After spending a whole week on The Nose (8b+) of El Capitan in Yosemite, Alex Waterhouse and Billy Ridal made a world first, being the first British team to free climb this historic wall.
Both climbers sent every pitch and took turns leading the crux pitches of the Great Roof and Changing Corners. Their historic adventure came to an end on November 10 when they topped this mammoth of a route.
According to Waterhouse in a post on his Instagram, they set out for this fantastic journey with no knowledge whatsoever about big walling. With a competition background, the pair had no idea how they would make the climb but spent five weeks in the valley training and prepping for their “audacious goal.”
When they started the push, although they were quite familiar with the pitches, they didn’t make the links in the crux pitches, a considerable aspect of this climb. It was no walk in the park for sure as they had their fair share of adventure factor added to the climb, having to stay in a puddle for two days during the storm.
Both Waterhouse and Ridal kept their followers up to date via posts and videos on Instagram, allowing all of us to live our granite dreams through their climbs.
The ascent went smoothly through the first seven pitches of the climb, but the real fight started when facing the Changing Corners (8b+) crux pitch when they were not only pressed by their resources getting scarcer but also by the time they got left, as Ridals flight was about to leave in a few days.
After sending Changing Corners the couple celebrated their success, but not for long as they had to finish the climb. Luckily for them, the next four pitches went smoothly.
The Nose of El Capitan is an 880-meter granite wall that sparked the imagination of many climbers and has been an important line in rock climbing history. The first free ascent of made by Wayne Merry, George Whitmore, and Warren Harding in 1958, having sent the 29 pitches in 47 days. The whole route is graded as an 8b+/c climb with pitches varying in difficulty. The most significant features of this particular route are The Stoveledges which require crack climbing technique, and The Great Roof (8a+), located on pitch 22, also considered the first technical crux before the infamous Changing Corners.
One of the most significant ascents of this route is Lynn Hill’s 1994 sending of the Nose in just 23 hours. It was her repeat of this wall, having climbed it one year before in four days.
The latest notable ascent of The Nose was made by Euro Team Barbara Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher in 2019, climbing the granite wall in six days.
Featured image: @waterhouseclimb/@billyridal