Leo Houlding Frees New El Cap Route

posted by dpm on 10/29/2010

After a 10-year effort Leo Houlding and Jason Pickles have managed to free a new route on El Capitan.  The Prophet climbs up the right side of El Cap starting with the first five pitches of Bad to the Bone.  Three new independent pitches lead to a short stretch shared with Secret Passage then the route finishes up the last four pitches of Eagle’s Way.  In an interview with UKclimbing Leo stated:

The Prophet has been almost 10 years in the making. I originally attempted it from the ground up with Jason Pickles; no aid, no fixed ropes, no drill, in-a-day. It's quite harrowing - hardest climbing I've done ground up; shitty belays, shitty bolts, hard moves.

The crux lunge leaving the 'A1 Beauty'.  photo: Tom Evans, ElCap Report

The crux of the route is the second to last pitch known as the ‘A1 Beauty’.  Leo was able to free it on toprope while working the route top down but had to wait for cooler temps for a lead effort.  He freed the pitch on October 27th.  Tom Evans of the El Cap report witnessed the ascent from the ground and had this to say:

He started well, moving in his smooth, measured style.  He squeezed his finger tips into the narrow crack, the so called, A1 Beauty.  He stemmed and liebacked, crimped and stepped high with his great footwork.  Soon he was at the spot he used to rest for some time yesterday, before trying the hardest part.  This time he chalked a couple of times and went to meet his fate.  He rose to the challenge and moved smoothly past the rounded arete that had sent him flying yesterday.  He made an outrageous dead point lunge and just grabbed a key hold that allowed him to move left, off the arete and onto some more positive holds.  A wild move left and soon he was at the belay.  Tommy, Kevin, Becca, and others in the meadow, sent up a loud roar of approval and Leo called back.  It couldn’t have been sweeter!

No grade for the route has been mentioned but it is certainly 5.hard and a classic addition to the free climbing opportunities in Yosemite Valley.