American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, El Corazon

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

El Capitan, El Corazon. On September 7 Max Reichel and I looked for a new free-climbable line on the southwest face of El Capitan. We found it and reached the top on September 14. We used aid on some sections during the first ascent but returned for a completely free ascent. We placed new bolts on belay stations but did no other bolting. Pitons and birdbeaks placed during the first ascent were left as protection for the free climb. I returned to the route three more times (six days, total) to work on free climbing certain pitches. On October 3 at 10 a.m. Max and I started, at the base of the Salathé, to redpoint the route in a single push. On the first day I climbed 17 pitches and bivied on the Gray Ledges. On the second day I climbed up to the Tower to the People. Then after an early start I reached the top on the third day at 9:45 a.m., having redpointed all 35 pitches in less than 48 hours.

The new line El Corazon combines the Salathé, Albatross, Son of Heart, and Heart routes, plus some established variations that link the freeable sections of the existing routes. The Heart is the most obvious feature on El Capitan, marking the center of the southwest face. Through the middle of the Heart goes the classic aid route Son of Heart, known for its frightening, claustrophobic chimneys. For 300 meters this corner-and-chimney system rips through the overhanging wall above the Heart, making it a natural line for free climbing. But the giant roof of the Heart itself seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle. The solution is Albatross, which passes the very right edge of the Heart to a traverse up and left leading back to Son of Heart, which you join 100 meters above the overhangs of the Heart.

Alexander Huber, Germany

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