Rock climbing

Climbing veterans slam Yosemite’s 3,000ft El Capitan ascent as a ‘hoax’

Veteran climbers are lambasting a father’s claims that his eight-year-old son has become the youngest person to ever climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft El Capitan face.

Critics have accused Joe Baker of staging a ‘publicity hoax’ around the climb, saying he drew media attention to his son Sam’s climb while misleading the public about the nature of the ‘record’ achievement.

Sam, a sophomore from Colorado, and his father completed the climb of El Capitan on Saturday under a chorus of headlines calling the climb a ‘historic’ event and hailing Sam as the youngest person to ever scaled the daunting peak.

But many in the climbing community raised their eyebrows at the headlines, noting that Sam didn’t exactly scale the rock face in the strictest sense, but rather scaled it by previously rigged ropes using of a scaling device called an ascender.

Although Baker posted that Sam “completed ElCap’s youngest ever rope climb” on Saturday, critics said the father only made the distinction after months on the media circuit portraying his son as a climbing prodigy who would scale the rock face that gives even the most hardened climbers pause.

Critics also said that Baker appeared to employ guides who weren’t sanctioned by Yosemite National Park and that it was unclear where the money he raised while preparing for the tour actually went. ascent.

Baker did not respond to DailyMail.com’s requests for comment.

Critics have accused Joe Baker of staging a ‘publicity hoax’ around the climb, saying he drew media attention to his son Sam’s climb while misleading the public about the nature of the climb. record achievement.

“It’s a publicity hoax,” said Tom Evans, a retired teacher who for 28 years has camped at the base of El Capitan with a telephoto lens and documented the comings and goings of climbers on the cliff.

For at least a year, Baker has been publicizing his plan to make his son the youngest to climb El Capitan.

The duo have been featured in countless news segments on local and national television and appeared in numerous interviews.

“You don’t climb El Cap unless you’re an expert in the sport,” Baker said of his son in a promotional video on his website promoting the climb.

‘This is what we are developing, is a young man who is an expert in the sport. He can really do anything great climbers can do,” he said.

While countless clips show Sam – who the family says has been climbing since he could walk – is an undoubtedly talented young climber, critics said Baker’s characterization of their mission to climb El Capitan n wasn’t entirely honest.

“It’s a publicity hoax,” said Tom Evans, a retired teacher who for 28 years has camped at the base of El Capitan with a telephoto lens and documented the comings and goings of climbers on the cliff.

While countless clips show Sam - who the family says has been climbing since he could walk - is an undoubtedly talented young climber, critics said Baker's characterization of their mission to climb El Capitan was not entirely honest.

While countless clips show Sam – who the family says has been climbing since he could walk – is an undoubtedly talented young climber, critics said Baker’s characterization of their mission to climb El Capitan was not entirely honest.

Evans, 78, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he watched the Bakers for four days of their ascent and did not once see them touch the rock or attempt to physically scale the wall.

Instead, he saw the pair “jug up,” which is a process in which climbers use a mechanical device to pull up ropes. The lines on which the bakers juggled had been laid out for them by a climbing team that went ahead and also carried most of their supplies.

“The guides do everything I saw,” Evan said. “That’s why it’s not a climb.”

Evans said he confronted Baker at a local restaurant the day before their climb began.

“All the media presentation has to stop. I know your son didn’t suggest getting that record. It’s about you,’ Evans recalled to the Chronicle. “He said, ‘It’s not It’s not about records, it’s about spending time with my son. I said, ‘Why all the publicity then?’

Sam and his father Joe Baker facing El Capitan during their ascension.  They completed the ascent on Saturday

Sam and his father Joe Baker facing El Capitan during their ascension. They completed the ascent on Saturday

Sam Baker can be seen climbing El Capitan using a winch, a mechanical device that allows climbers to pull up the ropes

Sam Baker can be seen climbing El Capitan using a winch, a mechanical device that allows climbers to pull up the ropes

Evans said the Bakers appeared to be taking advantage of El Capitan’s reputation for their own gain.

“I’m very annoyed by this because climbing El Capitan puts you in an elite group of climbers,” he said. ‘[The Bakers] blatantly steal that reputation for their own use.

Tommy Caldwell, a well-known El Capitan scaler, told the Chronicle he was skeptical of the Bakers because of their thirst for media attention.

“I find it a bit goofy,” he said of their many television appearances.

He also thought their claims to a world record were questionable.

“Theoretically, I could have put (my son) in a carrier bag when he was 1 and taken him up there” to claim a record, Caldwell said.