COLORADO SPRINGS — An eight year old boy from Colorado Springs made history as the youngest person ever to climb El Capitan as a rope ascent. It’s a vertical rock formation more than 3,000 feet high at Yosemite National Park in California.
Sam Baker has been training to climb El Capitan since he was six years old. On Friday, October 28, he summitted the formation in four days. It was one of his hardest climbs yet, and his father was by his side the whole way.
“It was awesome and I was the youngest to do it,” said Sam. “I love to climb and I do a lot of adventures.”
It’s an adventure no one has ever done at his age, and Sam says Adventure is his middle name. He has been climbing since he was two years old.
A rope ascent means climbing the ropes that other team members in the group set up. They climb the ropes using ascenders. During the guided climb, Sam and his father also carried their food, water and equipment.
“I ate lasagna, and beef stroganoff, and mac and cheese and a lot of things,” said Sam.
“It’s an unbelievable feat for an eight year old. I mean, it's a feat for anybody, but for an eight year old, this is almost impossible,” said Joe, Sam’s father.
Joe said a climb like this takes years of preparation and development. Sam spent multiple days a week at the gym climbing and practicing for an adventure like this.
“There's a lot of time visualizing too. Before bed each night, we talked about different scenarios and I would say, ‘hey, we're on pitch 19 and you just skinned your knee and it's starting to rain. What are we going to do?’”
Joe said he and his wife Ann set the goal for Sam to climb El Capitan. He said that eventually, it became Sam's goal too and they helped him do what it takes to accomplish that goal. Joe said proud of his son for accomplishing this feat.
“What he's developing, like I see this tremendous inner confidence in him and this strength in him to do something that maybe most people would look at and say that's impossible,” said Joe.
News5 also asked what the hardest part of the climb was.
“We had to climb until 1 o'clock in the morning and that was the scariest and hardest part,” said Sam.
“I was very surprised he was able to work through. We didn't have to haul him up any of it. He did every bit of it,” said Joe. “I think he enjoyed all of the climb, even the really hard parts. And that that was an amazing thing for me because there were some really hard parts.”
Joe said his wife Ann has also been supportive of Sam’s adventures since the beginning. He said the two would talk to her during the climb using radios.
“It was amazing to see that she was able to give Sam encouragement on that wall too,” said Joe.
Throughout the trip, they played checkers, showed off their best dance moves, and even hung a banner that said, ‘Almost there, I love you mom.”
It’s an adventure he and his father will remember forever.
“I loved it up there, got to be with my dad and some of my favorite people,” said Sam.
Sam has also climbed other rock formations like Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Lost Arrow Spire and Fairview Dome which are both in Yosemite, and Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park.
Sam said he also wants to free climb El Capitan in a few years, with none to minimal equipment.
Follow Sam and his adventures by clicking here.
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