Kevin Jorgeson Frees New Yosemite Big Wall - Blue Collar - Video

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Kevin Jorgeson - of Dawn Wall fame - has freed a new route in Yosemite and named it "Blue Collar" 5.13. The 1,200 foot ascent was made back in October 2018 but a great video of the full climb is out now. The route is on the Northwest Face of the Higher Cathedral Spire and it's first pitches (mainly) follow the original Grade IV/A4 route climbed by legends Royal Robins and Tom Frost.

Kevin Jorgeson had been working the route for the past couple of years with at least two different partners. He eventually sent it while being belayed by Ryan Sheridan who cleaned all the pitches. Kevin had first scouted out the route with Ryan Sheridan, but had nearly complete the entire route in one day with Ben Rueck. Unfortunately on an attempt where they neared the top Rueck injured his shoulder and they came down. Watch the whole video below.

Kevin Jorgeson | Blue Collar | Grade V, 5.13d | First Free Ascent | Higher Cathedral Spire
Kevin Jorgeson freeing a new route "Blue Collar" on the Northwest Face of the Higher Cathedral Spire in Yosemite

The route is a mixed bag of classic Yosemite cracks, chimney shuffles, and a hard finger tip crack roof pitch. From the climb you get a great view of the Nose on and the Dawn Wall itself. The first six pitches are the Robbins/Frost route but they led pitch five slightly differently. At pitch seven there was a bolt ladder they wanted to avoid so from pitch six they changed direction.The route is mostly new - though a team had previously free'd a new Aid route on the same wall. The seventh pitch had previously been bolted and attempted by Scott Gosgrove and Bob Gaines in the 80's though not sent.

In total it is 12 pitches and Kevin spent 50 days working on the route over two and a half years. The film was made by Digital Stoke Media featuring production from John Long - yes that John Long. Pitch 3 is a classic called "Chimney of Horrors" is well known in Yosemite. Royal Robbins sent it back in 1962 and wrote about the feat. You can watch an interesting 360 video of the pitch below and move the camera around to see the weirdness.

Chimney of Horrors | Yosemite Higher Spire Free, Part 1 (VR180)
Kevin Jorgeson on Pitch 3 "Chimney of Horrors in 360 - Click and move around on the video to see it in action

There isn't much information on the web now but it seems like Jay Selvidge and Rob Miller free'd a route in June 2003 called "High Life" that went up the Robbins/Frost route to some extent though moved away from it at some point. This was a variation of a new aid route recently put up. Quoting from an old SuperTopo post by Chris McNamara who is quoting Rob Miller - "The High Life was first established by Brian Kay, Josh Thompson and Jamie Mundo. The rating was 5.9 A3 and they summited in full winter conditions (6-10" of snow) in April of 2003. Jay Selvidge and I did the free variation over three days time in June 2003. This is an excellent summer and warm weather climb. From the north toe of higher spire to its summit - it is continuous 5.10 climbing all the way to top if one escapes off the Robbins route (although this exit is discouraged due to poor rock quality). The recommended exit demands a high quality horizontal hand crack that goes at 5.11d". It seems like some of the pitches from this route and Kevin's new one were likely shared.

Pitch 1 - 5.10 "Splitter"
Pitch 2 - 5.11 "Hand-Over-Fist Crack"
Pitch 3 - 5.12 "Chimney of Horrors"
Pitch 4 - 5.13d "The Guillotine"
Pitch 5 - 5.12 "Royal Ramp"
Pitch 6 - 5.11 "Fissure Ben"
Pitch 7 - 5.13 "KJ Layaway"
Pitch 8 - 5.12 "Guano Arch"
Pitch 9 - 5.12 "Twelve Karat"
Pitch 10 - 5.?
Pitch 11 - 5.12 "Jorgeson Roof" - Likely the "high quality horizontal hand crack" described by Rob Miller
Pitch 12 - 5.9 "Summit Squeeze"