Nellie Milfeld has freed the famous Freerider 5.13 on El Capitan after a number of sessions projecting the cruxes. She was supported and belayed by her husband Cedar Wright. The first free ascent of the 1,000-metre route was by Thomas and Alex Huber in 1998.
Milfeld, who works as a full-time public defender, started out at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday and topped out at 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, having bivied high on the wall. The first woman to free the route was Steph Davis in 2003, others include Bronwyn Hodgins, Mayan Smith-Gobat, Hazel Findlay, Alex Morris, Miška Izakovičová, Madeleine Cope, Madaleine Sorkin and Kate Rutherford.
Milfeld was one of Findlay’s first trad-climbing mentors. They’d met in Squamish and after Milfeld sent Flight of the Challengers 5.12 trad at Murrin Park, she pushed Findlay to try. Wright was fresh off making the first ascent of The Dream Team, a new 10-pitch 5.13 on Fifi Buttress. Watch a short film on Nellie and Cedar below.
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At the other end of the rope was a well-dressed man-clad in a tie-dye shirt, a safari hat, absurdly large sunglasses, and neon chevron socks. Don’t let the Gumby outfit fool you, he was my secret weapon. He had done el cap 25 times and knew the route well from a free ascent in the 2000s (or at least well enough to identify noteworthy pitches-“is this the Scotty Burke?” 🤪). He arrived at every belay with the rope coiled, snacks accessible in a small case, and ready to give a nice forearm massage. I was on the princess cruise and Cedar supporting me allowed me to only focus on climbing, which was an amazing treat. It was an awesome whirlwind experience—we started Sunday at 3:30 pm and topped out Wednesday at 1:45 pm, and even got to take an awesome rest day in the alcove playing Scrabble and watching Peaky Blinders. Thanks @cedarwright for being an awesome partner, changing a multi-country travel sequence for me, and bringing the sour gummy bears. #elcapitan #freerider #climbing