Tommy Caldwell Free Climbs The Nose and Freerider-in-a-day


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Social climber
Nov 7, 2005 - 12:13pm PT
This is an incredible example of endurance and technical ability!

I feel like we were all just Wilbur and Orville Wright that afternoon back in the seventies when we wandered up to the terraces without our aid slings. Some of us may have had higher aspirations but for myself we were just goofing off in the playground. To witness this evolution is cool let’s call like it really is, 22 hours of multiple organisms!

TC et al, my hats off to you!
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 7, 2005 - 10:14pm PT
Hello, it that you Mike?

Welcome to ST land.

All the best, Roger

Social climber
Nov 8, 2005 - 09:11am PT
Roger, how you doing?

People still ask me about our little Phantom pinnacle route. (Mostly want to know where the hell it is!) good memory! Still see Bridwell quite often.

This is all so amazing isn’t it. I understand you can even top rope the Captain, by yourself if you feel so inclined. You got to admit that’s pretty cool. If you’re in to that sort of thing. I think would be...

Thanks for the note, I enjoy those “Freeblasts” from the past!


Trad climber
Nov 8, 2005 - 10:38am PT
Gramicci? As in Mike Graham?



I've been wondering if you would ever surface here! If it's REALLY you, I'm stoked!

Welcome to the Deli. . . errrr, I mean TheTaco!

Kathy (used to be Brockman, back in the dirt. . . errr. . . I mean "TheDay.") - MissusBlinny

Nov 8, 2005 - 10:59pm PT
I'm stunned. Can't fathom what he just accomplished. I called my climbing partner and he insisted it had to be a hoax. Been trying to find the words and examples to explain to my wife just how amazing an accomplishment this is and I'm failing miserably.


Social climber
Nov 8, 2005 - 11:44pm PT
Kathy, Thanks for remembering! It is I

I really love where this site has gone, its better than the news channel. The stuff these young lads are doing these days is amazing. I’ll stay tuned.

Looks like you live in a beautiful area, with a lot of cool guitars. Dog’s country by the look of the photo.

All the best!
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 8, 2005 - 11:57pm PT
Hi Mike:

Good to hear from you. The whole El Cap free is pretty unreal to me, much less the Nose and Salathe in a day. (Obviously, Chris and Beth are light for having to swing seconding:-)

When Lynn Hill climbed the Nose, she came to Cleveland--the center of the climbing world, as you well know--with the touring slide show. I took my daughters who were about 10 and 12 years old. As she was describing the preparations, I was taken aback by the whole idea of rapping down to work on the hard pitches, wiring the route. I didn't have a problem with it. I was just surprised at the effort, and surprised that she was treating the Captain the way Ray used to treated short crack climbs.

I knew it was a different world.

It is sort of strange to see so much change in such a short time. I sort of accept changes in technology as a given, but this is just improved skill.

Speaking of skill, I still think that your on sight leads of Phantom pinnacle were stellar. We climbed lucky, being able to pick off such a nice crack system. Of course if you hadn't been our rope gun, it would have taken me all season. I wrote up our ascent a while back:

ST can be a real trip staying up on the current news, meeting the new climbers, and dipping into old memories. Glad you are here.

Hope all is well with you, Roger

Trad climber
Nov 9, 2005 - 01:36pm PT

Thanks for remembering me, too!

My time in the dirt with you guys was the most amazing time of my life! Through some cosmic twist of fate my life collided with you guys and I was forever changed. . . for the better. I kind of liken it to dumb girl gets to run with the big dogs! (Speaking of Dog's country)


Yeah. . . it's beautiful up here. . . and Blanchard's guitars are a never ending source of enlightenment. If you ever head this way, we'd love to show you around!

Keep the MAGIC alive!

Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:42pm PT
No reply, but I want to get Tommy Caldwell's email address. Thanks.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 19, 2010 - 02:02pm PT
mg: 22 hours of multiple organisms
Hopefully sometime Mike will explain that one. :-)

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jul 20, 2010 - 12:06am PT

Welcome to the campfire, Royal.
Tell us a story, please!!!!

Might want to check with Black Diamond, or Chris Mac.
I'm sure they both have it.

Social climber
Oct 22, 2014 - 08:38pm PT
Remember this you guys?

