New free line on El Capitan for Caldwell and Honnold

© Alex Honnold Collection

Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold and Kevin Jorgeson have joined forces to establish a new free line on El Capitan. The line initially heads up Passage of Freedom, a free route that was first climbed by Leo Houlding around 18 years ago and then continues up twenty more pitches to the top.

We've been keeping things kinda vegue this season as to not make too much of a spectacle. But @alexhonnold and I, with @austin_siadak and @kjorgeson finished a pretty legit new free route on El Cap a few days ago. It primarily followed the aid climb New Dawn and has some of the most spectacular climbing I have found. It's a continuation of a free route that @leo_houlding established half way up the wall 18 years ago called Passage to Freedom. That route was ahead of its time and a work of art in itself featuring El Caps first sideways Dyno. Leo also bolted a Alfa Romeo hood badge to the wall which he used as a handhold to get past a section he believed was impossible without. (We found a way around). After a few weeks of work, having not tried many of sections of the climb, Alex and I went for kind of a Hail Mary attempt. Miraculously we pulled it off! Life complications kept Kevin away for too much of the Toiling and working of the route for him to feel ready for the Hail Mary. Wish you could have been with us buddy. There are many great stories and photos from @austin_siadak. So I'm going to try and share a few in the coming days. Last photo in the reel is Leo back in the day and was taken by Andrew Mcgarry.

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Aiming to keep this journey up El Capitan slightly more low-key than previous outings on the wall, the team have stayed quiet about their objectives on the wall. Caldwell described Leo's Passage of Freedom as 'way ahead of its time and a work of art in itself featuring El Cap's first sideways dyno.' Houlding also bolted the hood badge of an Alfa Romeo to the wall, which he used as a handhold to get past a blank section. Caldwell and Honnold were able to navigate around this oddity.

After weeks of work commitments, Caldwell and Honnold went for a 'Hail Mary' attempt on the wall. Unfortunately, Jorgeson couldn't join them, but Caldwell and Honnold managed to free the route. Cadwell has described the climbing as 'some of the most spectacular I have found.'

For Caldwell, this route is the latest in a long line of first free ascents on El Capitan. Some of the classics he's climbed include West Buttress (5.13c/8a+), Dihedral Wall (5.14a/8b+), Magic Mushroom (5.14a/8b+) and of course, The Dawn Wall (5.14d).

Over most of the last month I was fortunate to tag along as @tommycaldwell @alexhonnold and @kjorgeson attempted to unlock and climb a new free route on El Capitan. From Oct. 28-31, I joined Alex and Tommy on their send push - a "Hail Mary" as they called it, given that they still didn't have the hard pitches dialed, and there were many sequences that remained unclimbed and full of question marks. (Kevin was unable to join as he stayed with his family in Santa Rosa during a spell of wildfires in the area). A bit to everyone's surprise, Tommy and Alex managed to free the route, thought not without quite the fight. They fell repeatedly at the cruxes, Tommy's fingers oozed with more and more blood each day, and Alex seriously considered throwing in the towel only halfway up the wall. Thankfully he didn't, and he even ended up leading most of the final hard block to the summit. Respect. We topped out just after sunset, but spent only a few minutes on top before sprinting down the East Ledges to deliver Tommy to his waiting family. It was, after all, Halloween, and with throbbing hands and aching feet TC pulled on his Jedi costume and headed back out into the night to Trick or Treat with his kids. Alex and I took the opportunity to take hot showers and eat dinner instead 🤷🏻‍♂️. Thanks guys for your friendship and trusting me to hang out up there. An unforgettable adventure. Many more photos and stories to come...

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8 Nov, 2019
8 Nov, 2019

Sounds like it may well settle at 14a considering what Tommy said about the crux pitch and the calibre of the team involved in FA. Which if I'm not mistaken would tie it with Magic Mushroom for 2nd hardest free route up El Cap? Not bad for a 3 week job!

8 Nov, 2019
8 Nov, 2019

I would love to hear the back-story of the Alfa Romeo badge..

8 Nov, 2019

So they did an existing (hard) route, then added 20 pitches. Twenty. Still find it hard to get my head round that sort of thing.

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