La Escuela, 11b, or 10a, C1

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.73091°N / 119.63802°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.11b (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: 11b, or 10a C1
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 3
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Topo of the route

La Escuela is the name of a route located on the base of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California.

Note 1: Free climbing is the preferred method of climbing La Escuela. If you are here to practice your clean-aid climbing technique, please yield to parties wanting to free climb the route.

Note 2: Although I have climbed this route many times in the past, the last time I climbed it was in the mid 1990s.

First climbed by Yosemite pioneers Yvon Chouinard and TM Herbert in 1962, this route soon became the destination of choice for climbers with big wall ambitions. La Escuela, The School, is where you went to learn or polish your aid climbing technique. The routes first two pitches offer varied crack sizes, and the crack's left leaning orientation is such that it challenges your skills and problem solving ability.

The third pitch of this route starts on easier rock then soon becomes a perfect straight up crack in a dihedral. This pitch was free climbed soon after the first ascent by another Yosemite pioneer, Layton Kor. In the early 1970s, or may be even earlier, the entire route was free climbed at 11b.


Route Description:

Pitch 1: The first pitch is about 70 feet of awkward crack in a left-leaning dihedral. This pitch is the crux of the entire route for free climbing at 11b, or even for clean-aid climbing at C1. This pitch ends on a nice ledge with a two-bolt anchor.

Pitch 2: The second pitch follows the same left leaning dihedral for another 70 feet. Although you have a smooth polished slab for your feet, the crack offers much better finger locks than the first pitch. This pitch goes as 11a, or C1 leading to a perfect ledge with an anchor.

Pitch 3: This pitch starts with very easy climbing on several blocks leading to the base of a beautiful dihedral with an inch and a quarter crack inside it. This pitch goes as 10a. The third pitch ends on top of the formation with a great ledge, an anchor and a beautiful view of Middle Cathedral Rock.

To Descend Rappel the route.

Essential Equipment: Two sixty meter ropes, standard rack, double up on nuts and cams up to 1.5 inches, slings. Also carry a few 2 to 3 inch cams for the first pitch.

Third Pitch seen from...
On the third pitch
On top of the route
Route seen from the base
First pitch, 11b, or C1

Getting There

The Nose of El Cap
Yosemite SunsetEl Cap Meadow
West Face of El Cap

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, Little John and La cosita. La Escuela is the formation just before reaching the huge dihedral of the Dihedral Wall on El Cap.

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Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.