Selah Schneiter, 10, is small for her age, weighing just 55 pounds and standing four foot two. She loves math and playing guitar and is “silly and plays make believe,” says her mom, Joy.
She is also the youngest documented person ever to climb the 3,000-foot Nose route on Yosemite’s El Capitan. Selah topped out the famous line at 5:45 p.m. on June 12 after a five-day push with her dad, Mike, and his friend Mark Regier.
“I was scared just sometimes,” she said at the top. “I thought it was really fun.”
Selah, who lives in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, has climbing in her blood. Mike and Joy fell in love 15 years ago while climbing El Capitan; when Selah was just eight weeks old they brought her to the Valley, bathing her in a Rubbermaid tub in historic Camp 4. Selah has visited many of the most famous climbing areas in the country and she climbed Independence Monument, a five-pitch 5.8+ tower, on her seventh birthday.
But the Nose is much longer, 31 pitches of free and aid climbing. “Selah’s still learning how to lead trad, but she’s been picking up big-wall skills for quite a while,” Joy said. “I was worried about her capacity to do that much work with such a small body. But I knew that Mike would keep her safe. I’m really proud of her.”
Mike owns Glenwood Climbing Guides, where he teaches ice climbing, sport climbing, and vertical self-rescue. Joy works as a registered nurse at Glenwood Medical Associates. Selah has three younger siblings: Zeke, seven; Sunny, five; and Salome, 17 months. “Zeke’s passionate about climbing and he wants to do the Nose with me next year,” said Joy.
Selah led the first pitch and the bolt traverse that crosses from Texas Flake to Boot Flake. “Overall the leading was fun but a bit scary at times,” she said.
And now, safe at the top? “I want pizza,” she said. “I’ve been dreaming about it forever.”