Meet the 8-year-old who just made history as the youngest to climb El Capitan

Sam Baker reached the top of the 3,000-foot rock formation on Friday.

ByYi-Jin Yu, GMA ABC logo
Monday, October 31, 2022
8-year-old makes history as youngest to climb El Capitan
Sam Baker has made history as the youngest to ever climb the El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite National Park in California.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California -- An 8-year-old boy has made history, becoming the youngest to climb and summit El Capitan, the revered rock formation in California's Yosemite National Park that's widely regarded as one of the most difficult rock formations to climb.

Sam Baker, a second grader from Colorado, ascended to the top on Friday. Sam made the climb, which spanned over 3,000 feet, with the help of anchors, ropes and his team, including his father Joe Baker.

"We made it! And then had a little party with our disco ball," Joe said on Instagram. "My wife accidentally brought up our double sleeping bag and so Sam wanted to end our adventure with a cuddle. What an amazing week! I'm so proud of Sam. He completed the youngest rope ascent of ElCap! In a few years he might be be back breaking more records."

Sam's achievement comes three years after Selah Schneiter, then 10, climbed to the top of El Capitan over the course of five days in June 2019.

Sam has been rock climbing nearly his entire life and first climbed the Garden of the Gods rock formation in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at age 3, according to his website. Since then, he's climbed other major rock formations, including Lost Arrow Spire and Fairview Dome, also both in Yosemite.

In preparation for his El Capitan climb, Sam trained at least three days a week for the last two years.

He told "Good Morning America" ahead of his history-breaking climb that he felt "really excited but also a little nervous," noting that the climb was a "humungous" one.

Joe Baker, who has climbed El Capitan before but never from the base to the summit, completed the ascent for the first time alongside his son. Before their groundbreaking summit, Baker said it would be a dream come true for him as well.

"It's just a mythic place. It's kind of like the mecca of rock climbing. It's so big and it's such a big adventure and also an opportunity," the 40-year-old said. "Nobody else is going to do this and so we thought it was a great opportunity to do with our kids."