click to enlarge The respected USA climbing and mountaineering journalist, Dougald MacDonald (he's the USA's equivalent of the UK's Ed Douglas), reckons that within five years someone will solo Free Rider, a 35-pitch 5.12c/d (E6-ish?) up Yosemite's El Capitan (click on the photo, left) that was first climbed by the Huber brothers in 1998.
He says this citing the recent rope-solo, all-free ascent of Free Rider by the Canadian Stéphane Perron and more significantly the April free-solo (no rope) of the Fish route on the Marmolada in Italy, by Austrian Hansjörg Auer, a route that is only slightly easier than Free Rider. You can read more about Dougald's prediction at his blog, themountainworld.blogspot.com
Significant news from Yosemite reported by Big Wall guru and owner of Supertopo.com, Chris McNamara tells of more El Cap activity by the husband and wife duo of Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden.
Chris writes on June 9th:Last week Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden free climbed Corazon on El Capitan. (A huber route that is 5.13ish.) The pair did the route in a 7 day ground up push. They swapped leads to Gray Ledges and then Tommy led most of the pitches to the top. After resting for a few days. Tommy climbed Golden Gate in 20 hours with Beth Rodden belaying and jumaring. (Golden Gate is another 5.13ish Huber route that shares a bunch of pitches with Corazon). This was probably the first one day ascent of the route and was especially impressive considering that Caldwell onsighted all but one of the pitches that were not shared with Golden Gate. (he fell on his first try on a 5.13 pitch). Tommy has now free climbed every hard El Cap free route except for El Nino."
There will always be a thirst for information about Yosemite. One climber who is helping quench that thirst is photographer Tom Evans who is providing frequent updates, or El Cap reports, about goings on up the Big Stone from his nest in El Cap meadows, you can read his reports at www.supertopo.com
You can also read more about Tom, his climbing and view his excellent photographs at www.elcap-pics.com and in addition watch a video of him spying on climbers on El Cap at youtube.com, which also features mad-cap soloist Dean Potter and Stone Nudes photographer, Dean Fidelman. You can watch the video at www.youtube.com
Once again I have used ChrisJD's fantastic photo of El Cap to illustrate this report. This photo and others of Chris's also feature in this months BMC Summit magazine and you can see more of Chris's work at www.cjdigitallandscapes.com as well as at his UKClimbing.com gallery here.