REI Community
El Capitan
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Dawn Wall Free T 
East Buttress T 
Freerider T 
Golden Gate T 
Hamas Fights For Freedom 
Heart Route (Free) T 
Lurking Fear T 
Magic Mushroom T 
Mescalito T 
Mirage T 
Muir Wall T 
Native Son 
Never Never Land 
New Dawn T 
North America Wall 
Nose, The T 
Quo Vadis T 
Salathe Wall T 
Scorched Earth T 
Shield, The T 
Shortest Straw, The 
South Seas T 
Squeeze Play 
Tangerine Trip 
Tribal Rite T 
Triple Direct T 
West Face T 
Zenyatta Mondatta 

West Face 

YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a

Type:  Trad, 20 pitches, 1800', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: FA 1967 TM Herbert & Royal Robbins FFA 1979 Ray Jardine and Bill Price
Season: Spring, Autumn
Page Views: 16,898
Submitted By: David Trippett on Nov 19, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (37)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
Travis winds his way through a sea of features way...

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


My Memory is a bit sketchy on some of the pitches....feel free to offer corrections....

P1 11b slabby, bolt protected face crux starting off of a platform.

P2 11b Thin, left arching crack undercling/layback. Lots of fixed gear

P3 10a Slightly flaring thin corner,

P4 Big Traverse.

P5 10a Cool 10a arete/bulge move following by incredible 5.8 climbing, on atypically Yosemite sculpted jugs which turn out to be the trademark of the climb. Pay attention here, easy to get on the wrong crack.

Link Pitches 6&7 with a 70m rope(68m)....but save some gear for the anchor!

P6+P7 11c Long thin stemming corner with a oddly placed anchor at the crux. This will be the route crux for most. This anchor is not the end, keep going past the crux to the belay ledge above. With a 70m, you will have little rope to spare.

P8 11c A fantastic short but strenous 30' (?) overhanging hand and finger crack;

P9 7 Traverse to move belay.

P10 10b Delicate 10 face moves to a nice 5.8 crack.

P11 10b Incredibly beautiful pitch -- a lot of it steep. uncharacteristic well placed gigantic jugs and gorgeous rock..

P12 5.8 Easy climbing on face and cracks

P13 9 Another fun jug-ridden pitch.

-Link pitches 14 & 15 w 70m rope-

P14 10d Great steep thin crack then delicate face.

P15 7 classic long 5.7 corner pitch

P16 2nd class move to the other end of the Thanksgiving ledge.

P17 - 20 forgettable and rambling mid 5th....pick your poison The "route" effectively is over after Thanksgiving Ledge....we soloed out.


Walk up to Lurking Fear and keep going. The route starts off a big pedestal below a large arching roof.


A 70m rope is best for linking pitches. Heavy on thin gear, doubles of everything from green alien to #2 Camalot and 1 #3 Camalot. Nuts.

Photos of West Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: 5.10R Traverse on pitch 9 is heads up! Feels like ...
5.10R Traverse on pitch 9 is heads up! Feels like ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch one. 5.11c be careful pulling the moves over...
Pitch one. 5.11c be careful pulling the moves over...
Rock Climbing Photo: James pulling down on the crux second pitch. The 5...
James pulling down on the crux second pitch. The 5...

Comments on West Face Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 19, 2017
By 426
Apr 14, 2008
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

P3 is extremely slippery, watch yerself!

I still have to free this bad boy, climbed like a demon on the lower part, but the funky "J-Tree" pod pitch (P8) spit me off. I also seem to recall using /discrete/ rope tension on the 10d "near the top" pitch.
By Ryan Curry
Jul 7, 2008
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a PG13

Climbed this route yesterday so I thought I'd add my 2 cents.
p1: 1st bolt is old Leeper (yellow alien just below it), second looks newer. Crux is thin face climbing to the right of bolts. Second half of pitch is protected primarily by fixed pins and a very old bolt.
P2: a good bolt protects the initial moves into a thin arching crack with some fixed gear. The crack ends as you move on to tricky face moves that felt like solid 5.10. A bit runout here.
P3: Fun 5.10a corner to cruiser 5.8 corner.
P4: This pitch is short and basically moves the belay up and left to facilitate access to the next pitch. Look for old slings to mark the belay.
P5: Great exposed 5.10a move to juggy 5.8 crack. Ends at a comfy ledge.
Crack selection is not an issue here; that is more of an issue higher up.
P6: The crux. Slippery, steep and exposed. With a few fixed pieces and a bunch of small cams and wires this protects well. Link this pitch with the next pitch in the Reid guide. 70 meter rope mandatory.
P7: This pitch, at 5.11c, is rated the same as the previous pitch but felt much easier. Short and powerful, punch through to good jams on overhanging rock. Mantle on to a ledge with five old bolts as an anchor.
P8: Wild traverse right on good holds with somewhat sporadic pro. Be sure to protect your follower on the downclimbing section. Bring the bigger cams on this pitch. We used both a #4 friend as well as a #4 camalot.
P9: The routefinding crux for us. Traverse on thin 5.10 face right. Pass an off-route crack, go further right to a 5.8 crack that passes through a 5.10a roof. When in doubt on the traverse go further right than you would think.
P10: 5.10b moves to start lead to a super fun crack/face jug haul.
P11: Hyper-exposed 5.7 angling traverse on a huge block leads to an inobvious 5.8 crux. Fairly short pitch. Belay low enough to start the next pitch on a featured face traverse.
P12: Traverse easily (5.6) to a fist crack. Up this thuggishly utilizing face holds to a very large ledge.
P13: Clean hand to finger crack (5.10d) leads to a thin (5.10c) face traverse protected by a funky, but seemingly solid, pin. Continue up the corner all the way to Thanksgiving ledge. This is a linked pitch. Be sure to use long slings down low or ropedrag can be a real problem. 70 meter rope is mandatory to link.
P14 and beyond: Move belay to the far left end of the ledge. Climb up a 5.6 corner. The pitches above get progressively easier until you are fourth classing it to the top.
We fixed pitches 1 and 2 and found that a 70m rope reaches the deck from the second belay. Also, be sure to bring a lot of thin gear (black aliens, 00 tcu). They won't go unused.
By walker emerson
May 14, 2012

