Yosemite National Park
El Capitan is a granite monolith found in Yosemite National Park. It rises some 3,000 feet (900 m) from the floor of the Yosemite Valley. The coarse-grain granite that makes up the marvelous wall is approximately 100 million years old. It is the largest monolith of granite in the world.
El Capitan is also one of the favorite rock climbing venues in the world. It was first climbed in 1958, and today over 70 big wall routes allow climbers from all over the world to make the ascent. The 3,000-foot climb has been made in less than 2 hours but the average climbing party takes between four to six days. During the climbing season, from spring to fall, dozens of climbers can be seen on the face of this granite giant, moving slowly toward the towering summit.
The granite mountains of the world are not only used by outdoor enthusiasts but also by the world's great rock sculptors. The giant heads of the four American Presidents were carved by Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum into the granite face of Mt Rushmore in South Dakota. The Precambrian period batholithic magma rose into pre-existing mica schist some 1.6 billion years ago resulting in this granite outcropping. Carving of the monument began in 1927 and was stopped in 1941.
Thus is the story of granite, a major product of tectonic plate collision. Mankind has used it for centuries to build his homes as well as his most spectacular buildings. And because it is so naturally hard, it has resisted the forces of erosion and weathering for eons resulting in the formation of some of the most spectacular places on earth.
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