Home > Mountain

Marc-Andre Leclerc Frees Big El Cap Route

Marc-Andre Leclerc, along with Brette Harrington and Alan Carne, have climbed the Muir Wall 5.13b/c on El Cap. They climbed Muir Wall via The Shaft variation during mid-November. Leclerc freed the entire route, while Harrington freed everything except one 5.12a move on pitch 29.

“Carne freed most of the route as well, including three 5.13 pitches (2 on TR) which is very impressive at 55 years old,” said Leclerc. The route has four 5.13 cruxes up to 5.13c and 13 pitches of 5.12 stacked. The other pitches are hard 5.11s. Leclerc onsighted everything except for the four crux pitches and one 5.12a on pitch three.

On their final push, they jumared to the high point just above the grey ledges and spent the next four days on the wall. “Harrington impressively sent the 5.13c crux on her first lead burn, after inspecting the moves on a toprope, but not making any significant links,” said Leclerc. “I sent the pitch on my second lead attempt.

“I power lay-backed the crux section on shallow two finger pin scars with glass for feet. It felt like a long continuous V8 with no rests. Brette was chalking up in the crux sections, which I found difficult to even understand, maybe it had to do with finger size.” It had recently snowed and the top pitches were dripping wet. Harrington onsighted two 5.12 pitches that were directly inside of waterfalls pouring from the top.

“Because both Harrington and Carne are smaller than me, I ended up doing 95 per cent of the hauling on the final push, which was somewhat taxing,” said Leclerc. It was Leclerc and Harrington’s first big wall route that involved hauling and ledges and their first El Cap free climb.

“We took the Shaft Variation, which was first climbed by Scott Cosgrove and Kurt Smith in 1994,” said Leclerc. “It was mostly phenomenal aside from one section of squeeze chimneying behind an expanding ‘death block’ that visibly moved and audibly creaked and groaned with every inch gained.

“If it were to break or fall out, the flake would rotate out of the feature like a saw blade and certainly cut the rope.”