Pete Whittaker Free Solos Norway’s 800-Meter Kjerag in 2:25

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The Kjerag formation, a popular hiking and BASE jumping destination, above Lysefjord in Norway.Håvard Thoen/Flickr; CC BY 2.0

The English climber Pete Whittaker announced that he has completed a free-solo project on the Kjerag formation in Rogaland, Norway. Whittaker followed the Renshaw/Foulkes Route, climbing ropeless over 800 meters and through several 5.10c crux pitches. He completed the route in 2 hours and 25 minutes. The Renshaw/Foulkes Route was first climbed by Adam Renshaw and Lyndsey Foulkes in 1985 over 20 pitches.

“After a couple of years waiting, finally got conditions good enough to finish my solo project on Kjerag this week,” Whittaker wrote on Instagram. “It’s not that easy to have small waterfalls, limited snow melt, little seepage, nice weather and be ready to climb, all at the same time on this mountain. Definitely a cliff for the locals!”

Whittaker told Stavanger Aftenblad, a Norwegian newspaper, that the most difficult part of the solo was telling himself it was OK to start climbing. Once he was on the wall, he felt OK. He encountered some wet rock early on, but conditions improved further up. He carried a cell phone as his only “protection.” The Norwegian climbing website noted that Whittaker received his national belay certification just last August, which allows him to belay in any gym in Norway. They suggested that he may have set a record for fastest time between getting belay certified and completing a huge free solo.

Whittaker is most well known as one of the hardest trad climbers in the world. In 2011, alongside fellow Englishman Tom Randall, he made the first ascent of Century Crack, a 5.14b offwidth. In 2019, Whittaker sent Recovery Drink, a 5.14d crack climb. Whittaker and Randall—whose partnership is known as the Wide Boyz—have been working a years-long roof crack project in Utah called Crucifix. It’s speculated that it could be the world’s first 5.15 trad route.

In 2016, Whittaker became the first person to rope solo El Cap in under 24 hours, while free climbing every pitch. He led, cleaned, and then jugged all 35 pitches of Freerider (5.12d) in just over 20 hours. More recently, Whittaker tried the crack crux of Silence (5.15d) in Flatanger, Norway, the world’s first 5.15d.

Øyvind Salvesen shared photos from a previous rehearsal ascent with Whittaker. Of the route, he wrote “Camalot 5 and 6 are recommended to bring along if you are not on a trip with Pete Whittaker.”

Of his Kjerag free solo, Whittaker said, “I’m pleased with my patience and ability to climb the right route at the right moment, and do it well.”