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The Nose of El Capitan Virtual Cache

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Hidden : 04/02/2004
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   virtual (virtual)

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Geocache Description:

The Nose of El Capitan. The Best Rock Climb in the World.
A Tribute to Warren Harding (June 18, 1924 - February 27, 2002)

Elevation: 3986'

North, you are looking at El Capitan, the largest monolith of granite in the world. It's only 100 million years old.

The bulging corner is known as the Nose of El Capitan. It is long, sustained and flawless. This is the best known rock climbing route in the world and considered by many to be the best rock climb in the world.

If you are lucky, you will see very advanced rock climbers slowly moving their way up.

You are standing where thousands have stood for hours on end to watch the best climbers in the world make their ascent up this grand rock. Families have stayed, played, and picnicked all day while watching the climbers.

Average time today, to climb this 2900 foot route is 5 days. It is not an easy climb.

With over 31 pitches of steep, exposed and strenuous climbing, The Nose is an immense physical and psychological drain. Extensive climbing experience on long routes is mandatory. The failure rate is high. However, anyone who is deeply committed to training for this climb can do it. (So they say.)

Until the 1950’s, mountain climbers thought El Capitan and its nose were dangerous and couldn’t be climbed. They weren’t afraid of it… They just thought it was impossible.

That was changed in 1958 when Warren Harding, with homemade equipment and only five years of experience as a climber, climbed straight up the Nose and conquered El Capitan for the first time. His first two partners had to drop out and he was joined by two new partners to finish this grueling 45 day climb, considered one of the great rock climbs of history. Nicknamed “Batso” for his inventions of Bat tents and Bat Hooks and for his humorous antics, he was often throwing verbal jabs at “purists”, mountain climbers who disapproved of his climbing methods. Of much greater importance was “his talent in creating new concepts of what was possible in the art of ascending the great rock walls. His vision of climbing established the foundations for so many of the first ascents done by others throughout the world."

You can see great photos of this hike route at the website listed above. (Click on "User's Web Page", third line from the top.)

Never one to take the simple path, Harding was “a charmingly, gruff and outspoken character who never bowed to convention, turned down a drink, nor passed up the chance for a good story."

Harding was also the first to climb the east face of Washington Column, the south face of Mount Watkins, the south face of Half Dome, the Porcelain Wall, Keeler Needle and the west face of Mount Conness.

In 1970, facing bad weather, Harding and partner Dean Caldwell, spent 27 days climbing the Wall of the Early Morning Light, a vast blank section of El Capitan located to the right of the Nose as you are standing. Many of those days they stayed in bat tents hanging on the sheer blank wall through violent storms refusing helicopter rescues between the storms. This was the first ascent of this sheer, smooth 3000 foot wall and is considered the most difficult climbing rock face in the United States.

You are looking at where all this happened and where many more adventures are happening.

In the following past years listed, here are some of the adventures you could have witnessed:

1975: Jim Bridwell, John Long, and Billy Westbay become the first to climb the route in a day (14 hours).

1986: Peter Croft and Hans Florine set the still-standing speed record of four hours, 22 minutes.

1989: Steve Schneider succeeds on the first one-day solo (21 hours 22 minutes).

1989: Mark Wellman, a former Yosemite park ranger, became the first paraplegic to climb the challenging cliff of El Capitan. It took Wellman seven days and four hours - he estimated 7,000 pull-ups - to reach the top.

1993: Lynn Hill free climbs the Great Roof pitch (5.13) and returns the same year to make The Nose's first free ascent. Florine solos the route in 14 hours 10 minutes.

TO LOG THIS GEOCACHE: From the coordinates, walk across the meadow towards El Capitan and cross the road. To your right, you will see a white sign at coordinates N37 43.476 W119 38.084. From that sign, email to me what happened to a young child and how old he was. Also tell me what is on the sign closest to the white sign. Please don’t log your answers but email them to me. Go ahead and log your cache find.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

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Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)