Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher have free climbed the nose, becoming the 9th and 10th people to do so. Posting on her instagram account @babsizangerl Babsi and Jacopo announced they had completed the iconic hard route on the 23rd of November. They had been on the wall for six days of climbing.
They swapped leads on the easier climbs but both lead all of the hard pitches. The Nose is the prominent ridge on the El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite. It ends up being a 31 pitch 3,200 foot beast that comes out at around 5.13a to 5.14b or 8b+. The hardest pitches are the ominious overhanging “Great Roof” at 5.13c / 8a+ and the “Changing Corners” pitch which probably spits the most people off at 5.14a/b or 8b. This is the best topo for the free ascent we could find, and though it’s in Italian it does have all of the grades of the various pitches.
Babsi sent the following comments on the route and the climbing plan to 8a.nu – “It took us 6 days… we had heavy haulbags to haul. That made us so tired the first two days where we climbed and hauled a lot of pitches. So we climbed up to the Doll tower the first day…2 day we climbed to Great roof… 3 day we both did the great roof. That is a really hard pitch. Very techy and pumpy on super bad footholds. 4. day we climbed up to changing corners…there we rested for a day! Changing corners are the Crux of the Nose!! It is very hard for the grade, I think. We both laybacked all the crux. It was hard to remember the body positions and footholds. Because there are not really footholds…it is just smearing on nothing most of the time. Super powerful! That was the biggest challenge!!”
The couple first tried climbing the route in 2018 but were stopped by the Great Roof being too wet and not clean of moss, so couldn’t get the whole thing done in the limited cold-but-not-raining season. They have also free climbed (as a couple or solo) other famous El Cap routes “El Niño”, the “Pre-Muir Wall”, “Zodiac”, and “Magic Mushroom”. Jacopo Larcher earlier this year established possibly the hardest trad climb in the world “Tribe” though didn’t grade it.
This marks the third female ascent of the Nose and the seventh male ascent. Legendary bad ass – and coach of USA Olympic invitee Brooke Rabatou – Lynn Hill was the first person to free climb the Nose in 1993, famously saying “It goes, boys!”. She went back to climb it again a year later in 1994 in less than 24 hours. You can watch some of her climbing on the Nose below.
There has been an insane amount of hard climbing going on in Yosemite this season. Sébastien Berthe of France became the 8th person to free climb the Nose just earlier in the month, taking 8 days for his ascent and belayed by Loic Debry. Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold managed to put up a new free route – linking a previously abandoned free route with an aid route that they free’d. Hazel Findlay is a bit of a British legend and managed to climb the 5.14c / 8c+ trad single pitch Magic Line, being the third person to do so. Nellie Mayfield climbed the Freerider route belayed by husband Cedar Wright.
Free climbing means they climbed with their hands, not putting gear into the wall to “aid” themselves up, only to protect from falling. The youngest person to ever free climb the Nose is Connor Herson at 15 years old, supported by his Dad. The fastest team to ever climb the nose as part aid, part free, all scary were Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold with under two hours (1.58:07 to be precise). This feat was in the Reel Rock 14 documentary series.