Davis Frees El Cap in a Day


Steph Davis became the second woman to free-climb El Capitan in a day when she climbed Free Rider in 22 hours 15 minutes in late May. The climb came one month after her initial all-free ascent of the 38-pitch, 5.12+ route — only the second time a woman has led every pitch of an El Cap free route. Davis was assisted in the one-day ascent by the photographer Heinz Zak, who belayed and cleaned every pitch. Starting in the evening, she climbed through the night to the Alcove and slept there for three hours. In the morning, she nailed the route’s crux, a sideways dyno that she feels is 5.13a for someone of her 5-foot, 5-inch stature, and then carried on to the top through two more 5.12 pitches and numerous other 5.10 and 5.11 leads. Lynn Hill was the first woman to free an El Cap route (The Nose, 5.13+), in 1993, and she made a one-day free ascent the following year. Beth Rodden free-climbed Lurking Fear but did not lead every pitch.