Tool Users

Posted on: June 1, 2007

[Photo] David Swift

The Stoveleg Piton

Warren Harding knew The Nose would require all his skills—and equipment—to ascend. In the mid-1950s, Frank Tarver had created four large iron pitons from the leg of a junkyard stove for his attempt with Harding on the East Face of Washington Column. These pitons were the biggest of the day, and on July 4, 1957, when Harding began up the Nose with Mark Powell and Bill "Dolt" Feuerer, the pitons came along.

On November 12, 1958—sixteen months after beginning—Harding, accompanied by Wayne Merry, George Whitmore and Rich Calderwood, topped out. The pitons had allowed Powell to climb Pitches 7 and 8 (giving the Stoveleg Cracks their name in the process); they also proved useful higher on the route. Today, the Nose is the most popular climb on El Capitan, and the Stoveleg Pitons remain the most famous pins in the world.

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