New Dawn

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, A4
Sign the Climber's Log


From the road below El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, hike up the well used approach trail to the foot of the Nose. From here, head right and up along the base of El Capitan several hundred feet. The climb begins left of a huge scoop in an alcove more or less directly below the right side of El Cap Tower.

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 New Dawn to you.

New Dawn is a variation of Warren Harding and Dean Caldwells Wall of the Early Morning Light. In 1970, Harding and Caldwell spent 26 1/2 days doing the 1st ascent of the Wall of the Early Morning Light, causing quite a stir. One controversy concerning the climb was the amount of bolting on the lower blank part of the route. New Dawn avoids these bolt ladders by climbing crack systems up the right side of El Cap Towers where it joins the Nose route for about 50' before aid climbing right to join the Wall of the Early Morning Light. It is an enjoyable exciting big wall climb ( in my opinion ). Another sleeper route compared to the trade routes ( I.M.H.O. )!

The first pitch consists of climbing a bolt ladder and 5.8 face to a pendulum left followed by another bolt ladder and another pendulum left. Hook moves lead to an A3 crack. Six pitches of mostly aid climbing ( some A4 ) leads to Lay Lady Ledge, an excellent bivy spot. These pitches and the next 3 follow cracks up the right side of El Cap Towers. 2 pitches of 5.9, A2 and a pitch of 4th class lead to El Cap Towers, another excellent bivy spot. A short free pitch leads to the upper El Cap Tower by Texas Flake.

Pitch 12 - from the right edge of El Cap Tower climb a bolt ladder up and right for 2 pitches. Pitch 14 - lower to bolts, then follow an expanding A4 flake right to more bolts which lead to seams on the Wall of the Early Morning Light. Note that once you lower and pull your ropes, you're commited - it's probably impossible to rappel the overhanging wall below! Climb 4 pitches of shallow seams straight up ( A3, A4, A3 and 5.6 ) using pins, bolts and many tiny scary rivets. This leads to Wino Tower, a good bivy ledge. When I climbed the route in 1982, there was still a wine bottle sticking out of plants in the corner, presumably Warren Hardings!

Pitch 19 - free and aid climbing up a crack lead to a sling belay. Pitch 20 - climb up a crack, then using hooks climb up and left to free climbing ( 5.8 ) and a belay at a ledge. Note - if one accidentally keeps climbing up the crack, it soon becomes easy ( 5.7 ?) free and one will wind up at the top of pitch 19 on Mescalito! Pitches 21 & 22 lead up and left using aid from hooks, rivets and pins.

Pitch 23 - a very overhanging A1 crack leads to a crack system which runs to the right of the giant roof one can see from the ground. 3 pitches of moderate aid ( A2 ) leads past the overhang to a ledge ( bivy ). Pitches 27 - 29 ( 5.8, A4, A2 and A2 ) lead to the top!

Note: this wall and Mescalito are very steep and as such are popular with the base jumping crowd. Don't be surprised if you hear something wizzing by in the night ( something large and 180 pounds - " crap, is that a rock coming ?" ) followed by a scream, whoosh and silence! We had several parachuters scare the hell out of us ( I lost more years off my life from them than the climb !)!!

Tim Winiarki, Craig Shaw and I climbed this route in 7 1/2 days back in July of 1982 ( my 2nd El Cap climb ) and we found it fun, exciting and slightly off the beaten track. It can be done faster as we spent one day hanging out on El Cap Towers drinking beer ( had the place to ourselves ) and got lost by accidentally finding a 5.7 free connection to Mescalito 2 days later! Not as difficult as the newer routes as this climb was done 30 years ago. Recomended.

Essential Gear

5 rurps, 5 knifeblades, 20 lost arrows, 4 each 1/2" - 3/4" angles ( sawed offs handy ), 1 each 1" - 1 1/2" angles, 15 copperheads, many rivet hangers and small ( #1) stoppers ( for rivet hangers ), bolt hangers, hooks of all types including Leeper ball point and bat hooks, TCU's and Friends - 2 each, 2 sets wired stoppers and 2 sets of micro nuts ( RPs handy ), 165' ropes, hammocks / porta-ledges.

Note: it is reputed that New dawn will go all clean at a rating of C4!

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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