El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

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Artist's Description

El Capitan is a 3,000-foot (910 m) vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers.

The formation was named “El Capitan” by the Mariposa Battalion when it explored the valley in 1851. El Capitan (“the captain”, “the chief”) was taken to be a loose Spanish translation of the local Native American name for the cliff, variously transcribed as “To-to-kon oo-lah” or “To-tock-ah-noo-lah”. It is unclear if the Native American name referred to a specific Tribal chief, or simply meant “the chief” or “rock chief”.1 In modern times, the formation’s name is often contracted to “El Cap”, especially among rock climbers.

The top of El Capitan can be reached by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail next to Yosemite Falls, then proceeding west. For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face; there are dozens of named climbing routes, all of them long and difficult.

Artwork Comments

  • Mark Lyons
  • ourjrny
  • chijude
  • paolo1955
  • Jadon
  • icesrun
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