Austrian climber Hansjörg Auer has made the first all free ascent of the legendary American big wall route Hallucinogen Wall in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado.
The route was first climbed in 1980 and was 'kind of' free climbed in 2004 by Jared Ogden and Ryan Nelson. They freed all the pitches except one, which they climbed with specially modified ice axes for their hands and rock shoes on their feet. They jokingly nicknamed this new style 'Fraid' - Free Aid (or AFRAID!!).
Auer, who shot to prominence with his frankly outrageous solo of the 'Fish route' on the South face of the Marmolada in the Dolomites, didn't have any trouble with Hallucinogen Wall and not only did he free climb the route, he also set the speed record at the same time.
"Actually the route itself isn't all that difficult, but the pro[tection] is fairly alpine, with numerous copperheads above all in the middle section. It probably had to wait 31 years for the first free ascent because the Black Canyon isn't the place to be at the moment."
Despite Auer's comments, the route is not an easy challenge. Graded 5.13R and with 16 pitches, Auer and partner Ben Lepesant took 8 hours and 41 minutes to climb the route.
The crux pitch was not how they imagined. Again commenting on Planet Mountain, Auer said:
"I had originally thought I'd encounter a smooth wall with tiny crimps. But the crux pitch is really athletic, good holds with cool heel-hook moves. To free the pitch I swayed slightly from the original line on three occasions: immediately after the belay (where I added two pegs and a copperhead), in the middle of the pitch at the start of the bolt ladder and then just before the belay with a leftwards dyno."