Photos: Isabelle Faus on V14 and Mark Hudon on El Cap

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Photo: Caroline Treadway

Climber: Isabelle Faus
Route: Wheel of Chaos (V14)
Location: Upper Chaos Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Isabelle Faus describes the moves on Wheel of Chaos, a granite and banded-gneiss testpiece at 10,000 feet above sea level, as “25 moves going through a roof, a 45, and a slightly overhanging traverse.” After the roof comes a semi-decent rest and then a finish on what first ascensionist Daniel Woods calls “a technical 8A/V11 boulder problem.” Working the route a total of 12 days over the past two years, Faus consistently climbed through the halfway crux, but would fall on the upper redpoint crux. Finally, on October 2, Faus linked the two sections together, completing her second V14 after sending Amandla, in Rocklands, South Africa, in the summer of 2015. Faus is the third woman to climb more than one V14.

Photo: Dustin Moore

Climber: Mark Hudon
Route: Freerider (VI 5.12d)
Location: Yosemite National Park, California

“As free as can be” was the mantra of Mark Hudon and Max Jones on their ascent of the Salathé Wall (VI 5.13b) on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley in 1979. The pair managed to free all but 300 of the 3,000 feet of granite. For the past 37 years, Hudon has obsessed over El Cap, climbing the formation 29 times by 25 different routes. At age 60, he still dreams of a completely free ascent. This fall, he tried Freerider (VI 5.12d), an easier free variation on the Salathé, reaching a high point at pitch 23 (of 37). But poor weather and crowding brought the attempt to a halt. “I’m not dead yet,” says Hudon, who is committed to his vision of an El Cap ascent that’s “all free.” Hudon will return later this fall for another attempt.