Alex Honnold and Brad Gobright Complete Second-Ever Free Ascent of ‘El Nino’ on El Capitan

El Capitan climb Alex honnold Climb el capitan free solo
Courtesy of Mike Wooldridge/Flickr

On Tuesday morning, Alex Honnold and Brad Gobright successfully completed the second-ever completely free ascent of the “El Nino” (VI 5.13c) route on El Capitan, as reported by Rock and Ice. They began at 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon and after climbing through the night they reached the top in time catch the sunrise.

The duo accomplished this feat via the three-pitch “Pineaple Express” variation – a route establish by Honnold and Sonnie Trotter last year.

“It was a brutal 14.5 hour ascent with six pitches of 5.13, five pitches of 5.12 and plenty of 5.10 and 5.11 pitches,” Gobright said in an Instagram post. “The ascent was full of grunting, groaning and the occasional scream … Alex ended up leading most of the hardest pitches but I’m still really psyched for how things turned out. I was almost certain I’d have to save this climb for the colder and drier conditions of next Fall. Even in the night this route was pretty warm.”

The first free ascent of “El Nino” was completed in 1998 by German climbers Alexander and Thomas Huber. At the time, the brothers completed the free climb via “Continental Drift” (VI 5.9 A4), “New Jersey Turnpike” (VI 5.10 A4), and the “North America Wall” (VI 5.8 A2) lines on El Capitan, according to Rock and Ice.

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@alexhonnold and I just sent El Niño on El Cap last night! We started at 4pm soon after the wall got into the shade and topped out in the beautiful sunrise of this morning. It was a brutal 14.5 hour ascent with six pitches of 5.13, five pitches of 5.12 and plenty of 5.10 and 5.11 pitches. We took the Pineapple Express variation put up by Alex and @sonnietrotter which allows all of El Niño to go free. The ascent was full of grunting, groaning and the occasional scream. Alex has done almost no outside climbing this year but still crushed it with only a few falls on the soaking wet 13a pitch at the very top. I had a bit more trouble but still managed to send route. Alex ended up leading most of the hardest pitches but I’m still really psyched for how things turned out. I was almost certain I’d have to save this climb for the colder and drier conditions of next Fall. Even in the night this route was pretty warm. Today my body is super wrecked and I think I’ll be feeling this way for a while longer. I’ll probably just be napping, eating and basking in the send glory for the next couple days. @gramicci_climb @evolv_worldwide @frictionlabs

A post shared by Brad Gobright (@bradgobright) on

“El Niño doesn’t have the glorious never-ending splitter style of climbing that El Cap is known for but the climbing is interesting and a little scary at times,” Gobright told Rock and Ice. “Most of the hard pitches involve technical face climbing.”

h/t Rock and Ice.

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