Go pinch-by-pinch up a legendary rock face with the climbers who conquered it

By Spencer Peterson
June 24, 2015
Credit: Kevin Ebi / Alamy

Google Street View is becoming a bit of a misnomer, as the service heads ever-further off road. Now, for the first time ever, Google has taken Street View vertical, with a tour of the most famous rock wall in the world, Yosemite’s El Capitan.

The cameras were certainly in good hands—those of Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell, some of the now legendary climbers who pioneered new ways of scrambling up the 3,000-foot granite monolith. When Hill first free-climbed the entire vertical stretch of The Nose, in 1993, it revolutionized big-wall climbing. Her method of, in her words, “adapting yourself to the rock” and “putting together a choreography of dance moves” with the rock as conductor, taught a generation of climbers how to move. Climbers like Honnold, who now holds the speed record for The Nose, and Caldwell, who did the first free ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall.

“El Cap is an intimidating environment for experimentation,” writes Caldwell in a blog post for Google. “But years of setting ropes proved pretty helpful in figuring out how to get the equipment rigged and ready to collect Street View.” You can follow their route on Street View Treks, and on the way, watch Hill perform contortions that are now standard practice on the face: “climbing sideways on tiny holds of the Jardine Traverse, inventing a ‘Houdini’ maneuver on the Changing Corners and traversing under the Great Roof.”

Also on view: Honnold chimneying up the “Texas Flake,” and Caldwell somehow keeping hold of the Dawn Wall.