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Larcher and Zangerl Free Magic Mushroom on El Cap

Jacopo Larcher and Barbara Zangerl have free-climbed Magic Mushroom on El Cap in Yosemite for the route’s third free ascent.

In one of the most significant climbs of the year, the European duo repeated a climb that only Tommy Caldwell and Justen Sjong had freed.

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Larcher wrote on Instagram: “I looked at the topo of this climb for a couple of years, but I didn’t really know what it looked like in reality. I expected a lot of hard climbing, but not so many fove stars (chimney) pitches in a row: what a beauty.

“We had to invest a lot of energy in this one. We had to clean a lot of pitches, figure out how to climb all those crazy corners, haul a lot of gear and spend a lot of days on the wall.

“At the beginning we were just contemplating those pitches, wondering how it could even be possible to climb them. We had to be really creative and use every single part of our body to work our way up those corners.”

Magic Mushroom was first climbed by Canadians Hugh Burton and Steve Sutton of the Squamish hardcore crew. Their VI 5.7 A3 was one of the hardest climbs up El Cap in 1973.

Caldwell and Sjong made the first free ascent in 2008 from May 12 to 17 at 5.14. Caldwell returned later that year climbed it in 24 hours with Beth Rodden assisting.

Free Magic mushroom what a blast!!! I never thought that I can climb all those crazy pitches. Especially the last hard one (just before the top) took everything I had…physically and emotionally. Falling on the last long move right before the chains made it to my biggest mental challenge. Thanks to ❤️ Jacopini for all those unforgettable days on the wall. It was a quite long journey—cleaning pitches; climbing ground up to the top first; hauling all that stuff up; stashing food and water for the final push; getting sick on the wall for a few days; almost had to bail, surprising ourselves, reaching the top full of happiness; and last but not least carrying down monster haulbags-back to where it started…. …..thanks to @tommycaldwell for the inspiration, you are our hero!!! @blackdiamond #lasportiva #skwama @sterlingrope 📸 @jonglassberg

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“The whole idea of doing something like this in a day seems arbitrary,” Caldwell said. “When you do these routes in five or six days, you climb them on a pitch-by-pitch basis. However, the build-up to a one-day push makes the experience the most gratifying.”

Adam Stack was the first to work on freeing Magic Mushroom in 2005. He sorted most of the free climbing but couldn’t piece it together.

Magic Mushroom represented an evolution a decade ago. The free version adheres to about 70 per cent of the original route, but is a much straighter, more direct line.

Magic Mushroom was the third route Caldwell climbed in a push. He did the Salathe Wall in a day in 1998 and the Dihedral Wall in a push in 2005.

“Big up more to Tommy Caldwell,” said Larcher. “I still can’t imagine how someone could climb all those pitches in a day. You’re a hero!”