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Ephemeron (VI 5.10 A4): New Route on El Cap by Adams and Wickstrom

Brandon Adams and Kristoffer Wickstrom establish a hard new aid climb on the central face of El Cap in a ten-day push.

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Getting the 2018 Valley season off to a great start, Brandon Adams and Kristoffer Wickstrom have added a new route to Yosemite’s most famous monolith: Ephemeron, graded VI 5.10 A4, meanders up the central face of El Capitan.

Adams, a Yosemite climbing ranger, and Wickstrom, a verteran Navy avionics technician, spent one day fixing pitches and then committed to a nine-day push to complete the project. Both climbers are experienced first ascentionists and aid climbers.

“The climb can be categorized as a modern, hard aid, big wall climb,” Adams told Rock and Ice. “It mainly follows thin seams climbed primarily through the use of beak pitons. There are seven pitches of A4 and seven others rated A3. We were pleasantly surprised with how well most of the features linked naturally.”

Approximately two-thirds independent from any other line, Ephemeron climbs next to the Nose and crosses it several times, including at the Stove Legs, the Great Roof and Camp 5. The process of scoping out the route took several years and the team worked hard to leave behind a route that adventurous aid climbers would enjoy.

While climbing the Nose or other surrounding routes I would spy systems that I thought would make for good climbing,” says Adams, who has made 28 ascents of El Cap and six big wall first ascents in the Valley. “I spent many hours staring up at the wall through telescopes. Many systems were only visible in certain light. Eventually I realized that there was a line hidden amongst the other routes, prime for an ascent. It was an amazing experience establishing a modern route on El Capitan, a cliff largely assumed tapped out.”

Ephemeron: El Cap’s newest climb. Photo by Brandon Adams.

Adams and Wickstrom chose the name Ephemeron—an insect that only lives for a few days—as a meaningful reference to relativity.

“All things we have done and will ever do are meaningless in the grand scheme, and yet are of immense meaning within our personal spheres,” says Adams. “I like to imagine a small insect screaming up at a vastly infinite and timeless cosmic reality. I sometimes feel like that insect.”


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