Yuji Repeats Golden Gate, Narrowly Misses Onsight

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Yuji Hirayama made a two-day third ascent of Golden Gate, a 41-pitch 5.13b established by the Huber brothers in 2000. Hirayama just missed his goal of onsighting the route, taking three falls. On the first day, Hirayama free-climbed the Salathe Wall to the Alcove, below El Cap Spire, by 1 p.m. After a few hours of rest, he took an hour and a half to onsight the 5.12c first crux of Golden Gate. Next morning, after a bivy on El Cap Spire, he continued up the Huber route, onsighting through pitch 30 by 9 a.m. Unfortunately, he got off-route on pitch 31 and, after a 45-minute struggle to find the line, Hirayama realized he could not downclimb the V8/9 boulder problem he had already done, so he jumped off to return to the belay. Back on route, he fell once at the 5.13 crux of this pitch but redpointed it next go. Onsighting the next four pitches, including one 5.13a, he arrived at the final 5.13 crux. “I was tired after all those pitches and … the result was simple — I fell,” Hirayama said. He redpointed that pitch next try and carried on to the summit without falls, reaching the top at 8 p.m. Last year, Hirayama free-climbed the Salathe Wall in 13 hours with no falls; he previously had attempted to onsight the climb, but fell several times. Compared with that route, Hirayama said, “Golden Gate was more adventurous — you will know if you try what this means!”

On 6 October we reported that Yuji Hirayama made the second ascent of El Cap's Golden Gate. In fact, Yuji's was the third ascent -- Michael "Much" Mayr and Peter Janschek climbed the route, ground up and in good style, last fall. Janschek did not attempt to follow Golden Gate's three hardest pitches, but led or followed the rest. Mayr free climbed all the pitches.