Houlding Frees El Cap's Prophet (5.13d R)
11/3/10 - News link: In late October, British climber Leo Houlding made the first free ascent of an almost ten-year project on El Capitan: The Prophet (5.13d R, 13 pitches, 1,800 feet). Houlding put in five serious attempts on the climb over the span of a decade, and topped out El Cap after a six-day ascent with partner Jason Pickles.
Houlding led every pitch to the top, with Pickles seconding everything except the Devil's Dyno and infamous A1 Beauty pitch. The team climbed eight pitches their first day, one pitch the second day, and then were forced to hunker down on a portaledge for three days in one of the worst storms in recent Yosemite history.
According to an interview with Planet Mountain, seven of the pitches are serious and difficult, with three 5.13a R pitches and one 5.13b with six bolts in 150 feet of climbing. The hardest pitch on the climb, the A1 Beauty, consists of a 115-foot-long, thin crack with sparse protection. Houlding climbed this pitch on his fourth try. Last summer, Houlding freed every pitch but the A1.
"A first ascent on El Capitan is, in my eyes, the ultimate achievement," Houlding says in a radio interview with former BBC Radio producer Lissa Cook.
Below is the audio interview with Lissa Cook.
Date of ascent: October 2010
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