Type: Trad, Aid, 2000 ft, 19 pitches, Grade VI
FA: Dave Bircheff, Phil Bircheff, and Jim Pettigrew, 1976 FFA: Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, 6/2000
Page Views: 59,837 total · 444/month
Shared By: Michael Schneiter on Feb 21, 2008
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

96 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


Lurking Fear is the easiest aid climb on El Capitan. The aid is straight forward and the free climbing is excellent. The entire free climb checks in at 5.13c (FFA: Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden). Despite the moderate grade of this route, it doesn't see nearly as much traffic as The Nose or The Salathe. There is a fair amount of terrain that can be free climbed at a moderate grade and the aid on terrain harder than that tends to be mostly C1. The vast majority of the route seemed to haul easily. The SuperTopo warns about bad hauling on the upper pitches but we didn't find anything overly difficult or frustrating. There are few, good natural ledges on this route for bivying, besides Thanksgiving Ledge. The top of the route features seemingly endless slabs hence it is also popular to rap the route. This route is a good candidate for wall climbers looking for their first El Cap route. It would be difficult to give pitch-by-pitch beta so consult a topo such as the Yosemite Super Topo book.


Lurking Fear is on the far left side of El Capitan. Hike to the base of the wall, as you would for the Nose, and then skirt the base of the wall, hiking up the long slope beneath the face. The approach feels long, particularly when carrying a haul bag and comparing it to the Nose. It makes you realize how big El Cap is, as you traverse underneath a lot of rock on your way to Lurking Fear. There is a few hundred feet of 3rd and 4th class ledges to negotiate, shortly before the start of the route. It is probably advisable to haul bags or fix lines on some of these sections. The start of the route is about 100 feet from the corner of the buttress and starts in a left-facing corner.


Double set of nuts, including small nuts. Triple set of cams up to red Camalot and double set of cams to old #4.5 Camalot. A selection of basic hooks, cam hooks and rivet hangers. Can also bring few heads in case any are missing.


originally WNC, now Broomfield
nbrown   originally WNC, now Broomfield
Great route! As of Aug 2010 there were no rivets without hangers, they were all bolts with hangers. Also, didn't see any real need for the fixed heads anymore; it appeared that maybe bolts had been added nearby, but who knows, maybe not. The one head we did use was at the beginning of pitch 3, but that one could probably could have been bypassed by top-stepping in the aiders. Also, much of the "hooking" mentioned on supertopo is easily avoided with a little tension traversing. Aug 20, 2010
Luke Stefurak
Seattle, WA
Luke Stefurak   Seattle, WA
If rapping the route I would suggest going from the P8 belay (at the top of the 4" OW all the way to the P6 belay. This can be done with double 60m ropes with 5-10 feet left to spare.

You will still have to swing a ways to the left but you can use all of the bolts on the P7 traverse to get you there. A touch of sideways aiding on rappel.

This also avoids the semi crappy rappel anchor at P7 (The free climbing anchor below this is good). Jul 15, 2011
Trip Report on our 2011 ascent. Trip report Oct 31, 2011
FFA: Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, 6/2000 Jan 21, 2012
Asheville, NC
Lucas   Asheville, NC
The topo says something about an 80' swing around the arete to reach the bivy ledge from the top of pitch 10. While I suppose you could get to the bivy ledge from the top of 10 if you had to....it would be a real hassle. Just plan on climbing to the top of 11 and rapping straight down to the ledge. Jul 28, 2012
Joe Manning
Bellingham, WA
Joe Manning   Bellingham, WA
Beautiful route through pitch 12 or so, afterwards it changes from exposed clean splitter face to rambling alpine gully feeling. Even with a light bag, hauling becomes very taxing after 13. Fixed heads indicated in supertopo are shiny bolts save one which you could hook or free climb past. 18 and 19 do not link with 60m rope (30-40 feet short) per supertopo (if aiming for bolted station at top of 19, gear belay was fine though). Top out slabs were longer than expected and one of the fixed lines indicated in the Sloan topo was not present. Definitely some 5th class above pitch 19. Many pitches were 10-25 feet longer than indicated as well - never an issue but added to the overall big wall feeling for sure. Great route and an excellent experience.

Really nice medium volume spring just past the route base was running as of early May 2015. May 19, 2015
As of October 2015, everything is bolted. You do NOT need any heads, rivet hangers, or hammer. We carried all the extra gear for nothing.

