El Capitan is famous for its massive bulk of largely unbroken rock and its sheer, vertical face soaring 3,000 feet into the air. This monolith is composed of a particularly durable granite, allowing it to withstand the pressures of glaciers and erosion.
Climbing the monolith
El Capitan was first scaled in 1958. Since then, climbers have explored nearly a hundred climbing routes. If you look closely, you may see climbers, like tiny specks, inching up the granite wall.
The Ahwahneechee name for the rock we now call El Capitan is Tutokanula. Ahwahneechee legend tells how El Capitan was created in the time of the animal people. As two bear cubs slept on a large flat rock near the river, the rock grew until the bears scratched their faces against the moon. The mother bear called on all the animals to rescue her babies, but none succeded until the lowly inchworm (tutokanula) crawled slowly to the top and led the cubs safely down.