feb 20, 2008

For sure the most famous route in the valley if not the world.Climbing The Nose was a goal for me for years one biggest high lites of my climbing life.
By scott morrison
From: colorado springs
Dec 17, 2008

how many days does this take most people. I can preaty much do a 5.10 blind-folded.
By RichardS.
Dec 8, 2009

Planning to do this route this year in August. I have a couple of questions, if anyone has any beta on this:
1. Do you need a portaledge?
2. We were planning to rappel the route the day before and stash water, food, etc. at our preplanned bivys. I know the whole route is set of to rappel, does anyone know if the rappel route meets up with the main bivy spots (Camp VI, El Cap Spire, etc)? Thanks for the help!
By BenL
Jan 16, 2010
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b C1

I do not think that taking all your stuff up to the top via the East Ledges is a very good idea. Better go a little lighter and quicker...
especially in the August heat going up there + rappelling seems like a waste of energy. And I think its wayyyyyy cooler to do start at the bottom not really knowing whats ahead of you...
but if you do the rappels, you get to Camp 4,5,6 and to Dolt. Not to sickle and not to El Cap tower, at least thats not the way its set up
We did it in August too. 1 gallon per person per day is MINIMUM! Bring more! I was 103 or so in Valley when we did it, and we had a little more as it turned out we were going faster than anticipated. Still super thirsty the whole way.
Fix to sickle, bivy on Dolt the first day. If you do the jardine traverse you can go to camp five. But I would bring enough water so I could also bivy on C4 and then C6 in case I do not get to C5...
From camp 5 to the top are the best pitches. If you are lucky you find water on C6...
have fun, its the best climb in the world.
By Jacek Czyz
From: Chicago, Summit CO; PL
Feb 11, 2010
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b C2-

I know something about aiding since I did some of the hardest on the wall. Still I think The Nose have A2 at least in three section: below SickleL, Glowering Spot and Changing Corners. Because of complexity it is not easy route. Must be take seriously especially as a first big wall. I see even mountain guides retreat because of slow progress.
It is GREAT ROUTE. Thanks Warren.
By Fredd
Nov 22, 2010

Yosemite National Park is internationally known for beautiful waterfalls, clear streams, biological diversity, marvellous granite cliffs, the huge sequio groves. This park has a number of plants like chaparral/oak woodland, lower montane, upper montane, subalpine and alpine and animals such as Bighorn sheep, bobcat, gray fox, mountain beaver, mountain lion, black bear and bat.
By jdorais
Jun 15, 2011

I am dumb. My partner and I fixed lines to sickle a few days ago and dropped the extra rope after ascending them the next day. After climbing and in our hurry to get back home, we forgot to pick it up. If anyone wants to clean our litter feel free to keep the rope. Its a pink 70 meter and should be at the base of the sickle ledge rap route. Hopefully it doesn't sit there looking ugly for too long...
By Osprey Overhang
From: ...
Jan 21, 2012

FA: Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, George Whitmore, 1958
FCA: Bruce Carson, Yvon Chouinard, 9/1973

FFA: Lynn Hill, 1993
By Sayfe
From: Scottsdale, az
Apr 19, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C2

We were the last party that climbed the nose using warrens old original bolts. As we were climbing it, a party was behind us changing all the bolts ( metolius donated bolts to replace)...
Great climb. We fixed up to sickle ledge on Sunday. Jumared up on Monday morning, and topped on wednesday by noon. I have the slide, and will put them on FB. One of the best climbing experiences... Specially the stove leg cracks, the Texas chimney, the king pendulum, the big roof.... Fun,...
By Tito Krull
Nov 19, 2012

so this might be a stupid question but i was wondering why the nose is only rated a 5.9 on here i always thought climbs are rating but the hardest moves in them which would make the nose's great roof and changing corners at least .13 and up...?? and why is it only a C2...??
---thanks tito
By SteveZ
From: Denver, CO
Nov 20, 2012

Hey Tito, not a stupid question if you don't know :). In theory the 5.9 refers to the highest level of mandatory free climbing (that which is not aidable). You could certainly climb it at 5.10 C2 or 5.12 C2 or just free at 13+/14- too. This is how aid ratings work, same is said for the C2 part, it's the hardest aid on the route. Only C2 because the gear is pretty straight forward, just awkward/not quite perfect at a couple points. That and you can do it with clean gear alone (hence the "C").
By Tito Krull
Nov 29, 2012

Thanks steveZ i was thinkin about that way the other day but this really cleared things up for me, hopefully gonna be there within the next year to do my first trad free climbing, but in addition to the climbing does anyone know the situation on the garbage in the rock? I heard it is a big problem, disrespect to our big walls, i plan on saving money and going there to clean on my own time and was just curious if its still a problem?