Overall was amazing route, good introduction to El Cap. Oct 17, 2015
Bennett Anderson
cincinnati, ohio
Bennett Anderson   cincinnati, ohio
Great route. Our first El Cap route and a good one to prepare for harder walls. I used a couple fixed heads, but it seemed like these spots could be passed by hooking or top stepping if necessary. I brought three #4 cams which made the OW on P8 feel really safe and comfy. The hooking on pitch 12 was by far the highlight of the route with a super reachy hook move. Awesome! The pitches above 13 were much less inspiring and the hauling wasn't great. Awesome route though and I highly recommend it. Nov 10, 2015
Larry Shaw
Boulder, CO
Larry Shaw   Boulder, CO
First El Cap route, climbed this one casually in 4 days with no major issues. Great climbing up to about the half way point, then wanders a bit, and lower angle wandering. I must have been off route on P1 did about 4 hook moves in a row. Next up Zodiac or TT. Feb 17, 2016
Alan Doak
boulder, co
Alan Doak   boulder, co
Hey, I've got the gear from the party that fell this weekend and had to self rescue. Send me your info so that I can mail it back to you. Jun 7, 2016
Chris Shockabra
Chris Shockabra   colorado
Hey Alan, I am one of the climbers that fell several weeks back. My partner and I have had no luck contacting you at all. We would both be very grateful if you would respond to one of our messages and return our gear for us. Thanks Chris Jul 6, 2016
Gavin Bridgeman
Orange County, CA
  5.7+ C2
Gavin Bridgeman   Orange County, CA
  5.7+ C2
Fantastic route. After 13 hauling is harder but not that bad. Lost world bivey is nice for one, but bring hammock and it’s nice for two. No beaks, but bring grappling hook and Cliffhanger. Offset and totem cams were super nice! Apr 16, 2018
Amazing, amazing route. I like that the description balances explaining that while it is the easiest route on El Cap, which is true, it is still fairly complicated. This route is definitely not popular to rappel, don't know where that info came from. (It is possible for light, in-a-day teams to rap, but most are so cooked at the end they find the 1.5 hr walk down way easier and faster). We should just say that this route is set up with rappel anchors (a dedicated rap route takes you from Thanksgiving Ledge, straight back down to the route, avoiding the upper, wandry climbing).

The release of The Pod in April 2019 from G7, the world's first inflatable portaledge / inflatable sleeping pad combo, will change the logistical challenges of Lurking Fear greatly (email me if you want to borrow / rent my inflatable ledges). Basically, most teams need a portaledge only for their first night on the wall, and the extra work required to get the portaledge all the way up to the route, and haul it up the route, really wears folks out.

Folks email me with questions about the bivy ledge mid route a fair bit, so thought I would answer here. The ledge at 9.5 is only good for one, but with an inflatable ledge would be palatial. Also, it is not possible to climb to the bivy ledge and then 'lower out' back on to the route, and climb pitch 10; the best you can do with this scenario is leave your haulbag at the anchor at the ledge, both climbers rappel down to the Pillar of Despair, belay 9, then you climb pitch 10 like normal........except that the leader has to wait to haul. After the cleaner has cleaned pitch 10 they will just rappel down to the ledge anchor, attach the haul line to the haul bag, and release the haul bag. I've included a pic to show you all this (look in the photo gallery for the pic titled 'overlay of mid route ledge').

Here are some more thoughts on 'getting to the ledge,' etc.

A couple factors are in play - one major one being that pitch 10 is one of the harder pitches on the route, so that slows things down considerable (then pitch 11 is the crux so def not good to plan on doing that before bivying, as you would be likely to run out of time).

When I climbed the route the first time I used this strategy:
1. I led pitch 10, hauled the bag up a little ways, but it was still a few meters below the elevation of the ledge.
2. My partner cleaned the pitch, like normal, but instead of clipping into the anchor they just handed me the gear sling they had just cleaned, pulled their grigri tight, and then rapped down to the bag.
3. They 'walked' the bag over to the ledge, and anchored it there.
4. They also anchored the lead line
5. I rapped down the lead line to the ledge, leaving the hauler all set up
6. In the morning, I jugged up first and started to haul (shows why it is important to pull up 4 - 5 meters of slack before fixing the lead line, so you have this as a tie in while you're hauling. When you jug back up in the morning, you just tie back into the rope, and you're all ready to start hauling safely).
7. My partner released the haul bag
8. My partner jugged the lead line also, lowering out off the anchor on the ledge (careful to not get twisted up with the bag / haul line).

Now with the new inflatable portaledge it will not be so important to reach the ledge; Pillar of Despair might be fine if you get there in the dark and don't want to deal with all this stuff (likely ;). The coolest thing about the inflatable portaledges is they are also a 4" sleeping pad. That's right baby, 4 inch base camp pad on the Big Stone!

Here is the amazing xRex pic of the Southwest / West face.....see the climbers on pitch 6?


Erik Sloan, owner, RockclimbYosemite.com Yosemitebigwall.com - email me at erik@yosemitebigwall.com Feb 14, 2019