El Capitan, Magic Mushroom (with variations), first free ascent. One might think that after 10 years dedicated to free-climbing a single wall, I might crave something different, something more. When does a life-driving pursuit turn into a life-consuming obsession? El Cap has sucked me in. Damn Wall! This time around it was Magic Mushroom. I had seen its bleach-clean, snot- smooth, dizzyingly exposed dihedrals on a recon mission with my endearingly immature friend Adam Stack, in 2006. But the unassuming sucker I talked into freeing this rig with me was Justin Sjong, the most unnoticed talented big-wall free-climber on earth. For a month in the spring we worked on piecing together the moves and finding the free variations. Then from May 12–17 we completed a continuous team free ascent. Most of the route is 5.12 and 5.13, with two 5.14 pitches thrown in up high, making Magic Mushroom the most continuously difficult free climb in the world. Then, as if that shouldn’t have been enough pain, I went back on June 7 and climbed the route again in 22 hours belayed by Beth Rodden.
Tommy Caldwell, AAC