Rising 3,593 feet from the valley and 7,569 feet above sea level, El Capitan, Yosemite is a breath taking sight. Favored by expert rock climbers from all part of the world, El Capitan Yosemite is the largest exposed granite monolith in the world. In fact, El Capitan Yosemite is almost twice the height of the rock of Gibraltar!
As you enter the park, El Capitan Yosemite is on the left, or north side of the valley. Take a look up towards the top. The slope of El Capitan Yosemite actually increases. This part of the rock is called The Nose. It has presented a formidable challenge to rock-climbers of all abilities.
Because of the geology of Yosemite Park, the area is filled with granite rocks that are similar, albeit not as impressive as El Capitan Yosemite. Approximately one million years ago, snow and ice accumulated around the area that is now known as Yosemite Park. As a result, glaciers were formed in the higher alpine meadows. Because of this phenomenon, ice thickness in Yosemite Park may have reached 4,000 feet in this early glacial period. The down slope movement of these dramatic ice masses sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts a multitude of visitors to Yosemite Park.
From the earliest times, many well known people have taken a Yosemite tour. The first Yosemite tour that has been accounted for was conducted on July 5th 1855 by James Hutchings. After his trip, he published Hutchings' California Magazine. With its publication, the rest of the world would learn about Yosemite Park. The artist Thomas Ayres drew the first accurate sketches of Yosemite Park. Later, Ansel Adams' fantastic photos of the Yosemite Valley would put Yosemite Park on the map with his.
While Hutchings publicized Yosemite, Ayres made the park famous by his artwork and Adams brought the park to life with his photos; it was the climbers who brought a sense of drama to the area. In 1958, Warren J. Harding, Wayne Merry and George Whitmore climbed the Nose of El Capitan. Their El Capitan rock climbing team used rope, pitons and expansion bolts in order to make it to the top.
Today, an El Capitan rock climbing trip is considered an excursion to rock climbing heaven. However, climbing El Capitan is no walk in the woods. Be prepared for a challenge. Since the Nose of El Capitan is 2900 feet high, the climb is usually done in thirty four pitches. For most people, a trip involving climbing El Capitan will usually take three to five days.