British crusher Hazel Findlay has made an all-free ascent of Salathe Wall on El Cap in Yosemite.
She reported her send of the 35-pitch classic 5.13 on Instagram: “Psyched! The free Salathe. Super happy to have ticked this all time classic off the list.
“At the top of El Cap with only air beneath your feet it’s the kind of climbing which has your stomach talking to you with excitement and apprehension. We worked it from the top for four days then went from the ground on an epic all-weather eight-day push.
“Thanks so much to Jonny Baker who came close to the send himself, took these amazing shots (of which this is the worst) and had the guts to leave the European limestone behind and come climb a big wall.”
The first free ascent of the route was in June of 1988 by Paul Piana and Todd Skinner. Their final push took seven days, but they spent about 30 over two months preparing. Skinner almost freed it in 1987 with Craig Smith.
The second free ascent was by Alex Huber in 1995, then Thomas Huber in 1996, Yuji Hirayama in 1997 and Tommy Caldwell in 1999. It’s been freed a number of times of the past nearly 30 years.
Findlay is not stranger to freeing big routes on El Cap. Among her many climbs, she’s freed she made the first female ascent of Golden Gate in 2011, the first female ascent of Pre-Muir Wall in 2012 and an ascent of Freerider in only three days in 2013.
After her climb of PreMuir, Findlay said in her blog post here: “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.
“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.”
Earlier this season, Findlay flashed The Phoenix, the first 5.13 crack in North America. Read more below.
What a memorable day. I've been saving the Phoenix for an onsight for years. It's the classic hard single pitch of the valley, some say the first 5.13 in the valley. Climbing legends @bethrodden and Moffat onsighted it at the peak of their careers. I lost my onsight when I belayed @caffinspain on it a few years ago. But I was still keen for the flash. Yesterday @nikdingleberry asked if I wanted to try it. I got a good feeling when he asked, not because I thought I was fit enough for the route to feel easy but because I thought I was unfit enough for the route to be a challenge. I think I've grown out of 'saving things'. I managed to flash it and I was psyched, not because it felt easy but because it felt hard. To get the most out of climbing it's important to find challenges that match your ability level. It's in those moments of being perfectly challenged that we find flow and pure focus. And those moments don't depend on success/sending, they are valuable without that. But the strongest memory from yesterday will be of getting together with a tribe of friends to celebrate the life of another friend. Albeit in sad circumstances, it was a rare gift to spend an evening with us all together. You know who you are. Thanks @jbaker.photography for another rad shot.