El Capitan (El Cap to close friends) ascends three thousand feet straight up from Yosemite Valley. It is the second highest unbroken cliff in the world (the highest is Mt. Thor on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic and it is highly unlikely that any of us will find ourselves face to face with Mt. Thor). If you were standing atop El Capitan and had the misfortune to fall off, you would have fifteen seconds to think about your misfortune before reaching impact.
Taft Point probably provides the best vantage point to view El Capitan from above. I had seen several photos of this massive block of granite before visiting Yosemite and I mostly yawned. But I must say that El Capitan is most impressive when viewed in person. It is especially impressive when viwed from the valley floor, but we will get to that later.
Check out the photo and see how small and insignificant the Merced River looks next to mighty El Capitan.
At the base of the valley, at one of the turn-outs, tourists stand observing the wonderful granite rock known as El Capitan. Those who come equiped with binoculars however can also find and observe the climbers. During one day, I observed four different pairs of climbers on different routes up the rock face. I've done this several times, and believe me it's not easy. The view finder on your zoom camera won't be good enough. One needs a good pair of binoculars just to spot the beetle sized figures on the face of the rock. I have 42x binoculars that are better than the average pair tourists bring, and I have to be very steady and patient. But, I also look along the veins and crevices looking for the places where mountaineers are typically spotted. After I spot climbers with my binoculars, I take my 12x zoom and point and shoot. I also shoot using my 36x digital zoom as any picture is better than none. These images have been cropped and enhanced for the best that I can do with my point and shoot super zoom digital camera. The first image shows the general view, and the second or third shows a crop of the figures that's likely a little grainy.
This is the most famous piece of rock in the Yosemite National Park. Well visible from the road entering the park from the west, it is an incredible structure raising from the bottom of the Yosemite valley.
It is about 1000 metres tall, and appears as a single granite monolith.
Really a stunning view.
While returning from the river, or what that was, I saw some people discussing and watching the mountain with a binocular.
I used my zoom to find what they were looking at, and finally saw some free climbers attached (I hope for them) at El Capitan's wall.
I finally had an idea on how big that mountain was, the freeclimbers appeared as flies on a wall.
El Capitan rises 3000 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley as the largest granite monolith on the face of the earth. Although it does not truly look very large from Taft Point or Sentinel Dome on the valley rim, it dominates when you drive in the valley, especially as you enter yosemite Valley on Southside Drive. The sheer face of El Capitan attracts climbers, expecially to the famous Nose of El Capitan. Bring binoculars to spot climbers. El Capitan is a rock that has survived the scrouing of glaciers to become one of the most beautiful granite monuments in the world.
El Capitan is the largest granite monolith in the world, coming in at over 3,500 feet tall. As you're entering the Valley, you're likely to see the traffic pulled along side the road before you actually see El Capitan. It's an impressive site, and one of the signature attractions of the park. I actually think you get some better views of this as you leave the Valley, but it's a wonderful moment when it first comes into view - you know you're in Yosemite.
El Capitan is said to be the world's largest single piece of rock. Because of it's unique uniformity throughout and the lack of fractures, 'El Cap' is a unique place to see the process of Exfoliation. That's where the outer surface literally pops off. The rock is held together by the great weight of it's mass. The exposed surface facing the valley has very little weight pressing against it, so it occasionally pushes itself off.
When that happens, there is a large pop or bang or explosive sound and rock comes tumbling down. Usually, it's small pieces. But in the 1990's several thousand tons of rock fell. It landed just feet in front of a Park Ranger's car. He had stopped to see what was causing the popping sound, when the mountain let loose. If he'd have been driving, he would have been in the middle, under tons of rock.
Unless you are a world-class rock climber, you won't be able to ascend El Capitan Instead, to see the view from atop, you can take the Upper Yosemite Falls trail around to the upper face of El Capitan.
The Giant rock formation known as El Capitan in Yosemite is something of a phenomenon. The giant granite monolith is at the center of Yosemite's attraction and is sought by millions of rock climbers from all over the world. It is one of Yosemite's iconic images and among the most photographed. even at a distance, it makes one feel really small. When we drove closer, I felt the feeling of a dwarf standing near a mountain. It is hard to imagine one piece of rock standing at the height this rock stands. Not to mention how vertical it is.
It is hard to get perspective on its size, as I mentioned, it does make one feel really small. An 80 ft high tree on the edge of the rock looked like a small match stick sticking out of the rock. I guess one comes to Yosemite for vistas and features like this.
We saw hundreds of rock climbers preparing to climb it, while others were midway through it. The park's rescue team was active around El Capitan with as many climbers on the rock. It blew my mind to see people risk their lives to climb the rock, at nearly 8000 ft tall, it is flat and white and unbelievable that one would dare it.
Yosemite's granite outcroppings, Half Dome and El Capitan are the most prominent features of the valley floor. There is "controlled" climbing permited on El Capitan, but we were not lucky enough to see climbers working their way up the immense granite face of El Capitan. Just a few of the views of El Capitan you can see from the valley floor and tunnel view point.
El Capitan is the largest single granite monolith in the world towers over 3000 feet above the valley floor. It is very popular with rock climbers and numberous people gather in the meadow beneath it to watch. At night watch for small balls of light along it's sheer face where climbers are resting in slings dangling from the side of the cliff.
The is the largest granitic monolith in the world. You can stare at it, or hike up the other side, or watch climbers through binoculars, or climb it yourself. But if you climb it yourself, set some time aside. Inching up the vertical face takes over a week. (Nowadays, there are relatively comfortable "hammocks with a cage" that you can take on the climb to sleep in.)
When entering Yosemite Valley from the west, you will soon come face to face with El Capitan. This granite rock, at 7,569 ft, is like a giant guarding the gate to the holy Yosemite Valley. The photo was taken from the Bridalveil Fall parking lot in an early spring morning, before El Capitan had a chance to shake off the mysterious mist. El Capitan is also popular with the rock climbers. Usually you'll find a small crowd gathering on Valley floor in front of El Capitan watching.
Looking towards El Capitain (I believe) through some gorgeous pines, at a meadow towards the entrance to the valley. One of the first scenes you see as you hit the valley floor. Simply awesome and gorgeous.