Type: Trad, 1200 ft, 9 pitches
FA: Allen Steck, Wili Siri, Dick Long & Willi Unsoeld - June, 1953
Page Views: 74,161 total · 478/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Jun 15, 2006
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

330 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick
Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


The East Buttress of El Cap is a classic adventure up the right hand shoulder of El Cap. You don't get the feeling you're actually on El Cap, though you are afforded with great views of the tremendous southeast face. Of note, the route also serves as a convenient introduction to the East Slabs descent route which is very nearby upon topping out.

As one of the more popular routes in the Valley, so be prepared for traffic jams and a long day, but because the crux comes early and most of the climbing is much more moderate, fast parties can usually finish the route in about half a day.

Approach is typically via a slog up the ramp or the Moratorium. The latter adds four amazing (and more difficult) pitches to the East Buttress, but is somewhat out of character which is one of adventure.

Sorry about the brief description. I adopted it and haven't had a chance to update it - I will add a pitch-by-pitch breakdown shortly.




George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
There used to be a bolt (or was it a pin?) at the crux. But I gather it is no longer there? Great topo, by the way.

In the spring there is sometimes a spectacular waterfall just west of this route. What often happens that time of year is that the route is dry in the morning, but then the wind begins blowing slightly up the valley, and the waterfall is blown onto the route! Beware of this, just because it faces south in the spring it may not be dry. It can be exciting watching the waterfall drift towards you from the top of the second pitch! Jun 22, 2006
The topo image is a very nice touch. Well done, and something to think about for the future of this website/database. Jun 23, 2006
Tom Pierce
Englewood, CO
Tom Pierce   Englewood, CO
I'm considering this route for my annual big climb/road trip. I've read the stuff about this route online, the Supertopo section, etc. I'm also comfortable at this level on trad granite. But details, details...Anyone have any tips re: Gear? Anything particularly useful, esp. something to double up on, etc? Any quirks on routefinding? Are the pitches fair for the grade or sandbags? Any other tips for this route? Thanks. Jun 26, 2006
Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
The only way I ever got to climb the Captain. I'm pretty sure that was a pin pounded in the corner for pro. The climb was a challange for me. I led all the 5.9's. I had just gotten my first pair of sticky rubber shoes that summer. It was a little polished even then. Aug 21, 2006
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
Saw a photo in Climbing magazine, back in the 80's of someone on P3 and just had to do this route. What a great and classic climb. Oct 7, 2006
Nick Stayner
Wymont Kingdom
Nick Stayner   Wymont Kingdom
The first two pitches are linked (w/ a bit of simuling up very easy terrain for both climbers) w/ a 60 M. A useful way to pass a party who uses the belay after the 5.9 chimney. Jun 6, 2007
Sergio P
Idaho Springs, CO
Sergio P   Idaho Springs, CO
The Super Topo guide book indicates that the crux traverse on pitch 2 can not be aided. I found this to be inaccurate. The belay on top of pitch 1 hangs just left of this 2-3 move crux. Falling at that point involves swinging back into your belayer. In my case there was a party behind us (with the popularity of this route you can expect to share it with others) thus, we decided to aid past this section instead of trying to figure out the move and holding up others. Here is the aid beta: down climbed about 4 feet, traversed right to the corner, placed a small cam (BD C3 00) just below an old unusable pin, stepped up on a sling and kept on going. My personal opinion is that this crux is out of character with the rest of the route and skipping it is no major loss. Jun 21, 2007
Oakland, CA
Sirius   Oakland, CA
Not sure how you'd know, Sergio, if you didn't do the moves. Calling a sequence of moves on a route that follows natural features and weaknesses 'out of character' is weak. Judging the aesthetic value of that sequence relative to the rest of the climb when you haven't done the moves is weaker. It ain't a gym route, it's a natural line, take it on its own terms. Grrr, end pointless rant here, sorry. Oct 7, 2007
Sergio P
Idaho Springs, CO
Sergio P   Idaho Springs, CO
Did the moves, reversed the moves, fell, aided for speed. My personal opinion is that it is a great route regardless of how someone gets past the crux. But please don't take my personal opinion too seriously; go find out for yourself. Oct 9, 2007
Oakland CA
caughtinside   Oakland CA
Fun route, although there is a lot of choss and 4th class on it. Half the pitches were good, the other half were forgettable. Still, a fun trip up an iconic rock.

The crux is a short sequence that's all there.

