CNN

8-year-old sets out to become youngest to climb towering El Capitan

Oct 25, 2022, 12:14 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2022, 11:21 am
Sam Baker was in a climbing harness "before he could walk" his dad said. (Photo courtesy of Joe Bak...
Sam Baker was in a climbing harness "before he could walk" his dad said. (Photo courtesy of Joe Baker)
(Photo courtesy of Joe Baker)

(CNN) — If your parents name you “Adventure,” they probably hoped you’d do some adventurous things.

Sam Adventure Baker understood his assignment.

The Colorado 8-year-old sets out Tuesday to become the youngest person to reach the summit of El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park.

The journey is expected to take four days “of hanging from your fingers or hanging from your anchors,” Sam’s dad Joe Baker told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Sunday. They’ll camp one night on the top of El Capitan and then hike down eight miles on the fifth day.

Sam and Joe Baker will climb in a four-person team. One person climbs ahead of the others and sets the ropes for the others to follow. His dad said Sam will try to lead one of the sections, or “pitches,” of the climb.

El Capitan — the park’s iconic vertical rock formation — sits more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor. That’s 2.5 times as tall as the Empire State Building, according to the Yosemite National Park website. El Capitan is a Class 5 climb, according to Rei.com — the highest and most difficult of classifications.

“The routes are for expert climbers who train regularly and have a lot of natural ability,” the site says.

Sam Baker was born into a climbing family, his dad said. Joe and his wife (Sam’s mom) fell in love rock climbing, he told CNN and his son “was in a harness before he could walk.”

A website highlighting Sam’s climbs, aptly named SamAdventure.com, said the young climber completed his first multi-pitch route at age 3 — at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

When he was 6, Sam took on Lost Arrow Spire, a three-pitch climb that starts 2,500 feet above Yosemite Valley. Only one other 6-year-old — world-class professional climber Tommy Caldwell — had ever done it.

Sam has been training to take on El Capitan “every day for the last at least 18 months,” his father said. In addition to physical training, planning how much gear — including 200 pounds of water — to take for the dayslong hike is among the challenges.

“You can’t just turn on the water,” Joe said. “You have to carry it with you.”

While making it to the top of El Capitan would set records, that’s not Sam’s motivation for attempting the ascent. “I’m most excited to climb with (my) Daddy,” Sam told CNN.

Something else Sam’s looking forward to — lasagna.

While suspended on a portaledge — a nylon hammock hanging from the rock face thousands of feet in the air — Sam and Joe and their fellow climbers will dine on lasagna they cook from little packets on a gas stove.

And since they’ll have service “because we’re so high up,” Sam told CNN, he’s also planning a movie night while suspended from the side of the rock. Their viewing choice — “The Lion King.”

In addition to his climbing accomplishments, Sam “is getting really good at chess,” his dad said, so a travel chess set will be along for the climb too.

Aside from the lasagna, watching a movie and playing chess, Sam said “getting to the top” is his favorite part of climbing.

Joe Baker told CNN that the weather was looking good for their summit — a little chilly but clear skies and no rain. Perfect conditions for what he said will be a “big adventure. A big, family adventure.”

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

Four Dead University of Idaho...
Aya Elamroussi, CNN

Authorities swat down rumors surrounding unsolved killings of 4 University of Idaho students

Authorities in a small Idaho city that had not recorded a murder in years are urging the public to be vigilant against rumors and conjectures surrounding the unsolved killings of four college students last month.
1 day ago
In this image taken from NASA video, a solar panel is unfolded at the International Space Station, ...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Astronauts will give the space station a power boost during Saturday spacewalk

The International Space Station will receive a power boost during a spacewalk on Saturday, as NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio install a solar array outside the floating laboratory.
1 day ago
The Air Force is set to unveil the newest stealth bomber aircraft on Dec. 2. Photo credit: Northrop...
Haley Britzky and Ellie Kaufman, CNN

Air Force unveils newest stealth bomber aircraft

The newest stealth bomber was unveiled on Friday in California.
2 days ago
lake effect snow really did a number on the wasatch front this morning...
Jennifer Gray, CNN meteorologist

Back-to-back winter storms bring heavy snow, critical fire conditions to the West

Two winter storms in less than a week will bring more than a foot of snow to the mountains, wind gusts of over 70 mph leading to the possibility of a wall of dust and the high danger of fire to the central and western US.
2 days ago
Help wanted sign is displayed in Deerfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.  The number of availab...
Alicia Wallace, CNN Business

US economy added a robust 263,000 jobs in November

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%, according to the latest monthly jobs snapshot from the Labor Department, released Friday morning.
2 days ago
Florida Guardsmen from the 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, carry a shoulder mo...
Jennifer Hansler, CNN

US approves $380 million missile sale to Finland

The U.S. approved a second missile sale to Finland just days apart.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
8-year-old sets out to become youngest to climb towering El Capitan