California (2,308 m) – World’s Most Popular Rock Climbing Destination
El Capitan is one of the largest granite monoliths in the Western United States and the most famous feature of Yosemite National Park. Famous for its nearly vertical rock faces, El Capitan was once deemed impossible to climb. However, many of its surfaces have been conquered in the last half century, and it is now considered the Holy Grail for rock climbers. For many truly serious rock climbers it has become an all-but-mandatory bucket list item.
The mountain was known to local tribes who knew the area well before the arrival of Europeans. The name El Capitan was a rough Spanish translation for the local word meaning “chief”. It was explored in 1851, and incorporated into Yosemite National Park in 1890. The feature of El Capitan known as “the Nose” was first climbed in 1958 by one Warren Harding (no relation to the president).
Thanks to its prominent location in one of America’s most popular national parks, as well as its reputation among rock climbers, El Capitan is one of the most popular and photographed mountains in the world. It has become a mecca for rock climbers, thousands of whom attempt the ascent every year. Major highways provide access to San Francisco and Sacramento, each approximately 150 miles to the west and northwest, respectively.