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


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 1, 2005 - 12:33am PT
On October 30-31, Tommy Caldwell free climbed both The Nose and Freerider in a combined time of 23 hours and 23 minutes. It was an astonishing accomplishment. The only person other than Tommy ever to free climb The Nose in a day was Lynn Hill almost twelve years ago. Tommy “warmed up” for this event when he free climbed The Nose a few weeks ago with his wife Beth Rodden and then climbed the route a few days later in 12 hours. Needless to say, nobody had ever free climbed The Nose and free climbed another El Cap route in less than a day.

Tommy started October 30 at 1:03am and cruised up The Nose in 11 hours with his wife Beth Rodden, who belayed and jumared. "The weather was perfect" said Caldwell. "The temperatures were crisp and the wind was so calm your voice echoed off the rock." On the crux 5.14a Changing Corners pitch he took two short falls before sending the pitch on his third go. After a few minutes of food and rest on the summit, he ran down the East Ledges descent and was back in El Cap Meadow just before 1pm.

I was his belayer/jumarer for the second leg of the link-up. We started up the Freerider at 1:36pm in perfect fall weather with temps in the low 60's and a slight breeze. On the first pitch, and for the next 28 pitches, it was hard to tell that he had just climbed The Nose that morning. He showed little fatigue and it was impossible to tell when he was doing a hard move. Every move he made looked like 5.7. I felt like I was belaying him on The Nutcracker.

The first 10 pitches took two hours. We got to the Monster Offwidth (Pitch 19 just below El Cap Spire) just as the sun was setting. The wall was bright orange and as he left the belay he assured me that this pitch was actually going to be a little strenuous for him. I guess he was true to his word, because he made this 5.11 offwidth nightmare look like 5.9 (unlike the first 19 pitches that all looked like 5.7).

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!

On El Cap Spire, we put on the headlamps and started the night-climbing leg of the push in crisp 50 degree weather with no wind. Two pitches higher, for the first time on the climb, I saw Tommy really exert himself. It was the section where you have to do a V6/V7 boulder problem on holds that all seem to face the wrong direction. For a brief second he made the route really look like its 5.12c rating. A minute later he was at the belay and we were onto the next pitch. I guess even the best climbers can look a little tired on V7 after climbing 5000 feet.

So what’s the demeanor of one of the best free climbers in the world when he is pulling off one of the biggest free climbing achievements of his life? One might expect Zen-like concentration to pull through such a demanding day. Or maybe he would be shouting and screaming like you see a lot of top boulderers do to pull through V15 problems. Not Tommy. He just seemed like he was having a day out at the crags. There was no rushing of either the climbing or the belay changeovers. We even burned some time talking about home improvement. He felt the best way to organize a 1900 square foot house was with three bedrooms and a loft. I wondered if it was best just to convert the loft to a fourth bedroom.

Below The Sewer pitch he paused a minute to quiz me, “So Chris, why, after so many El Cap ascents, have you still not free climbed it?” Believe me Tommy, if I could make 5.12 look like 5.7, I would be free climbing everything right there with you.

On Pitch 28, Tommy took a fall. He had just started up the overhanging, flaring 5.12b crack when he took a short five-foot fall onto a fixed nut. I was shocked because up until that point it didn’t seem like he could fall even if he wanted to. Gravity just didn’t seem to work on him the same way it does with the rest of us. He pulled the rope, tied back in, and started up again. This time he laybacked the crack that he had previously tried to straight-in jam. He got about six feet higher than his first go and then fell again.

At this point, we both got a little nervous. Hanging from the rope, he said in a slightly frustrated tone, “This pitch was so easy the other day.” I reminded him that he had climbed over 5500 vertical feet of rock that day. It was okay to feel a little tired. But it turned out that it wasn’t so much that he was tired as it was the fact that he wasn't used to climbing this pitch in the dark. He realized that he always stemmed this pitch on micro edges and they were not as obvious at night. He ticked a few footholds with chalk, lowered back to the belay, and pulled the rope. I knew that if he sent this pitch, he had the route.

He sent the pitch and, sure enough, he continued cruising the route to the summit. We topped out at 12:26am, 10 hours and 50 minutes after starting. On the summit we were met with hugs, congratulations, and SoCo from great friends Beth Rodden, Kim Miller, Corey Rich, Josh Lowell, and Adam Stack. We joked that while Tommy did look tired, he didn't look nearly as worked as someone should after 6000 feet of hard free climbing.I said, "Tommy, there are still 37 minutes left in the day, want to try and free climb something else? I think we could find you a boulder problem up here. Or maybe some pull-ups? Push-ups?"

