Salathe - Yosemite National Park, California, USA

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is considered the greatest granite rock wall in the world. Rising nearly 3,000 feet above the Merced River, El Capitan's legendary walls draw climbers from around the world to battle against the wages of gravity.

The climbing history on El Capitan is relatively short. In 1958 Warren Harding lead an epic battle that lasted weeks, and became the first to aid-climb the 3,000 feet of vertical rock. Harding's monumental route up the prow became known as The Nose and started a new revolution in climbing. Three years later in 1961 Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt and Tom Frost set their eyes on another part of the wall called the Salathe Wall. The Salathe Wall was named by Yvon Chouinard in honor of John Salathe, one of Yosemite's early pioneers. Robbins, Pratt, and Frost's climb up the Salathe Wall firmly established the Golden Age of Yosemite climbing and set the fundamental framework for a generation of climbers that persists today.

In 1988, Todd Skinner and Paul Piana came to Yosemite Valley with the hope of free climbing the Salathe's face. They realized that with modern climbing techniques, another new age in climbing was emerging, and they were ready to meet the challenge. Standing on the shoulders of the early Yosemite pioneers, Skinner and Piana became the first to free climb El Capitan Salathe Wall and usher in a new dawn of climbing.

All photos Bill Hatcher.
Photography © Bill Hatcher. These are Todd Skinner's Expedition Galleries. For information about his speaking career, please visit Beyond the Summit.