Oct 22, 2014 - 10:26pm PT
Stewart Johnson

lake forest
Oct 23, 2014 - 07:18am PT

Trad climber
Oct 23, 2014 - 08:45am PT
bump for likely the most impressive free-climbing achievement ever

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Apr 10, 2015 - 11:24am PT
Wow bump

Oakland, CA
Apr 10, 2015 - 11:35am PT
Man oh man. How about Chris' last question in his opening post? Guess we have our answer after the Dawn Wall.

I didn't realize that Caldwell free'd the Dihedral Wall on his first go.

Below us, we watched Dean Potter speed up the route five pitches below us. He was going for a one-day free ascent of The Salathé Wall. Over on The Nose, Thomas Huber was making a multi-day free attempt with four support crew (Ivo, Ammon, and some buddies doing their first big wall). At that moment, there were four parties on El Cap, three of which were making free ascents. Seems that these days you are noteworthy if you are the ones NOT making a free ascent of El Cap!

Wonder which pitch shut TH down on the Nose? Roof, or did he make it to the Changing Corners?

And did Potter get the Salathe IAD?

Trad climber
da Gunks
Jun 3, 2017 - 11:36am PT

For the greatest free-solo climb of all time ...

Alex Honnold free-solos Freerider! Incredible!

It is easily in the running for "single greatest feat of rock climbing in history."

Freerider is rated 12d, but from the reports I've seen, Honnold elected to climb the 5.13 variation on the headwall. (13c?)

//Apparently he rapped the route and chalk-ticked some key holds before making the free-solo.

Does anyone consider this "cheating?" I don't. I think it's self-preservation. But I have a feeling some purists out there might consider it a little less than fully on the up and up.//

Still ... this is without doubt the most outrageous, mind-blowing bit of climbing ever accomplished.

Honnold has been doing more and more outrageous free-solos. But this one is just off the charts. Especially given all those friction pitches. I have only one short El Cap route to my credit so I've never come near Freerider, but from the descriptions the two sections that sound mindnumbingly insane to free-solo are the Monster Off-Width and the Teflon Corner. From what I've heard and read, the Teflon Corner has a crux in the hard 12 zone. I cannot even begin to imagine free-soloing a friction crux of that difficulty. I remember doing one pitch of 11c friction at Suicide Rock ... and I called it "science friction" ... it was that insubstantial. To climb enormous lengths of 5.11 friction 600-1000ft up on El Cap ... with a 12c/d crux ... insane.

Honnold with Peter Croft on a recon climb of Freerider.
Honnold with Peter Croft on a recon climb of Freerider.
Credit: Jimmy Chin - National Geographic

Trad climber
da Gunks
Jun 3, 2017 - 11:52am PT
Also ... I'm going to be that guy ...

Looking back at an early comment that Tommy's link-up was ...

"Historic. The greatest feat of rock climbing ever performed!!!"

I'm going to argue that this title is still owned by Lynn Hill for her first free ascent of the Nose and then her sub-24 hour free ascent. That last one stood for 10 years. I think it was Caldwell who finally matched it!

There's a good argument to be made that this Caldwell original link-up on El Cap or his ascent of The Dawn Wall are the greatest feat of climbing ever ... and now there is a super good argument to be made that Honnold's free-solo of Freerider is the greatest ... but for me ... when I look back and consider all the context ... like how now the Changing Corners pitch is now considered to be 14a - 14b ... how long it took others to even come close ... how she as a woman out-climbed the top male climbers for a minimum of 5 years ... how far beyond that climb was of current standards at the time ... how futuristic it was in terms of free climbing on El Cap ... I still think that her free ascent of the Nose remains the greatest feat of rock climbing ever.

Which is not take anything away from Caldwell's feats ... which are extraordinary and may very well have bested Lynn's.

And certainly does not take anything away form Honnold's brand new bit of brilliant insanity. There's a very very strong argument to make that Honnold's free-solo of Freerider is now the greatest single feat of rock climbing ever.

I just don't think we can ever overstate how important, ground-breaking and futuristic Lynn's ascent was.


Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Jun 19, 2017 - 06:53pm PT
I hope Royal got Tommy's e-mail address . . . probably took it to heaven.

Allez Tommy!
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