ElCap Report 6/3/17 SPECIAL EDITION HONNOLD FREE SOLO OF ELCAP

ElCap Report 6/3/17 SPECIAL EDITION HONNOLD SOLOS ELCAP

By Tom Evans

Yo.. My day started at 4am when I got up, and left my camp at the Ranch, to shoot one of the greatest climbs in Yosemite climbing history.  By 5:30am my assistant and good friend, Skot Richards, and I were setting up at the far end of the ElCap Meadow to shoot the climb.  The weather was absolutely perfect for the event, cloudy with cool temps.  For me the clouds were such a blessing… no shadows, no glare, no air turbulence and no passersby’s asking to look through the camera!  Alex started around 5:30am and I could see him by the 4th pitch.  The shots you will be seeing here are cropped to afford a closer view of his climb of Freerider, and were chosen from the 350 or so I took during the climb.

Today’s ElCap Report..written just for you..unique in all the world!

1)  Alex seemingly walked up the slabby “Free Blast”.  Here he is seen on the fifth pitch. I quickly noticed his technique involved “looking his feet” onto all the footholds, so he was looking down a lot of the time.  He climbed unhurried, and seemingly with little effort.  He was calm and methodical and never seemed to have any real difficulty even though some of the moves looked horrendous, and any mistake would prove fatal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)  He stopped for a moment to wake up a camera man who had fallen asleep on the little triangular ledge on pitch 6.  That seemed to break the tension for a time!  I later learned that the cameraman was not asleep, but lying down to get a candid shot as Alex passed by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3)  One of the more interesting and strenuous pitches on the lower slabs, the Half Dollar pitch, climbs an awkward flaring corner and that has a difficult entrance, before turning into a narrow chimney.  Here is the move into the chimney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4)  He quickly dispatched the easy pitches to Mammoth Terraces and the downclimb to Heart ledge. He took a short break for some water and food and soon was off on the tricky pitch to Lung Ledge.  Here he is climbing that pitch… pretty interesting moves, though they looked a bit strung out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5)  On Lung Ledge, he came across a team sleeping in a portaledge.  They chatted a moment and then Alex moved on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6)  The guy got out of the portaledge and I got this shot of him, wearing a Unicorn suit.  Not the standard sleeping gear for ElCap! But he is known for wearing this attire on other bivies! Did he plan on being there at just the right moment? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7)  Alex moved on to the tricky 90-foot downclimb to the Hollow Flake, a notorious unprotected wide crack, of course the whole route was unprotected for Alex!  The moves to the crack are usually done by an easy pendulum but those tactics are not allowed on a free climb, even if he had carried a rope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8) Alex in the Hollow Flake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9)  At the top of Hollow Flake, he stopped to take off his shoes and rub his feet before continuing quickly up the 3 pitches to the start of the difficult and strenuous “Monster Crack”.  Climbing shoes are worn to fit really tight and cause a lot of pain to the wearer, and he stopped a few more times on the route to ease the pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10)  Alex, going for some chalk, on the lower portion of the Monster.  Normally most teams enter the Monster from the top of the Ear, but that involves a very sketchy downclimb and stretch that is better left to roped teams.  This start is less exposed and, more importantly, has very secure hand and foot jams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11)  A little higher the crack widens but Alex had no problem adjusting to the change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12)  Higher in the Monster crack there is a rest stance just inside the crack.  This crack, known as an “off width” is too wide to jam and too narrow to get inside and chimney up. It is relatively secure but requires a lot of energy to stay in enough to climb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13)  Alex is seen here, taking a breather before finishing off the ramp, up and right to the belay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14)  He quickly arrived at the Alcove, a wide cave-like protected area where he took a short break.  He then climbed the wide chimney behind ElCap Spire and was soon on the pitch above the Spire, as seen here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15)  He climbed another pitch and rested again, for a short time, before doing the infamous “Boulder Problem” which has turned away most of the suitors of the free ascent.  This is the crux of the entire route and it was mandatory that it be done well. As you can see the body position is extremely awkward, if just possible.  I know the route pretty well and where the cruxes are, and at each crux I felt the hair on the back my neck tingling and an uncomfortable nervousness pass through me, with a shutter.  I felt a great sense of relief when he passed this crux successfully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16)  He easily climbed past the “Sewer” and I got him just before he finished jamming the corner up to the “Block”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17)  He continued off the Block and passed Sous le Toit ledge.  Here he is just above that ledge on the long “Enduro corner” pitch… another strenuous and difficult pitch that had to be mastered.  His technique was solid and he moved along calmly with determination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18)  He finished the Enduro corner and had to go onto the Traverse pitch without a rest, as there was no place to rest there. At this point a swarm of photographers made their appearance and stayed with him for most of the rest of the climb.  By then the light was failing due to direct sunlight crossing between me and the cliff which tended to wash out details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19)  He successfully passed the leftward traverse and is seen here on the Scotty Burk chimney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20)  Soon he was off to the top, with a pause for that last chalk-up before the top.  It was with considerable relief that I watched him step over the top… and it was done. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Honnold, the man we figured would do it someday … did it today, after long preparation and practice. This was no snap decision.. it was carefully planned and carried out over a long period of time with many practice-runs on the route, using ropes and gear.  It was not a wild death wish or a garnering for glory.  He did the entire climb in about 3 hours 59 minutes… a new record for the route… almost an hour better than last week when he and Tommy Caldwell “flew up” the route!

