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Peter Croft

Squamish pioneer, Peter is one of the leading names in rock climbing due to his incredible accomplishments. Long before the likes of Alex Honnold brought free solo back into the spotlight, Peter Croft was sending mind-melting solo climbs. As well as a well-rounded climber, Croft is also a dedicated mountaineer.

NATIONALITY

Canada

Date Of Birth

18/05/1958

Speciality

Trad, Free Solo

Hardest Sport

5.13/7c+

Hardest Boulder

-

Hardest Trad

E7

Peter Croft

Ascent Log

ClimbTypeSuggested GradeDate of AscentNotes
University WallFree Climb5.121982First free ascent
The RostrumFree Solo5.111985First free solo
Traverse of the Waddington RangeTraverse1985First traverse
Nose of El Capitan and Half DomeFree Solo5.13, 5.121986First one-day link-up
The Nose (NIAD)Speed Climbing5.91986First unintended speed record for Peter Croft alongside John Bachar
The MonumentFree Climb5.12d1987First free ascent (onsight)
AstromanFree Solo5.111987First free solo
Astroman and the RostrumFree Solo5.11 x21987First free solo link-up
The ShadowFree Climb5.131988First free ascent (onsight of crux pitch)
The Nose (NIAD)Speed Climbing5.91990Croft teamed up with Dave Schultz and broke the record at 6:40
The Nose (NIAD)Speed Climbing5.91991Broke another record with Schultz at 4:48
Moonlight ButtressFree Climb5.12d/13a1991First free ascent
The Nose (NIAD)Speed Climbing5.91992Croft teamed up with Hans Florine and set a new record of 4:22
Nose and Salathé Wall on El CapitanFree Climb5.13 ,5.13b1992First one-day link-up
Minaret TraverseFree Solo1992First solo and one-day
Sponsar BrakkFree Climb5.111998First ascent via rock route
Evolution TraverseFree Climb2000First ascent
AirstreamFree Climb5.132004First ascent
Venturi EffectFree Climb5.12+2004First ascent
BlowhardFree Climb5.12+2005First ascent
Samurai WarriorFree Climb5.12a2005First ascent

Climbing Career

Learning the Ropes

Born in Nanaimo, B.C., Peter grew up on the east coast of Vancouver Island. As a kid, he spent his days hiking and fishing, not knowing one day he was to become a living legend in the world of climbing. In an interview for Metolius, Peter mentioned that climbing seemed alien and out of his league, even though he’d seen stuff in movies and magazines.

Peter Croft stemming

His world was shaken after reading Chris Boninton’s book, “I Chose to Climb”. That was the moment he decided he wanted to be a rock climber.

Peter’s first contact with actual rock climbing was when his dad took him on a few pitches in the Sierras, but his love of climbing began when he set foot into the local climbing gym.

As time passed, Peter found himself spending his life in the Grand Wall boulder area, taking refuge from the wet B.C. weather under cars, in caves, and climbing every single day. With no mentors and only a handful of friends to climb with, Peter learned to climb through experience and a couple of close calls. 

His biggest breakthrough, as he recalls, was sending his first 5.10 after a year of climbing, White Lightning on the Apron, which blew his mind.

Peter Croft climbing in the Sierra
Peter Croft climbing in the Sierra

Free solo came almost naturally for Peter. Since he’d already mastered climbing 5.11 grade pitches, he and his friends began solo climbing easy 5.7 lines, unlocking a whole new universe, one where you don’t need much gear, you save tons of time and you don’t need a partner.

Not long after his first major breakthroughs, Croft made his first trip to Yosemite Valley, and history began with him soloing Evolution and Minaret Traverses and linking the Nose of El Cap and Half Dome in a single day with John Bachar.

Peter Croft in Eldorado Canyon in the 90s
Peter Croft in Eldorado Canyon in the 90s

Regarding his general attitude towards solo climbing, Peter describes it as a dream—the kind of experience that sends you back to a primal state where you are following your instinct and being in the flow—which just gives you a high like no other.

When it comes to new-age climbers who choose to put their solo experiences on film, he declares himself somehow worried, as the fact of having another person above you brings you a whole new lot of variables that can induce stress and might blow away your concentration, making you prone to mistakes or even accidents.

