About Tom Evans

About Tom Evans

I am a Virginia boy and grew up in Alexandria and Arlington.  I went to Wakefield HS where I became interested in climbing by reading almost every climbing related book in the library.  Inspired, I talked my next door neighbor , Dan Vadney, into going to Great Falls, Virginia to attempt to climb some of the cliffs by the Potomac River.  We had little equipment and no experience!  Fortunately we were lucky and suffered no bad consequences, and learned much of climbing by simple trial and error. 

In 1962 I went off to Lexington, VA and attended the Virginia Military Institute, majoring in Civil Engineering.  During vacations Dan and I drove out to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, to see what real lead climbing was about and once again we learned mostly by trial and Terror!!  I graduated from VMI in 1966 with a BSCE and worked for a time as an Engineer in Training until I was activated for duty as a Lt. in the US Army.  I met up with other climbers after graduation and climbed extensively at Carderock, MD and Seneca.  I met an Air Force weapons expert, DS Leak III, at Seneca one day and Dan and I soon started climbing with him.  He had been to Yosemite and told many a tale of the climbing there, especially the big wall climbers who were to be found in Camp 4.  I learned about aid climbing from him and on a leave from the Army accompanied him to Yosemite, in July of 67,  to see for myself what all the fuss was about!!  After that I was hooked on the place and set my sights on climbing the Nose route on ElCap. 

My time in the Army went fast enough and I emerged as a married man working again as an engineer in 1969.  I soon left engineering and worked with my wife taking students to Europe for a couple of years, with Aims International,  until the economy went flat and the student travel business fell off.   As part of the travel business we moved to CA where I was able to get to Yosemite fairly often.  I had very productive seasons.  In 69 Bob Williams and I partnered up to climb on the NF of Quarter Dome, South Face of Washington's Column, Chouinard Herbert on Sentinel RX and an attempt to climb the North West Face of Half Dome.  In the summer of 69 I went to France and climbed with John Porter for a couple of weeks learning, in a bad storm, that I really was not interested in becoming a mountaineer but rock climbing still interested me.  In 1970 I came back to Yosemite and climbed the Column again, tried the NF of Quarter Dome again and climbed the NW Face of Half Dome with George Homer, from Liverpool, in 2 and a half days.  In 1971 I teamed up with Paul Sibley and climbed the Nose Route of El Capitan in a 6 day, storm bound effort.  A dream come true. 

In 1971 I returned to engineering but another opportunity soon arose and in 1972 we moved to the Ozarks of Missouri to run a farm/resort. The demands of life sort of took charge of my plans after that and I took on teaching High School, owning and working a purebred cattle (Charolais) ranch, and having a son, Thomas, to add some meaning to my life.   Since I was living in the middle of the country I was far from climbing so I took up running, golf, and racquetball to keep in shape and have fun.  I taught High School math and physics at the nearby town of Marionville.  I was there for several years until I moved to Florida after my first wife and I divorced.  I lived in the St. Augustine area for a couple of years and remarried while there.  After that we moved to Hot Springs, VA. where I taught school.  The move was in part because we didn't much like the climate in Fl. and also to be closer to my Mom who was ill with cancer and only had a short time to live.  A positive was being close to the great climbing areas of the east, in particular my beloved Seneca Rocks, West Virginia.  My wife wasn't interested in climbing but I was still able to get a lot of climbing done on weekends and summers.  After a series of "interesting" events, my second wife and I divorced and I moved to California.   I have lived in Crestline CA since 1990 and have been to Yosemite many times over the years.  I retired from teaching in 2003 and have spent even more time in Yosemite.  I don't climb a lot anymore, instead filling my time in Yosemite shooting climbers on the face of ElCap with my 600mm lens.  In 2009 started writing the ElCap Report, which is the reason you are reading these lines. 


By now I've climbed El Capitan five times and other major Yosemite climbs too numerous to mention. Now that I'm a little older, as I mentioned above, I've focused on photography, specializing in nature scenes from throughout the western United States and shooting photos of climbers as they make their way up the significant routes on ElCap.  In my spare time I pursue my other passions, including the restoration of classic Pontiac GTO automobiles, racquetball, rockclimbing, golf, travel, car shows, winter cruises, corresponding via email with friends, and spending some quality time with my Son, his wife, and my grandson, Thomas and granddaughter Ellie.  I recently found my long lost daughter, Heather Thorson and her family including grandson Kolten and granddaughter Kylee, and husband Kevin. I think these retirement years have been the best years of my life!!  I am now 77 years old (2021) and I can tell you that life goes by really fast!  As Jim Morrison sang, "The future is uncertain and the end is always near."  So do it now, whenever you can.

I hope you will enjoy the ElCap Reports and photos you find on this website and please feel free to comment on the content.

Tom Evans


Fellow bridge rat Erik Sloan and I at the ElCap Bridge.  We both, along with Dave Truner, worked the "Ask a Climber" program there for several years.

























Here I am resting on Anchorage ledge on Washington Column's Prow route in 1986


Graham Sanders took this shot of me coming up to the last belay on the 3D in summer of 1983


Me, grandson Thomas, and son Tom at the Phoenix Auto Show in 2006


My 1966 Pontiac GTO at Crestline's summer car show. 


Sunset picture from my deck in Crestline, California, February 2007.