ApproachHike to the base of El Capitan from the road below it in Yosemite Valley. From the Nose, head left and up along the base of El Capitan. Half way between the Nose and West Buttress is a great curving arch. This is the start of the route.
Route DescriptionRather than give you a pitch by pitch description, which you can find in either the book Yosemite Climbs - Big Walls, by Don Reid, or Supertopos by Chris McNamara, I will attempt to give you my impression of this route and, thru my pictures, hopefully convey the experience of climbing Dihedral Wall to you.
This climb was the 3rd route done on El Capitan, by Ed Cooper, Jim Baldwin and Glen Denny, in 1962. it is pretty much just as hard today as it was then! Typical ascents take 3 - 5 days. The full route is 27 pitches, although many climbers follow Thanksgiving Ledge the West Buttress route ( one pitch 5.10a then 4th ) from the end of pitch 22 as the final pitches are not as exciting and a bit dirtier.
The first five pitches follow a great curving arch. After a few free moves on the first pitch the remainder of this arch is A2 nailing ending in sling belays. from the end of the fourth pitch most climbers fix ropes straight down following a series of rappel stations ( four 150' ropes needed ).
Five more nailing pitches ( 2 with some A3 ) lead to The Ledge. This is the first ledge in 1000', and the last for about another 1000'. If there is one thing that characterizes this climb, it's sling belays! This is a good bivy spot ( for one + hammocks ).
Nine pitches up corners ( some A3, mostly A1 - 2 and 5.9 ) lead to the base of the Black Cave. This is a convenient bivy spot, although we were attacked by mice and had bats zip in and out 3" above our heads like a Vincent Price movie!
A mixed free / aid pitch up the Black Cave turns a roof and is followed by 2 more free pitches to Thanksgiving Ledge. Walk west for 600' to the last pitch on the West Buttress ( 5.10a ), or walk west 200' and follow the last five pitches ( 5.9, some A1 ) to the top.
This was the first El Capitan route I climbing and I loved it! Not as popular as Zodiac or Mescalito, consider it a " sleeper " of a route. If you ain't used to hammocks and sling belays when you start, you will be by the time you're finished! We took 4 days plus a day of fixing lines. I reccomend this climb ( especially if you checked suffering )!! The route can now go clean ( or mostly clean for most of us ) and goes free ( if you lead 5.14 )!!