Type: Trad, Aid, 3200 ft, 35 pitches, Grade VI
FA: FA: Jim Bridwell, Kim Schmitz, 1969
Page Views: 19,409 total · 148/month
Shared By: Camster (Rhymes with Hamster) on Apr 14, 2008
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


Like Rusty with Mescalito, or whatever it was, I'm not the guy to describe this route as it was 15 years ago...

Anyway, what I remember: A fun route that takes in the first 10 pitches of the Salathe, then ten pitches of the Muir, then ten pitches of the Nose....or something like that.


Left of the Nose.


A relatively small wall rack.
Oakland, CA
  5.9 C1-2
Sirius   Oakland, CA
  5.9 C1-2
After the looong pitch above Mammoth, you reach a small ledge. Above this ledge is the feature some call the Crystal Chimney. This is not a C1- pitch, and blowing it here (thin, cam hooks, ok brassies) means a fall onto the ledge. I've read of people getting hurt here (two stories I know of), and found it heads up, though I'm not a strong aid climber.

Though most of the climb (95%) is C1, C2 might be a better grade for it, as there are some spots that'll get your attention.

Other 'cruxes' include hauling off the traverse into Camp 4 (beware the unseen flake that'll snag your line) and the 2nd pitch off of the Grey Ledges (given C2 by ST).

Great first line on El Cap - likely the easiest on this section of the wall. The Free Blast lends a great feeling of momentum on day 1, which is nice for the psyche.

Edited to add: I strongly agree with Will below. This description is choss, baby! May 8, 2008
Will Butler
Boulder, CO
Will Butler   Boulder, CO
I recognize that it is difficult to outline the pitches on such massive walls as El Cap, but a greater effort should be made in keeping with standards of this site. 2 cents worth. May 11, 2008
Jacek Czyz
Chicago, Summit CO; PL
  5.10- C2-
Jacek Czyz   Chicago, Summit CO; PL
  5.10- C2-
Definitely the easiest route on the wall, mainly because not sustained and easy to climb in two pushes. But which way C1- if share C2 pitches with Muir and Nose?

If you don't climb free (5.11a) end of the slab on Free Blast it is difficult to aid it. This last section I think is mandatory 5.10/A0. Feb 11, 2010
On bivouacs:
Gray ledges aren't much to sleep on, but the ledge below Camp 4 is awesome! Camp 6 is the next and last stop, flat and big enough for two.

Once you get to the Nose, it seems like a walk in the park compared to the Muir.

We used MANY RP sized (tiny) wired nuts to aid the pin scars on the Muir. The small wire is thin enough to slide into and hang through the crack below the scars. Oct 27, 2010
FA: Jim Bridwell, Kim Schmitz, 1969 Jan 21, 2012
Dan Mathews
  5.9 C2
Dan Mathews  
  5.9 C2
For what it is worth, I think the aid is a little more committing than the nose. The second pitch above Mammoth is comparable in difficulty (but longer) than the pitch above Camp 5. The next pitch is as hard as any on the Nose, and the long C2 corner up to the Shield route is longer and slightly more difficult than any of the Nose aid. Still, it is all straight forward and didn't need anything more complicated than brass offsets and a few offset mastercams. (You'll want a hook for the hard slab pitches if you don't free them.)

The three traversing pitches can be time consuming. Our haul line snagged on the "hidden flake" described above. Since it is down and quite a bit to climber's left of Camp 4, I had to place a couple directional pieces on the rappel to get over to it.

I think the Nose has more memorable pitches, and is a "better" climb, but this is a great route too. It's often less crowded...until you hit Camp 4 that is.

Also, the Heart ledge rap route makes it very easy to go down until you hit the traverse to the Nose. Once you leave the long C2 corner, the easiest way off is to finish the traversing pitches and then descend the Nose raps.

After a 15 year hiatus of big wall climbing, we chose this climb because:
1 - It's an "easy" El Cap route
2 - It's not as crowded as the Nose, which would allow us to set our own pace at the beginning.
3 - You get to ease into it by coming down after Mammoth.
4 - By the time you hit Camp 4 the hardest aid is behind you and you know by then if you are moving efficiently and ready for the endless traffic jams on the Nose.
5 - It's easy to bail all the way up to the Shield if it's not working out. Oct 26, 2012
San Francisco, CA
  5.9+ C2
jpvandever   San Francisco, CA
  5.9+ C2
Climbed this in a long day (22:40) on Aug 31. Had climbed Freeblast and the Nose before. I thought the Triple Direct was harder than the Nose due to the sustained aid pitches on the Muir and the logistics of the traversing pitches over to Camp IV.

Black, Blue, Green Alien
#0.3 C4
2 x Yellow Alien
1 x Red Alien + #0.5 C4
2 x #0.75
2 x #1
2 x #2
1 x gold linkcam
1 x #3
1 x #4
Metolius Offsets: purple/blue, blue/yellow
Offset Aliens: green/yellow, yellow/red
1 cam hook
1 set Peenuts, a few brass offsets, and 2 medium DMM offset nuts

Would definitely rate the aid as C2. Sep 2, 2014
MisterCattell Cattell
South Lake Tahoe, Ca
  5.11c C2
MisterCattell Cattell   South Lake Tahoe, Ca
  5.11c C2
Free the Pancake! Jan 25, 2018
Pink Thunder
Sacramento, CA
Pink Thunder   Sacramento, CA
The description above is a blemish on the face of Mountain Project. I highly suggest updating it to something that more accurately reflects the quality, diversity and difficulty of the route. For shame, sir.

A bit of beta from our recent attempt (we had to bail once we got to Camp IV atop pitch 18):

Cam hooks are definitely needed, are as offset cams and nuts. One set apiece will probably suffice, as long as you have triples of micro and finger-size cams. A lot of the aiding was thin. Small Aliens were also clutch, as were micronuts. I don't remember using a lot of big gear, but it's definitely worth bringing at least doubles up to #3 and one apiece #4 and #5. Also, there was supposed to be a second piton on pitch 17's traverse over to Crossroads, but it's no longer there, which means you basically have to do a sizable pendulum to get over to the 5.6 holds. Fun stuff. Hardest part of the route for me was the supposed 5.8 chimney on pitch 13 or so. Slick squeeze makes it tough to aid; I'd recommend going a bit lighter on the rack and trying to free as much of this as possible just because aiding it is so strenuous because of the constriction.

And bailing from 18 pitches up El Cap wasn't exactly a walk in the park. If you don't have a good idea of where the anchors are on the way down it could be pretty easy to miss bolts and get into a bad situation. It's pretty straightforward once you get down to El Cap Tower, but prior to then the anchors weren't always obvious. Oct 11, 2018