Conner Herson has become the youngest climber to send The Nose 5.14a on El Capitan. His ascent of The Nose is one of the most amazing achievements in climbing this year. He’s the sixth climber to do so.
Herson has sent a number of hard routes, including Southern Smoke 5.14c, Lucifer 5.14c and Galactic Emperor 5.14a.
Herson’s father, an experienced climber, said on Facebook: “Dear Connor, Your climbing is only surpassed by the joy and tenacity with which you attack the audacious. Congratulations on redpointing the Nose of El Capitan in perfect weekender style!”
In an article called Families that Climb Together Stay Together, Chris van Leuven said, “Three-thousand-foot El Capitan in Yosemite Valley is Jim Herson‘s playground. For 36 years he’s worked in robotics in the Bay Area, and for 30 of those years he’s climbed the monolith (again and again), pushing his limits in both speed and difficulty. For his kids Kara and Connor, climbing big walls with their dad is common, starting with Half Dome’s NW Face – which they first did at age 12. Kara did it twice that year with her dad, once in summer and once in winter over New Year’s Eve.
“Their first time up El Cap was when they were 14 (Kara) and 13 (Connor) via the Nose.”
The Nose was the second major route to be freed on El Cap. Two pitches on The Nose blocked efforts to free the route: the Great Roof graded 5.13c and Changing Corners graded 5.14a/b.
In 1993, Lynn Hill came close to freeing The Nose, making it past the Great Roof and up to Camp VI without falling, stopped only on Changing Corners by a piton jammed in a critical finger hold. After removing the piton she re-climbed the route from the ground. After four days of climbing, Hill reached the summit, making her the first person to free climb the Nose. A year later, Hill returned to free climb The Nose in a day, this time reaching the summit in just 23 hours and setting a new standard for free climbing on El Cap.
In 1998, Scott Burke put in 261 days of effort, leading all but the Great Roof, which was toproped free.
On October 14, 2005, Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden became the third and fourth people to free climb The Nose. They took four days on the ascent, swapping leads with each climber free climbing each pitch, either leading or following.
Two days later, Caldwell returned to free climb the Nose in less than 12 hours. Caldwell returned two weeks later to free climb El Cap twice in a day, completing The Nose with Rodden, then descending and leading Freerider in a combined time of 23 hours 23 minutes.
The Nose Free
1993: Lynn Hill
1994: Lynn Hill
1998: Scott Burke
2005: Beth Rodden, Tommy Caldwell
2005: Tommy Caldwell
2014: Jorg Verhoeven
2018: Keita Kurakami
2018: Connor Herson