ElCap report 10/22/22

ElCap Report 10/22/22 Special Edition:  The Big Lie is back, starting soon on ElCap.

By Tom Evans

Yo…The pre-spray is already on social media.  A few years back a couple, the Schnieter's, claimed their daughter was the youngest person to “climb” ElCap at the age of ten. These people, and others, with the help of climbing writer Chris Van Leuven and Outside Magazine, have perpetrated this hoax on the general media.  Van Leuven has promoted the kiddie age wars, on ElCap, by writing articles for, Outside, promoting these contests.  They got world-wide attention even though the children didn’t actually “climb” the rock but climbed a rope set by guides.  Imagine if I, at 78 years of age, went up to the famous boulder problem, Midnight Lightning, and set up a rope that I jugged up, instead of actually climbing the rock.  Then I came back to camp and claimed to be the oldest person to climb Midnight Lightning!!  What would actual climbers say?  I will tell you… “No man… you didn’t actually climb it… it takes skill to do that  climb, and you didn’t have or demonstrate any skill, other than climbing up a rope. You never actually had to deal with the rock itself.  It was not any kind of a "climb or record!”

Ok.. let’s think bigger… Tommy and Alex climb Father Time and I go along and jug it, hanging with the bros at the belays after they set the rope for me to jug up.  Am I the oldest person to climb Father Time?  No way!  The point is that these parents, who have this greed for publicity, actually want you to believe that climbing a rope is the same as actually climbing the rock.  They are, in reality, trying to steal a record from a “real climber,” probably a young teen, who ACTUALLY CLIMBED THE ROCK ITSELF.

Now, we have another parent who is trying to make his child and himself “famous” on social media for something they are not really going to do.  The pre-spray that Joe Baker is spreading is that his 8 year old son, Sam, is a "world class climber" and is going to "set a world record" by being the youngest person to “climb” (all his words) ElCap.  This child, is NOT going to climb the rock, but is just going to jumar up a rope that guides are going to set for him.  This is what I call a GRA.. Guided Rope Ascent.  It is just what it says… you had a guide to do the actual climbing.. you went up the rope the guide set… you used ascenders to go up the rope.  No where in that term is the word “climb” or “climbing”… why? Because you don't “climb” the rock.  So, this kind of event is not “climbing” as we climbers know climbing to be. It is not a world climbing record at all. It is just hoax to make someone famous and to raise money. The fact that they are going to such lengths to have guides and fixed ropes is a direct admission that they know the child, and his father, are not capable of doing this climb, as climbers.  This is how you do it when you DON'T want the person to actually climb the rock!  This method avoids all the climbing for the client.  They just want to fool you into thinking differently.  Also, I hear, but haven't checked, that the McNamara brothers climbed the Nose together at ages 13 and 15... so the younger one is probably the "real youngest" ever, if that is true and important.

It is also a very bad idea to take a child up on a huge cliff where able bodied, highly experienced climbers, have been seriously injured or killed.  Children have no place up there and are being exploiated and endangered for no legitimate reason other than the parents are seeking fame and glory.  There are objective dangers up there that no one can control.  Ask Mash Alexander.  The best idea is to train up your child so that when the day arrives when they have the skill, experience, body, and their "own desire", then they can actually climb the route, as a climber would.  They would most likely be teenagers by then. 

Now that does not mean that GRA’s are not a legitimate endeavor.  Guides take people up ElCap all the time just so the client can do what I call… “experience the cliff environment”.   It is a beautiful place to visit and can be a really great experience, and is a strenuous physical challenge for most.  But to do a GRA and present it as “climbing” and some kind of a world record is a fraud and should be recognized as such.  Unfortunately, the general public is clueless about most climbing and are willing to believe whatever they see in the media, as fact. So, this lie will spread throughout the non-climbing world as some great accomplishment and fame and fortune await those spreading the lie. A sad state of affairs.  It is allready a story on CNN....

We also have had a number of adults who have done the same thing and consider themselves record holders even though they too, didn’t actually climb a single pitch!  We need to call these fabrications out for what they really are .. a Hoax, a Lie.

Don’t fall for this crap.  Climbing records are set by CLIMBERS not juggers!!

So that’s the way it is on the morning of Oct 22nd 2022.  Get ready for the big spray down… Resist the lies!

Capt. Tom

Jugging El Cap

Thanks for having the truth telling balls to call out the parents exploiting a kid jumaring El Capitan.

Awesome kid trip reports

Was Selah's ascent of the Nose at 10 yo less guided? than Sam's?

