Type: Aid, 1200 ft (364 m), 11 pitches, Grade V
FA: Warren Harding, Galen Rowell, and Joe Faint
Page Views: 8,614 total · 51/month
Shared By: Nate Furman on Dec 12, 2007 · Updates
Admins: Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Vicki Schwantes, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route

35 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: Latest updates on Covid and falcon closures. Details


There are many big wall grade V trade routes in the valley, from the West Face of Leaning Tower to the Prow to the South Face of Washington Column. Each of these has one thing in common: the Valley. If you'd like an experience just slightly off the beaten path, consider the Southwest Face of Liberty Cap. You'll be accompanied by views of the Merced River and Nevada Falls more so than people in cars looking up at you while you're looking down at them.

Although the SW Face is slightly harder than any of the aforementioned climbs, the cruxes are short and the climbing is fantastic.

P1: Surmount the first C3 crux with small gear such as lowe balls, offset brassies, and hybrid aliens. This pitch goes free at .11a (which I hear isn't too bad) but the gear would be intimidating unless you're comfortable at the grade. The moves did look like fun!

P2: Enjoy great 5.9 fingers and hands to .10c thin hands.

P3: Another short pitch. Again, good free climbing in the mid 5.10 range for 40 feet before it backs off to 5.8.

P4: Easy C1 to perfect hands.

P5: Great .10b layback using .75 camalots to a bolt ladder out to the left. One of the bolts is missing in the bolt ladder. We only had a Talon to try to make this move, which didn't work (a Bat Hook would). Instead, we had to thread a couple nuts together to make a cheater stick to lasso the next bolt. It worked, but we lost some time trying to finesse it. A couple tricky C2+ placements above this move as well.

P6: A good long C1 pitch straight up.

P7: A tad bit tricky; I got off route going up and to the left, lured by a fixed pin. Go up only a move or so, then immediately start going left on low angle, slopey 5.7. Another C3 crux awaits, which we solved using small aliens. This pitch was challenging for the follower.

P8: Kind of an awkward, thrutchy, fun pitch. Nothing too hard (C2), just thoughtful and interesting.

P9: Begin with 5.8 in a crack and move to 5.8 slab through some bushes. The rock here is sandy and not super high quality, although I don't remember anything loose. Not a whole lot of pro through the bushes. Then work your way into a C1 crack out to the left before getting to a natural belay.

P10: Good wide .10b through a stout manzanita to a ledge.

P11: Just when you're close to the top you have to muster a 30-foot run out on 5.8 slab. Not that bad...there are only a couple 5.8 moves with a lot of 5.6 and 5.7.


Approach: Hike for one mile up the John Muir Trail to the Mist trail. Hike 1.5 miles up the mist trail. Take a gander up at the route from the bridge that crosses the Merced River. When you get to the south buttress of Liberty Cap, right next to the trail, take a left (leaving the Mist trail) on a climbers trail along the base of Liberty Cap. Traverse the entire face until you can access the prominent ledge system. Traverse out this ledge, ducking through some trees, until you get to a 2-bolt belay. The route starts here.

Bivy Sites: There are some really nice bivy platforms in the trees at the base of Liberty Cap. You'll see them on the approach.

Water: Bring a filter or iodine and get water from the Merced.

Retreat: Could be expensive. Only about half of the belays are bolted.  As of 9/26/19 there are rap anchors on every pitch.  The non bolted belays have tree anchors


This is what we used:
1 set offset stoppers
1 set stoppers
1 set aliens from black to red
1 set hybrid aliens from blue/black to red/yellow
2 sets camalots from .75 to 4.
1 #5 (C4) camalot
1 extra .75 and #1 camalots
1 mid-size cam hooks
Talon (would have preferred Bat Hook)