The supertopo lists one pitch, maybe p10, as the 'psychological crux' with poor pro. BS. Be sure you get to lead this pitch, it is the best on the route by far, and takes great nuts and small cams all over the face, with really fun climbing. Sep 24, 2008
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
Karsten Duncan   Sacramento, CA
I don't seem to see the great topo listed in above comments.

Also thought I might add that for the hardmen/women out there you can approach the climb by climbing Moratorium adding a handful of more difficult pitches. Jun 5, 2009
Russ Walling
Overlord @ FishProducts
Russ Walling   Overlord @ FishProducts
Karsten: Try this one:


Pitch by pitch blow by blow and PDF of the topo:

fishproducts.com/topos/yost… Jun 5, 2009
Colin Simon
Boulder, CO
Colin Simon   Boulder, CO
I think 5.9+ is a pretty accurate grade for most of this route. Given all the other gnarly 5.9's in the valley, this one is no different.

The .10b is a couple of techy moves at the start of pitch 2 -- well protected and short. Once you're past those, it's just burly 5.9. Feb 4, 2011
Tyler Williams
Flagstaff, AZ
Tyler Williams   Flagstaff, AZ
bailed from the top of the 7th pitch (supertopo pitches) in late june due to massive amounts of water from horsetail falls. it seems that it was an abnormally wet year. we checked horsetail from the base and it didn't seem to be making it to the route but things were quite different when we got up there. we did pitch 7 around 11AM and there was maybe 1-5mm thick water sheeting down the rock. doing the mini roof in these conditions was pretty exciting, but it looked like the route was soaked for at least another 4 pitches up.

I wonder if the crux is slightly harder after our passing because a thin edging foothold peeled off as I was pulling the crux move. it seemed a tad stiff for valley 10b, but it was only one well protected move. offset aliens worked well.

If the top half is as good as the bottom half I'll have to come back.

also, don't be afraid of the 5.9 chimney. not bad at all. Jun 22, 2011
FFA: Frank Sacherer, Wally Reed, 1964 Jan 21, 2012
Tom Mulholland
#1 Cheese Producing State!
Tom Mulholland   #1 Cheese Producing State!
Did anybody link pitches? Like P3 and P4, or P4 and P5? Maybe with a 70m? May 23, 2012
Dan Carter
Las Cruces, NM
Dan Carter   Las Cruces, NM
Fun route. We were able to do it in 8 pitches. The Falcon guide broke it up into 13! We simul climbed the 3rd and 4th pitches, 4th class to 5.6 arete and a ways up the ledges with no problems. The two pitches before the 5.5 traverse which is before the traverse to knobs pitch can also be linked easily with a 60m rope. Watch for rope drag on the traverse to knobs pitch. Lots of room for protection but one needs slings. Large but very polished holds. Quite possibly the money pitch. From the talus ledge above this pitch, one can run it all the way to the top. There is a fixed nut at the crux step over. Also there are fixed lines for the rap down. Jun 10, 2012
Sean Tucker
Sean Tucker   LA, CA
Has anyone climbed or know the rating of the off route anchors at pitch 8 (supertopo)/ 5(fish topo)? Oct 4, 2012
Nick M
Driggs, ID
Nick M   Driggs, ID
Beginning pitch linking recommendation: use the optional tree belay 30' off the ground, then link pitches 1 & 2 with a 60M. This way, you hit the 10b crux mid rope, instead of right off a piton/fixed nut belay in awkward factor 2 fall range. Enjoy it, it's absolutely beautiful! Nov 8, 2012
Mark P Thomas
Mark P Thomas   Draper
I'd call the P1 chimney 5.8 at most, being generous. The only 5.9 on that pitch is the end.

Please don't be obnoxious and haul packs. It is plenty reasonable to trail packs on P1, and if they are kept small and light, it is no big deal leading with a pack on the rest of the pitches. The party in front of us hauled 2 packs for most of the pitches!

A better way to aid the crux if you're in a hurry, is to do the following (better with double ropes for the second to follow!):

From the P1 anchor, lieback up about 10-15 ft on the corner that continues above, and tension traverse over from there on bomber gear. I found the cracks beyond tricky, but stepped in a sling to get higher to set a better placement and begin free climbing.

Bring 1-2 #4 C4s and a #5 to comfortably protect P9 if you're doing the OW variation, which is mostly liebacked, with a few deep fist jams. This gear isn't needed anywhere else on the route though . . .

