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The Direct Line is New 39-Pitch 5.13+ El Cap Route

The Direct Line is the newest route up El Capitan in Yosemite and it was climbed all free.

Rob Miller and Roby Rudolf spent 14 days on the wall to complete the 39-pitch 5.13+. But it took years of effort to piece together.

Rob Miller and Roby Rudolf on The Direct Line. Photo Tom Evans

Miller noted here, “The Direct Line is a top-down job. Make no mistake. For three years I swung around searching for free climbing weaknesses that would unite long sections of climbable rock straight up the center of El Cap. In the end, after four additional years of work and effort, three different partners, it is not a project but an established free climb.”

Miller continued, “The top of pitch nine is a significant milestone. Because the route follows the path of least resistance, it goes where it goes, following the freeclimbing. Some logistical challenges due to the wandering nature of the route will be encountered when hauling and camping on the wall.”

They topped out the the big southwest face of El Cap on Oct. 22. It starts on the original start by Warren Harding up The Nose and links sections of The Muir, The Shaft and PreMuir.

Miller made the first free ascent of PreMuir 5.13+ with Justen Sjong in 2007. The crux pitch of The Direct Line is number 34, it includes a hard V8 boulder problem after steep 5.13 climbing.

During their first free ascent, they encountered smoke from wildfires and hot temps.

Tommy Caldwell recently noted on Instagram, “This wall is far from tapped out for free climbs.”

A few days ago awoke in the middle of the night, walked to the top of El Cap alone, and spent a day rappelling and searching for a new free climb. My intention was two fold. First, I wanted to to feel the excitement of possibility that El Cap so often provides. The second was that I needed to create space for introspection. Here is where my mind went. Why is it that some people witness natures most beautiful places, and are brought to tears, while others feel little? Why do some nights we feel moved to gaze in wonder at the stars while on other nights we don't even think to look up? The question as to why we climb is endlessly pondered and hard to answer. The tragedy in our community lately has made me doubt it more than ever. But it also reminded me of something. Pain reminds us to love. Over the last few years I had grown increasingly distant from Hayden. We talked little and saw each other less. Now that he is gone I think of him constantly. And somehow, the pain of loosing a friend has helped me to love my family more immediately, and to cherish my friendships. There is no beauty without emotion. And these days I feel more than most. Maybe that's why we climb. Because it helps us to feel the fear, the excitement, the friendship the uncertainty, the triumph and the loss. Hayden was the kind of guy that noticed the stars. To live and love so deeply must have been a blessing. I aspire to live more like Hayden did. As for El Cap. This wall is far from tapped out for free climbs. I feel as though something might have been ignited.

A post shared by Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell) on

Miller concluded his post about the route with, “When I first free climbed the Freerider in 2001, El Cap was still much more an aid climbing wall than a free climbing crag. This distinction has blurred, especially in recent years.

“With free climbing standards now up to the challenge that El Cap presents, Novembers in the valley are almost entirely dominated by free climbing parties. It’s a different world than it once was on El Cap.

“I hope The Direct Line inspires this emerging generation of climbers to repeat its passage as well as to seek out other hidden possibilities.” See topo and more here.

For daily updates from Yosemite during the fall, visit Tom Evans’ ElCapReport.com.

El Capitan Free Climbs
West Face 5.11b 20 pitches
Lurking Fear 5.13b 18 pitches
West Buttress 5.13c 20 pitches
Dihedral Wall 5.14a 25 pitches
Heart Route 5.13b 34 pitches
The Shaft 5.13c 33 pitches
PreMuir 5.13c 33 pitches
Magic Mushroom 5.14a 31 pitches
Salathe Wall 5.13b 35 pitches
Freerider 5.12d 37 pitches
Golden Gate 5.13b 41 pitches
El Corazon 5.13b 35 pitches
The Nose 5.14a 34 pitches
The Direct Line 5.13+ 39 pitches
Dawn Wall 5.14d 31 pitches
El Nino 5.13c 30 pitches
Zodiac 5.13d 21 pitches
The Prophet 5.13d 13 pitches
Secret Passage 5.13c 15 pitches
Lost in Translation 5.12c 10 pitches
Golden Years 5.12a 10 pitches

Rob Miller taking a whipper on The Direct Line. Photo Tom Evans

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