Schneider, Leary Send Freerider


Sean Leary and Steve Schneider made a free-ascent of Freerider (VI 5.12d) on El Capitan over three days in early October. The two swapped leads up to Sous le Toit ledge, and then Leary led the remaining 5.12 pitches. The second followed each pitch free.

Leary fell only once on the route, while leading the 5.12+ Huber variation below the Block, and then redpointed the pitch on his next try. Schneider took falls on the three 5.12 pitches on the final day but returned to the belay each time to free the pitch, including reversing the 5.12 traverse where the Freerider variation leaves the Salathé Wall. Leary had worked on Freerider before, including a near one-day ascent last year, but Schneider had never done the variation.

This was Leary’s first El Cap free route and the third for Schneider, which adds him to a very select club: Only Tommy Caldwell, Yuji Hirayama and the Huber brothers have also done three or more Grade VI El Cap free routes. In addition to Freerider, Schneider has freed El Niño and Golden Gate, and also pioneered the majority of the free-climbing on Lurking Fear, the West Buttress and Excalibur.Comment on this story