When Alex Honnold successfully became the first person to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park back in 2017, it shined a tremendous spotlight on the infamous granite monolith in California. Since then, Honnold’s documentary of the feat, Free Solo, has brought this accomplishment to the masses, featured on late night talk shows, and even winning an Oscar for “Best Documentary Feature.” Needless to say, El Cap had officially popped up on the radar of the masses.
And perhaps the most notorious route on El Capitan is The Nose. In the past, only six people had successfully free climbed this route, and on Nov. 11, 2019, Belgian climber Sébastien Berthe became the 7th. (He also became the first person ever to free climb the route from the ground up.) His journey is documented in the short film above.
Once considered to be physically impossible to climb, The Nose is a 2,900-foot route (rated at 5.14a/8b+) between the Southwest and Southeast faces of El Cap. It’s widely known as the most historically famous route in the area, only attempted by the best big-wall climbers on the planet.
And it should explained that “free climbing” and “free soloing” are not the same thing. Free soloing is when a climber sends a route without any ropes at all. More specifically—differentiating it from bouldering—it’s climbing a route that would otherwise normally be climbed with ropes, completely free of ropes. Free climbing is simply sending a route without the use of aid of any kind. Ropes are used as precautionary measures only, but never is the climber assisted in the physical act of climbing by things like ropes, cams or bolts.
This is an astronomically difficult feat, and one that goes down in the history books for the world-famous granite giant in the Yosemite Valley. Check out the video above for the play-by-play.
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