Superfunhappy photos Nov 22, 2012
Boulder, CO
SCherry   Boulder, CO
Anyone know the shade/sun situation on this route in June/July? Is it in full sun or does it get shade for part of the day? May 14, 2013
Steven Lucarelli
Moab, UT
Steven Lucarelli   Moab, UT
Full sun. Nov 17, 2013
Axel A.E.
San Francisco
Axel A.E.   San Francisco
Be careful with cams behind that hand traverse flake on pitch 8 (Fish topo)! I stuck one behind it, and when gently testing the piece, the whole flake was moving away from the wall at an alarming rate as the cam lobes expanded. I don't think I would ever want to fall there, and definitely not on a cam.

Also, right before that flake is where we got off route. Instead of traversing the flake, we went straight up the face. The route becomes noticeably dirtier, but there are definitely signs that others have done the same: three more pitons and tons of bail slings from there on (some ancient, but one being a fairly new looking dyneema sling). We were able to finish the route by navigating short section of 10+ 11- cracks and about 50 feet of loose and super scary exfoliating slabs at the very top. Anybody know of official alternative finishes? Apr 15, 2014
Menlo Park, CA
JP.8d   Menlo Park, CA
Recent rockfall FYI: supertopo.com/climbing/thre…

Not sure how or if this affects E. Buttress but it appears to be closed for now Jun 30, 2014
Jared Spaulding
Central WY
Jared Spaulding   Central WY
If I were to do this route again, i would likely bring a #4 Camalot. It would have made the chimney/fistcrack higher up easier to protect. Oct 28, 2014
The east ledges descent sometimes (always? occassionally?) has fixed ropes to rappel. We hadn't realized that, but it made the descent much faster. Jan 26, 2015
On Friday March 27th, I I over-cammed my buddy's #3 Camelot on pitch one before the crux finger crack and he wasn't able to retrieve it from deep in the crack with his huge man hands. If anyone comes up with that puppy, I'll trade you a good bit of beer in return. Thanks! Mar 31, 2015
Colonel Mustard
Sacramento, CA
Colonel Mustard   Sacramento, CA
Recently, with an 80m rope, no simuling, we pitched out the climb thus (using Supertopo version):

1; 2-4; 5 (3rd class scramble); 6-7; 8-9; 10; 11-12.5; 12.5-top

The pitch 3 belay is known as an ant-infested spot, so climb through.

Combined with The Moratorium, it is an excellent and strenuous day. At a fairly relaxed pace, we started climbing at 7:30am on The Moratorium and topped out around 5:00pm on EB. The crux of the linkup is knowing that the involved and time-consuming climbing of The Moratorium will give way to much faster, easier climbing.

The descent is fairly straightforward and well cairned once you catch the climbers' trail (East Ledges), and all 4 rappels are fixed with ropes. Some ropes have damaged sections that are tied out near the anchors but there are two ropes at each station to allow for two separate strands for rappel. Hand lines down the remaining low 5th and 4th class sections are also in place. Very cool. I appreciate the work done to increase both the speed and degree of safety (as long as the ropes are maintained) on the descent.

I am pretty sore all over now though ;). Apr 3, 2015
If you climbed this route on 4/19/15, I might have a shot of you taken from the valley floor. PM me. May 10, 2015
J Kazu
Los Angeles, CA
J Kazu   Los Angeles, CA
No pitons at the P9 belay on the rocky ledge as of 5/30/15 as indicated in some topos, used a #3, #2, and & #1 c4s for belay. P2 GEAR BETA (potential spoiler): Pitch 2 crux can be well protected by chimneying up from the belay and placing a nut where the crack dies out. Small cams can also be placed in the lower pin scars in the corner before committing to the crux moves. Jun 3, 2015
Rude Boy
San Francisco, CA
Rude Boy   San Francisco, CA
Climbed this with a 60m and when looking at the supertopo topo linked pitches 2+3, 6+7 (I don't think the lengths mentioned are correct), 9+10, 12+13. In order to link 6+7 go up from Pitch 4 anchor (bolted) to the big ledge and then move left 50 feet and up into the gully and go up the easy blocky terrain to where the real climbing starts and make your anchor there. There is no need to make an intermediate anchor (or even place pro) if you are pitching this out which makes this pitch super fast. After linking 6+7 you can make your anchor on the ledge right after pulling the roof. This worked out well for us. Many of the pins listed in the topo I did not see on route and actually found pins on route that were not listed in the topo.