It was an amazing day. Not only did Tommy pull off something I don't think anyone else had considered possible, he did it with a level of calm and casualness I've only experienced on 4th class terrain. A few pitches below the top he told me, "This has been one of my biggest free climbing goals but i didnt think i could do it. I can't believe I am up here and it's happening." It was an astonishing comment considering he was making this link-up his first try. It reminded me of his comment some time ago that he thought the Free Dihedral Wall was going to take a few years to work. That climb is the most difficult El Cap free route and probably the hardest big wall free climb in the world. Tommy climbed it on his first attempt, after only months of working the route.

What will Tommy Caldwell do when he picks a big wall goal that really does take a few years and many attempts to accomplish?

Trad climber
On that V2 problem at the Happies
Nov 1, 2005 - 12:39am PT

Nov 1, 2005 - 12:40am PT
Yes amazing, one is left speachless ........

167 stinking feet above sea level : (
Nov 1, 2005 - 12:41am PT

! ! !


Big Wall climber
Nov 1, 2005 - 01:00am PT
Historic. The greatest feat of rock climbing ever performed!!!

I do not say that lightly. This guy is the Greatest.

Its like Spitz winning seven gold medals in the Olympics.

Or Armstrong winning all the Tour de France.

Or Tiger Woods.

Or even Armstrong Landing on the moon.

Or Lindburg flying across the Atlantic.

Or pitching a perfect game. Then ten more in a row!




Social climber
My Subconcious
Nov 1, 2005 - 01:16am PT
So the stubbed finger man does it again. I'm jealous. I'll be training harder.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Nov 1, 2005 - 01:22am PT

I climb maybe three hard ptches and I'm done.

Fantastic achievement Tommy!
Corey Fields

Trad climber
Austin, TX
Nov 1, 2005 - 01:43am PT
Awesome, the guy is sick! Thanks for the report.

Trad climber
Irvine, CA
Nov 1, 2005 - 02:38am PT
seamus mcshane

Nov 1, 2005 - 06:36am PT
Absolutely incredible!!! Immortality is now defined by this achievement!!!

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Nov 1, 2005 - 06:53am PT
wow--makes a bunch of old posers quibbling about style elsewhere on the forum look pretty silly.

Congrats to Tommy, and Beth too, for their climbs!

nice TR, too, Chris-

Big Wall climber
hiding in plain sight
Nov 1, 2005 - 07:33am PT
Impressive, most impressive.
And with that, TC becomes the best freeclimber in history.
Let's see how long this stands.
Spleen, are you hearing this?...

Trad climber
New York, NY
Nov 1, 2005 - 08:37am PT
What an exciting read! I haven't been to Yosemite yet, but I was imagining myself right there(watching from the ground, like most everyone else, of course). It must have felt so great, to be on that climb, and I wonder if that moment when you noted all the other prominent climbers on the wall, it wasn't one of those "Life is just grand" moments.

Congratulations to Tommy for his acheivement, and for shattering the records and upping the stakes.

East Coast US
Nov 1, 2005 - 09:03am PT

Big Wall climber
Phoenix, AZ
Nov 1, 2005 - 10:07am PT
That absolutely blows me away. Chris, it must have been a thrill to be a part of the event. Thanks for the first-hand account.


Nov 1, 2005 - 10:19am PT
Incredible indeed!

Please excuse my being (apparently) so totally out of the loop, but can someone tell me when the Nose was freed by anyone other than Madame Hill? I didn't realize that anyone else had put it all together...I guess I really should read those climbing magazines more often!

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Nov 1, 2005 - 10:24am PT
Tommy and his wife Beth put it together earlier this fall.

North fork, CA
Nov 1, 2005 - 10:26am PT
Next week I'll rappell two el cap routes in a day. That'll show Tommy. The guy's amazing.

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Nov 1, 2005 - 10:50am PT
That's so phenominal that it's hard to imagine. The skill, strength and determination that TC has is otherworldly.

BTW - it's total BS that Chris Mac couldn't pull off free rider... he just likes pulling on gear!

jason liebgott

Gym climber
Nov 1, 2005 - 11:06am PT
TC Rocks (a priveledged glimpse into the obvious).

How'd Potter do?


Nov 1, 2005 - 11:16am PT
Incredible and inspiring. Thanks for the report, Chris. A job well done!

It's quite a statement that a climber can ropegun for the likes of Chris, Hans, Beth, et cetera. Totally badass. TC is at the top of his game...or is he yet?

Go, Tommy!
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Straight Outta Squamton
Nov 1, 2005 - 12:49pm PT
Most excellent report, Chris.

Trad climber
Chapel Hill, NC
Nov 1, 2005 - 12:50pm PT
I'm going to be attempting a repeat of this awesome feat ( ;-) in about a million years). I'm just wondering if someone can post a break down of the free grades for each of the pitches on the two routes.
the Fet

Trad climber
Loomis, CA
Nov 1, 2005 - 01:01pm PT
Man, Tommy is on fire.

NOT Fresno
Nov 1, 2005 - 01:27pm PT
Well fuсk me good.

