The rumours started flying several days ago at Supertopo.com that Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell had climbed El Cap's Free Nose. It was slipped out in a post by Werner Braun (Mr. Astroman) on the Supertopo forums. Now it's official.....well, as posted by Chris McNamara (Mr. Supertopo himself) via Hans Florine (Mr. El Cap speed ascent guru). The pair did a 'team free' ascent, each leading about half the pitches, with Caldwell leading the crux "Changing Corners' pitch (5.14a) and Rodden doing the stopper 'Great Roof' pitch (5.13c).
The Free Nose was first climbed by Lynn Hill in 1993, which she then did all-free-in-a-day in the following year. No-one is really sure of the grade, it ranges from 5.13b to 5.14a but it has stopped many top climbers in their tracks especially the 'Great Roof' pitch which is said to require 'small hands'. Another American Scott Burke did climb the Free Nose, but on his ascent he top roped, rather than led, the'Great Roof' pitch. The debate will no doubt rage about whether Rodden and Caldwell's ascent is the second or third. What isn't in doubt is the significance of their achievement, both Beth and Tommy have climbed El Cap free via Lurking Fear, Dihedral Wall, Muir Wall and the Salathé, as well as pioneering hard sport routes like Caldwell's Flex Luthor 5.14d and Rodden's The Optimist 5.14b. You can view some images of Rodden and Caldwell preparing for their free ascent of the Nose at Hans Florine's website
And this just in from Chris McNamara as of Oct 17th 9.00pm USA ET, "right now tommy is on the wall trying to climb it free in a day.."