Canadians Bronwyn Hodgins and Kelsey Watts made the third free ascent, and first female ascent, of El Gavilán, a nine-pitch 5.13a in Mexico on a rock prow called La Popa. Earlier in the year, Hodgins had freed the 36-pitch Golden Gate 5.13 in Yosemite, becoming the first Canadian woman to free two routes on El Capitan.
Hodgins and the team replaced the old hardware over two seasons and opened a new approach to the wall which avoids a lengthy cactus-filled hike. The pitches go at 5.12a, 5.12d, 5.13a, 5.12b, 5.12a, 5.12c 5.12d, 5.12b and 5.11c.
About their ascent, Hodgins said, “The line is the steepest multi-pitch I’ve ever been on, following an outrageously overhanging corner system dripping with tufas. Kelsey and I knee-barred and stemmed our way up the orange limestone wall, pulling the two wildly exposed crux roofs near the top, and swinging leads with no falls.”
The first ascent of El Gavilán was in 1997 by Kevin Gallagher and Jeff Jackson, the likely second ascent was in February 2013 by Alex Honnold and Josh McCoy. Then Jacob Cook and Canadian Tony McLane made the third ascent, but didn’t free every pitch – read about their epic Mexico trip here.
Watch a trailer to the new film El Gavilán which documents Hodgins and Watts historical ascent. The full feature film will debut at the upcoming AAC Craggin Classic.
El Gavilán Trailer