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Two weeks after he free-climbed the Nose of El Capitan in 12 hours, Tommy Caldwell has linked the Nose and Freerider all-free in 23 hours 23 minutes. Starting just after 1 a.m. on October 30, Caldwell climbed the Nose in 11 hours, belayed by his wife, Beth Rodden; he took two falls at the crux Changing Corners pitch (5.14a). After running and rapping down the East Ledges descent, he returned to the base of El Cap before 1 p.m.
With Chris McNamara belaying, he then started up the Freerider variation to the Salathé Wall, freeing the route in just under 11 hours, to finish at 12:26 a.m. Caldwell fell twice in the dark on pitch 28 (5.12b) as fatigue began to catch up with him, but he shook it off to redpoint the pitch and continue without falls to the summit.
Chris McNamara has posted an excellent first-hand account of the climb at http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=114312&f=0&b=0, from which some details in this report were drawn.
According to a close friend, Caldwell has been dreaming of this linkup for months and has been training specifically with its massive endurance requirements in mind, ever since he recovered from a broken wrist suffered in a ground fall at Indian Creek in March. First, however, there was the small matter of free-climbing the Nose, which he and Rodden accomplished in mid-October. A couple of days after his one-dayfree ascent of the Nose, Caldwell quietly returned to El Cap and did Freerider in preparation for the linkup. In all, the Nose-Freerider combination has 65 pitches, or approximately 6,000 feet, of free climbing, including nine pitches of 5.12, one of 5.13 and one 5.14a, plus dozens of burly 5.10 and 5.11 pitches.Comment on this story