Type: Trad, 155 ft
FA: Frank Sacherer, Jim Bridwell, 1964
Page Views: 15,662 total · 106/month
Shared By: Karsten Duncan on Oct 13, 2006
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

61 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


Ahab is a wide testpiece for the aspiring wide specialist. Begin in a corner just to the right of Moby Dick. After a short 20ft scramble you enter the meat of the climb, a chimney that narrows and squeezes all but the most petite out to the edge. Exit out top of the chimney and enter a flaring handcrack. Continue up another slot and then to the anchors.


The route is located on the west side of el cap a few hundred feet from the toe where the trails meets the face. Begin in a corner just to the right of Moby Dick.


Bring the big boys for this one. A standard rack with cams up to #6 friend or #6 camalot.


Will S
Joshua Tree
Will S   Joshua Tree
An old #5 (i.e. green) camalot will protect at about your head when you enter the squeeze and are standing on the spike feature, but you cannot walk it, it will tip out within another foot or two. A #6 friend is the ticket here. The squeeze leans and flares. Making progress requires staying toward the outside, which feels like it's going to spit you out. Crawl deeper in to rest, move back toward the lip to move.

Crux is probably the flare, and I thought .10b, but don't trivialize the climbing higher up, there is a somewhat funky face section going left just before the anchor. Apr 30, 2007
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
Karsten Duncan   Sacramento, CA
I agree Will, I thought it was going to be over after the squeeze but that flaring handcrack can feel overhanging at times. All this after you're spent from the bottom part makes for a long full value pitch. This is one of my proudest leads. Definately one of those climbs where the grade isn't a good indicator of the effort involved. Jun 20, 2007
David Aguasca!
New York
David Aguasca!   New York
I placed a #6 C4 and a #3 Big Bro in the squeeze,then a #5 C4 for the exit move.

If it was any smaller, it would probably be a grade harder! Amazing rock, though. Good friction in the squeeze (thank the creator).

Don't forget the finger-sized pieces for the exit moves on the roof. Bring them or run it out... Jun 26, 2010
Lou Hibbard
Eagan, MN
Lou Hibbard   Eagan, MN
I've got a story about this route. In 1999 I hired Bill Russell (a guide)to teach me offwidth climbing. After a few easier offwidths Bill led this route. I did't have great technique but I did have tenacity. After several hangs I lowered to the ledge and started up again. I made it through the crux clean and then found a no-hands rest.In trying to recover I puked (still without weighting the rope). Then I finished the climb clean. Several years later in surfing the web I found a story someone had posted about this weenie who hired a guide and puked all over him and over the years have seen reference to that several times.
I actually became pretty good at offwidths. I was just starting to get into the 5.11 offwidth range when shoulder surgery in 2007 ended the serious climbing.
It was weird to stumble on a story about myself like that. Oct 30, 2011
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
Royal Robbins used to solo this in a pair of Tretorns. We are not worthy. Mar 19, 2012
The headwalls of the Captain glow gold then red and finally become awash in purple.
Inch by inch, chicken wings and contortions sample new stone lands.
The stars come out.
A handjam!
Tubing commences and with it more sweet jams.
Orbs of light are seen wandering chaotically beneath the oak, bay, and pines.
A maiden inquires, "Are you guys ok?"
"Oh, we're fine, just enjoying some wide!...Huff, huff, huff."
"You're on Ahab...in the dark..............That's FANTASTIC!" The maiden approves.
Laughter from all involved fills the evening air.
The orbs wander off, leaving only the sound of grovel-induced breathing and random giggles from the suitors who came to learn the lessons of the Big Stone. Nov 5, 2012
>> Lou Hibbard

Ahhh, this brings back memories. Unfortunately,
I was gearing up for Moby Dick on a warm summer's day in 1999...
I'm Bill's partner from:

In between the heat and overwhelming smell of puke, I backed off
and still haven't gone back to finish that last 10 feet of Moby Dick.
Will probably try this summer.

Something I tell to everyone as part of the preflight briefing for
small airplanes: puke down the inside your shirt if you need to.

The guide said something like "I've had people request all sorts of
strange climbs, but this was the only time anyone requested Ahab" Mar 12, 2014
Lancaster PA
minquatrails   Lancaster PA
Allan - That is the funniest climbing story I've heard. Epic!

Lou - Thanks for puking that warm summer day. Dec 19, 2014
I thought one C4 #6 made the squeeze pretty safe.

I raised the rating because I feel that in comparison to Twilight Zone, the crux moves (to get through the squeeze) feel more technical because of the flare -- I am not able to foot-stack like I did on TZ, so my moves on Ahab are a lot smaller (literally, inch by inch). It's easier only because it's not as sustained.

Edit: After leading it the second time (also clean), I seriously think Ahab is harder than Twilight Zone. On this climb, I believe large shoes, long arms, and small torso can help, and technique of course. Jun 10, 2016
King Tut
Citrus Heights
King Tut   Citrus Heights
Bill Russell deserved to be puked on lol.

Historical Note: This route was done originally on Pins, and no they weren't big enough to protect the flare in 1964. Peter Haan (second ascent 1965) told me he got his biggest one in at the base of the flare, and then after that it is "do or die" till you are past the crux and can get another big angle in. People say the "Yosemite Myth" is overblown...well when you go try and do what the old Wide Masters did on pins you might have a clue you are not worthy. Jan 2, 2017