Climbing News: A Roundup of What’s Happening Out There

Climbing News is a new series at Moja Gear where we bring you an assortment of stories within the community. We’ll explore what’s happening, where it’s going down, and why it’s important. Onward!


Story 1: Adam Ondra on the Dawn Wall

Adam Ondra has set his sights on claiming the second free ascent of the Dawn Wall, a 32-pitch 5.14c/d on Yosemite’s El Capitan. The route—also known as Mescalito—was first climbed as a 5.9+ A3 aid route in 1973.

As Andrew Bisharat writes in his article written for National Geographic,

If Ondra managed to repeat the Dawn Wall with his own free ascent on his first trip to Yosemite, it would easily be one of the greatest achievements in climbing, and certainly speak to Ondra’s genius as a skilled free climber.

With almost no experience in traditional climbing, Ondra’s efforts are fascinating the climbing world. Although the media hype is not as strong as it was during the first ascent in early 2015, many climbers recognize this for what it is: a spectacularly ambitious attempt by the best climber in the world.

In the realms of sport climbing and bouldering, Ondra has a serious knack for repeating the hardest climbs in the world—then establishing his own, much harder lines. Could this be the beginning of a similar trend for Ondra in the world of trad climbing?

Ondra arrived in Yosemite Valley on Monday, October 17th, and immediately began familiarizing himself with the climbing style. How did he do that? He hopped straight on the Dawn Wall. Here’s what he had to say about his first day (from the Black Diamond Facebook page):

“Definitely scary and adventurous. Tiny footholds and insecure climbing, smearing my feet onto glassy footholds of Yosemite granite and all that with poor protection by copperheads, peckers, tiny cams and occasional bolts. I ripped some copperheads, took some falls but made it to the top of pitch 7 and fixed our ropes. Leading the pitches with all the fear definitely felt super hard, but once I had the rope from above, the moves felt OK. But grades on the Dawn Wall are definitely not overrated.”

In an interview with Black Diamond, Ondra stays humble:

“I just want to try it. For me Yosemite is the only crag of historical importance where I haven’t been. That’s why I want to go there, and besides that, it looks so cool. Yosemite is radically different than anywhere else I’ve ever been and that’s why I want to go there. And if I was a little piece of the history, that would be cool, but let’s see…”

As of Wednesday afternoon, October 19, Ondra had reached the top of the Pitch 10. This photo, taken from his official Instagram account, shows him climbing to that point on Tuesday night:

Kevin Jorgeson, one of the two first ascensionists along Tommy Caldwell, had this to say regarding Ondra’s attempt on his Facebook page:

“Super proud first day for Adam on the Dawn Wall! Not surprised in the least and I’m super excited to see how he does with the rest of the route!”

On May 26th, 2016, Jorgeson predicted Ondra’s success, writing,

With skills like this, I bet Adam repeats the Dawn Wall in a single season.

Given Ondra’s propensity for quickly repeating and establishing the hardest climbs on Earth, would anyone really be surprised if he did?

For more on Jorgeson’s and Caldwell’s historic first ascent, check out this clip of Caldwell climbing Pitch 15 from last year:

 

Story 2: Ethan Pringle establishes 5.14c trad pitch on northern California coast

I tried to learn a lot of new tricks (thanks @devlin_gandy !!!!) Over the last 3 weeks while shooting and filming @ethan_pringle 's attempts at the first free ascent of what I would say is America's most spectacular crack pitch – maybe you've heard of it …. it's a former aid line (now 5.14c!) called Backbeard's Tears. It's way up in Bigfoot Country, at a wild and neglected crag called the Promontory. The crack is the crag's king line, splitting the center of the highest part of the wall. The rock is composed of bullet hard sandstone, it's 100 feet tall, and overhangs about 30 degrees. There is a 5-foot roof near the top followed by a burly headwall with finicky gear. This photo is a screen grab from the video of the send go… Congrats Ethan!!! 👊💥💪🍲😭

A photo posted by Jim Thornburg (@jimthornburg) on

Ethan Pringle made the first free ascent of Blackbeard’s Tears, a traditionally-protected 5.14c, on September 21st, 2016. The line, located at The Promontory crag on the coast of Northern California, was first climbed by Matthias Holladay using both trad and aid gear.

If the grade stands the test of time and consensus, it will be only the second 5.14c trad climb in the world behind Beth Rodden’s Yosemite classic Meltdown. Pringle’s accomplishment solidifies his status as one of the best all-around climbers in the world—he sent Chris Sharma’s massive 5.15b sport climb Jumbo Love last year and he has bouldered V15.

In this interview with Touchstone Climbing, Pringle had this to say about Blackbeard’s Tears:

“If you can redpoint something in a day, or even in a week or two, then it’s not even close to your limit. It takes weeks, sometimes months to get to know a route, or even sometimes a single move well enough to do it most efficiently; even more so in the case of Blackbeard’s since you’re placing natural gear and safety is an issue. It’s seriously all about putting in the work and not giving up, which is easy to do when you’re psyched and making steady progress.”

Check out Pringle’s 2013 attempts on Jumbo Love in this video.

To learn more about what makes him tick, listen to TrainingBeta’s podcast with Pringle (embedded below), and check out our What’s In Your Pack feature we did with him in May.

Story 3: Puccio and Rabatou Win Yank-N-Yard Competition

Alex Puccio and Shawn Rabatou each took gold on the first leg of the USA Climbing National Cup Series at the annual Yank-N-Yard competition. Held at Stone Age Climbing Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Yank-N-Yard was selected as the first of four stops on the way to the Bouldering Open National Championshipsnext February in Salt Lake City.

Kasia Pietras competing at the Yank-N-Yard. 

Keep up with the progression of the USAC competition circuit on the Louder Than Eleven and USAC Instagram accounts, and check out the video shorts below.

Podium results

Men

  1. Shawn Rabatou
  2. Nicholas Milburn
  3. Matt Fultz

Women

  1. Alex Puccio
  2. Brooke Rabatou
  3. Meagan Martin

Shawn Rabatou on his way to a victory:

Alex Puccio cruising through Finals for the win:


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