What about three free in a day? Who wants it?
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Straight Outta Squamton
Nov 1, 2005 - 01:59pm PT
Would the East Buttress Of El Cap count?

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 1, 2005 - 02:31pm PT
freaking amazing, thanks for the report Chris.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Nov 1, 2005 - 03:06pm PT
Amazing achievement. The sky really is the limit ... Must be Beth's turn to do the Nose in a day now!

Nov 1, 2005 - 04:24pm PT
Michael Jordan is the Tommy Caldwell of Basketball....Pele is the Tommy of Soccer....that is probably the one of the single greatest athletic achievements in history...whats next?

Trad climber
Mt. Shasta, CA
Nov 1, 2005 - 06:11pm PT
Ay Caramba! Tommy esta en fuego!

Trad climber
on a rock or mountain out west
Nov 1, 2005 - 06:38pm PT
Amazing achievement. Guy is a freak.

But sweet Jesus Juan, get a grip. I think Lindbergh flying the Atlantic is a hell of a lot bigger than some dude free climbing some pre-established wall routes.

Get some perspective. It's the greatest FREE climbing feat ever. But NOT the greatest climbing feat ever. As soon as Tommy wants to start scoping wall routes and risking his life putting up some A5 wall routes on FA, then I'll put him in the Michael Jordan "best climber ever" file. He's the best FREE climber. But climbing has been around a hell of a lot longer than Tommy, there's plenty of great feats that had the internet been around, it would have got a lot more play. It's the immediacy of his achievement and all of us immediately knowing about it and fawning over it that helps add to it. on now for every monkey now to free something on El Cap. You thought the fixed lines were bad now.
Bryce Breslin

Oakland, California
Nov 1, 2005 - 07:44pm PT

I'd be really curious to know what he took along for a rack.

Last weekend my partner and I racked tons to climb 9 pitches, Serenity to Sons - I'll bet we took more weight in gear for a moderate 9 than this man did for +/- 60 pitches?? Grim...

I'd also wager that I probably brought more cams up Lunatic Fringe - one pitch - than Caldwell did for this feat.

I'm still trying to grasp this: leading 60 pitches in a day. Does anyone know how many of those are 5.11 or above? 5.12 or above?

My hat is off, and I'm stupefied.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 1, 2005 - 07:54pm PT
The rack:

1 each really small cams
2 each .75"- 2.5" (small blue camalot to gold gold camalot)
1 # 3 (the blue camalot)
1 # 4 (the gray camalot)
1 # 6 (the really big green camalot)

4 stoppers (but i dont think he placed a single one)

8 draws

6 long slings

1 60m 10mm rope

Nov 1, 2005 - 07:55pm PT
That sounds about right. (rack above)

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV
Nov 1, 2005 - 08:04pm PT
i still am having trouble fathoming this...simply amazing.

whats really amazing is that Tommy, in real terms, is still just a kid!

imagine what he might do in the decades to come!
Bryce Breslin

Oakland, California
Nov 1, 2005 - 09:00pm PT

Outrageous!! I did take more up Lunatic Fringe. What can you mean, Werner, sounds right?!! I love it - I absolutely love it. No sarcasm, no cynicism: I'm just astounded and in awe. And inspired to lighten my racking - christ.

Thanks for the info - crystalizes the magnitude of Caldwell's climbing that day.

Four nuts!
Mick Ryan

Trad climber
Saratoga Springs, NY
Nov 1, 2005 - 09:46pm PT
Thanks for the report Chris.

We got it up on pronto.

Limey Bastard

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Nov 1, 2005 - 10:47pm PT
Thanks for the story.

The guy is a real soul climber.

Davis, CA
Nov 1, 2005 - 11:45pm PT
Holy freaking crap! Talk about setting the bar.

You know what is so cool about this (aside from the obvious)? Tommy (and beth for that matter) is quite possibly the most humble climber I know. Not only that, but he's the last guy to criticize anothers person's style.

Hats off dude, well done.
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Straight Outta Squamton
Nov 2, 2005 - 10:18am PT
"Not only that, but he's the last guy to criticize anothers person's style.

Funny how that works, isn't it?


Social climber
Nov 2, 2005 - 11:26am PT
Amazing. Even for Tommy. My biggest congratulations. Friggin' fantastic!

Doesn't a magazine coin someone "Climber of the Year"?

I'd say it's sewed up this year.

BTW - I have video footage of Tommy and Beth on their first look at The Nose. Might sell it for the right price. How much you got?-JK

Tommy, on a curosy attmept of the Great Roof (we were up there for something else), said, quite nonchalantly, "it's all there." Beth, on the other hand, was gobsmacked by the Changing Corners. First saying, "I can't get onto the rock." And finishing with "Next time maybe. If I train harder."

Really cool stuff.

