John Winsor climbs El Capitan – here’s what you need to know

John Winsor, renowned film historian and film historian and sound recordist, celebrates turning 70 and doing something to mark the occasion – scaling El Capitan. Will he survive the ice? Well, he’s worn ropes…

John Winsor climbs El Capitan - here's what you need to know

John Winsor, renowned film historian and film historian and sound recordist, celebrates turning 70 and doing something to mark the occasion – scaling El Capitan.

Will he survive the ice? Well, he’s worn ropes in the past and, after climbing two (second-of-a-kind) routes up the tallest rock in North America, he’s said he’s not afraid of heights.

In fact, he boasts of reaching places no other ever has. Winsor has climbed ‘Indian 8’ (one of El Capitan’s five routes) and “Sacamuchesto” from the ground up. As well as climbing El Capitan, his adventures have included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for National Geographic and scaling the pyramids of Giza in Egypt for National Geographic.

El Capitan’s Base Camp: Come a-climbing! Find out how the job works – and the equipment is only available to those who pass an extraordinary test.

And in Australia he has climbed Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), Kumaon Barakah (also known as the Keating Peak) and ‘Cloud Island’, a new route to the top of Barakah in Solomon Islands.

He’s been doing it for 36 years!

John Winsor has also been a film-maker.

But climbing – and the various challenges of each mission – can be very physically challenging. Being a technical artist in film-making, his arms must work and his feet must look good.

In fact, the food only comes if your injuries warrant.

When it came to The Discovery, his 1994 climb to the top of “Black One”, he had problems with his back.

For reasons not entirely clear, Winsor was mostly dependent on his mocap (micropodiography) partner Stuart Franey and his family – including his young son and daughter – to get him to the top of the peak.

It proved to be an emotionally testing experience for Winsor – as though he knew he would only be climbing as long as he had food.

El Capitan Base Camp, accessed by the Porcupine Glacier trail: John Winsor joins climbers to climb El Capitan – one of the most difficult and remote climbs in the world.

Will he stay alive? Join John and Stuart on a high-adrenaline adventure through the granite canyon walls of Yosemite National Park.

In 1966, Winsor set the record for the longest distance climbed on El Capitan and the highest off-piste climbing in the world – both climbing “Old Man” by Luca Todeschini.

Both accomplishments were made outside the two routes he would ascend in 1968.

John Winsor and Stuart Todeschini climb on Old Man, in pursuit of further records

But despite eventually reaching top-spot on the landmark, Todeschini won’t be making the climb to the top of ‘Black One’.

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