OverviewEl Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California.
To most non-climbers anyone walking toward El Capitan, he/she is going to go from bottom to the top of this huge rock. In fact, that cannot be further from the truth. The fact is that El Capitan has a very wide base with numerous pinnacles, chimney systems, crack systems and ledges extending hundreds of feet up from the base. These shorter routes are perfect for a day of climbing without committing to the entire three thousand feet of El Capitan.
Some of the chimney and crack systems on the base are the start of the routes that eventually reach the top, and some are independent routes on their own right. Little John is a pinnacle partially separated from the main wall. The left side is a short one pitch route, rated at 5.8. This route is an all-time favorite of many climbers seeking to get a workout and experience climbing an off-width to fist-size crack. At 5.8 difficulty rating, it is also one of the easiest routes in the area.
Little John, left side, is 75 feet tall and starts on a well-featured low angle ramp that gradually steepens for its first fifty feet. The last twenty five feet of the route is an off-width/fist size crack that extends to the top of the formation which is a good ledge. The wide crack section is the crux of the route and will require protection pieces from 3 to 4 inches. Double bolt anchor just above the ledge serves as a belay anchor as well as anchor points for rappelling back to the base.
Essential Equipment: one seventy meter rope, standard rack of nuts and cams up to 4 inches and slings.
El Capitan, El Cap, is unmistakable. El Cap Meadow is directly in front of El Capitan, right next to the one-way road leading out of the park. There is a long shoulder allowing for many cars to park. Park a hundred yards to the southwest of the bridge. Looking toward the forest across from the El Cap Meadow, you will see a faint climbers path leading toward the base of the most prominent feature on El Cal, The Nose of El Cap. Follow this path to a dark formation directly below The Nose. Avoid paths that head right and stay with the ones that go left. Once you are on the base of the main wall, the first formation you come to is a large formation resembling a whale. This is "Moby Dick." Walk past Moby Dick to the next formation. The next formation is Little John and the left side of it is easily recognizable.