The Most Famous Rock Climbing Routes in Yosemite National Park

The Most Famous Rock Climbing Routes in Yosemite National Park

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the most famous rock climbing routes in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is renowned as one of the world’s premier rock climbing destinations, attracting climbers from around the globe. With its breathtaking granite cliffs, challenging pitches, and stunning natural beauty, Yosemite offers an unparalleled experience for both amateur and seasoned climbers. In this article, we will explore some of the iconic routes that have captured the hearts and minds of adventurers throughout the years. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for your next adrenaline rush or a climbing enthusiast seeking to expand your horizons, join us as we delve into the awe-inspiring world of rock climbing in Yosemite National Park.

El Capitan

El Capitan is perhaps the most iconic rock formation in Yosemite National Park. Rising over 3,000 feet from the valley floor, it is a magnet for rock climbers from all around the world. El Capitan offers a variety of challenging routes that cater to climbers of different skill levels, but three routes in particular stand out: The Nose, The Dawn Wall, and Salathé Wall.

The Nose

The Nose is arguably the most famous rock climbing route on El Capitan. It follows a prominent line up the middle of the southwest face and is considered one of the most classic big-wall climbs in the world. The route covers approximately 3,000 feet of vertical granite and offers a mix of crack climbing, face climbing, and aid climbing. Climbing The Nose requires endurance, technical skills, and a strong mental game. It has been a testpiece for climbers since its first ascent in 1958 and continues to attract experienced climbers seeking a challenge.

The Dawn Wall

The Dawn Wall is a route on the southeast face of El Capitan that gained international attention in 2015 when climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson successfully completed a free ascent of the route. The Dawn Wall is known for its incredibly difficult and technical climbing, with pitches rated up to 5.14d. The route features a series of thin cracks, delicate face moves, and demanding sections that require exceptional strength and agility. Climbing The Dawn Wall is considered a monumental achievement in the world of rock climbing and has inspired many aspiring climbers to push their limits.

Salathé Wall

The Salathé Wall is another legendary route on El Capitan that offers a challenging and varied climbing experience. It follows a line up the southwest face and involves a combination of crack climbing, chimneying, and traversing. The route is named after John Salathé, who made the first ascent of the wall in 1950. Climbing the Salathé Wall requires a mix of traditional climbing skills and aid climbing techniques. The route offers breathtaking views of the Yosemite Valley and rewards climbers with a sense of accomplishment upon reaching the summit.

In conclusion, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most famous rock climbing routes in the world. Whether you choose to tackle The Nose, The Dawn Wall, or the Salathé Wall, each route presents its own unique set of challenges and rewards. Climbing these routes requires not only physical strength and technical skills but also mental fortitude and a deep appreciation for the beauty of Yosemite’s granite walls.

Half Dome

Half Dome is one of the most iconic rock climbing routes in Yosemite National Park. Its distinctive shape and challenging ascent make it a favorite among experienced climbers. The granite monolith stands at an impressive 8,839 feet and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding park.

Snake Dike

Snake Dike is a popular route on Half Dome and is known for its technical difficulty. This classic climb follows a slender dike that snakes up the southeast face of the dome. Climbers must navigate delicate footwork and use precise handholds to make their way up the granite slab. The exposure and sheer verticality of Snake Dike make it an exhilarating and memorable experience for those who dare to attempt it.

Regular Northwest Face

The Regular Northwest Face is another prominent route on Half Dome and is often considered one of the best climbs in the world. This multi-pitch climb offers a variety of challenges, including crack climbing and face climbing. The route takes climbers through a series of breathtaking features, including the iconic Thank God Ledge. The exposure and commitment required on the Regular Northwest Face make it a true test of skill and nerve.

The Nose

The Nose is perhaps the most famous and sought-after route on Half Dome. This legendary climb was first conquered by Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore in 1958, and has since become a symbol of rock climbing achievement. The route follows a prominent prow on the southeast face of Half Dome and involves a combination of crack climbing, face climbing, and aid climbing. The Nose is a challenging and demanding climb that requires careful planning and exceptional physical and mental strength.

Whether you are a seasoned climber looking for a new challenge or a novice seeking to push your limits, Half Dome offers a range of exhilarating and memorable rock climbing routes. From the technical difficulties of Snake Dike to the world-class climbing of the Regular Northwest Face and The Nose, these routes will test your skills and reward you with unforgettable experiences in the heart of Yosemite National Park.

Sentinel Rock

Steppin’ Out

Located in Yosemite National Park, Sentinel Rock offers an exhilarating rock climbing experience for adventure enthusiasts. One of the most renowned routes on Sentinel Rock is "Steppin’ Out." This challenging route, known for its technical difficulty, attracts experienced climbers from around the world.

As you ascend the sheer granite face of Sentinel Rock, "Steppin’ Out" tests your skills and courage. The route demands precise footwork and intricate handholds, making it a favorite among seasoned climbers seeking a thrilling challenge. With its mix of crack climbing and delicate face moves, "Steppin’ Out" provides an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Yosemite.


Another notable climb on Sentinel Rock is "Hardd." This route, named after the Welsh word for "hard," lives up to its name. With its sustained difficulty and bold moves, "Hardd" is not for the faint of heart. Climbers must navigate through technical sections, relying on their strength, endurance, and problem-solving abilities.

As you make your way up "Hardd," the route offers breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley. The exposure adds an extra element of excitement to the climb, immersing you in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. If you’re up for a challenge that pushes your limits, "Hardd" on Sentinel Rock is the perfect choice.

The Prow

For those seeking a thrilling multi-pitch adventure, "The Prow" on Sentinel Rock is a must-do climb. This classic route is famous for its exposed and sustained climbing, providing an unforgettable experience for seasoned climbers.

Ascending "The Prow" requires a combination of technical skills and mental focus. The route follows a prominent prow-like feature on Sentinel Rock, offering spectacular views as you ascend higher. With its intricate moves and exciting exposure, "The Prow" showcases the beauty and grandeur of Yosemite National Park.


Sentinel Rock in Yosemite National Park is a haven for rock climbers, offering a variety of challenging routes. Whether you’re looking for technical face climbs or multi-pitch adventures, Sentinel Rock has it all. From the thrilling "Steppin’ Out" to the bold "Hardd" and the exposed beauty of "The Prow," these routes will leave you with incredible memories and a sense of accomplishment. Plan your next rock climbing trip to Yosemite to experience the most famous routes on Sentinel Rock.

The rock climbing routes in Yosemite National Park are truly iconic and have earned their reputation as some of the most famous in the world. From the challenging El Capitan to the breathtaking Half Dome, these routes offer a thrilling experience for rock climbers of all levels. Whether you are a seasoned climber looking for a new challenge or a beginner hoping to test your skills, Yosemite National Park has something to offer everyone. With its stunning landscapes and rich climbing history, it is no wonder that these routes continue to attract climbers from around the globe.