Croft with Alex Honnold climbing in Yosemite
Croft with Alex Honnold climbing in Yosemite

Notable Ascents

Peter Croft is part of the Rock Climbing Hall of Fame not only for his accomplishments and contributions he brought to the climbing community, but his ascents that inspired future generations.

University Wall

In his essay about climbing the University Wall in Squamish, Peter Croft wrote: “I craved an odyssey that required my all–and quite possibly more…. I wanted to dive in and draw blood, and it was OK if that blood was my own.”

In 1982, Peter managed to send the first free ascent of the University Wall, a 5.12 route in Squamish.

Teaming up with Foweraker and Hamish Fraser, he managed to climb it first, thinking it wasn’t a bigger deal than Astroman, which was huge at the time. The ascent, in fact, turned out to be “horrendous” but after sending it, it opened an appetite for harder lines.

Nose of El Capitan & Half Dome

In 1986, Peter Croft teamed up with John Bachar and set out to climb The Nose of El Cap in one day, as he declared, without the purpose of establishing a record but rather out of laziness, not having to haul all the gear up the wall.

Peter Croft and John Bachar after their Nose & Half Dome one day link up
Peter Croft and John Bachar after their Nose & Half Dome one day link up

It took them 10 hours to reach the top, during which time they passed seven parties of climbers through the rain. They proceeded afterward to climb the Half Dome following the Reg Route, setting a record that would last for ten years.

Astroman & The Rostrum

After soloing the Rostrum in 1985 and Astroman in 1987, Peter was looking for his next memorable climb. As an already-established Yosemite climber, he decided to do the link-up of Astroman and the Rostrum in search of that beautiful feeling of getting into the flow. In 1987, Peter managed to link both lines in one free solo mega-climb, cementing his name as one of the best free solo climbers of his time.

This ascent has only been repeated by two other climbers, Stone Monkey Dean Potter in April 2000 and Alex Honnold in September 2007.

The Nose Speed Record

In 1975, the original Stone Masters, John Long, Jim Bridwell, and Billy Westbay, achieved the unachievable by climbing the Nose of El Cap in one single day. Their monumental ascend in the age of the pitons was absolutely unbelievable, considering they did the face in a little under 18 hours.

Eleven years later, Yosemite dirtbags Peter Croft and John Bachar set out to climb the Nose in one day, mostly because they were once again too lazy to haul up gear bags for multiple days. Little did they know that their ten-hour ascent would start a whole Nose Speed Record known as the Nose In a Day, aka NIAD.

Croft and Bachar’s record stood for four years until Hans Florine and Steve Schneider managed to beat it, slashing almost two hours from the climb. This was a turning point for Peter as he got ready to show them who’s boss, haha, and teamed with Dave Schultz, sending the NIAD in just 6:40 hours—what a record! 

The battle between Croft and Florine went on for a couple of years, with records being smashed with every climb, managing to reduce the time to 4:22 hours, when the two of them ultimately teamed up in 1992.

Legacy

When talking about life, career, and achievements, Croft will always be synonymous with the free solo of two of Yoesmite’s test pieces, Astroman and Rostrum, and the first one-day link-up of the Nose of El Capitan and Half Dome. 

This is only part of his long line of accomplishments. Apart from his ascensionist career, Peter is also known as an accomplished writer, having written several essays, articles, and climbing guidebooks such as “The Good, the Great, and the Awesome” – a guidebook to the top High Sierra Rock Climbs, and, of course, an American all-time favorite with almost a bible-like feel, “Fifty Favorite Climbs: The Ultimate North American Tick List”.

FAQs

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Razvan

Born and raised in Jiu Valley, Romania, I am a true mountain enthusiast, absorbing knowledge from each sport the area offers. Snowboarder in the winter and a hiker and climber in the summer, I love spending my days up in the Carpathians. I have had a passion for writing ever since I laid my hands on my first keyboard, and I always have a curiosity for gear and great stories. I split my time between various jobs and hobbies, including being a full-time psychologist, repairing skis in the winter, and working with kids at my local gym whenever I have time.

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