Think I'll go train now....

Nov 2, 2005 - 11:31am PT
most impressive- he gets an A

Mountain climber
Nov 2, 2005 - 12:39pm PT
Jimmy Jam

Big Wall climber
Naples, Florida
Nov 2, 2005 - 02:13pm PT
The only thing he hasn't done on El Cap is appear in a "David Lee Roth" video.

Trad climber
under a rock in Washington
Nov 2, 2005 - 06:39pm PT
Tommy possesses an amazing array of stamina, technique and good judgement. I hope he some day shares his wealth with the "little" climbers of the world. Well done man! I can't even imagine.

Big Wall climber
Nov 2, 2005 - 07:53pm PT
Great accomplishment!!!
Just thought you might like this info.:
I was born 1936
first to rappel El Cap in 1969
36 years later, at age 69, doing it again for the 26th time.
that was sept 9 this year. We met Huber bros on the way down.
I also run marathons (26+miles)

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 2, 2005 - 08:46pm PT
wow you are amazing too, infact you deserve your very own thread on!

Nov 2, 2005 - 09:51pm PT
Damn, we were around the corner on LF the whole time and were totally oblivious. We thought we were the only ones up there...

Trad climber
Nov 3, 2005 - 01:15am PT
Just when you think 5/15 is aproachable some has to fly by while your standing still Great job Tommy !!!!!

Trad climber
milano italy
Nov 3, 2005 - 02:37am PT
tommy makes the dreams became reality, like all the climbers (and all the men) who fairly pushed the limits in the past. I really enjoied for his performance and his coyness.

Trad climber
Gunks end of country
Nov 3, 2005 - 07:52am PT
What's the rush? It's not like The Nose or Freerider was going anywhere. Kind of like having sex in 60 seconds.

Bellingham, WA
Nov 3, 2005 - 12:12pm PT
i have a very specific question re this ascent. just for a historical record i would like to find out about how the time was checked- with a stop watch ot a regular watch. the reason i wanted to ask this question is simple. the date of the climb was on the day of the time change, so there was an extra hour.
"Tommy started October 30 at 1:03am and cruised up The Nose in 11 hours with his wife Beth Rodden, who belayed and jumared."
the time change starts at 2 am, the clocks stop for 1 hour.
i am not trying to diss any of it, the climb speak for itself, just interested in this detail.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 3, 2005 - 12:32pm PT
This is a very cool milestone. Congratulations to Caldwell.

Very nice trip report, Chris. Spot on.

The only sad part is that I had come to like that fact that Lynn Hill's all free ascent of the Nose in the style she did it had not been surpassed for the past 13 years. I know that everything always passes, but her ascent was so stellar, the long wait made it all the more valuable.

It is pretty cool that Caldwell passed it in such a convincing way.

(PS: Did I tell you that I fell on the upper pitches of the Salathe about 34 years ago? Twice. I also got nervous. Let's far that is the only thing I can find in common with Caldwell's ascent. Another world, for sure.)

TL,C, Roger


Trad climber
Nov 3, 2005 - 12:54pm PT
don't worry roger, when Caldwell does the Dihedral in a day, it will probably stand for another 13 years or so
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 3, 2005 - 01:02pm PT
Yeah, I know. But it is mind boggling.

Thiry-five years ago:

"Let's drive down to the Captain and do a couple of free climbing routes? I'll lead."


"Let's drive down to the Captain and do a couple of free climbing routes? I'll lead."

To the untrained eye, it looks as if nothing as changed.

Nov 3, 2005 - 04:27pm PT

Climb on! Thanks for the story!

Dire Wolf

Trad climber
San Francisco
Nov 3, 2005 - 10:41pm PT
Hearing about this made me cry.



Big Wall climber
czech republic
Nov 4, 2005 - 11:09am PT
I am dreeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaming, bite me! J.C.'s ressurected and is a climber! Sure this HYPER SUPER MEGA-climb is a on higher level than just walking on water:-) Next time I'll climb on El Cap, I'll climb just behind T.C. to benefit from the suction effect (You know as on the F1 races...) it seem's it could help.

Trad climber
San Diego
Nov 6, 2005 - 08:19pm PT

Very impressive. I can't stop smiling. What a wonderful accomplishment.

Congratulations Tommy.
Corey Fields

Trad climber
Austin, TX
Nov 6, 2005 - 08:40pm PT
"What's the rush? It's not like The Nose or Freerider was going anywhere. Kind of like having sex in 60 seconds."

No, I'd say it's more like having two orgasms in 60 seconds.

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!

Jun 19, 2017 - 07:07pm PT
Beta-Boy: +1
Matt Thomsen

Big Wall climber
Jun 19, 2017 - 07:26pm PT
I would say Tommy's Nose and Free Rider is the most athletic El Cap feat.

But, Alex's more mind blowing.
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