The Southwest Face of Liberty Cap in Yosemite National Park saw its first free ascent May 31st, when Cedar Wright and Lucho Rivera established a new route, tentatively named Mahtah. Wright and Rivera’s new line is a free link-up of the established aid routes Original Southwest Face (5.9 C3), Direct Southwest Face (5.10+ A3+) and Bad Moon Rising (5.8 A2). The route is reported to be 16 pitches and Wright and Rivera have described it as “borderline 5.13a.”
Liberty Cap is located south of Half Dome adjacent to the Merced River and the 594-foot Nevada Falls. The formation was first climbed via the Original Southwest Face in 1969 by Warren Harding, Galen Rowell and Joe Faint. Mahtah begins on the first two pitches of the Original Southwest Face and then traverses over to Bad Moon Rising, an aid line established last October by Josh Mucci, Steve Boque and Ezra Allee. Wright and Rivera’s new line then joins the Direct Southwest Face for a roof pitch, re-joins Bad Moon Rising and ultimately finishes on the Original Southwest Face to the summit.
According to Wright he had written off the potential for the Southwest Face to go free until Mucci’s team established Bad Moon Rising, which Wright describes as “an even more natural line than the Harding Route, right there in plain view!” After contacting Mucci and reviewing some of his team’s photos, Wright and Rivera decided to give the route a go.
Wright and Rivera spent a total of 14 days working the route, fixing ropes and self-belaying through the cruxes. The highlight of the climb according to Wright was “definitely the Crack of God, one of coolest and most unique pitches in the world” as well as “literally climbing in the path of legends on the upper half of the Harding Route, picturing Harding, Rowell and Faint up there going for it, and knowing that I was adding to the story of their route.”
Wright has big plans for the summer, including a link up of all California’s 14ers using only bike-powered transportation between trailheads as well as trips to Pakistan and China.
Check out this video, which explores Lucho's background and his transition from inner-city gangster to Yosemite big wall free climber.
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