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The Shield

The Shield

The Shield

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.73420°N / 119.6367°W

Object Title: The Shield

Route Type: Technical Rock

Time Required: A few days

Difficulty: VI, 5.9, A3+

Route Quality: 
 - 6 Votes


Page By: Craig Peer

Created/Edited: Nov 27, 2002 / Nov 27, 2002

Object ID: 157426

Hits: 6862 

Page Score: 75.81%  - 6 Votes 

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Hike 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 for a couple of hundred feet to a recess. Cracks to the right of the recess mark the beginning of Salathe Wall route which is also the first portion of the Shield.

Route Description

Rather 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 The Shield to you.

The Shield is one of the best climbs on El Capitan. " The Shield refers to the 700' tall, smooth and slightly overhanging headwall near the top of El Cap. Split by a solitary thin crack, the six headwall pitches are among the most memorable and exciting on El Cap!

The Shield follows the first 10 pitches of the Salathe Wall to Mammoth Terraces ( 5.9 - 5.10c, A2 or free at 5.11b ). Or one can follow the beginning of Muir Wall ( or any other route that leads ) to Mammoth Terraces.

From Mammoth ( excellent bivy site ) follow the Muir Wall for 6 pitches ( 5.9, A2 ) to where the Muir exits on bolts to the right. The Shield nails left and up from here to the outragous Roof pitch ( A3 ). Five beautiful, overhanging and exposed aid pitches ( A3 ) lead up the headwall. Another pitch leads to Chickenhead Ledge, a not too comfy bivy spot. Five more free and aid pitches lead to the top. 30 pitches in all, with about 5 -6 days being the average ascent time. Highly recommended!

Essential Gear

5 rurps, 5 knifeblades, 15 Lost Arrows, angles pitons - 5 - 1/2", 7 - 5/8", 4 sawed off 3/4", 3 - 1", 2 - 1 1/4", 1 - 1 1/2", 2 - 3 sets wired nuts, 2 sets Friends, several copperheads, hooks of all types, hammocks or ledges.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.


Jo Bertalot cleans on the...Pitch 17 on the Shield, El...Chickenhead ledge, The Shield...Jo Bertalot cleans the Groove...Coming over the big roof onto...Leaving the Muir Wall route...Pitch 19, The Shield, El...
Jo from Wales lead the Triple...Climbing over the roof and...Looking down pitch 21 ( A3 )...