Muir Wall

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.73420°N / 119.6367°W
Additional Information Route Type: Technical rock
Additional Information Time Required: A few days
Additional Information Difficulty: VI, 5.9, A3
Sign the Climber's Log


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. Uphill from the beginning of Salathe Wall is the 150' slab called Moby Dick. This is the start of the route.

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 Muir Wall to you.

Muir Wall is one of the original classic routes from the " Golden Age " of El Cap. First climbed in June 1965 by Yvon Chouinard and T M Herbert, this was the first El Cap climb done in one push by a 2 man team from the ground without fixing hundreds of feet of rope first. It follows a beautiful natural line, and is one of the longest routes on El Capitan ( 32 pitches ). When Tim Winiarski and I climbed it in 1982 ( doing the supposed 10th ascent !? ) it was rated A4. Today it is considered moderate in difficulty and via variations can even be climbed more or less free! And unlike 1982 when you needed 70 pitons, aiding it now goes 99% clean!

From the top of Moby Dick ( 2 pitches, 5.9 ), drop down left and follow a corner for 3 pitches ( A2 or 5.12b ) to a roof which is followed left ( A2+ or 5.13 ) to a pendulumn left. Three more pitches up clean corners ( A2 or 5.11c ) lead to Heart Ledge. Another pitch higher is Mammoth Terrace, an excellent bivy sight.

Pitch 12 - a free pitch ( 5.9 ) followed by three A1 or free ( up to 5.12c ) pitches lead to another good bivy sight - Gray Ledges. Two more pitches up the continuing corner lead to a bolt ladder. Follow that right followed by a couple of pendulumns. You are now in the Gray Bands. Pitches 19 - 22 climb up cracks and corners ( A2 or up to 5.12b). On pitch 23 climb up then tension right ( warning - there are slings up left on a big arch - do not go there! ) and climb to a good ledge.

Three more pitches ( A3- or 5.12c ) and your in the beautiful upper dihedral. These pitches ( to my knowledge ) have not gone free. Pitches 27 - 30 ( up to A3 ) lead to a fun double pendulumn pitch left. One more mixed pitch leads to the top.

This route is highly recommended. Average time to climb it is about 5 days.

Essential Gear

HB offsets, some RP's and other small nuts, Rocks or equal - 5 - #1, 3 each # 2 & 3, 2 each # 4 & 5, 1 each larger, 3 each TCU's or Aliens, 3 each Friends 1 - 2, 2 each 2.5 - 4, a couple of large cams, 1 thick knifeblade, 6 lost arrows, 3 each baby angles, 1 sawed off 3/4" angle.

Miscellaneous Info

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



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