Se­lected El Cap Free Time­line

Gripped - - THE ROUTE -

1975: Jim Brid­well,

John Long, Kevin Wor­rall, Mike Gra­ham, John Bachar and Ron Kauk free the first 10 pitches of the Salathé Wall and name their “route” Free­blast 5.11c.

1979: The West Face 5.11c is freed by Ray Jar­dine and Bill Price.

1988: Todd Skin­ner and Paul Piana free Salathé Wall 5.13b.

1993: Lynn Hill frees

The Nose with Brooke San­dahl in sup­port mode.

1994: Lynn Hill is the first per­son to free El Cap in a day, up The Nose. Kurt Smith and Scott Cos­grove free all but a few moves on the Muir Wall and call it The Shaft.

1995: Alex Huber makes the sec­ond free and first in­di­vid­ual as­cent of the Salathé. His brother, Thomas, makes the third free as­cent.

1997: Yuji Hi­rayama makes the fourth free as­cent of the Salathé.

1998: Scott Burk, af­ter 261 days of ef­fort, makes a free as­cent of The Nose. He sends ev­ery pitch apart from the

Great Roof, which he topropes due to wet rock. Alex and Thomas Huber es­tab­lished El Niño 5.13c. Alex and Thomas Huber es­tab­lish Freerider

5.13a. Tommy Cald­well and Beth Rod­den make the first free as­cent of Lurk­ing Fear 5.13c.

1988, af­ter 30 days of work­ing the route. They graded it 5.13b, the hard­est free route on the wall to date. The Nose had a num­ber of free pitches, but it was the Great Roof 5.13c and Chang­ing Cor­ner 5.14a that kept many would-be senders at bay. In 1993, top climber Lynn Hill nearly freed it, mak­ing it past the Great Roof and to Camp VI, but fell at the Chang­ing Cor­ners be­cause a pi­ton was jammed in a crit­i­cal fin­ger crack. She re­moved it and then climbed it from the ground to the top in four days. She re­turned the next year and freed it in just 23 hours.

Then, in 1998, Scott Burke reached the top af­ter 261 days of ef­fort, lead­ing all but the Great Roof, which he top-roped free. On Oct. 14, 2005, Tommy Cald­well and Beth Rod­den spent four days swap­ping lead. Two days later, Cald­well re­turned and climbed it all free in less than 12 hours. Two weeks later, Cald­well climbed The Nose and Freerider 5.13 in 23 hours and 23 min­utes, lead­ing ev­ery pitch free.

The next free as­cent of The Nose didn’t come un­til 2014 when Jorg Ver­ho­even spent three days work­ing on the send. In 2018, Keita Ku­rakami be­came the first climber to rope-solo free The Nose.

Stephane Per­ron was the first to free an El Cap route by rope-solo­ing in 2007 via Freerider, fol­lowed by Pete Whit­taker on the same route in 2016 and then Ku­rakami. Af­ter his climb, he said, “I sent al­most all the pitches on the first try. But I took a fall on the Great Roof and Chang­ing Cor­ners. In to­tal, I fell about 10 times be­fore red­point­ing the pitches cleanly. But I knew the route well be­cause I took three years, maybe more than 100 days to climb it free.”

Shortly af­ter Ku­rakami’s as­cent, 15-yearold Con­nor Her­son be­came the youngest climber to free the route. His fa­ther, Jim, be­came the eighth per­son to free the Salathé in 2003. Her­son did a ju­mar­less as­cent of Half Dome with his dad at age 11 and a ju­mar­less as­cent of The Nose in a day at 13. He’d also sent 5.14c sport routes. His mom, elite climber Anne Smith, said, “On a cou­ple week­end days late last spring they checked out the Chang­ing Cor­ners pitch, it was to in­ves­ti­gate long-term project po­ten­tial. But ev­ery­thing Con­nor has done his whole climb­ing life has helped pre­pare him for this.”

Then, less than a year later, three more climbers added their names to The Nose Free list: Seb Berthe, Babsi Zangerl and Ja­copo Larcher. Bel­gian climber Berthe freed The Nose af­ter an eight-day push, but he’s the first climber to free it groundup. Climb­ing with part­ner Loic De­bry, he led ev­ery pitch and reached the Great Roof on the sec­ond day. On day three, he sent

The Great Roof on his third at­tempt and then sent Chang­ing Cor­ners 5.14 a few days later. De­bry had to leave and Babsi Zangerl took over as sup­port. Berthe has a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence on El Cap, as he sent Freerider 5.13 in a day in 2017 and the Heart Route 5.13 in 2016.

Zangerl and Larcher freed it a few days later. The power cou­ple swung leads on the easy pitches, but both led the cruxes, in­clud­ing the Chang­ing Cor­ners and Great Roof. The Cor­ners pitch was putting up a fight. “It got wet af­ter a storm hit the val­ley,” Zangerl said. “Mainly the pin-scares right in the cor­ner were wet. So, we didn’t even try to use them. Our beta was to stay on the arête and lay-back all the way up to a good foothold, where we got into the cor­ner and af­ter an­other in­se­cure move, we were able to grab the sav­ing jug. On our first tries this beta wasn’t promis­ing at all. It was hard to even con­nect some moves. Af­ter some more ef­fort and fig­ur­ing out the per­fect foot po­si­tions, we were able to sort out the crux se­quence. I think it is mega cool that there are some dif­fer­ent ways how to climb that pitch, from stem­ming to the scis­sor-beta of Lynn Hill or lay-back­ing. Ev­ery beta is hard in his own way and takes time to feel good on it and it doesn’t mat­ter if you are very tall or short.”

There are more climbers than ever pro­ject­ing free routes on El Cap­i­tan and it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore we see many more sends of The Nose in one sea­son.—gripped

Above and be­low: Seb Berthe on Chang­ing Cor­ners Op­po­site: Babsi Zangerl on The Nose

Above: Seb Berthe on Chang­ing Cor­ners

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.