Pete Whittaker has flashed the 32 pitch route Freerider 5.12d on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley over three days, becoming potentially the first person ever to flash the route in its entirety.
Pete's ascent is very similar to Cedric Lachat's attempt to onsight Freerider in September 2009, in that they both climbed all of El Capitan via the Teflon Corner on Freerider first go, the only difference being that Pete did it in one push without a ten-day break between climbing the first ten pitches and the rest of the route like Lachat.
First established in 1998 by the Huber brothers, Freerider is a classic big wall route renowned for being hard to onsight or flash - even on the easier pitches. Pete is currently on an extended trip in Yosemite, climbing with Tom Randall who also managed to free every pitch of Freerider. In a two week period the team has managed to climb two big wall routes - having climbed El Corazon 5.13b before attempting Freerider.
Describing the route, Pete told us: "Tom and I had a goal of trying to climb an El Cap route first go with no falls before coming out to the States. Freerider is the obvious choice as it's the easiest grade. It also has a lot of cracks and chimneys on it which suits our style. I was pretty nervous setting off even on the easy pitches as I didn't want to blow it."
He added: "Overall I was probably closer to falling from the easier stuff just because I didn't want to mess up, whereas on the harder things I climbed confidently and trusted my ability and they seemed to go smoother. I'm well chuffed to have done it. It's great that both Tom and I freed it as well, as it's always good doing stuff in a team with Tom."
Commenting on his blog, Tom explained: "Pete and I planned to attempt the route from the ground over 3 days, having saved every pitch as unseen, but we’d begged every friend we knew to give us good beta for the route!"
Remarking on Pete's achievement, Tom added: "Pete’s effort on Freerider has to be one of my favourite climbing experiences because I got to see the culmination of 15 yrs of effort in learning a craft come to fruition. Everything he’s learnt on the gritstone edges, slate slabs, on offwidths with me and in cracks all over the world came to together in one 3000ft face."
Read more about the ascent on Pete and Tom's WideBoyz blog.