Thanks: Tito
By Tito Krull
Nov 30, 2012

oh and another thing well i'm thinkin i just recently began buying trad gear i really like the idea of tricams so i got a set of 6, just curious what a good overall rack should consist of, i realize each situation may require different peices but i was just looking to start a good rack...??
Thanks: Tito
By SirTobyThe3rd
Mar 18, 2013

Rack. Set of nuts. Set of Metolious offset cams, Double set of cams from blue metolious to #4BD Camalot (be ready to walk the 4 for a long time too). Triples in .75/1/.5 are awesome to have. No hooks/camhooks were used..
By Sendasaurus Rex
Jul 23, 2013

Great route. Few people know that the name comes from the Gogol short story. A man loses his nose, only to find out it had been baked into a loaf bread and subsequently masquerading around town as a local official.
By Nate Flynn
From: United States
Aug 8, 2013

To add to Rex's comment, Ron Kauk said that el cap's legend in the Indian locals was of two bear cubs that climbed up to escape a winter storm.
By Nate Flynn
From: United States
Aug 8, 2013

I climbed around the base of pine line below the nose and found many parties roping up. I would love to climb the nose but it's hard to beat crowds, any idea on when's the best time to do it?
By Robbie Brown
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Aug 16, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C2

If you don't have offset nuts or cams don't sweat it. It was nice having 2 00c3s and a few small nuts. This is truly the best rock climb in the world! I only place about 3 nuts on the whole climb also... Go light, get it right!
By Josh Turner
Dec 19, 2013

I'm looking at climbing the Nose in a couple years, but I'm curious about the belays and bolts. Is the majority of the climb bolted, or is it mostly with trad gear (nuts, cams, etc). Secondly, do the majority of belay stations have bolts, or are there a significant amount of hanging belays or areas that require you to build your own anchor system?

Lastly, what is the best setup for sleeping on the side of the cliff? What gear do I need to purchase? Thanks!
By K. Boyko
From: Where the dog is
May 9, 2014

I'm thinking of climbing this soon. I've heard it's the best route ever. I've only been climbing a year and 3/4, never actually sent, but can get up 5.12+ already if I use the bolts. I think this time next year I will be able to get up 5.13 or 14 with bolts. Are there a lot of bolts on this route or do I need trad gear(traditional: cam, nuts, tricams, and hexes)? It seems like this would just slow you down. As it's heavy, really heavy. Seriously my friend has many, many cams and I can't imagine climbing with all that. Also, why would you haul a bag? I climbed a multipitch with a friend and I just carried his backpack, it was heavy, but I was able to put in our food and slr camera.
By Jplotz
From: Wenatchee, WA
Jun 10, 2014

Yeah K. Boyko. You should be totally fine with a dozen quickdraws and a fanny pack for this route. Get done before noon and have a tuna wrap at Degnan's at Yosemite Village!
By duncan...
Jan 7, 2015

An unnecessarily detailed guide on how to climb The Nose in a Day aimed at unexceptional climbers. Has a British/Euro slant but hopefully will be of interest to some here.
By Jason Scott Heacock
From: Nashua, NH
Feb 5, 2015

This may seem a little redundant from SteveZ and Tito's comments but I would like a little clarifying on the grade for The Nose. Is the free climbing 5.9 or a lot harder (5.12-5.13) I am able to climb trad up to about 5.11 and have The Nose on my bucket list now, providing the difficulty is within reach.

By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Feb 23, 2015

5.9 is the hardest "mandatory" free climbing on the route but if you can climb harder then that's up to you.
By Lucas79
From: Asheville, NC
Mar 24, 2015

Airy belay below the great roof.
By Gina E
May 15, 2015

Here is a trip report I wrote about climbing the Nose this past fall. It may be helpful/fun to read if you're planning to climb it.
Climbing The Nose on El Cap
By Eric T.
From: St. Augustine, Florida
Jul 30, 2015

As of July 8th, 2015 there was still a good bit of blood on the ledge just above Camp 5 from the unfortunate incident in May. It made for a sobering belay. If you don't know about the incident, you can read more here:
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Aug 27, 2015

Odd that The Nose is a free climb with several free ascents and is listed here as an aid route. Out of respect for Lynn's enormous effort to free the route, and also for those who have freed it since, The Nose should be recorded here as what it is (5.14a). It is no longer an aid route, regardless of how many people pull on the gear to get up it.
By Doug Hemken
Aug 27, 2015

Odd that anyone would refer to the Nose as a free route. Out of respect for Warren Harding and his partners, who first found, pioneered, and ascended this route, it should *always* be referred to as an aid route. Everyone who has "freed" it since has used aid in their initial ascent of the route.
By Todd Graham
Mar 28, 2016

Do it in a day, or 3 days with a haul bag.
By Rick from Maine
Mar 31, 2016

I climbed the Nose in 1974 at age 20. During our climb we were the only party on the route for a slow ascent of five days. We had limited aid experience and I had never hauled a bag until after I led the first pitch. We eventually figured it out. There was an American Alpine club meeting during the month I spent in the Valley and both Warren Harding and Chuck Pratt were there. The good old days.
By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Apr 27, 2016

Dreams Transcending!! The Force is strong with this one! Dream it up and make it happen, overwhelmingly worth the effort!! SOo stoked to have had the opportunity to climb this route with a wonderful friend. Three years of prep, four days to climb! Sent April/2016! Yehaww!!

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