Yosemite – “Free Rider” (36 pitches – 5-12d (7c) – 1000 m – grade VI)

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After three weeks of learning how to trad climb, Nicolas and his friend Sean Villanueva managed to free “Free Rider” (5-12d – 1000 meters) in a five-day single push as their first Big wall.

“{{How did you get the idea to try Free Rider?}}”

“I have always been interested in discovering other ways of climbing, trying out new challenges. Each experience has made my climbing vision evolve. A trip to the Ratikon in Switzerland with my friend Sean Villanueva opened my eyes to the world of bigger walls and left me needing to discover more. Climbing big routes became the logical aim of all my years of sport climbing.

I knew Yosemite’s reputation for huge granite faces, but also as a place which had a tremendous impact on the history of climbing. My friend Sean and I felt it was time for us to visit this valley. I had never climbed traditional and almost never climbed on granite. We knew we were going to have a hard time adapting, but the desire to discover this new world of rock was our motivating force.

On our first routes in Yosemite, I quickly noticed that climbing there has almost nothing to do with what I knew in climbing until then. The mental engagement, the absence of horizontal holds, the balanced positions forced me to reach deep into myself on almost every route. After learning a lot on renowned routes such as the Rostrum and Astroman, we felt ready to attempt a free route on El Capitan.”


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