50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose

Wayne Merry

Wayne Merry

Wayne Merry in the Ahwahnee Hotel looking at a well autographed ice axe.

Ken Yager and Mike Tollefson

Ken Yager and Mike Tollefson

Superintendant Mike Tollefson presenting Ken Yager a framed copy of the Congress Resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the Nose, El Capitan.

50th anniversary of first ascent of El Capitan

Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, November 9, 2008
It was a spring day in 1957 when a dashing fellow with dark, wavy hair looked up from Yosemite Valley at the soaring cliffs and vowed to do what no human had ever done.

Scaling the colossal, 3,000-foot-tall granite cliff known as El Capitan was something most people regarded as beyond the capability of humans, but when Warren Harding had a mind to do something, he did it.
It took Harding, Wayne Merry and George Whitmore 47 days of climbing over 16 months to turn what had seemed like a fantasy into a reality.
The first ascent of El Capitan 50 years ago was one of the greatest climbing achievements in history. That is why Merry, Whitmore and many of the legends of Yosemite climbing have gotten together this weekend to celebrate the anniversary of that day a half-century ago.
"I am extremely honored, and I feel almost a little embarrassed because I don't think we deserve this much," Merry said Saturday after a gathering of some 150 people, including Harding's celebrated onetime rival, Royal Robbins. "It is really rewarding to get this kind of reunion under your belt after 50 years."
Six of the nine climbers involved in the first ascent told tales, narrated slide shows of their exploits and drank red wine in honor of the hard-driving, devilish Harding, who died in 2002.

El Capitan Poem, For 50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose

El Cap-- 
you're so cool 
that even after 100 million years 
people still look up to you. 

We gathered dripping wet in a crowded 
room in your shadow 
to talk about how much 
you mean, 
or meant, 
how much you inspired, 
or inspire, 
how much you terrify, 
or terrified. 

You've impressed so many people, 
given us the courage to live 
life a little fuller, 
or so we said from the firm footing 
of the auditorium's tile, 
a safe distance from your 
insane beauty, 
your 
endless provocation. 

Later, standing in the dark 
meadow as you rinsed 
off with a cold Fall shower 
and a few shrill 
birds flitted above 
I felt the futility of our 
measured speeches, 
the necessity to try to 
make human 
your awesomeness. 

Warren had it right organizing 
Thanksgiving dinner on 
Sickle ledge. 
(they hauled up a whole bird Ma had cooked!) 
a raucous serenade to 
the greatest oil painting of 
Infinity, 
a swirling granite Van Gogh 
that makes you want to 
laugh and howl till 
the edges of the ledges 
are stained, 
and many merry 
animals 
have come to join in. 

Thanks Warren(et al), 
I'll see ya up there. 

By Erik Sloan 11/08

50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose, Image files

 

 

I will be uploading photos to Yosemite Prints where you can either download the original file or you can purcahse prints at cost plus 25%, the 25%  goes to YCA.  When you are on a page with the full size photo, hover your mouse on the upper left side of the photo and you will see options. 

Chris Falkenstein

 

 YCA Nose Reunion Photo Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group photo, 50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose, 11/9/08

Group photo, 50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose, 11/9/08

Group photo in front of El Capitan, 50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose, 11/9/08

Autograph session, 50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose

Autograph session, 50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose

Autograph session at the Ahwahnee Hotel, 50th Anniversary of the First Ascent of The Nose, 11/9/08

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