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Moonlight Rising


Kate Rutherford on Moonlight Buttress (5.12d).

ON OCTOBER 21, Kate Rutherford and Madaleine Sorkin free climbed Zion’s Moonlight Buttress (5.12d) in a two-day push. Theirs was likely the first redpoint by an all-female team, and the second female ascent of the route after that of Mia Axon—who completed a team free ascent with Topher Donahue in 1995.

First, Rutherford and Sorkin rapped into the route to work a few key pitches and stash bivy gear. During the ascent, Rutherford led the 5.12d crux and Sorkin dispatched the “slot pitch”—5.12 ringlocks in a tight corner. The duo placed all the gear on lead with the second following free.  

After topping out, Rutherford and Sorkin rapped to retrieve their bivy gear, and, wearing sombreros to celebrate, passed out chocolate caramels to the aid climbers they passed.

“They were stoked,” says Rutherford. “And while we ruined their wilderness experience, at least they laughed.”

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