Only brought one #4 Camalot for the wide on pitch 9 which was sufficient. Did half the wide part and moved onto the face and finished up the face. Neither were that hard. The moves are all there.

All the face "knob" climbing reminded me of Brail Book. Jun 6, 2016
Alex Wyvill  
Super fun! We just managed to sneak past a six-man team and a two man team, even though we were at the base before 7AM. Detailed TR with photos can be found here: goodlooksandcamhooks.wordpr… Jul 23, 2016
Hi Folks,
Long shot but I thought I'd give it a try. We topped out on the East Butress of El Cap in the dark yesterday and made a colossal blunder. We forgot the small rack used and a camera in its case was also attached to the rack. This should be somewhere near the base of the tree used as the anchor on the last pitch.

If you find it, my friend and I would be appreciate its return. Thank you. Sep 6, 2016
Max Rausch
Portland, OR
  5.10b R
Max Rausch   Portland, OR
  5.10b R
WARNING- The P2 tree at the top of the flaring groove is filled with extremely angry ants. My partner was covered and getting bitten. Move through the section quickly. The next tree at the base of P3 also has many ants.

As also mentioned above, the hand flake traverse on p8... has death fall potential. The flake must weigh 1 ton, and is actively flexing when a cam is placed behind it. It would likely cut a rope in the event of a fall. I placed a .4 at the very base of it and traversed it with minimal outward pressure.... exciting stuff.

The last 2 pitches can barely be linked with a 70m.. And I mean every single inch of it. Once at the tree, look climbers right for a couple cairns that mark the east ledges.

EDIT: Climbed the route again yesterday 9/23, and the ants were still present, but in fewer numbers. Aug 9, 2017
Huge rockfall on East Buttress area of el cap.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Officials at Yosemite National Park in California say a chunk of rock broke off El Capitan along one of the world’s most famously scaled routes at the height of climbing season.

Ranger Scott Gediman said Wednesday that witnesses made multiple calls reporting the rock fall around 2 p.m. PDT. He estimates 30 or more climbers were on the wall at the time, but he could not confirm injuries or the size of the rock fall.

Gediman says the park’s helicopter is helping assess the damage.

The rock fall happened along the Waterfall route on El Capitan’s eastern buttress. Sep 28, 2017
C Archibolt
Salt Lake City, UT
C Archibolt   Salt Lake City, UT
Was this route affected by the recent rock fall? May 18, 2018
Benjamn P
Boulder, CO
Benjamn P   Boulder, CO
@ C Archibolt: Not affected by the rock fall, but plenty of new rocks and tree destruction on the approach! May 20, 2018
Harris Kashtan
Harris Kashtan  
Great route and one of the most challenging leads I have done so far. Route finding can be a bit tricky and many parts of the climb are slick from the waterfall that hits it part of the year. I found the first pitch to be the most challenging, perhaps from having no warm up prior to starting. The 8th pitch was also a pretty strenuous lie back but protects well. The 10b slab move is all there and protects with a small nut. Awesome view from the top, and if you are trying to recreate the Supertopo shot, set your anchor on the optional belay halfway up the 11th pitch. Your partner will have an awesome shot of your leading up the steep 5.8 section. Jun 13, 2018
Todd Martin
Costa Mesa
Todd Martin   Costa Mesa
F-U-N! Nuff said, well sorta. ;0) Here's what worked for us (Oct. 13th) if you don't mind some rope drag (70m rope): 0) Scramble/climb up 20' to the tree on the left and start there; linking based on Steph Abegg's topo (pic posted with overlay of our route; not sure if using Steph's photo is copacetic, so, if not, PM please remove) ; (1) Link P1-3, rope stretcher, fixed nut at P1 belay to protect crux; (2) We mistakenly climbed up and left through the tree in the corner which had some 5.8-9 moves right above the tree then after the 3rd class section made an anchor right at max-length of the rope, linking P4-5+; (3) Linked P6-7; (4)Linked P8-9, took the face variation vs offwidth on P9; (5) short pitch, P10, and belayed before the traverse - glad we did so; (6) P11; (7) Linked P12-13. Finding the start of the descent raps was difficult, especially in the dark. However, all 4 raps had 1 or 2 fixed lines. Start of raps is quite a distance descenders right of the main wall. Oct 30, 2018