FLASH CLIMBERS

Climbing - - FLASH -

Bar­bara Zangerl and Ja­copo Larcher

ROUTE

Magic Mush­room (VI 5.14a)

FIRST AS­CENT

Steve Sut­ton and Hugh Bur­ton, 1972

FIRST FREE AS­CENT

Tommy Cald­well and Justen Sjong, 2008

LO­CA­TION

El Cap­i­tan, Yosemite Na­tional Park, Cal­i­for­nia

In De­cem­ber 2017, the Ital­ian Ja­copo Larcher and the Aus­trian Bar­bara Zangerl com­pleted the second free as­cent of El Cap­i­tan’s 2,900foot Magic Mush­room. The pair spent more than 30 days on the wall. “The goal was to climb ground-up first,” says Zangerl. “On the way up [us­ing free and aid], we worked on sin­gle pitches. But also af­ter, we went back to work more on the dif­fer­ent pitches.” Tommy Cald­well and Justen Sjong freed the 28-pitch line in May 2008, climb­ing a dozen pitches of 5.13–5.14 and nine of 5.12. For Larcher, the crux came on pitch 20, a 100-foot flared di­he­dral that could be 5.14. “There are no footholds, and it’s quite nar­row in some spots,” says Larcher, shown here on P25 (5.13c). “It’s su­per pumpy for the legs.” For Zangerl, the crux was the last 5.14a pitch, a steep finger crack near the top. Af­ter fall­ing on the last move twice, Zangerl worked out new beta. “I pressed my head against the left side of the crack, for balance. Then I could place my left foot high and the crux felt way eas­ier,” she says. Ap­par­ently, the pitch was “heads-up.” All told, the climbers spent 11 days on their fi­nal free push.

Ben Hanna

ROUTE

Coal Train (5.14a)

FIRST AS­CENT

Michael Wil­liams

LO­CA­TION

Beauty Moun­tain, New River Gorge, West Vir­ginia

As any­one who’s climbed at the New can tes­tify, it’s the world’s best rock with the world’s wettest weather—so you’re of­ten rac­ing the clock. The Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, climber Ben Hanna, 19, used an ap­proach­ing storm last Oc­to­ber to mo­ti­vate him, in a 24-hour pe­riod mak­ing his first-ever 5.14 flash, red­point­ing an­other 5.14, and tak­ing down two 5.13s first try. On the af­ter­noon of Oc­to­ber 27, Hanna fired the ven­er­a­ble Doug Reed test­piece The

Racist (5.13b/c) at the End­less Wall, for his hard­est flash to date. “Ex­hausted” but still game, he then took down his

new hard­est flash, Proper Soul (5.14a) at the Cirque. Sur­prised to have fired the crux, he bat­tled a mas­sive pump, find­ing a no-hands knee­bar at the last bolt and eye­ing the exit. Hanna threw to a slopey edge and found him­self stuck: “I fran­ti­cally slapped at non­holds to keep my­self on,” he re­calls, clip­ping the chains as his fin­gers opened. The next morn­ing, Hanna red­pointed

Coal Train (5.14a) at Beauty Moun­tain and on­sighted Pod (5.13b) at Sum­mersville Lake. Hanna climbed the routes in his trade­mark ag­gres­sive flow, jump­ing for holds where other climbers might lock off, go­ing

a muerte. See page 22 for a Por­trait of this up-and-com­ing climber.

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