Are you an adrenaline junkie seeking the ultimate challenge or simply curious about the most daring ascents on the iconic El Capitan? Either way, we've got you covered! Dive into the world of vertical adventures with StrawPoll, where we bring you a gripping ranking of "What is the most difficult route up El Capitan?" Our list features a riveting collection of the most formidable routes that have tested the limits of even the most skilled climbers. Unleash your inner daredevil and cast your vote now, or push the boundaries further by suggesting a lesser-known, heart-stopping alternative. Embark on this exhilarating journey with us and discover the pulse-raising world of El Capitan's most challenging climbs. The wall awaits you, conqueror!
The Dawn Wall - considered the most difficult route up El Capitan, it involves climbing over 3,000 feet of vertical and overhanging rock faces. It took Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson 19 days to complete in 2015.
Magic Mushroom is a challenging and rarely climbed route up the southeast face of El Capitan, featuring long pitches of aid climbing and difficult free climbing sections.
The Magic Mushroom is a highly challenging route up El Capitan, a vertical granite monolith in Yosemite National Park, California. The route takes climbers up the vertical face of El Capitan, offering a mix of intense free climbing and aid climbing sections.
Difficulty: Extremely difficult (rated at 5.14c/d)
Length: Around 33 pitches or 2,900 feet (884 meters)
Style: A combination of free climbing and aid climbing
Protection: Traditional gear placements and bolts
First Ascent: Completed by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson in 2008
The Nose is one of the most iconic routes up El Capitan, it involves climbing 2,900 feet of vertical and overhanging rock faces. While not as difficult as The Dawn Wall, it remains a challenging climb due to its length and technical difficulty.
The Nose is a legendary and iconic rock climbing route up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. It is considered one of the most difficult and sought-after routes in the world. The route follows a prominent massive stone nose-shaped feature on the lower section of El Capitan, hence the name "The Nose". Climbing The Nose requires a combination of endurance, technical skill, and mental fortitude.
Grade: VI 5.14a
Length: 2,900 feet (880 meters)
Number of Pitches: 31
First Ascent: Completed in 1958 by Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore
Style: Big wall climbing, mostly aid climbing with some free climbing sections
The Shield is a rarely climbed route up the southwest face of El Capitan, featuring difficult and technical climbing sections.
The Shield is one of the most difficult routes up El Capitan, located in Yosemite National Park, California. It is a demanding climb that tests the limits of both stamina and technical skill. The route follows a prominent arête on El Capitan's southwest face, requiring climbers to navigate a variety of complex features and challenging terrain.
Tangerine Trip is a challenging route up the southeast face of El Capitan, featuring difficult aid climbing and free climbing sections.
The Tangerine Trip is considered one of the most challenging routes up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. It is a mythical and legendary climb that demands a high level of technical skill, endurance, and mental fortitude. The route follows a complex and intricate line up the southwest face of El Capitan, offering breathtaking views, exposed granite features, and sustained difficulty throughout.
Zodiac is a technical and challenging route up the southeast face of El Capitan, often requiring aid climbing and featuring difficult free climbing sections.
The Zodiac is one of the most difficult routes up El Capitan, a famous granite monolith in Yosemite National Park. It is a technical and challenging climb that demands a high level of skill and experience. The route follows a continuous line up the sheer southwest face of El Capitan, offering breathtaking views along the way.
Mescalito is a challenging and rarely climbed route up the southwest face of El Capitan, featuring difficult and technical climbing sections.
Mescalito is considered to be one of the most difficult routes up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. It is a steep and challenging line that requires advanced climbing techniques and exceptional physical fitness. The route follows a prominent central streak on the southwest face of El Capitan, offering minimal protection and limited natural features to aid in the ascent. Mescalito presents climbers with an array of technical pitches, involving off-width cracks, thin face climbing, and challenging aid climbing sections.
Tempest is a challenging route up the southeast face of El Capitan, featuring technical climbing sections and requiring aid climbing in some sections.
The Tempest is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft designed to meet the requirements of future air combat missions. It is being developed as part of a collaborative effort between the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence and several leading aerospace companies.
