New free route on El capitain – “Lost in Transletion” 10 pitches about 400 meters 5.12b/c (7b+) R.

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On August 30th and September 1st, in a 27-hour push, Ivo Ninov and Nicolas Favresse opened a new free route on El Capitan, Yosemite. After years of searching by climbers for free climbing on El Capitan, what were the odds of them finding a moderate free climb up on the big stone?

Ivo : “Seven years ago I was inspired by Leo Houlding to try to find a line on El Cap, and do it in a perfect alpine style from the ground to the top free in a day. I had the chance to try many El Cap routes, with Tomas and Alex Huber, Leo Houlding, Tim Amme, but we got shut down every time. On El Capitan granite takes only 6ft of blank rock and a 30-pitch rock climb turns to an aid line. I have scoped “Lost in Transletion” for years and always wondered why people hadn’t climbed it. It’s not a big route like Salathe, El Corazon or The Nose, but it was a chance to accomplish a dream – to put up a new free line ground up free …something that had never been done before on El Captain.

“I met Nico in Yosemite a year ago. At the time he was working on one of the coolest free routes in Yosemite – L’Appat 5.13 a/b R on Yosemite Falls wall- Nico climbed the route without putting any bolts. Since that time we talked a few times about new free lines in Yosemite and a few weeks ago after a short phone call we decided to meet in Yosemite and go for it.”

Nico : “Since I put up L’Appat, all I had been thinking about is putting up new free lines in pure style rather than repeating routes. The summer was hot and I had a hard time finding people with the same motivation as me. I knew Ivo from the Yosemite
Valley. We had talked a few times and it didn’t take long for me to notice his endless motivation for anything involving climbing in Yosemite. I had seen him as part of different major projects and I knew that I could trust him to be a great partner. One day I received a call from Ivo and we shared a few words on different projects. Quickly the plan was made: try to free climb a new route on the right side of El Cap.

“We talked and scoped the line for a while and one line stood out from the others – a perfect corner. We would see from the ground a logical line but we kept thinking there must be a reason why no one had free climbed this feature before. But our instinct kept us on the track so we just decided to have fun and see where we would get to ground up.

“On the 30th of August at 8 am we started climbing with a big free climbing rack and a few pitons, some cooper heads and a bolt kit. We didn’t have any bivvy gear only three gallons of water and few energy bars. After 8 pitches, the majority of which were around 5.10/5.10+R, we ended up at the base of the big corner. We were surprised everything had gone free until then. Only 300 ft of the climb were left to be discovered. The corner was really grassy and we couldn’t see what was under it. As the light went down we decided to stay and wait for the morning to climb the corner. We spent the night on a small ledge dreaming of what could there be under the grass. We were only two pitches from the top.

On the 1st of September we started climbing and after ten minutes of cleaning we knew the line would go! After cleaning the holds and freeing the moves we estimated the pitch to be a 5.12b/c stemming. After that the climbing eased up and allowed us to top out around 12 pm. The dream became reality…

On the 8th of September we went back and made a seven-hour redpoint ascent of the route.


Nico and Ivo

Question to Nicolas >

The idea of climbing free and onsight on these big walls, is it for you an ultimate goal?

Free climbing extreme lines on big walls clearly represents for me an ultimate objective. It is the culmination of all my experience, my capability, and my knowledge of climbing. It’s for me what’s most rich.

Concerning the onsight thing, it’s not as important for me. I value much more the opening of new routes or the redpointing of technically difficult routes. On the other hand, it’s clear that in difficult weather conditions such as in Patagonia, we don’t have always time for a second try so sometimes the send depends fully on the onsight attempt.

Personally I am rather attracted to the discovery and creation aspect of big wall climbing much more than the performance aspect.


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