8-Year-Old Attempts to Conquer El Capitan in Yosemite National Park

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Cherrys Picks via Getty Images)

Towering over Yosemite Valley, El Capitan is a 3,000-foot-tall granite monolith that attracts thousands of thrill-seeking adventurers from all over the world every year. Conquering El Cap is on just about every rock climber’s bucket list. However, summiting this Yosemite National Park wonder is no easy task. On the contrary, the beastly rock formation is among the world’s toughest climbs.

El Capitan is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it particularly welcoming for beginners. But 8-year-old Sam Adventure Baker is neither of those things (yes, that’s his real middle name). In fact, he went on his first-ever climbing trip at just three years old!

In the five years since, Sam and his father, Joe Baker, have traveled the country, experiencing the most adrenaline-spiking adventures America has to offer while training for the grandaddy of them all: Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan.

On Monday (October 24), the father-son duo set out on their 3,000-foot journey to the summit. If they reach the peak, Sam will set the record as the youngest person in history to conquer El Cap. “Together we will spend at least four days and three nights living on the wall,” Joe Baker wrote on Facebook.

“The entire time hanging [from] either our fingers or our anchors. Just imagine walking for a mile of sidewalk on your fingers, but straight up. But then we also have to drag up everything that we need to live, including hundreds of pounds of just water. This will be a historic achievement for an 8-year-old.”

To commemorate the unbelievable feat, the entire climb will be filmed and shared on both social media and the young adventurer’s website.

Historic Yosemite National Park Climb is the Latest in a String of Amazing Feats

Though his toughest challenge to date, Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan is far from the first climb for Sam Baker. At just five years old, the young outdoorsman summited the treacherous Pingora Peak in the Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming. He also climbed the Nose of Mount Albert near Independence Pass in Colorado.

Following these incredible accomplishments, the pint-sized daredevil moved on to climb all five of the 1,000-foot Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado.

El Capitan isn’t even the first trek in Yosemite National Park for the already highly experienced climber. He’s already checked Fairview Dome, Lost Arrow Spire, and the stunning Eichorn Pinnacle in Tuolumne Meadows.

Every climb comes with an inherent level of risk, but El Capitan is a particularly dangerous ascent. Over 30 fatalities have been recorded since 1905, including five deaths from 2013 to 2018 alone. Joe Baker, however, remains confident is his and his son’s abilities.

“There are lots of people talking about the risks,” he wrote on Facebook. “It’s important to also discuss the rewards, which far outweigh the risks. Start by asking: How would I be different today had I ascended El Cap with my dad when I was 8 years old? What do you think some of the rewards are?”