Author: Robert

The Rocks of El Capitan

The Rocks of El Capitan

A Colorado dad says his 8-year-old is the youngest to scale El Capitan, but did they really climb it?

One of the most awe-inspiring things about climbing El Capitan — the world’s tallest free-hanging rock — is how the massive granite rock seems to rise up out of the earth like an overworked monument to human achievement. As a child, I always had a sense that this rock was the only place where you could feel small and humble. On this hike, I’m sure I’ll start noticing things I never could before.

We’d taken a tour about a week earlier with an experienced Colorado guide, a man named Dave, who had been working with rock-climbing clients for years. It was his second trip to the canyon and he was an excellent guide, but that didn’t make it any easier to hear the boy’s voice at the back of our car. This time, however, after a few minutes, Dave said, very clearly, “He’s about to climb El Capitan.”

I turned to my husband, who was at the wheel, and asked, “How do you know?”

“Because of the way he said ‘climb.’” We laughed about it.

So I wasn’t alone in my disbelief a few minutes later as we drove up and down the windy, steep roads towards the rock face, which was just as towering as Dave had said it would be. When we got to the beginning of the rock trail, I saw it was a huge, grayish white rock that looked kind of like a giant snowman, except it was almost the color of granite. We’d seen another huge wall, a thousand feet higher, that looked like a giant wall of paper with holes for the eyes. These were all the ones Dave had told us about, and on this one, he told us not to worry about being cut down by a falling rock.

The climbing route started at the very base of the white rock, and Dave and I stood at the very base

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