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The Nose

First ascent: Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, George Whitmore, 1958. First free ascent: Lynn Hill 1993. First free ascent in a day: Lynn Hill 1993
By: Planetmountain
Area: U.S.A., Group: Yosemite, Peak: El Capitan, Country: U.S.A., Region: California

Possibly the most famous climb in the world, The Nose is the route. It marked the era of big wall climbing in Yosemite and is a true work of art; audacity and tenacity enabled the first ascentionists over a period of 47 days to invent and believe in this completely direct line up El Capitan.


From San Franciso drive to Yosemite National Park and Camp 4, the camping ground used by generations of climbers located in Yosemite Village (300km).


From Camp 4 walk to the obvious base of the route.


The Nose commented by Lynn Hill
"The Nose has it all: slabs, overhangs, cracks". And halfway up the 2nd pitch Lynn encounters the first test: "Two difficult moves to reach the ledge and then relax, climbing the cracks on the 4th and 5th pitch.” Each crack is unique. Such as “the Stovelegs Crack system, on the 9th pitch, where you start with hand jams and then finish with fist jams". Like the short and wide 11th pitch: "lieback or jams, whichever you choose, it’s always a strange pitch”. And so Lynn climbs on, past the Dolt Tower to reach the Jardine Traverse. Keep left here for the free ascent: "It’s difficult, especially at the start where some footholds and a fundamental handhold have been improved. They could have done without these, but it would have been even harder.”

The race continues to the left of Texas Flake up an interesting crack: "it changes in size throughout, from finger jams to fist jams... I liebacked." Fast. On the 18th pitch there’s the small roof which “wasn’t too difficult to climb free.” And so on to Camp IV: "Watch out! If someone is bivying above, you’re right in gravity’s path.” And Lynn too was hit: “It brought me luck: I freed the Great Roof.” Or rather, the 22nd pitch, one of the crux sections on the Nose. “The Great Roof is very long. The curve that leads to the traverse beneath the Roof is extremely delicate and slippery.” Carefully dosed moves and perfect balance along an incredible series of upside-down two-finger pockets: “Hard and spectacular.”

The door to the splendid Pancake Flake is now open: "This is one of the most beautiful sections on the Nose, up a spectacular technical crack. The rock is outstanding and from here you can see the entire route beneath you; you’re suspended between what you’ve just climbed and what still lies ahead!” Pitches 23, 24, 25; Lynn fights up a narrow chimney, bridges wide and liebacks the corner crack, (placing natural pro as she goes) to reach the large Camp IV ledge. From here the free version follows the original line. Not the Brooke’s variation but: “you continue up strange but beautiful moves along the corner used during the first ascent.” Another nice crack to reach the 30th pitch, a.k.a. Death block, where the wedged block is no longer in place: “ A friend of mine got rid of it last year... only a couple of slings still held it in place!”

Almost there! The enormous corner is now followed by the final section. And for a second Lynn almost blows it completely: “On the difficult overhang I lose my feet, while holding a small flake and an edge with just two fingers: foot quickly up high onto the “jug”, stand up, without my left hand. That was close!” After a difficult bulge she reaches the last belay, only a stone’s throw from the top. Final act: one hard move and it’s all over! Quick look at the clock: 23 hours.
This all happened in 1994.  Eleven years later, in October 2005, Tommy Caldwell managed to repeat this extraordinary feat.


Continue up for a few hundred meters to the rounded summit, then walk gently back down to the valley.


Most parties require circa 5 days to climb The Nose.


Yosemite Big Walls, Supertopo

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COMMENTS for the route "The Nose"

05-06-2009, Lepesant Ben
Usually you do not walk to the base from Camp 4. You park in the El Cap Meadows. 10 min. from there to the start. Best climb in the world. From the top you do not have to walk to the summit, rather keep close to edge until you come to a bushy area, where there is a trail.
Details / route

stella stella stella stella stella


Spring or autumn


5.13c or 5.9 A2


South Buttress


870m (31 pitches)


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