Training to free climb El Cap

I am in the middle of training for an attempt to free climb El Capitan via the Free Rider route. The route has sections of E7 climbing which is basically as hard as I can realistically climb normally but after perhaps 4 to 5 days of climbing and general tiredness gained from living on the wall. Alex Huber made the first ascent of Free Rider in 1998 – a variation on the Salathe route.

An image borrowed – from Mayan Gobat’s blog via Google. Click the image to see her blog.

El Cap is a 3000 foot high granite rock face and is possibly the most famous rock face in the world. To climb it using aid techniques can be pretty straight forwards technically (not to ‘do it down’ however – it is still a great achievement).

Climbing it ‘free’ however means you have to get up using your own strength only. Every pitch must be climbed clean at least once; so no falls, no sitting on gear, no rests and no pulling on gear.

We plan to climb the route ‘team free’ (means that between us all the pitches have to be climbed free) and we are realistic enough to realise we have no chance on on-sighting the route (so far no-one has) but we are keen to try and do the route ground-up if possible. This means in all likelihood taking falls until we manage to climb every pitch clean.

I saw this title image of this blog somewhere and it rings true. This is, at least for my standards, doing ‘epic shit’.

I am going to be going with Oli Lyon who has been training like a dog for the past 3 months while living in Chamonix.

Training regime:

My training has not quite been as steady as I would like – being in the middle of a business launch and building up Repskan’s client base. To top it off we have been going through office relocation over the past month or so making my time being a bit strained.

What I am doing is:

– Trad climbing every second weekend

– Training routes at The Castle Climbing Centre (my local wall) and slowly pushing up my stamina into a zone which might make the route possible. I am doing this 3-4 times a week and try to do it in blocks so it gives my body a chance to feel like it has been climbing a multi day route

– Also fingerboard work and and cycling 10-12 miles a day

I am generally a bit lazy with training, but this is not a trip you can blag. Last time we went to Yosemite we speed-climbed 3 walls, but that does not necessarily require all that much strength; more efficiency. This year I need good power endurance, day-after-day stamina, general climbing fitness and I need to go with the right mind-set.

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