 

So that’s the way it happened, on this Saturday morning, the third day of June, 2017.

Capt. Tom.. as always, right in the thick of the action… just so you can see it for yourself.  One of the great days of Yosemite climbing has come to a close, with the very best possible outcome! 

DON’T TRY THIS KIND OF CLIMBING… IT WILL KILL YOU!!

 

 

pulling down the report

You are being overly generous and have no reason to apologize. The Big Bad Media Wolves, don't own El Capitan or all rights to any photos taken during the ascent, or you, {at least I think?)!

You did them a favor. They should act like it.

Triple Direct

Tom, thank you for being an amazing resource to the climbing community. Your work has not been in vain. I know many climbers who respect you and are glad that you have documented countless ascents up the Big Stone.

I was in the party of three that Honnald passed on Mammoth Terraces (I was actually sleeping on Pharaoh ledge) that day. We were fortunate enough to be up there as he gracefully moved passe4d us. It was a pleasure to watch history unfold before our eyes. I feel pretty lucky that Triple Direct shares the first 10 pitches with Freerider.

Your photos are inspirational and beautiful.

Holy whatever...

You were actually one of them? Was it a chicken suit, if so why? I believe this an improtant part of the full story?

The real truth

It was a unicorn suit. The unicorn is an awesome guy named Forest Altherr.

Amazing

Thanks so much, Tom! Such an amazing achievement. So happy to be able to keep reading the El Cap Report! Cheers

Pardon my ignorance, but what does it mean for a photo to have..

... proprietary information?

And for my 2nd ignorant question, what was Alex's new feat here? Was it that he made this climb with no ropes and he's the first to do it?

Great photos and story - thanks for sharing! The climb and the photos are both amazing!

2012

I once read that Alex climbed "The Triple" in Yosemite in 2012. The story noted that he free-solo'd all but 500' of the three routes.

What was the difference between that El Cap climb in '12 and the climb he made last Saturday?

Well obviously 500 feet of

Well obviously 500 feet of not free solo is huge. But those were speed climbs, I thought he did them in whatever style, so he would pull on gear or whatever went fastest. That is actuall the typical style in euro mountain climbing, why get killed by say the weather, just not to pull on a piton. But in Yosemite the whole deal was doing every move as if you were the first to do it, so they took pins out and climbed everything as they found it, at one time. But speed climbing comes with it's own rules.

He did this climb fast, but the point was to climb el cap free, not pulling on any gear, and solo, which really means unroped in this kind of situation. He wasn't solo in the sense of alone, the route has people on it and cameramen, etc... Solo means you fall you die in this context.

I can't believe no one is asking the REAL question...

Who are the porta ledge climbers, and when are we going to get a first hand account of what that exchange was like?

Alex & Tom

Alex, I've been a huge admirer since the NYT magazine article, particularly since I have acrophobia myself! Can't believe how quickly you made it up.

Tom, fabulous pictures which really capture the scale and difficulty of Alex's effort!

Alex

Great job Alex, great pics and story Tom. El Rapitan and coming back next year in July, hope to see you if your still in the valley at that time.

Thanks Tom!!!

Great report. I don't need to read anything else about this achievement. Still can't believe this happend.

What a fantastic climb

What a fantastic climb !

Heads off !

Nice one!

This achievement event, of course, will be written into Honnhold's prewritten obituary!

Thank you...

much for the photos and captions. I am 64 years old, and am not and have never been a rock climber or mountaineer. Yet, I can appreciate somewhat the incredible accomplishment Alex achieved.
Thank you, too, for helping me to being able to share in Alex's nearly unimaginable feat.

Story told through photos

Thank you for your dedication to reporting and supporting the world of climbers and Yosemite. This is fantastic to behold...Alex Honnold! I was last there in 2010 with my daughter and husband. An October trip, and we met you, Tom, down at the "bridge." We were camping and hanging with friends/climbers, John Fine and Mark Hudon, who climbed the Shield later that week. So glad you didn't retire! - Teri

Amazing... Any wider angle context shots?

