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Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven climbing Final Frontier, Yosemite
Photo by Jon Glassberg / Louder Than Eleven
Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven climbing Final Frontier, Yosemite
Photo by Katharina Saurwein, Jorg Verhoeven

Yosemite climbing action by Katharina Saurwein, Jorg Verhoeven, Jacopo Larcher & Barbara Zangerl

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Climbing news from Yosemite: Katharina Saurwein has repeated Final Frontier, while on El Capitan Jorg Verhoeven is attempting Dihedral Wall and Jacopo Larcher and Barbara Zangerl are trying their luck at the free version of The Zodiac.

With all this interest and euphoria for the attempts and progress that Adam Ondra is making on the Dawn Wall, it’s easy to forget that actually in Yosemite Valley there are hundreds and hundreds of other climbers this autumn toiling hard at making their own dreams come true. This can be seen particularly clearly at night, when El Capitan lights up with dozens and dozens of headlamps dotted all across its immense face… Just to give a quick Italian example: a few days ago Alessandro Fiori, Edoardo Saccaro and Simone Corte Pause worked their way up Salathè Wall on El Capitan. While two days ago Austria’s Katharina Saurwein made a free ascent of the Final Frontier, a nine pitch 5.13b (8a) up Fifi Buttress to the west of Leaning Tower. Established in 1999 with the use of aid by Dan and Sue McDevitt, Penny Black and Brittany Griffith, the route was freed in 2013 by Nik Berry and James Lucas. In October this year America’s Nina Williams made what might well be the first female ascent (highly talented Katie Lambert free climbed it all, but as the second, during the first repeat) and now Final Frontier has also been repeated by Saurwein, together with her husband Jorg Verhoeven.

Verhoeven now has his sights set on the first repeat of the Dihedral Wall, freed by Tommy Caldwell in 2004 and described at the time by Austrian photographer Heinz Zak as "the King of El Capitan free climbs." The 25 pitches were forged in 1962 by Baldwin Cooper-Denny and now, in their free state, offer hyper-technical climbing with 10 pitches weighing in between 8a and 8b+. In 2014 Verhoeven repeated The Nose and no doubt he’ll bank on this experience, also because after having worked the pitches of Dihedral Wall, his first attempt last week ended in retreat. This just goes to show how intense the Dihedral Wall is.

Another intense outing up El Capitan which might be repeated in the next few days is the classic aid route Zodiac. The climbers trying not the aid version, established solo by Charlie Porter in November 1972, but the free climb put up by Alexander Huber and his brother Thomas Huber in 2003 are Jacopo Larcher and Barbara Zangerl. This strong couple has already worked the pitches, often at night to avoid the"traffic" up this highly popular outing, and are now poised for the free attempt. Maximum difficulties are estimated at 8b, and the route was repeated for the first and so far only time shortly after Hubers' ascent by Tommy Caldwell.

SALATHE WALL - Final bivouac, the third on Long Ledge.


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