Yosemite Big Wall Climbed by Son 55 Years After His Dad

Yosemite Big Wall Climbed by Son 55 Years After His Dad

The Yosemite Valley in California is home to some of the most beautiful and challenging climbing routes in the world. It is also the site of a touching story of family and dedication, as one man recently completed a big wall climb that his father had started 55 years earlier.

The Father and Son Story

In 1963, Don Reid and his climbing partner, Bill Feuerer, set out on an ambitious mission to become the first people to climb the Steck-Salathe route of the Lost Arrow Spire. The rock face is one of the most technical walls in Yosemite, and the two climbers had to battle bad weather and difficult conditions. Despite their best efforts, the pair had to give up the climb about 200 feet from the summit.

55 years later, Don’s son, Erik, set out to complete his father’s unfinished climb. In October 2018, Erik, along with two of his friends, successfully completed the ascent, honoring the memory of his father.

The Significance of the Climb

The climb was a major accomplishment for Erik and his friends, as it is one of the most difficult big walls in Yosemite. But, the climb was also a tribute to Don’s legacy, as he had been an avid climber throughout his life. For Erik, the climb was a way to honor his father’s memory and to continue his legacy.

The Story of Don Reid

Don Reid was born in 1932 in California. He began climbing in his early twenties and quickly developed a passion for the sport, often climbing with his friends and family. He was a member of the Yosemite Mountaineering Club and was one of the first climbers to attempt the Lost Arrow Spire.

In addition to climbing, Don was also an accomplished photographer and writer. He wrote numerous articles about his climbing experiences and was a frequent contributor to the Yosemite Mountaineering Club Newsletter. He was also an active member of the Sierra Club, serving on the board of directors for six years.

The Steck-Salathe Route

The Steck-Salathe route is a technical big wall route up the Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite Valley. It was first climbed by two legendary climbers, Allen Steck and Steve Salathe, in 1958. The route is considered to be one of the toughest and most demanding big walls in Yosemite, and it has only been completed a few times since its first ascent.

The Climb Itself

Erik and his two climbing partners, Jonny Copp and Mark Synnott, spent four days on the wall. They faced a variety of challenges, from bad weather to difficult climbing conditions. Despite these obstacles, the trio was able to reach the summit and complete the climb.

The Gear Used

The trio used a variety of gear for the climb, including climbing ropes, harnesses, helmets, carabiners, and cams. They also carried a variety of food and water with them, as well as a portable stove for cooking. They used modern techniques and equipment, such as a hauling system and ascenders, to make their ascent easier.

The Impact of the Climb

Erik’s successful completion of the Steck-Salathe route has been an inspiration to climbers around the world. It is a testament to the dedication and passion of the Reid family, and it is a reminder that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

The Future of Climbing

Erik’s accomplishment is a reminder of the importance of climbing and the impact it can have on people’s lives. Climbing has the potential to create lasting bonds between family members and friends, and it can also provide a sense of accomplishment and pride. As Erik’s story shows, climbing can be a rewarding experience, and it is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.


Erik Reid’s successful completion of the Steck-Salathe route of the Lost Arrow Spire is a powerful testament to the strength of family and the power of dedication. Erik’s climb was a tribute to his father, Don, and an example of the positive impact that climbing can have on people’s lives. Erik’s story is an inspiration to climbers around the world, and a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

Fifty-five years after his father first climbed the iconic Big Wall of Yosemite, an 86 year old man has followed in his father’s footsteps. Harvey Carter, accompanied by his son and two others, took on the mammoth 17-day climbing challenge that spans across fifteen miles of impressive rock faces and scaling an elevation of 13,000 feet above sea level.

Harvey’s father, Howard Carter, was a renown climber in the 60s, and completed the journey in 1965. His account of the climb, published in National Geographic in 1967, was the first to capture the now popular story of scaling Yosemite’s treacherous rock formations. It should come as no surprise that the Carter legacy held true, when 85 year old Harvey returned to California to follow in his father’s footsteps.

The elder Carter was delighted to attempt the climb with his son, Justin Carter, and his best friend Allen Shields. After approximately two weeks’ worth of effort, which included holding campsites and endureing multiple weather delays, Carter succeeded in reaching the 9,955-foot top of Washburn’s Thumb. According to Justin, the team was elated as they reached the summit. “After finally standing atop Washburn’s Thumb and looking down across the sea of granite domes, it was an awesome reminder of just how incredible the human spirit and human body are capable of achieving,” said Justin.

Both Harvey and Justin have expressed their awe and admiration for their father, Howard, and his amazing achievement. “My dad was truly the forefather of Yosemite big wall climbing and he united a community of climbers by leading some of the most difficult and exciting routes ever established in Yosemite,” said Justin. It is clear that Harvey’s spirit and dedication to mountaineering was passed down throughout the Carter family, instilling in each generation the unbreakable bond between father and son and leaving a legacy of sporting strength.

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By Ansel Starr

Hi there! I'm Ansel Starr and I'm a passionate rock climber, adventure enthusiast, and blogger. I've been rock climbing for over 10 years and it's my favorite way to explore the world. I love the physical challenge of it, the thrill of overcoming difficult routes, and the amazing view from atop a summit. When I'm not climbing, I'm usually writing about my experiences in my blog. My blog is dedicated to all things rock-climbing related - from helpful tips and tricks to stories of thrilling ascents - with a focus on inspiring others to get out there and take on their own challenges. I hope that by sharing my stories and experiences, I can help bring the joys of rock-climbing to others. So join me as we embark on our journey together!