El Capitan: Golden Gate, Freerider, the Prophet and Dawn Wall
News from El Capitan in Yosemite valley: Hazel Findlay on Golden Gate, Mayan Smith-Gobat on Free Rider, Sonnie Trotter on the Prophet and Tommy Caldwell attempting Dawn Wall.
Yosemite once again, for obvious reasons... Once again El Capitan in autumn proves irresistible and of all those who made the pilgrimage to Yosemite valley over the last few months, the following stand out:
Young British climber Hazel Findlay has repeated Golden Gate, the route freed in 2000 by Alexander and Thomas Huber. 41 pitches up to 5.13b, climbed free but as a second on some of the crux pitches, seeing that she had joined forces with Hansjörg Auer who was stumped only by the Monster Offwidth pitch and believes the routes' difficulties are more like 5.13a. Regardless of the difficulty, given Findlay's ability - she is famous for being the first woman to have broken into the fearsome E9 grade with her July repeat of Once Upon A Time in the South West - it wouldn't surprise us if the next time she ties in beneath El Capitan, she'll decide to lead it all herself...
A climber who led plenty of pitches in Mayan Smith-Gobat who, after having led all of the Salathé Wall at the start of October, recently decided to climb the route once again avoiding the crux pitches on the Headwall. Instead, she climbed via the 4-pitch variation on the left called Free Rider, another Huber creation which dates to 1998. The Kiwi climber set off at 10 minutes past midnight together with local Niels Tietze and topped out at 14.30 for 'the best 14 hours of incredible climbing in my life, on the most beautiful piece of rock ever!' The first female ascent of Free Rider was carried out by Steph Davis who after her April 2003 ascent returned a month later and, belayed by Heinz Zak, climbed the route in 22 hours and 15 minutes.
Sonnie Trotter and Will Stanhorpe are currently active on The Prophet, the mega route established by Leo Houlding last year. Trotter confirmed the exposed and dangerous nature of the initial pitches and above all though he underlined the beauty of the crux pitch high up on the route, commenting "One of the best I have EVER seen."
Tommy Caldwell is continuing in his efforts to free the Dawn Wall, the massive project which, when finally freed, will no doubt herald a new level of difficulty in big wall climbing. Caldwell is not joined by habitual partner Kevin Jorgeson as Jorgeson injured his ankle during an attempt to stick that enormous, famous leftwards dyno featured in the video below. The doctor has ordered a month's rest and physio and Caldwell, who has been joined by his wife, has recently stuck the dyno and is eyeing the crux pitches looming overhead. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't begin to snow, like last year.