Just wanted to add some info for anyone looking to do the west face.
On pitch one a new bolt has been added to protect the crux as well as on pitch two at the beginning of the crux. New bolts have been added at the belays up to pitch 5 I think. above that are the same old relics.
By Luke Stefurak
From: Seattle, WA
Sep 9, 2013
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13

All anchors up to P7 (before the long traverse right) are two 3/8" bolts and setup for rappel. The P3 anchor is the only exception which is a slung block attached to a single new bolt.

The midway "anchor" on P6 has been reduced to one bolt with a long sling on it. Please don't remove the sling/cord so you can clip early, or pull past if aiding.

The jumble of 1/4" bolts on the P7 ledge have been removed.

As Walker noted there is a new bolt protecting the crux on P1. There is a 1/4" bolt right below.

The 3rd bolt on P1, that Ryan mentions, has been upgraded to a 3/8" bolt.

This route has great anchors, good ledges and challenging climbing. Go for it!!

We brought 1x green C3 3x Red C3 and then doubles to #2 Camalot, a single #3 Camalot plus nuts. Good to have lots of alpine draws for all the pitons. This rack is overkill for a lot of pitches but I placed everything on the 70m pitch 6.
By jacobson
Sep 29, 2013

On the second pitch: There were two nice-looking pitons (I'm not sure if these were retrofitted) protecting the funky face/dihedral section after the initial section off the anchor. Does anybody have information on those pitons? Or are those original?
By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Mar 27, 2016

Ohhh my Buddha! Just did this route, late March 2016, and it was truly an epic and educational experience to say the least. Long approach, which is made much more grueling with haul bags,essentially every single pitch was seeping with water (some even mistakable for waterfalls) and the slippery wet exposed third class top out was most terrifying (with haul bags on back)! The 11c pitches were pretty stout, had to pull through gear on most cruxes. The traversing nature of this climb calls for loads of lowering out skills of followers and haulbags, can be time consuming. To make life much simpler I would totally recommend doing this route in a day if possible. CLimbing is climbing though and overall it was still fun as biscuits!
By Garrettlewisr
Mar 29, 2016

Wow, this climb was pretty intense! Super fun, but pretty grueling if you have a haul bag.. Calls for a lot of lower outs for the bag. There were two big long traversing pitches which took a long time, wasn't expecting that..
And SuperTopo calls the last pitch 300ft of 5.3 fun! However, Be prepared for 1000ft of 5.3-5.7 slab which are soaking wet depending no when you do this. The long and never ending slabs at the top benighted us on top of el cap!
Such an adventure! Get to the cool bivy on pitch 11, so sick!
By Tommy Chheng
From: San Francisco, California
May 16, 2017

Is there a descent route via the El Cap Gully?
By leo qiu
From: Davis, CA
May 21, 2017

A friend and I did this route on May 19th 2017. Pitch 6 and 7 can be linked, but the belayer will have to be in hanging belay at a very uncomfortable and wet corner. A little stream of water is coming down for pitch 6 which will affect the climbing by a bit, but nothing to worry too much about. I would recommend just doing pitch 6, and get your belayer up there to reset a better anchor.

As always, do not walk down East ledge in the dark for the first time. We made that mistake, and took us 6 hours to get down.
By Michael Dom
From: Seattle
Jun 6, 2017

Did this route yesterday and I must say that this route is hard. Expect some severe run outs and serious route finding. I think the crux of this route is not in the climbing difficulty but just figuring out where you are supposed to go.

The Sloan topo was not very helpful for many sections. I think that this is a better topo:

There is one positive, once you get to the Thanksgiving Ledge there is a small trickle of water that has created a pool big enough, and clean enough, to drink from. Once you arrive at the ledge start walking to the climber's right for maybe 100-150 meters.

The final bits with the slab are basically meandering pitches with occasional protection. I stayed far left and ended up finding some chickenheads to climb up.
By Erik Sloan
Jun 22, 2017

The El Cap Gully is not a good descent option for this climb, because the top several hundred feet of that route is exposed slab, which is not easily down climbed.

The East Ledges is the best descent option - walking to Eagle Peak and then down the Yosemite Falls trail will take at least six hours as well (8.5 miles).
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Aug 8, 2017
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

Fantastic route, desert island route. Three very different cruxes - proud day if you fire them all. Pitch 2 was nails for me - if you onsite that one, you are definitely dialed both in terms of footwork/technique and cool-headedness.

Agree with poster above, Sloan topo is off in spots, find other sources.
By Tony L
6 days ago

Huge rockfall reported as of Sept 17, 2017.
By Erik Griffith 1
5 days ago

Climbed route day after rockfall. (Yes I know, yrr gonna die. Aren't well all)
Just wanted to give everyone a heads up. All anchors and route are still intact and unharmed by the rock fall. Climbers left of the wall was completely peppered and the gully itself seems pretty unstable. Sounds of silt and granite shifting all day below us. We found the huge block that had stopped on Thanksgiving ledge and made the easy 4th class traverse a little trickier to navigate. The feeling of being over there was definitely one of high caution and felt like we entered no man's land. I'd be careful going over there, and probably won't be treading on that side for some time. The route still goes and didn't seem to have any damage besides dusty holds.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About