Stealth Capability: Significantly reduced radar cross-section and infrared signature for enhanced survivability.
Supercruise: Ability to sustain supersonic speeds without using afterburners.
Data Fusion: Integration of data from various sources, sensors, and platforms for improved situational awareness.
Advanced Avionics: State-of-the-art onboard systems for enhanced performance and mission effectiveness.
Directed Energy Weapons: Capability to employ high-energy lasers and other directed energy weapons.
The Salathe Wall is a classic route up El Capitan, featuring difficult free climbing and aid climbing sections. While not as technically challenging as other routes, it remains a challenging climb due to its length and exposure.
The Salathe Wall is considered one of the most difficult and iconic routes up El Capitan, a prominent granite monolith in Yosemite National Park. It follows a striking and complex line up the southwest face of El Capitan, spanning around 3,000 feet of sheer vertical rock.
Lurking Fear is a challenging route up the west face of El Capitan, featuring difficult and technical climbing sections.
The Lurking Fear is a challenging route up El Capitan, located in Yosemite National Park, California. It is known for its sustained difficulty and technical climbing sections. The route was first climbed in September 1997 by Alex Huber and Thomas Huber, two renowned German climbers. It follows a complex and intricate line up the southeast face of El Capitan.
Route Length: 2,300 feet
Number of Pitches: 23
Type of Climbing: Big wall, trad, and aid climbing
Rock Type: Granite
Missing your favorite route?
Ranking factors for difficult route up El Capitan
This refers to the level of climbing skills and techniques required to complete the route. This includes factors like the steepness of the wall, the presence of overhangs, cracks, or small holds that are hard to grip, and the need for complex moves.
Assess the availability and quality of protection on the route. This could include the presence of bolts or other fixed gear, as well as whether the route can be protected with traditional climbing gear, like cams and nuts.
The overall length of the route affects its difficulty, as longer routes typically require more endurance and commitment from climbers. Consider the number of pitches (sections of the climb that require the lead climber to stop and anchor the rope) and the total vertical gain.
This refers to the level of mental and physical commitment required for the climb. Factors that influence commitment level include the amount of time and effort it takes to complete the route, as well as its remoteness and level of exposure – the extent to which a climber feels exposed to the vastness of the rock face and open air.
Consider whether the route has a series of difficult sections back-to-back, or if there are easier sections that provide opportunities for rest and recovery.
Quality of Rock
The rock's texture, composition, and stability can affect the difficulty of a route. Loose or crumbling rock can make the climbing dangerous and more difficult, while smoother, more solid rock can make certain moves easier and more secure.
Different routes may be more difficult for climbers with different skill sets or preferences. For example, a route that is primarily crack climbing might be more challenging for a climber who specializes in face climbing.
Weather and Conditions
The difficulty of a climb can be influenced by the weather and conditions on the wall. For example, high winds, extreme heat or cold, and wet or icy conditions can make a climb more challenging.
Popularity and Crowding
A route's difficulty might be increased if it's crowded and climbers must wait in line or navigate around other parties.
Personal Experience and Abilities
Finally, take into account individual experience, fitness, and skill levels, since what might be an easy route for one climber could be a significant challenge for another.
About this ranking
This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult route up El Capitan. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or route is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!
More information on most difficult route up el capitan
El Capitan is a massive granite monolith located in Yosemite National Park, California. It is one of the world's most famous rock climbing destinations, attracting thousands of climbers each year. Rising over 3,000 feet above the valley floor, El Capitan offers a variety of routes for climbers of all skill levels. However, some routes are notoriously difficult and require exceptional climbing skills, strength, and endurance. The most challenging routes up El Capitan include The Nose, Salathé Wall, and The Shield. These routes are considered the ultimate test of a climber's abilities and have been the subject of many legendary climbs and stories. Climbing El Capitan is not for the faint of heart, but for those who are up for the challenge, it can be a life-changing experience.
Explore other rankings
Check out some of the other recommended rankings on StrawPoll and make your voice heard.