On Sunday June 8th Leo Houlding and Sean Leary free climbed El Capitan and Half Dome in a day.
Starting Freerider at 8am the pair simo-climbed all the way to pitch 23, the Teflon corner, in five hours. After struggling through the slippery friction climbing they continued to pitch it out to the top completing the 35 pitch route in 11 and a half hours. A rapid descent and close brush with the Park service saw them begin the hike to Half Dome at 11pm. Simo-climbing through the night, the sun rose for the final 3 hard pitches and the pair topped out at 6.30am on Monday 9th after 5 hours on the route and 22.5 hours total before flying down to the valley floor in no time.
Leo and Sean became the second people (after Dean Potter) to climb this link up and first to make a "team free" ascent. More than a mile of vertical rock climbing (58 pitches) the standard ascent time is 5 days for Freerider and 2 day for Half Dome. Freerider has received only a handful of 1 day ascents and is considered a world class achievement in itself.
"It was the best day ever. A real dream come true. Simo-climbing is potentially very dangerous, there are not many people who I would be happy simoing all that hard climbing with. Sean and I really got into the groove and smoked the routes. It was a real pleasure sharing all those great pitches with him and a day I'll never forget."
A few weeks earlier Leo also made the second ascent of the South face of Mount Watkins with Dean Potter. Leo climbed the 25 pitch route, almost onsight, almost in a day after climbing the first pitch the evening before and taking a 40 footer off an easy pitch. However the 5 hard pitches, including two 5.13s (E7's) were done with no falls and were not chalked. The last pitch, a hard holdless slab he did in the dark.
Report from the Bigstone Website
Bigstone are the UK Agency for Arc'teryx and Five Ten and run regular news reports about their athletes.