Thank-you so much for these photos documenting the event, seemingly from close up, but in practice you must have had an enormous lens! It would be great to also have some wider context shots showing Alex as the small dot on this enormous cliff face...

Just amazing

I get sweaty hands/feet just looking at these pictures. Can't even imagine how he does this. Real inspiration for others.

I'll tell you how...

His amygdala don't work right. The man has little to no fight or flight response. His super power is no fear. None.

He did amygdala-boarding for

He did amygdala-boarding for 2 decades

Ropes everywhere

Thanks for a great peek into this unbelievable feat - great pics!

But why are there fixed ropes seemingly everywhere on this wall? Is this ok by american standards?

Or are they merely there for this photo shoot?

Regards

Norway

Fixed ropes

There are fixed ropes all over El Cap. Generally, they are used for hauling and decending. Some of the fixed ropes were also placed for the photo shoot.

Some were for photographers

Some were for photographers and some were for safe exit points if Alex didn't feel right about the climb.

Tom, Once again you have

Tom,
Once again you have been there to get the "true facts"! Alex made history, and you were there to record it. 100 years from now your awesome photography will still be the standard for this historic event. Thank you for all you have done for climbers living their dreams, and for the world of climbing. I hope you will be there in September. Susan and I will be looking for you.

Well done!!!
Michael

History before our eyes

I have been following Honnold climbing trajectory for about 7 years now (maybe we cross paths in Sacramento one day at the Pipes, idk)... and what I have seen is really impressive. Probably he's the only human on Earth (in along time) that will walk on Earth knowing that there is no vertical-enough surface which is not climbable for him. No limits so far. I guess he now can say that his career is formidably outstanding. No other human has done what he did some days ago. Nice job Alex. Keep the good work. Greetings from Mexico. Carlos

Hola Tom

Tom, good to have you back, thanks for sharing such a "big deal"
Best,
Nacho

I don't climb myself...

...but I'm riveted by this incredible journey and really grateful for how brilliantly you've depicted it, Tom.

Congrats

Even knowing the outcome of this climb, the pictures still scare me to death.

Epic. Done and dusted at

Epic. Done and dusted at last...
Alex is the chosen-one.

So glad to have your

So glad to have your perspective on this. Wowza, thanks Alex for showing us just how big we can dream.

Thanks.

Wow, Tom, just incredible.

Tom amazes again

Thank you so much Tom and you deserve, as well, much kudos and glory for being there and dedicated to providing these "insider" photos and coverage. Always lovin the El Cap Report. Awesomeness and magic in the valley!

Great coverage and photos

Great coverage and photos Tom! R
This is terrific material, I am glad to see the solo accomplished, now I hope he relaxes and enjoys the afterglow of such a stunning feat of daring.

Bill Leventhal

While some of us were

While some of us were sleeping in on Saturday Alex achieved greatness congratulations

Thank You!

Solid photographic recount of such an inspiring event, with brief and informative captions. Love that Honnold had to wake up the sleeping camera man, I can only imagine being woken up by Honnold while he's in the middle of making history.

Thanks for all your dedication and for sharing this! Looking forward to the footage.

Incredible

Thank you for the recap and the beautiful photos. Incredible job capturing this, and congrats to alex on being officially superhuman.

good one

Thanks for walking us through this legendary scramble up El Cap by A.H.

Ryan K

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Alex and you as well time for the incredible photos and we continued success with your photography!

Thanks for the share, Tom.

Thanks for the share, Tom.

Thanks Tom

To those of us who will never see it up close, you bring us something amazing. Thank you.

Awesome!!!

Thanks for sharing these awesome shots!! The force is strong in Alex he is a frigging Jedi. Simply incredible!

Honnold solo

Tom, Thanks for putting up with all questions I asked the 2 weeks prior to Memorial. I'm so happy to see you were part for this historic event. You've earned it. A el cap guru. See you next May. Congrats to Alex glad he safe. Mark

Thx!

Glad you were there to bring it to us Tom.

Thanks Tom. Love your photos.

Thanks Tom. Love your photos.

Amazing shots

Thank you! These made my palms sweat like no other photos ever have. You are a master photographer.

JESUS WALKS THE EARTH

JESUS WALKS THE EARTH

Yeah but Honnold free solos

Yeah but Honnold free solos the earth

Alex free-solo

Tom - Fantastic photos - great report - thanks for documenting history in the making.

Great pics and commentary.

Great pics and commentary. thanks for giving us a glimpse into the actual climb. Shared!

Thanks Tom!

Awesome to have this great report and photos so soon after this historical event.