Wondering how peeps here think about Selah's climb? I would love to hear others opinions as I'm not vested into either situation (Selah or Sam's). Differences I know o:, personally, or have heard or read (ie http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web19s/newswire-10-year-old-selah-schneiter-...): -Selah lead at least 3 or more pitches (a couple being a bolt ladder?). -She put up the lead and fix line several times for the team to ascend. -She was SUPER motivated, driven, focused, and psyched to do / on the Nose. She wanted to go faster and on the Nose; had no anxiety, other people's pressure or breakdowns (ie we were climbing near her for a day or two) -Her party consisted of only her dad and a friend rather than what I understand verses the team of 4? with Sam where he might lead a pitch ? I do agree how do we as climbers and alpinists even say you climbed a peak or face if others assist in fixing lines (for mountaineering) or even if you have a strong partner who leads all the pitches and you TR but fall a TON...HMMM

From Tom...she had two guides with her... her father is a cettified guide. His partner was an excellent climber able to lead anything.   She didn't lead three pitches... I watched the whole climb, she did clip the 8 bolts off Texas Flake, but that is all... I have photos to prove it. They claimed she lead the first pitch but it was in fact a dog and pony show for the media and it involved some aiding on the 5.7 climb, Pine Line, near the start of the route, but not pitch on the route.   How could she put up a lead line for the team to jug if she didn't lead the pitches?  Makes no sense.  It was as scam engineered by her mother mostly who was crazy for publicity.  She contacted me (I have screen shots) telling me even before they started that his was a news worthy event and wanted coverage.  I explained at great depth the thing about jugging vs climbing... she was clueless.  She also said that she had done extensive research on the supposed 9 year old who had done it 25 years ago and couldn't find anything on the internet, so said it never happened!  She was wrong of course.  I have never encountered such parents... her dad, the guide, didn't seem to know that jugging and climbing were not the same thing! Even though he admitted in one interview.. "she didn't lead because she couldn't reach the placements!"  He seemed reluctant at first but when the interviews an such started he was full in.  They lied to their kid about all of it.  Some day when she is grown up more, she will realize that they exploited her shamelessly and will want to know why... I know why... they had an unquenchable greed for publicity and it was hopefully satisfied... at her expense of course.  Believing what you "have read or heard"  is the heart of any scam..  That is what they want... no fact checking ... just believe what they want you to.  Any climber with a mocim of intelligence can tell the difference between the skill it takes to jug and the skill to actually lead and participate on a big wall climb.  No comparison.  Of course the general public know nothing and were happy to believe the sweet story they and Van Leuven spun... congats to them.. it went viral ....and took their integrity with it.


White text on a black background is an equal wrong.

From Tom... it is the only way the website will work like I want it to.  


I fully agree. It’s similar to Everest. Put the rope up or you didn’t climb it..


I think it depends on the motivation of the parents. Are they acting like “Pageant parents”, priming their kids to be competitive and decking them out beyond their natural inclination? Or are they just wanting to have an adventure with their kids? The former might be living vicariously through their offspring, while the latter might have other motives. I just posted some proud pics of climbing some 5.5’s in Arapiles with my 9-year old girl, a far cry from El Cap. But I am sure that if I was still active with big walls and in shape, lived near Yosemite and succeeded on a lot of ever-longer climbs with her, I would be psyched to climb El Cap with Remi, if she were game. Kids understand a lot more than generally given credit for, I am finding out every day. I would not expect her to lead, but it would still be a worthwhile adventure, I reckon (a caveat here is that at this age I would never take her on a big climb with tons of other people around creating more variables of safety, which I assume El Cap is most of the time).

On another note, In 1984 or 1985, I met a Dad at Cookie who was climbing with his two sons, I think age 13 and 15, but maybe even younger. His kids were climbing solid 5.11, I was impressed. They were from the UK. Some days later, I saw the dad on his own, and asked where his two impressive sons were, he told me they were climbing the Nose, which they did on their own as a team of 2, in 3 days with no fanfare at all, I watched them on their last day, and they were moving well. I never saw them again, and was surprised to never hear more about it, I don’t think it was ever reported in the magazines, and have never seen a reference online in the decades since. Does anyone know about this ascent way back when?
John Middendorf

Good subject!

I also climb some multi-pitch with my son of 10yrs old. Note that he always follows and never belays me leading the pitch: he is too light (or me too heavy)… Does it make him not “climbing the route”? Obviously we climb from 5.5 to 10a. On the 10a he rested a few (or more) times. What is the most important in my opinion is that the motivation comes from the kid. I wait for my son to ask me for it. He knows my goal is to make the most pleasant experience for him. Am I guiding him? For sure!!! Who cares what others think of it. He climbed those routes. We can discuss style endlessly! Anyway, I see what you mean Tom. But anyway climbing is just a selfish activity. If it can inspire some people along the way spraying about what we did, why not?


From Tom.... absolutely... your kid is actually climbing the rock... that is what "rock climbing" actually means!  Good on you and your son!!

That was me Yann Camus but the way…

That was me Yann Camus but the way…