Free and Trad in the Valley

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Belgian Nicolas Favresse has free-climbed a major new route in Yosemite Valley without any new fixed protection. Favresse, 25, worked for a month on L’Appât (VI 5.13a), the first free route up a big wall about 200 feet right of Yosemite Falls. (L’Appât means the “bait” or “lure” in French.) Favresse climbed the route all free on September 9, leading every pitch.

L’Appât consists of 12 long pitches with all natural anchors, except for two bolted belays on aid climbs crossed by the new line. Favresse did not add any fixed gear, and thus the protection is at times rather spicy. The first five pitches are around 5.10, and as the face steepens the difficulty increases, with pitches of 5.12d, 5.12b, 5.12c, 5.12d, 5.11b, 5.13a/b and 5.10a. The route combines crack and face climbing with some hard, runout face and stemming sections, sometimes with old fixed copperheads for pro. While working on the route, Favresse took 30-foot whippers onto small copperheads, terrifying his belayer.

This was the second trip to the Valley for Favresse, who has redpointed 5.14d and onsighted 5.13d in Europe. Last fall, in a month-long trip, Favresse and his friend Seán Villanueva quickly learned how to trad climb on The Rostrum, Astroman and The Crucifix, and then they redpointed Free Rider on El Cap (VI 5.12d), onsighting 35 of the 36 pitches.

Favresse said completing his new climb “felt really good! This experience taught me a lot and opened my eyes to the huge potential for new extreme long routes.”

Nicolas Favresse working on his new route L’Appât (VI 5.13a) on the Yosemite Falls Wall.
Nicolas Favresse working on his new route L’Appât (VI 5.13a) on the Yosemite Falls Wall.

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