Brad Gobright’s 2017 got off to a rocky start beneath the Rainbow Wall in Red Rocks, NV. He was trying Dreefee, a 12-pitch 5.13d, with Alex Honnold. On the descent, he took a tumble down a slab, fractured the calcaneus bone in his ankle, and in the cold crawled back to his car with the help of Honnold.
So it was fitting that on Monday, November 20, what had improbably turned into a banner year for Gobright got even better and came full circle when he stood atop the Rainbow Wall after redpointing Dreefee. It was an objective to which he had been prepared to dedicate several months of work this winter, but which in the end only required a few days.
Located on the Rainbow Wall and first freed in 2013, Dreefee tackles long sections of Crazy World (5.7 A4), an aid line that Bart Groendyke and Todd Alston opened in 1992, before finishing on the final pitches of Emerald City. Roughly meaning “food for dreams,” Dreefee received its second free ascent from Alex Honnold back in April. Reporting on the route’s difficulty on Instagram, Honnold wrote: “Amazingly thin climbing up an immaculate vertical wall.”
Writing in a message to Rock and Ice, Gobright says he “remembered most of the moves,” upon returning for another shot at Dreefee last week. “The climbing is funky and technical and almost every pitch has a brutal boulder problem on it. There’s two pitches of 5.12 and five pitches of 5.13 and a few slightly scary sections,” he explains.
This time around Ben Hanna, a multipitch neophyte, accompanied Gobright up the wall. “It was Ben’s first multipitch route,” Gobright writes. “He lead a spicy 13a for his first trad lead!” It was too cold that day for either to log a send, though.
A couple of days later, Gobright went back to Dreefee with his friend Xan Calonne. “The temps were perfect and I was feeling good,” Gobright writes. He cruised up the wall, sending every pitch. Just like that, in just a couple days of work, he had finished his winter project. He says, “It was an amazing challenge and I’m super stoked to have gotten it done.”
Gobright’s send of Dreefee comes after an extremely productive few months of climbing for the 29-year-old. Gobright spent the six month recovery from his broken ankle training finger and core strength. When he was given the green light to resume climbing this summer, he came flying out of the gate, leaving flabbergasted anyone who had written off Gobright’s 2017 as a lost year.
In September and early October, he ticked off a number of classic Yosemite and High Sierra testpieces like Peace, a 5.13d single-pitch face climb established by Ron Kauk in 1995; The Bachar-Yerian, a 5.11c X four-pitcher established by John Bachar and Dave Yerian in 1981; Golden Rose, a single-pitch 5.13b just to the right of Peace; a linkup of Sunspot Dihedral (5.11b) and Solar Flare (5.12+)—which Gobright onsighted—two big, classic routes on the Incredible Hulk; Final Frontier, a nine-pitch 5.13b opened by James Lucas and Nik Berry in on Fifi Buttress; and Father Time, Mikey Schaefer’s 20-pitch 5.13b on Middle Cathedral.
Then, just under a month ago, on October 21, Gobright and 24-year-old American climber Jim Reynolds set a blistering new speed record on the Nose, on El Capitan, Yosemite, of 2 hours 19 minutes and 44 seconds. They took the record from Alex Honnold and Hans Florine, beating their previous time by 4 minutes and 2 seconds, and taking the record under 2 hours and 20 minutes for the first time.
Gobright is also the star of “Safety Third,” one of the features in this year’s Reel Rock Film Tour, currently making the rounds across the country. Directed by Cedar Wright, “Safety Third” chronicles Gobright’s envelope-pushing climbs, such as his free solo of Hairstyles and Attitudes (5.12b/c) in Eldorado Canyon, CO.
Clearly, Brad Gobright has had a fantastic year on the rock.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There’s still over a month left in 2017. Plenty of time for more to be climbed…