The PreMuir (5.13c/d) on El Cap Gets Second Ascent


Hazel Findlay lowers off the crux 5.13c/d pitch after working the moves in full sun. Photo courtesy Tom Evans

10/26/12 - One of El Capitan's hardest and lesser-known routes, The PreMuir (5.13c/d, 33 pitches), saw its second ascent this month by Brits Hazel Findlay, James McHaffie, and Neil Dyer. Established in 2007 by Justen Sjong and Rob Miller, The PreMuir follows pitches of Muir Wall, The Shaft, and The Shield, plus new 5.13 pitches, up the center of El Cap.

Findlay and McHaffie managed to free all pitches in a five-day ascent. The crux 5.13d section doesn't come until pitch 25, and the penultimate pitch has the second 5.13c crux, followed only by 5.10 climbing to the summit.

"Looking back, there didn’t seem to be a ‘hardest part’ or even really a hardest pitch," Findlay wrote on her blog. "The whole thing was very hard. Not a single day or even really a single pitch passed with ease. The two 5.10s were the only pitches that I didn’t have to try on. Even the 5.11d's, in my tired state, were a complete battle."

Despite Findlay's initial concerns that she'd be the "weakest link" in the group, she pulled off the crux pitch after only one toprope burn. By the fifth and last day, however, the team was drained and almost out of supplies. McHaffie and Findlay took seven and four attempts on the last 5.13 pitch, respectively, while Dyer made quick work on his second try.

"I think that when I look back at our PreMuir mission, what I will remember most is being on that ledge at 9:30 at night almost too mentally and physically tired of trying hard to enjoy the moment," Findlay said. "We could taste the relief that was to come, but still there was some small doubt that we wouldn’t be able to pull it out of the bag. But skill, or good luck, or effort, or something else was on our side, and the next day we found ourselves at the top, too tired to sing and dance, but happy nonetheless."

Read Findlay's full account on her blog.

Date of ascent: October 2012