El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California rises 3,000-feet from base to summit. It’s a sheer vertical wall of rock, making it a popular destination for rock climbers from all over the world.
In fact, lifelong climbers like Joe Baker say summiting El Cap is the ultimate goal for many adventurers. His son, Sam Baker, just became the youngest person to ever scale the impressive cliffside, surpassing many adult climbers… oh, did we mention that Sam is only 8 years old?
Sam has been climbing ever since he can remember. He’s the oldest child of outdoor enthusiasts Joe and Ann Baker of Colorado, so he started climbing when he was in diapers. He was only 3 years old when he climbed Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, and he’s been tackling bigger rock formations regularly ever since.
Sam’s climbing mentor and teammate is his dad, Joe. Mom also climbs and hikes, having made the roughly eight-hour hike up the back of El Capitan to meet Sam and Joe at the summit after Sam’s history-making climb.
“So she’ll go eight miles up one way, and we’ll go one mile, straight up.” Joe explained.
Sam and Joe set their sights on El Capitan two years ago. Joe has climbed the mountain before, but never from the base to the summit. Making the climb was a dream of his, and seeing his son meet the challenge of one of the most difficult formations in the world made the experience even more special.
“It’s just a mythic place,” Joe said. “It’s kind of like the mecca of rock climbing. It’s so big and it’s such a big adventure and also an opportunity. Nobody else is going to do this and so we thought it was a great opportunity to do with our kids.”
“You’re either hanging by your fingers or your anchors for, you know, at least four or five days,” said Joe.
Sam trained hard for the mission, and he was well-prepared for the many hardships they’d encounter while making the climb.
“I’ve been climbing at least three days a week with my dad and my team,” the second grader said. “This climb is humongous. We will be sleeping on ledges and eating lasagna.”
On October 30th, Sam reached the top of the iconic rock face, setting a new record as the youngest person to ever climb El Capitan! Joe shared the news on Instagram.
“We made it!” he wrote. “And then had a little party with our disco ball. My wife accidentally brought up our double sleeping bag and so Sam wanted to end our adventure with a cuddle. What an amazing week! I’m so proud of Sam. He completed the youngest rope ascent of ElCap! In a few years he might be be back breaking more records.”
What an extraordinary accomplishment, especially for someone so young! We can’t wait to see what records this young athlete breaks as he continues on his climbing journey.
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